ActEarly: A City Collaboratory approach to early promotion of good health and wellbeing

John Wright*, Andrew C. Hayward, Jane West, Kate Pickett, Rosie M. McEachan, Mark Mon-Williams, Nicola Christie, Laura Vaughan, Jess Sheringham, Muki Haklay, Laura Sheard, Josie Dickerson, Sally Barber, Neil Small, Richard Cookson, Philip Garnett, Tracey Bywater, Nicholas Pleace, Eric J. Brunner, Claire CameronMarcella Ucci, Steve Cummins, Daisy Fancourt, Jens Kandt, Paul Longley, Steve Morris, George Ploubidis, Robert Savage, Robert W. Aldridge, Dan Hopewell, Tiffany Yang, Dan Mason, Gillian Santorelli, Richard Romano, Maria Bryant, Liam Crosby, Trevor Sheldon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Economic, physical, built, cultural, learning, social and service environments have a profound effect on lifelong health. However, policy thinking about health research is dominated by the 'biomedical model' which promotes medicalisation and an emphasis on diagnosis and treatment at the expense of prevention. Prevention research has tended to focus on 'downstream' interventions that rely on individual behaviour change, frequently increasing inequalities. Preventive strategies often focus on isolated leverage points and are scattered across different settings. This paper describes a major new prevention research programme that aims to create City Collaboratory testbeds to support the identification, implementation and evaluation of upstream interventions within a whole system city setting. Prevention of physical and mental ill-health will come from the cumulative effect of multiple system-wide interventions. Rather than scatter these interventions across many settings and evaluate single outcomes, we will test their collective impact across multiple outcomes with the goal of achieving a tipping point for better health. Our focus is on early life (ActEarly) in recognition of childhood and adolescence being such critical periods for influencing lifelong health and wellbeing.

Original languageEnglish
Article number156
JournalWellcome Open Research
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Participatory budgeting: local budgets are allocated and spent by the community Universal basic income funded by taxation

Funding Information:
Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government Health and Social Care Directorates, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Economic and Social Research Council, Health and Social Care Research and Development Division (Welsh Government), Medical Research Council, National Institute for Health Research, Natural Environment Research Council, Public Health Agency (Northern Ireland), The Health Foundation and Wellcome.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Wright J et al.


  • Child Health
  • Environment and Public Health
  • Ethnicity
  • Mental Health
  • Noncommunicable diseases


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