How do you know what the impact of an intervention is,  when you are working on a preventative agenda?

Sometimes the long-term effects of an intervention will not be visible for many years. How would you know if the person you are working with would develop the thing you are trying to prevent? Even if you did prevent it, it is extremely unlikely that you would be able to trace a direct correlation between the intervention and the person’s good health.

The chances of being born underweight, failing to flourish at school or in employment,  developing a long-term condition and dying prematurely are indicated by a collection of risk factors.  You are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes for example if you smoke, are overweight and are physically inactive.  These three things, amongst others are risk factors.

It follows therefore that if the risk factors are reduced or removed that the chances of developing Type 2 diabetes is significantly reduced.

But who has these risk factors?

People who are making poor lifestyle choices mostly live in circumstances that facilitate those choices. The approach we take to supporting people with debt, poverty, housing and welfare issues will create circumstances in which they can make the changes to their lifestyle and behaviours that lead to poor health.

Over 50% of smokers have routine and manual jobs

Unemployed people are twice as likely to smoke

Overall smoking in the UK has gone down, but not amongst the poor – rich people find it easier to quit!.

So being unemployed is a risk factor for smoking

Over 50% of people who abuse drugs and alcohol have debt problems and the poorer you are the poorer your diet is likely to be.

Measuring risks allows a universal service with a targeted approach

By looking at people who are at higher risk, and therefore in greater need allows agencies to tailor services to  have a more measurable and significant impact.

We measure outcomes by reduction or removal of risk  Assessing risk on entry to the service and assessing risks on exit gives a reporting framework. All risks are a collection of relevant national outcome frameworks.

Who uses this approach?

Some agencies we work with are specialists in advice and support with  financial, debt, housing and social welfare issues, their  partners are specialists in health, behaviour, wellbeing and lifestyle. Using shared data approaches allows us to pinpoint where specialisms are needed and where it is more appropriate to involve partner agencies – all around the individual needs of the patient.