Research

 

You will find a complete range of our monographs, muti-authored and edited works including peer-reviewed, original scholarly research across the social sciences and aligned disciplines. We publish long and short form research and you can browse the complete Bristol University Press and Policy Press archive of over 1,500 titles.

Policy Press also publishes policy reviews and polemic work which aim to challenge policy and practice in certain fields. These books have a practitioner in mind and are practical, accessible in style, as well as being academically sound and referenced.
 

Books: Research

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The main justifications for engaging lay people in the delivery of public health programmes are examined in this chapter. Based on findings from the ‘People in Public health’ study, it presents six key reasons; communication and access, bridging, peer support, service capacity, personal impact and the value of community networks. These justifications are discussed in relation to theory, research and public health practice, while drawbacks are also identified. The evidence base for lay health worker and peer interventions is briefly reviewed, along with a discussion of the potential social and economic benefits. The chapter concludes that the moral and ethical arguments that support greater community participation are underpinned by notions of social justice and democratic rights.

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A case study of a neighbourhood health project based within a disadvantaged housing estate is presented in this chapter. Small scale community projects are part of the landscape of UK health promotion and volunteers typically undertake a range of activities. The case study draws on interviews with project staff, volunteers, service users and external partners to provide a critical examination of citizen engagement in project planning and delivery. Volunteers demonstrated strong commitment to the project and a willingness to give to their community. The chapter examines both the practical challenges and the benefits resulting from high levels of citizen involvement. Volunteers were successfully able to bridge the gap between professional services and the community. The chapter concludes that while citizen control is achievable, long term investment is needed to ensure sustainability.

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This chapter considers the commissioning and implementation of public health programmes that engage members of the public in lay health worker roles. It identifies common challenges as well as discussing strategies to enhance the experience of those volunteering or working as lay health workers. The case for a whole system approach to effective health commissioning is examined followed by discussion of recruitment, training, and professional support processes. Illustrative examples are drawn from public health practice. Flexibility is important as some issues such as payment are complex and require active management. Ultimately new collaborative models are required to ensure that citizen involvement is adequately funded, barriers to engagement are removed and grassroots activity is supported.

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This chapter presents findings from a case study of a Community Health Educators programme where the lay health workers carried out a bridging role within disadvantaged urban neighbourhoods. The origins of the Community Health Educator model is briefly described prior to reporting findings drawn from interviews with community health educators, project staff and external partners. Community health educators were recruited from local communities and the programme focused on their personal development. Empowerment was seen as a strategy for addressing health inequalities. The chapter provides some insights into the benefits of pursuing an inclusive, flexible approach to recruitment, training and supervision, including the use of sessional payment to support activities. Despite the evident advantages of involving community members to spread health messages, tensions occurring between empowerment approaches and professionalised health systems are highlighted.

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This chapter addresses some of the ‘myths’ or counter arguments that detract from greater citizen involvement. The aim of the chapter is to critique ideological perspectives on involvement and volunteering from both left and right of the political spectrum and to stimulate debate about the place of lay engagement in society. Critical discussion on health inequalities leads to the conclusion that greater citizen control is essential if there is to be a rebalancing of power in society. Perceived threats to jobs and the challenges associated with professionalism and managerialism are explored in the current context where retrenchment of public services is occurring. The chapter also discusses the evidence base for lay engagement and the politics of evaluation.

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This chapter summarises the major themes of the book. There is a need to deliver public health differently in order to address health inequalities and to improve population health and wellbeing in a sustainable way. Engaging with lay people and communities has to be central to the redesign of health services and form part of a fresh approach to public health. The chapter links core arguments for citizen involvement with concepts such as environmental sustainability, health assets and co-production. It ends with a radical vision of a professional culture based on strong and equal relationships with communities and sets out the authors’ manifesto for a ‘citizen centred public health system’.

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The aim of the book is to provide a comprehensive overview of major themes for policy and practice relating to lay engagement in public health activities. This chapter introduces the structure and scope of the book. It argues that active citizenship is a key issue for public health in the 21st century, both in the UK and internationally, and can been seen as part of a wider movement for greater patient and public involvement in health governance. Community participation is defined with reference to different interpretations and conceptual debates. The notion of lay health workers is introduced and examples of active roles in health improvement are given. The chapter describes the origins of the book and the evidence gathered through the ‘People in Public Health’ study.

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This chapter gives an overview of the history of lay health workers and the diversity of current practice. It examines how the concept of community health workers originated in the 1970s as part of a holistic approach to primary health care. International case studies are used to illustrate the traditions that have since emerged in both the global South and North America. Lessons learnt from programme implementation highlight the importance of community ownership and supportive health systems. In the UK an increasing emphasis on self care and health prevention has led to several major initiatives, including the Expert Patient Programme, health trainers and community health champions. The chapter also considers independent social action on health and how this relates to more professionally directed programmes.

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This chapter reports on lay perspectives on community involvement, drawn mainly from interviews with lay health workers and service users in the People in Public Health study, but also using evidence collected from community health champion and health trainer programmes. The chapter looks at various motivations for becoming a volunteer, barriers to joining and progressing in lay health roles, and pathways to personal development, employment and education. Using quotations where individuals speak about their experiences, the chapter provides some fresh insights into what it means to volunteer in communities. Lay skills and qualities are discussed, including the question of what a ‘peer’ is. The chapter concludes that life experience, local knowledge, and an empathy with the community allow lay health workers to carry out public health roles.

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People-centred public health examines how members of the public can be involved in delivering health improvement, primarily as volunteers or lay health workers. With a foreword by Professor Sir Michael Marmot and Dr Mike Grady, this timely book draws on a major study of lay engagement in public health, using case studies and real life examples to provide a comprehensive and accessible overview of policy, practice and research in this area. In an economic and political climate where there is renewed interest in the role of the citizen, the authors challenge old orthodoxies in public health and build a coherent argument for radical change in the way public agencies support lay action. The book is aimed at readers with an academic or professional interest in public health and/or community involvement, including practitioners and managers within public services and the voluntary sector, and post-graduate and undergraduate students studying public health, health promotion, public sector management, social policy and community work.

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