All posts by niamhster

Does place matter during recovery from alcohol dependence?

In a new paper, published in Health and Place, Niamh Shortt, Sarah Rhynas and Aisha Holloway ask ‘Can the environment play a role in recovery?’ Here they discuss the findings from the paper.

Place matters for health. We know that features of the natural, built, and social environment can be either health promoting or health damaging.  From previous research we know that the environment is likely to be significant in shaping health-related behaviours, including alcohol consumption (here and here) and smoking patterns (here and here). In a new paper we have explored individuals’ experience and perceptions of the role of place in recovery from alcohol dependence. We wanted to gain a better understanding of the influence of the environment on the everyday experiences of those in recovery.

In order to do this we worked alongside a group of individuals who attend a recovery café in Central Scotland.  We used photovoice, a participatory research method that enabled the participants to capture images of their recovery. Individuals at various stages of recovery, but all at least one year sober, were able to document features of the environment that enable and/or hinder their journey.  Nine participants captured a total of 468 photographs. During focus group discussions participants identified features of the environment that were therapeutic and risky.

Therapeutic environments

Almost all of the participants made references to natural, wide-open spaces, such as hills, the sea, green spaces, in which they found calm and healing.  Participants associated such spaces with escape, meditation, clearing a busy mind, calm and support (Figure 1).

Figure 1: ‘I’ve took a, a picture at the top of the Braids. Eh, one that looks onto Arthur’s seat. Really green Arthur’s seat. And to the right a bit looks as far doon, I think you can see Bass Rock. Eh, and all that beauty and scenery and it’s on our doorstep. And I use it for a bit of my meditation and clearing my mind and that’.

therapeutic

Aside from vast open spaces, participants also found support in more everyday spaces, including the recovery café itself or in their homes. The café provides a space where the participants could see that they are ‘not the only one’, other café users understand their behaviour and the café itself was seen as a place of refuge following difficult moments.

Risky environments

All of the participants highlighted places of risk within their everyday environments, for most the single biggest element of risk was the retail environment, including both the sale and marketing of alcohol. For one participant the constant presence of alcohol was summed up with a photograph of the view from his window that included the local shop (Figure 2).

Figure 2: ‘it’s just there right on my doorstep and the first sign is beers and ciders’.

risky

The same participant noted that, before recovery, he was able to navigate the city to buy alcohol 24 hours a day, the challenge for him now is to try to avoid it in an environment where it is so readily available.  Participants spoke of the difficulty of avoiding such triggers in the everyday.

Further themes discussed in this paper include the transitory nature of place (places moving from supportive to risky and vice versa) and shame and stigma. This paper demonstrates that the journey of recovery from alcohol dependence is embedded in place, with place both supporting and hindering recovery.  The findings confirm that people in recovery experience a particular set of challenges on a day-to-day basis. Of particular note here was the ubiquitous sale of alcohol and presence of alcohol marketing and promotions.  By viewing recovery as a journey we can begin to frame alcohol dependence as a process of change; change in both the individual and in the way in which the individual sees and interacts with the environment. According to Banonis ‘recovering from addiction is a daily choice’ (Banonis 1989, p.37), however such choices are not made in a vacuum. This paper extends previous work by the CRESH team that argues that such health-related choices can be made more or less difficult by the environment in which one lives.

 

CRESH Symposium on Physical Activity and the Environment. November 19th

One day symposium – Physical Activity and the Environment

School of Geosciences, Drummond Street, University of Edinburgh

19th November 10.00 – 16.30

Evidence exists to suggest that physical activity is important for health and that low levels of physical activity are of increasing concern. The global importance of this was highlighted in a recent collection of papers in The Lancet quantifying the public health importance of physical activity. The local environment can provide opportunities for promoting or hindering engagement in physical activity and recent research in this field has sought to understand, if and how, features of the local environment shape individual health related behaviours, and in turn, area level health inequalities.

This workshop will bring together academics, public health professionals and policy makers to discuss emerging research and interventions in this area. Speakers from both academia and public policy will present current research and interventions and a group discussion will consider the future for work in this area.

