Earlier this year the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) launched its Longitudinal Studies Strategic Review – commissioned to assess the value and future needs of longitudinal research in the UK.
The review clearly recognised the importance of the UK’s portfolio of longitudinal studies, highlighting some of the key insights that have been realised through research using their data. It also rightly asked questions about how we can best promote the use of longitudinal data, and what training and capacity building can best help ensure that these valuable resources get used as much as possible.
The review recognised that, although individual studies can (and do) do a great deal to help their data users, there is considerable value in resources that apply to a range of longitudinal studies rather than just one.
This is an area we have been working hard on at CLOSER, a centre at the IOE that brings together eight world-leading longitudinal studies. We could see that, although there is existing provision for more experienced students and researchers, there is little available for those who are new to the studies. So we have focused our efforts on materials aimed at this group – which includes students early in their studies or researchers outside academia.
Rob Davies is Public Affairs Manager for CLOSER, the UK longitudinal studies consortium funded by the ESRC and the Medical Research Council. CLOSER brings together eight biomedical and social longitudinal studies, with participants born as early as the 1930s to the present day.
Before I worked for CLOSER I helped run a charity supporting vulnerable people with different needs, including addictions, mental health problems, debt or homelessness. I saw first-hand the damaging effects of these complex issues and the barriers people face in their attempts to get back to work and take advantage of opportunities many of us take for granted.
Read more on ESRC Blog: Disadvantage and worklessness: a longitudinal perspective
This week the government published its much postponed childhood obesity strategy, to a chorus of criticism from experts in public health. Doctors, health charities, and cancer and diabetes specialists have warned that the measures can’t stop the growing obesity crisis, which costs the NHS an estimated £4.2bn a year and is projected to cost £22.9bn per year by 2050. Simon Stevens, head of NHS England, has often said obesity will bankrupt the NHS unless action is taken now.
Researchers from CLOSER, a consortium of longitudinal studies led by the IOE, have documented the growing epidemic of obesity and concluded that the UK needs to target public health interventions at young people to stem the spread of obesity. Research into health promotion also shows what measures would reduce obesity. Government ministers and officials know this, and the evidence has been part of past consultations and guidance. But Sarah Wollaston, the Conservative MP who chairs the health select committee, says of the strategy: ‘big interests have trumped those of children’.
Bitter public health battles over tobacco, alcohol, pesticides and other enjoyable or useful (more…)