Skip to main content

Healthy & Sustainable Settings Unit

Established in 2001, the Healthy & Sustainable Settings Unit aims to support the holistic and integrated development of healthy settings – acknowledging that “health is created and lived by people within the settings of their everyday life; where they learn, work, play and love” (WHO, 1986) and that many health challenges are interrelated and can be best tackled through comprehensive, integrated programmes in the contexts and places where people live their lives.

Bridging research, policy and practice, the unit has a global reputation and is concerned to facilitate ecological approaches to health and wellbeing within and across a diversity of organisational and geographical settings – and to increase understanding of ‘what works and why’ in different contexts.

 The unit’s work is informed by:

  • a focus on salutogenesis – going beyond illness to explore the creation of wellbeing and foster potentials that enable individuals and populations to flourish
  • a willingness to engage with and embrace complexity
  • a concern to work with and manage change in whole systems
  • a commitment to participation, empowerment and co-creation
  • the imperative of connecting health, equity and sustainable development – appreciating that human health is dependent on social, economic and ecological justice, and closely interwoven with the health of the planet.

The Healthy and Sustainable Settings Unit’s portfolio of research, development and programme implementation is explicitly oriented to ensure ‘real-world’ impact. Examples include:

Higher Education: Groundbreaking research conducted by the Healthy and Sustainable Settings Unit has been instrumental to the adoption of the ‘whole system’ settings approach to promoting health and wellbeing within higher education. Resulting impacts are institutional (adoption/implementation of Healthy Universities model by higher education institutions, supported by the UK Healthy Universities Network, co-ordinated and co-chaired by Mark Dooris), national (growing appreciation of value of Healthy Universities approach by national bodies) and international (publication of an International Charter and establishment of an International Network and Steering Group chaired by Mark Dooris).

Prisons: The Healthy and Sustainable Settings Unit’s therapeutic horticulture programme, Greener on the Outside for Prisons, has contributed learning and innovation regionally and nationally – impacting positively on the health, wellbeing, safety and rehabilitation of some of the most vulnerable people in society. Evaluative research has informed future strategic and system-level planning for offender management and health and justice, whilst also levering further research and implementation funding. The programme has also connected with the work of the World Health Organisation’s Collaborating Centre on Health in Prisons and Health in Prisons Programme.

Settings: From 2007-2012, Professor Mark Dooris chaired the International Union for Health Promotion and Education’s Global Working Group on Healthy Settings – and in recognition of his leadership in this field has been keynote speaker at numerous international conferences, thereby influencing further research, policy and practice.

Cities: Mark was also a member of the evaluation team for Phases III and IV of the World Health Organisation’s European Healthy Cities initiative.

For full list of publications and reports by team members, see UCLan’s research repository (CLoK):

Publications since 2014:

Farrier A. (2021) The ‘Dead Zone’ in the Stories of People in Prison. In: Maycock M., Meek R., Woodall J. (eds) Issues and Innovations in Prison Health Research. Palgrave Studies in Prisons and Penology. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

Baybutt, M. and Dooris, M. (2020) COVID-19: a catalyst to transform our future? [Editorial]. International Journal of Health Promotion and Education.

Penazzi, Davide and Smith, Charlotte (2020) Conquering the ‘Fear Fortress’ – Returning to a mathematics exam as a Community Practitioner Nurse Prescriber. MSOR connections.

Smith, Charlotte and Penazzi, Davide (2020) Triggering language and maths anxiety in non-medical prescribing students. Journal of Prescribing Practice, 2 (5).

Smith, Charlotte, Coucill, Catherine Anne and Nuttall, Dilyse (2018) Organisational impact of the V150 nurse prescribing qualification. British Journal of Community Nursing, 23 (8). pp. 370-375.

Ridley, Neesha and Smith, Charlotte (2016) The case for collaborative learning: Introducing opportunities in the higher education setting. British Journal of Midwifery, 24 (4). pp. 282-285.

Ritchie, Georgina Louise and Smith, Charlotte (2015) Critical thinking in community nursing: Is this the 7th C? British Journal of Community Nursing, 20 (12).

Baybutt, Michelle (2019) Nature-based health promotion: a valuable tool in prison partnerships. European Journal of Public Health, 29 (S4).

