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Healthy Settings

Exploring how a range of settings work as complex systems is helping to improve our understanding of them and deliver effective, sustainable health improvement as a result.

Healthy Settings


Research and knowledge transfer activity within the Healthy Settings Unit focuses on the promotion of health, wellbeing and sustainable development in a range of organisational and area-based settings such as universities, the criminal justice system, communities and cities. By examining specific settings, exploring how they function as complex systems and mapping the linkages between them, it is possible to increase understanding of how effective health improvement can be developed.

Attracting funding from key regional, national and international bodies, the Unit has been able to make meaningful impact in the following areas;

  • Conceptual research contributes to the development of theory and praxis in the field of healthy and sustainable settings, with a focus on highlighting and addressing key challenges:
  • Evaluative research on programmes within different settings focuses on the use of qualitative methods in order to deepen understanding of how and why different interventions work in particular contexts;
  • Action-focused developmental research within the context of wider programmes contributes to the development and implementation of the healthy settings approach, with a focus on exploring connections between health, sustainable development and equity.

To find out more about research in the Healthy Settings Unit, contact Professor Mark Dooris

Tel: +44 (0)1772 893760


The Unit’s regional health and justice programme (Greener on the Outside for Prisons) has contributed learning and innovation nationally and to the work of the World Health Organisation’s Collaborating Centre on Health in Prisons and Health in Prisons Programme.

Evaluative research has been carried out, informing future strategic and system-level planning for offender management and health and justice, whilst also levering further research and implementation funding.

Groundbreaking research in collaboration with the Higher Education Academy and the Royal Society for Public Health has been instrumental in ensuring that Healthy Universities features as a named programme in the Government’s Public Health Strategy for England.

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

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

The Unit co-ordinates or has co-ordinated a number of national and regional networks (e.g. the UK Healthy Universities Network; the North West Healthy Prisons Network; the UK Healthy Cities Network), offering potential for innovative collaboration and providing infrastructures to connect research, policy and practice.

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