Place design identified as key to solving poor health

THE quality of where people live has been identified as a possible solution to poor health – says the national public health body for Scotland.

According to Public Health Scotland (here), there are several options to reduce health inequalities, including reducing poverty and improving education. Another is: “[Improving] the environment people live in, such as local planning in communities and housing conditions.”

The conclusion will come as little surprise to those with an interest in such issues.

PHS cites the latest Scottish Burden of Disease Study Deprivation Report (2016), which reports that poorer areas have double the rate of illness or early death than richer ones; that people in Scotland’s richest areas are more likely to live in ill health than die early due to ill health (and that the number of years of life affected are much smaller); and that there are differences in rates of early death and ill health seen across socio-economic deprivation groups by age and sex.

The leading causes of ill health or early death in Scotland’s ‘most deprived areas’ are: drug use disorders (8.1 per cent), heart disease (7.9 per cent), depression (5.6 per cent), lung cancer (5.3 per cent) and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (4.7 per cent).

Meanwhile, in the ‘least deprived areas’, the leading causes are: neck and lower back pain (6.4 per cent), ‘sense organ diseases’ (5.6 per cent), heart disease (5.5 per cent), migraine (five per cent) and depression (4.7 per cent).

Pictured: Govan, Glasgow (NB taken March 2022), Picture credit: Place Design Scotland