SLMS Academic Careers Office

14. Investigating community severance in Southend and its effects on health and access to healthcare

Supervisor Pair: Dr Jennifer Mindell and Professor Peter Jones 
Potential Student’s Home Department: Institute of Healthcare and Epidemiology, Research Department of Epidemiology and Public Health
Transport has both beneficial and harmful effects on health and wellbeing. Community severance (CS) arises when roads with high volume or speed of traffic cut through communities. The physical barrier disrupts access to goods, services, and people. In Southend, the A127 dual carriageway bisects six local wards, including some of the most deprived in the Borough. Access to facilities is impeded by the road and its fast-moving traffic; public transport is inadequate. Major junction alterations are planned for 2015/16 to reduce CS.  The supervisors are currently developing tools to measure CS at individual and neighbourhood levels.  This three-year, cross-disciplinary PhD project will combine transport-related area data with collection of questionnaire data from local residents before and after the road works, to assess changes in CS and wellbeing.

Cross-faculty supervision will bring a range of disparate knowledge and skills together, both for this study and also to train the student in trans-disciplinary working. The student will gain both a thorough grounding in research methods in transport, public health, epidemiology, and statistics, and also extensive experience of joint working between academics and local government practitioners. Given the major influences on health and inequalities of policies outside the health services (‘determinants of health’) and the recent move of public health to local government, familiarity with topics and techniques from other fields will be required in the future to maximise health gain and reduce health inequalities.