Devine-Wright, Hannah, Baybutt, Michelle and Meek, Rosie (2019) Producing food in English and Welsh prisons. Appetite, 143 (104433).

Dooris, Mark T, Farrier, Alan , Powell, Sue and Holt, Maxine (2019) Whole system approaches to health in higher education: an evaluation of the UK Healthy Universities Network. Health Education, 119 (4). pp. 246-258.

Dooris, Mark T, Powell, Sue and Farrier, Alan (2019) Conceptualizing the ‘whole university’ approach: an international qualitative study. Health Promotion International.

Farrier, Alan, Baybutt, Michelle and Dooris, Mark T (2019) Mental Health and Wellbeing Benefits from a Prisons Horticultural Programme. International Journal of Prisoner Health, 15 (1). pp. 91-104.

Dooris, Mark T and Rocca, L (2019) Healthy settings and birth. Chapter in: Downe, Soo and Byrom, S (eds) (2019) Squaring the Circle: Researching Normal Childbirth in a Technological World. In: Squaring the Circle: Researching Normal Childbirth in a Technological World. Pinter & Martin. ISBN 9781780664408

Farrier, Alan, Dooris, Mark T and Froggett, Lynn (2019) Five Ways to Wellbeing: holistic narratives of public health programme participants. Global Health Promotion, 26 (3). pp. 71-79.

Farrier, Alan, Dooris, Mark T and Morley, Adrian (2019) Catalysing change? A critical exploration of the impacts of a community food initiative on people, place and prosperity. Landscape and Urban Planning, 192: 103663.

Greenhalgh, Olivia, Mcmahon, Naoimh, Gaskins, Nicola, Khan, Amna, Frings, Matthew, Janssen, Jessica, Lightbody, Catherine Elizabeth, Weston, Richard, Fry, John et al (2019) An exploration of stroke survivors’ perspectives on cycling and the use of electric bikes. Physiotherapy Practice and Research, 40 (2). pp. 117-126.

Pool, U. (2019). Socioeconomic inequalities in lifestyle-related health outcomes. The Lancet Public Health, 4 (2) e85.

Pool, U. (2019). Food security and obesity: Can passerine foraging behavior inform explanations for human weight gain? Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 42 e49.

Baybutt, Michelle , Dooris, Mark T and Farrier, Alan (2018) Growing Health in UK Prison Settings. Health Promotion International, 34 (4). pp. 792-802.

Dooris, Mark T, Farrier, Alan, Doherty, Sharon H, Holt, M, Monk, R and Powell, S (2018) The UK Healthy Universities Self Review Tool: Whole System Impact. Health Promotion International, 33 (3). pp. 448-457.

Dooris, Mark T, Farrier, Alan, Doherty, Sharon, Holt, M., Monk, R. and Powell, S. (2018) The UK Healthy Universities Self-Review Tool: Whole System Impact. Health Promotion International, 32(3). pp 448-457.

Dooris, Mark T, Farrier, Alan and Froggett, Lynn (2018) Wellbeing: The Challenge of ‘Operationalising’ an Holistic Concept within a Reductionist Public Health Programme. Perspectives in Public Health, 138 (2). pp. 93-99.

Pool, U. (2018). Removing GDP from the equation: integrating health and wellbeing into national development metrics. British Medical Journal. 363: k4371

Rayner, Gillian, Blackburn, Joanna, Edward, Karen-leigh, Stephenson, John and Ousey, Karen (2019) Emergency department nurse's attitudes towards patients who self-harm: A meta-analysis. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 28 (1). pp. 40-53.

Rayner, Gillian, Blackburn, Joanna, Ousey, Karen (2018) Compassionate wound care: An integrated intervention for people who self-injure. Nurse Prescribing, 16 (12). pp. 616-620.

Hancock, T., Capon, A., Dooris, M. and Patrick, R. (2017) One Planet Regions: Planetary health at the local level. The Lancet Planetary Health 1(3): e92-93.

Baybutt, M. and Chemlal, K. (2016) Health Promoting Prisons: Theory to Practice. Global Health Promotion, 23 (1). pp. 66-74.

Dooris, M. (2016) International perspectives on healthy settings: critical reflections, innovations and new directions. Global Health Promotion 23 (Suppl. 1). pp 5-7.

