Led by health service researchers from Primary Care at the Faculty of Health: Medicine, Dentistry and Human Sciences, and supported by a grant from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Public Health Research Programme, it will assess whether additional support via Health Trainers is effective in improving the health behaviours and wellbeing of people receiving community supervision.
This trial offers the possibility of a new and cost-efficient way of engaging a group of people that are seldom reached and frequently have multiple and complex needs. Building health and wellbeing can have a wide range of additional benefits, including an improved chance of finding work or training, perhaps reduce offending and becoming more integrated into mainstream society.
This research is supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) South West Peninsula (PenARC).
Health Trainer intervention
Health Trainers are individuals with a good understanding of the health and social challenges faced by people in the target group, with basic training in effective behavioural change techniques to help address health inequality. They support their clients by helping to build motivation and confidence to make changes. They also provide information about other support options and are there to offer encouragement, share successes and support recovery from relapses.
This research project will explore the most effective ways to do this with people receiving community supervision, and attempt to assess what the benefits are. If the research suggests that this additional support is an acceptable and a cost-effective way of improving health and wellbeing, then it may be rolled out across the country.
In developing the Health Trainer service, researchers will listen to those who have experience of the criminal justice system to understand things from their perspective. The research team expects to offer potential participants support from a Health Trainer for up to 12 sessions, to support improvements in their wellbeing and changes in health behaviours, such as alcohol and smoking reduction, increased physical activity, and improved diet. The Health Trainer will help participants to identify, set and monitor personal goals and will offer ideas and support on how to achieve these aims. Allowing participants to develop a sense of achievement, control over decisions about behaviours that influence health, and to relate to others, can all contribute to wellbeing.
The STRENGTHEN study is funded by the NIHR Public Health Research programme. The research is sponsored by the University of Plymouth.
The study is led by Adrian Taylor, Professor in Health Services Research at the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, with a second research site at the University of Manchester, colleagues in the Universities of Southampton and Exeter, and Plymouth City Council.