GCHU Micro-internships on Healthy Cities

Three interns that joined the GCHU to contribute to the work of the Commission on Creating Healthy Cities and help develop pages of the Healthy Cities Toolkit, share their experiences of working at the centre.

During Hilary Term 2022, the GCHU hosted three students as part of the micro-internship programme. The interns contributed to the work of the Commission on Creating Healthy Cities and helped develop pages of the Healthy Cities Toolkit.

Khalil Ahmed-Dobson (MBiol Biology)

Taking part in this micro-internship was engaging, interesting and challenging. The whole process was very organised and well structured. An initial meeting helped to tailor the research I took part in to my interests. Georgia outlined a clear plan for the week and when any issues occurred was very accommodating and helpful, whether it be finding new topics to research for the construction of the toolkit or sorting out any mixups when it came to data entry. The construction of a toolkit outlining the findings of reviews on active transport was extremely valuable. Learning how to extract and synthesise data from such a broad range of review papers is a skill that will be highly transferable to my own academic endevours. Furthermore, having to assess the quality of different studies and seeing the shortfalls of different reviews will enable me to avoid those mistakes in any research I engage in in the future.   

Charles Knight (BA Human Sciences)

Contributing to the work of GCHU and the Commission on Creating Healthy Cities Report was a very rewarding experience. I really enjoyed reading about the broad range of themes that the reviews I gathered evidence from covered, and it was very interesting to get an insight into how standardised evidence gathering for large reviews works (very different from my geography background!). Getting the opportunity to really delve into one theme in creating a Toolkit page was also very interesting. My toolkit page focussed on noise pollution, and I learned a great deal about the significant health impacts (mental, physical and cognitive) that noise can have. Learning to be really critical in evaluating the strength of the evidence that studies and reviews were based on was also a very valuable skill that I developed further during this project, and one that will definitely benefit me in future projects! Thanks very much to Georgina and the GCHU for a great week – it was great to meet you all for lunch at Kellogg too!

Sarah Ang (MSc Evidence-Based Social Intervention and Policy Evaluation)

I was a micro-intern for the GCHU working on the healthy cities review and toolkit. My work involved extracting data from the systematic scoping review and writing a toolkit page summarising the evidence and impact of workplace interventions on health. The literature on workplace interventions is very diverse and interventions range from those targeting the physical work environment to social factors and networks, and even the structural features of employment (eg. type of labour and sector). Due to the heterogeneity of the data, no meta-analyses were conducted, but there was some evidence linking nature-based interventions (eg. provision of green spaces) to wellbeing, and the physical work environment (eg. access to food, workstation layouts) has also been shown to affect healthy eating and physical activity. However, there remain significant gaps in the literature – a key barrier to making recommendations was the low quality of studies and limited evidence on the resources needed for interventions. Still, further research into multiple spatial scales and the development of a coherent workplace health programme looks promising and the research into relationship between health and work has been taken by organisations like the OECD and World Bank.

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience as the micro-internship mapped very well onto the skills and content that I had been learning in my current degree in Evidence-Based Social Intervention and Policy Evaluation. It was therefore an excellent opportunity engage with the process of evidence synthesis and quality appraisal. I was also able to get a glimpse into how academic research and policymaking can come together to make a real difference to how we live and work.