The vastness that is the organisation of the NHS inevitably leads to great specialisation, presenting major challenges to co-ordinate effort. I was pleased to see moves to bring together thinking and understanding in at least two key lifestyle health areas; those of alcohol consumption and tobacco.
People who are dependent on alcohol are more likely to be smokers and vice versa, and having undertaken primary research in both fields as well as general lifestyle surveys, the connection is apparent but perhaps not thoroughly understood.
To facilitate the development of new ways of working in tackling these lifestyle health issues, Ash Wales has organised a conference in Cardiff this October (details). I wish them every success with this initiative and look forward to seeing some new joined up thinking emerging.
From our perspective we continue to develop our understanding of these behaviours and our ongoing work involves testing research methodologies and ideas. Our latest focus is examining the relationship between behaviours by trying to find the link variable – it is this link that will be the key to succesful intervention. The link also needs to be measurable using practical research methodologies. The aim is to develop a set of practical research tools and analysis techniques that can be used to inform intervention strategies. A report on the first phase of this work, looking at alcohol consumption and tobacco usage will be published in November, so you may want to check that out. We are also working towards similar work on two other related lifestyle health issues, diet and exercise, with this work scheduled for publishing early 2012 – plenty to keep us busy!