1 Jan 2020

Two public health interventions involving ARC researchers were recognised by the Royal Society. The first is Time to Change, a programme run by charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, that aims to improve public attitudes and behaviour towards people with mental health problems. The second is the introduction of a minimum unit price for alcoholic drinks in Scotland.

In both cases, ARC South London researchers were involved in evaluating the success of the interventions and producing evidence that has shown the benefit to public health. This evaluation work is continuing.  

Evaluating the Time to Change programme 

Researchers in the Centre for Implementation Science at King’s College London, led by Dr Claire Henderson, have evaluated the Time to Change programme, which was launched in 2008 in England.

The researchers have assessed whether the programme has improved public attitudes and behaviour towards people with mental health problems and reduced the amount of reported discrimination.

Their research has shown that since the launch of the programme, there has been:

  • a 12.7% increase in the number of people with improved attitudes to mental illness - around 5.4 million people.  

The Time to Change programme has helped to change how millions in England think and act about mental health. I’m looking forward to the next phase of the evaluation which will finish in 2021

Dr Claire Henderson

Assessing the impact of minimum unit pricing for alcohol  

In May 2018, the Scottish government introduced a minimum price for alcohol based on the number of units of alcohol it contains. The idea behind the policy is that by reducing the affordability of alcohol you reduce alcohol consumption and harms for people at greatest risk.

The ARC's researchers in alcohol addiction are playing a leading role in the first study of the impact of introducing minimum unit pricing in Scotland. The research team - which includes Colin Drummond, professor of addiction psychiatry and Dr Paolo Deluca, reader in addictions research, both at King’s College London - will examine the impact on selected short-term health harms. 

Dr Deluca says: ‘I’m part of a team with expertise in evaluation, health research and alcohol epidemiology that is assessing whether this fiscal intervention can improve health outcomes for people in Scotland. We should have the results later this year, and they will be of interest to policymakers in the UK and around the world.’       

The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) compiled a longlist of public health interventions and achievements that took place during the first twenty years of the 21st century in the UK. RSPH members then voted, resulting in the shortlist. This list was then ranked by senior public health professionals.