Dooris, M., Doherty, S. and Orme, J. (2016) The Application of Salutogenesis in Universities. Chapter in: Mittelmark, M et al (eds). The Handbook of Salutogenesis, pp.237-245. New York: Springer. New York: Springer.

Newton, J., Dooris, M. and Wills, J. (2016) Healthy universities: an example of a whole-system health-promoting setting. Global Health Promotion 23 (Suppl. 1). pp 57-65.

Patrick, R., Dooris, M. and Poland, B. (2016) Healthy cities and the transition movement: converging towards ecological well-being? Global Health Promotion 23 (Suppl. 1). pp 90-93.

Dixey, R., Nyambe, S., Foster, S., Woodall, J. and Baybutt, M. (2015) Health promoting prisons – An impossibility for women prisoners in Africa? Agenda, 29 (4): 95-102.

Holt, M., Monk, R., Powell, S. and Dooris, M. (2015) Student perceptions of a healthy university. Public Health. 129: 674-683.

Baybutt, M., Acin, E., Hayton, P and Dooris, M. (2014) Promoting health in prison: a settings approach. Ch21 in: Enggist, S. Møller, L., Galea, G. and Udesen, C. Prisons and Health, pp.180-184. Copenhagen: WHO Regional Office for Europe. ISBN: 978 92 890 5059 3

Dooris, M., Wills, J. and Newton, J. (2014) Theorising Healthy Settings: a critical discussion with reference to Healthy Universities. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health 42 (Suppl 15): 7–16.

Dominic Harrison

Dominic Harrison is a Visiting Professor in the Healthy and Sustainable Settings Unit.

Dominic is Director of Public Health for Blackburn with Darwen and a Board member of Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Group – and he has previously been Deputy Regional Director for Public Health for the North West Region; North West Regional Associate Director for NICE and the Health Development Agency; and Health Promotion General Manager in Preston.

In 2010, Dominic was listed by the Department of Health as one of the 1000 ‘Top Leaders’ in the English healthcare system – one of only 26 public health professionals listed. From 2011-13, he was a member of the Marmot European Review of The Social Determinants of Health and the Health Divide Task Force on Governance and Delivery. He has worked on a number of public health system reviews in Central and Eastern Europe for the World Health Organisation and in 2013 co-authored a WHO publication, Governance for Health Equity: Taking forward the equity values and goals of Health 2020 in the WHO European Region.

Dominic is also a Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health and Public Health Specialist registered with the Faculty UK Voluntary Register. He holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Health Education (Leeds) and a Masters in Public Health (Liverpool). He has written on public health issues for the Guardian, the Local Government Chronicle and the BMJ. His principal professional interests are related to health governance, life expectancy , health and the economy and the health outcome implications of poverty, inequality, social justice and sustainable development.

Deborah Harkins

Deborah Harkins is a Visiting Professor in the Healthy and Sustainable Settings Unit.

Deborah is Chief Officer Health and Wellbeing (Director of Public Health) for Dudley Council, where she is responsible for Public Health, Environmental Health and Trading Standards and Library and Archives services. She is a highly motivated, pro-active and positive Director of Public Health, passionate about listening to and working differently with communities. I have successfully led public health staff teams and budgets since 1997; building effective working relationships with staff, councillors, clinicians, officers, the media and community members from a wide range of backgrounds

She began her public health career in 1991 as a young parent living in one of Sheffield's most deprived areas, motivated to take action to improve her community. Using skills from her degree, she worked as a researcher on an innovative community development for health project, interviewing around 1000 local people. Having seen for herself the impact that social inequality and poor health have on people's lives, she became involved in community development and regeneration as a volunteer and then worked in public health in the NHS for 18 years. Still as motivated by social justice as ever, she took up the post of Head of the Joint Health Unit in Lancashire County Council and led Lancashire-wide work on addressing health inequalities and provided leadership for the transfer of public health from the NHS to the County Council. In August 2012 I secured the post of Director of Health Protection and Policy within the County Council and worked as a member of the County Council's Senior Leadership Group.

Stephen Morton

Stephen is a Visiting Professor in the Healthy and Sustainable Settings Unit.

