We know that public health works and thinks long-term. We’ll typically see the population benefits of reducing health risks such as tobacco use, obesity and high alcohol intake in ten or twenty years’ time. But we often forget that preceding public health research into the determinants of ill health and the possible public health solutions is also slow working. Evidence-based public health solutions can be unpopular with voters, politicians or commercial companies (or all). Hence these take time to get accepted by the various stakeholders and make their way into policies.
I was, therefore, glad to see that Scotland won the Supreme Court case today in favour of a minimum price for a unit of alcohol. As we know from the media, the court case took five years. Before that the preparation and drafting of the legislation took years, and some of the original research took place long before that. Together with colleagues at the Health Economic Research Unit at the University of Aberdeen, the University of York and Health Education Board for Scotland, we conducted a literature review on Effective & Cost-Effective Measures to Reduce Alcohol Misuse in Scotland as early as 2001 . Some of the initial research was so long ago it was conducted for the Scottish Executive, before it was even renamed the Scottish Government.
Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen
Research started years ago! Ludbrook et al.(2002) Effective & Cost-Effective Measures to Reduce Alcohol Misuse in Scotland: Lit Review, HERU, Univ. of Aberdeen. [ISBN: 0755932803] http://www.gov.scot/Resource/Doc/1124/0052548.pdf
Yesterday the Scottish Government has published its national maternity review ‘The Best Start – A Five Year Forward Plan for Maternity and Neonatal Care in Scotland’. The report has been widely welcomed and gained, among others, the full support from the Royal College of Midwives (RCM). Mary Ross-Davie, RCM Director for Scotland noted: “This is a defining moment for maternity services in Scotland and will be a seismic shift for our maternity services. The plan has the potential to revolutionise maternity care, to deliver safer and better services for women, babies and their families, and to improve the health of our population.”
The Best Start recognises that maternity and neonatal services matter to the health and wellbeing of Scotland’s people. The report’s underpinning is more of a social model of childbirth as it observes that “The health, development, social, and economic consequences of childbirth and the early weeks of life are profound, and the impact, both positive and negative, is felt by individual families and communities as well as across the whole of society.”
Having lived for 25 years in Scotland I am happy to have made a small contribution to this import report.
Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen
Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health
Late August Sociological Research Online published my historical analysis of the reviews of the book Experience with Abortion: A case study of North-East Scotland edited by Aberdeen-based academic Gordon Horobin. Experience with Abortion, published in 1973 by Cambridge University Press, was the first study of abortion of its kind to be published in the UK since the introduction of the 1967 Abortion Act. The book’s contributors had been involved in a multi-disciplinary longitudinal study of women’s experience of abortion in Aberdeen in the period 1963-1969.
The paper is content analysis of the book reviews which I found in the late 1980s when I helped clear out Gordon Horobin’s former office in the Department of Sociology (University of Aberdeen). Amongst the papers to be thrown out were photocopies and cuttings of reviews of Horobin’s book of the first social medicine study on abortion published since the introduction of the 1967 Abortion Act. I saved the paperwork from recycling. Since then I have searched electronically for further reviews at the time and this resulted in the recently published article.
The paper in Sociological Research Online sets the scene at the time of publication in the early 1970s, and includes abortion as a societal issue, the 1967 Abortion Act and the role of the MRC Medical Sociology Unit in Aberdeen. The reviews were analysed using content analysis. Considering the controversy of abortion at the time, it is interesting that the book reviews were overwhelmingly positive towards both Experience with Abortion and the need for high quality social science research in this field. Several reviews highlighted the importance of having someone like Sir Dugald Baird in Aberdeen and of the Aberdeen-based Medical Research Council’s (MRC) Medical Sociology Unit. Other reviews highlighted Aberdeen’s reputation as a city with a fairly liberal policy towards abortion before the Abortion. One of the chapters in Experience with Abortion reported that between 1938–1947, some 233 women in North-East Scotland had their pregnancies terminated in Aberdeen, less than 25 per year! Dugald Baird started offering abortions on the NHS in the 1950s. He would offer to terminate the unwanted pregnancies of women with too many children and offer subsequent sterilisation. Today nearly 40 years later, abortion has largely disappeared from the social policy agenda in the UK, although not in many other countries.
Edwin van Teijlingen
Horobin, G. (ed.) (1973) Experience with Abortion; A case study of North-East Scotland, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
van Teijlingen E.R. (2012) A Review of Book Reviews: A Sociological Analysis of Reviews of the Edited Book Experience with Abortion, Sociological Research Online 17 (3) available online: http://www.socresonline.org.uk/17/3/14.html
St Andrews University is seeking permission to build a windfarm to generate all its power. The institution’s energy bills have tripled since 2005 to £5.4 million a year, and doing nothing is “not an option”, it said in a statement on 2 June. The University has submitted a proposal to Fife Council to develop a six-turbine, 12-megawatt windfarm at the university-owned Kenly Farm, Boarhills.
The Scottish National Party has previously pledged to generate 100 per cent of the country’s electricity needs from renewables by 2020.