On Sunday 6th July Sir Michael Marmot was invited onto Desert Island discs to talk about his research and the impact of his work. It provides a really useful summary of his areas of work to date from the Whitehall studies and the recognition of High Demand/Low Control job roles and their impact on stress and negative health outcomes. Sir Michael has for years pointed to the evidence that it is not senior managers who have the worst health outcomes but those in roles where they have little control over their tasks or what is expected of them, with little reward or recognition of their role. As public health practitioners with a role in work place well being could this be something that we should be offering leaderhip in? At a time where occupational health and safety is seen as a burden to business by the government and restrictions in place on proactive visits maybe operating under the banner of public health rather than regulatory services is a pathway to the same goal of worker protection (see Rory O’Neil’s Hazards magazine Nos 122. 123 and 124….more in another blog for all the evidence that there is no evidence to support deregulation).
Sir Michael also talks about his work on the social gradient and the role of early childhood development in setting up your whole life development. You can find all the reports at http://www.instituteofhealthequity.org/ and this can provide a wealth of evidence for the role of environmental health in reducing health inequalities particularly in relation to housing standards. There is an array of evidence surrounding the negative impacts of high levels of inequality (see Wilkinson and Picketts range of work and also the Equality Trust http://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/resources/our-publications which again can provide evidence for environmental health to support interventions). Kate Pickett is Professor of Epidemiology at York but focuses on social determinants and Richard Wilkinson is Emeritus Professor of Social Epidemiology at Nottingham.
To listen to the programme go to http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/player/b048j630. Listening to something close to my heart on what is a regular spot on radio 4 was a pleasant surprise