9.30        Coffee and registration

10.00     Welcome

10:15     Prof Nanette Mutrie, Sport, Physical Education & Health Sciences, University of Edinburgh

10.45     Ian Findlay, Chief Officer, Paths for all

11.15     Coffee

11.45     Dr Niamh Shortt, CRESH, University of Edinburgh

12:30     Lunch

13.30     Sharon Allison, Physical Activity and Health Alliance Coordinator, NHS Health Scotland

14.00     Prof Andy Jones, Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR), University of East Anglia

14.30     Coffee

15.00     Where next for research and policy on physical activity and the environment (Group discussion facilitated by Prof Richard Mitchell and Prod Jamie Pearce)

16.30     Wine reception

 

Places are limited and will be allocated on a first come first served basis.  Please register your interest by Friday November 2nd by contacting Fiona Hartree on 0131 651 4348 or email Fiona.Hartree@ed.ac.uk

Vacancy: Research Assistant in Health and the Environment available at CRESH

We are seeking to appoint a Research Assistant in the field of Health and the Environment.

Based at the Institute of Geography and Lived Environment, School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh you will join the Centre for Research on Environment, Society and Health (CRESH) .

You will contribute to two externally funded projects:
1. A project funded by the MRC Scottish Collaboration for Public Health Research and Policy which will examine whether the density of tobacco and alcohol outlets around schools and homes affects smoking and drinking behaviours among 13 and 15 year olds in Scotland.
2. An NIHR-funded project entitled ‘Determining the Impact of Smoking Point of Sale Legislation Among Youth (DISPLAY) study’. This mixed-method longitudinal study seeks to evaluate the impact of the change in legislation relating to the sale of tobacco in Scotland that comes into effect in 2012.

You will demonstrate aptitude for data handling and GIS. You will contribute to publications arising from the research and day-to-day data collection and analysis.  Applications are welcome from candidates post MSc or post PhD and appointments can be made at either grade 6 or grade 7 (see below).

Should no candidate who meets all the essential criteria be found, an appointment at grade UE06 may be possible for a candidate who does not have a significant and established research profile (gained through a PhD) in the area of environment and health and would therefore require additional guidance and mentoring.

This is a fixed term post for 12 months. The person must be in post no later than June 1st 2012.

Fixed term: 12 months

Salary Scale: £25,251 – £29,249 (UE06) or £30,122 – £35,938 pa (UE07)

For more details please see the following link

http://www.jobs.ed.ac.uk/vacancies/index.cfm?fuseaction=vacancies.detail&vacancy_ref=3015475

Any further queries please contact Dr Niamh Shortt by email niamh.shortt@ed.ac.uk or phone 00 44 131 6517130

Postdoctoral Research Position: Available Now.

We are seeking to appoint a Postdoctoral Researcher in the field of Health and the Environment at the Centre for Research on Environment, Society and Health (CRESH) (based at the University of Edinburgh). You will contribute to two projects funded separately by the MRC Scottish Collaboration for Public Health Research and Policy and the National Institute for Health Research. The first project will examine whether the density of tobacco and alcohol outlets around schools and homes affects smoking and drinking behaviours among 13 and 15 year olds in Scotland. The second is entitled ‘Determining the Impact of Smoking Point of Sale Legislation Among Youth (DISPLAY) study’. This mixed-method longitudinal study seeks to evaluate the impact of the change in legislation relating to the sale of tobacco in Scotland that comes into effect in 2012.  The successful candidate will play a key role in the Centre for Research on Environment, Society and Health (CRESH)

Closing date: 06-Feb-2012
Fixed Term: 12 months
For further details on the position:
http://www.jobs.ed.ac.uk/vacancies/index.cfm?fuseaction=vacancies.detail&vacancy_ref=3015243

For informal enquiries please contact:
Dr Niamh Shortt (Niamh.Shortt@ed.ac.uk)
Prof Jamie Pearce (jamie.pearce@ed.ac.uk)
Prof Richard Mitchell (Richard.Mitchell@glasgow.ac.uk)