He is an experienced public health doctor who worked in a variety of posts in the UK until retirement in 2017. He has also worked for the World Health organisation, currently assisting WHO Europe on the implementation of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. He was appointed as a visiting professor at the University of Central Lancashire in March 2018.

Stephen has worked in general public health, health protection, health improvement, promoting sustainability and tackling health inequalities. He has established and led successful public health teams in Public Health England, in the Health Protection Agency, and in Health Authorities, Primary Care Trusts and Public Health Networks, including a national role as Director of Sustainability and Public Health for Public health England.

He has contributed effectively to corporate health strategy, interagency working and effective delivery of health and related services. He has particular experience (at regional, national and international level) on social regeneration, sustainable development and environmental improvement. An adaptable and creative thinker, he also has university teaching and research experience, a wide range of publication and a strong commitment to evidence-based practice.

Alan Scott

Alan Scott is a Visiting Professor in the Healthy and Sustainable Settings Unit.

Alan is Executive Director of Public Sector Prisons North with responsibility for eight prison groups covering 46 prisons, focusing on the strategic priorities of improving safety, security, decency, supporting our people, and reducing reoffending. Alan is the Public Sector Prisons strategic lead for Reducing Reoffending and chairs the national Rehabilitative Culture Programme Board.

Alan joined the Prison Service in 1983 from Edinburgh University as an Assistant Governor serving initially at HMYOI Wellingborough in Northamptonshire and has now worked in offender management for over 34 years. Over this time his roles included Governor of HMP Preston, Governor of HMP Wymott, Area Manager for the South West, Deputy Director of Custody for the North West and Acting Director of Public Sector Prisons.

Alan has significant experience of and is particularly interested in: the development of rehabilitative culture in prisons and ways in which this can be achieved working with evidence-based practice; and multidisciplinary working to address reoffending and the management of risk.

In 2018 Alan received the CBE for services to HM Prison and Probation Service and to the community in the North West.

Members of the Healthy & Sustainable Settings Unit offer supervision in fields such as:

  • Healthy Settings
  • Health, Sustainability and Community Resilience
  • Urban Health
  • Health and Criminal Justice
  • Health, Equity and Social Justice
  • Community Development

Michelle Baybutt is module leader for, and other Unit members teach on, PG4114 (Healthy Settings: Theory, Policy and Practice), which forms part of both the MSc Applied Public Health and the MSc Sustainability, Health & Wellbeing. Members of the Healthy & Sustainable Settings Unit contribute to various undergraduate and postgraduate modules.

The Healthy & Sustainable Settings Unit has been commissioned by a range of organisations including the Health Service Executive for Ireland, the Health Promotion Agency for Northern Ireland and Coventry City Council to deliver tailored training and development courses in Healthy Settings.

Healthy and Sustainable Settings Unit Brook 327 University of Central Lancashire PR1 2HE

For more information, please get in touch via the members section above. 

At their simplest, settings such as schools and workplaces are convenient places for health interventions. However, the healthy settings approach recognises that many health determinants and influences are interrelated and can be best tackled through comprehensive, integrated programmes in the contexts and places where people live their lives.

Drawing on organisational development and community development perspectives, the approach is ecological and systems-based, working towards whole system change – with the aim of integrating health and well-being within the ethos, culture, routine life and core business of settings. Action is usually focused in three areas:

  • creating healthy and supportive working, learning and living environments
  • integrating and embedding health, wellbeing and sustainability in the routine life and core business of the setting (whether this is quality of patient care in hospitals, rehabilitation in prisons or educational attainment in schools)
  • connecting with and contributing to the wellbeing, resilience and sustainability of the wider community.

The approach is values-based, uses a range of methods and holds a number of aspects in tension:

  • Identifying gaps and addressing needs and problems, but also mapping good practice already in place and celebrating and building on strengths and capabilities – balancing what can be characterised as pathogenic and salutogenic perspectives;
  • Investing in long-term ‘behind the scenes’ organization development to achieve whole system change, but retaining a high profile through managing innovative and highly visible projects;
  • Securing top-down leadership alongside bottom-up empowerment and broad-based ownership; [and]
  • Anticipating and responding to health promotion concerns whilst also being driven by and contributing to core business priorities.