Research Spotlight

Rural and Coastal Health

A New Approach to Tackling Inequalities

Rural and coastal communities encompass 85 per cent of the UK's landmass and are home to 10 million people. But they grapple with significant challenges – from deprivation and economic shocks to climate change impacts and health inequalities.

These challenges lead to higher rates of preventable conditions, emergency physical and psychological presentations, and shorter life expectancies. As one of England's largest counties with vast sparsely populated areas and more than 50 miles of coastline and wetlands, Lincolnshire is particularly vulnerable to such issues.

Now, a £10.9 million grant from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is helping the University of Lincoln to combat these kinds of health inequalities through a unique approach to rural and coastal health research.

This funding is recognition of the importance of understanding how health and wellbeing is experienced in communities outside large urban areas and major cities, and why that is important for the nation as a whole.

Part of UKRI’s Expanding Excellence in England (E3) fund, the grant will scale up the established Lincoln International Institute of Rural Health to become the Lincoln Institute for Rural and Coastal Health (LIRCH) – the country's first integrated and multidisciplinary research institute dedicated to bringing together rural and coastal health and wellbeing research to help tackle the place-based inequalities experienced in these communities.

“Coastal and rural communities can be disproportionately impacted by economic problems, weather related disasters, and climate change, in addition to longstanding health challenges and poorer access to services," explains Professor Mark Gussy, Global Professor in Rural Health and Social Care. "By linking the geospatial, environment, and weather influences with traditional population health sciences, we will develop a more sophisticated understanding of the broader determinants of health and wellbeing."

He adds: With community inclusion at the heart of everything LIRCH will do, it will tackle urgent place-based inequalities and develop solutions to improve physical, mental, social, and economic health and wellbeing in coastal and rural communities."


Lincoln Institute for Rural and Coastal Health

The Lincoln Institute for Rural and Coastal Health brings together leading academics and specialists to conduct world-class interdisciplinary research that aims to address the most challenging health issues facing rural and coastal communities, locally, nationally, and internationally.

Explore the Research
A coastline with wind turbines

The Lincoln Institute for Rural and Coastal Health will bring together various disciplines, including geography, community health care, and rural and coastal health, to create a multifaceted approach to both rural and coastal health, co-designing and delivering research and solutions with the people affected, and ultimately addressing the issues faced in these communities more holistically than ever before.

The Institute will connect its research agendas with regional and national priorities as it seeks to improve health and wellbeing in coastal and rural communities in Lincolnshire and beyond.

It will also focus on fostering research talent and innovation pathways in the region, developing a team of diverse researchers working in new transdisciplinary ways. In co-designing and shaping this emerging discipline with a new generation of researchers, the LIRCH will also be helping to create the future leaders of rural and coastal health research.

Meet the Expert

Prof Gussy is Global Professor in Rural Health and Social Care and his research specialisms include rural health, coastal community health and wellbeing, oral health, health service models, community participation, and inclusive research.

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