What are the aims of the Centre?
“Health for All” (H4A) is the core mission statement of our group at CIS-IUL (from the Lisbon University Institute ISCTE-IUL – www.cis.iscte-iul.pt), which aims with its activities to contribute to making health a vital resource equally available to all individuals regardless of their personal, social, and cultural backgrounds. The general goal of H4A is to do research and develop interventions from a psychosocial approach to health, as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO, 1948). This means that we examine health related topics (e.g. pain, stigma, mental health, eating behaviours) based on psychosocial processes (e.g. stereotypes; social identities; risk perception; multicultural processes). The innovative approach of this group comes from the use of the concept of “social interaction” to integrate, in a coherent framework, the contributions of various levels of analysis to health issues. Inequalities in healthcare are thus approached from this perspective, focusing on the socio-cognitive biases, the communication processes and the spatial dimensions that frame the quality of healthcare delivery. We are especially interested in identifying the social determinants of well-being that can be used in promoting the health of individuals, groups and communities through research-based interventions.
As the outreach of the knowledge we produce is very important to us, protocols with different healthcare providers and user groups are a priority. We design, implement and evaluate theory-based and research-based instruments and intervention programs targeting health, social and cultural issues, which can be applied in health and social institutions. We also respond to specific needs of healthcare service providers and social groups. For instance, we have a strong connection with conducting field research to answer societal needs in the domain of environment, health management and intergenerational activities.
H4A has four thematic research areas:
T1. Risk Perception & Health Communication (research on the promotion of healthy life-styles, e.g, eating behavior, and communication of food risks and benefits)
T2. Health of Social Minorities: Age, Gender, LGBT & Culture (research on ageism and intergenerational contact, gender and pain, cultural competence and disparities in care for ethnic minorities, cultural values and international assignments)
T3. Promotion of Equality & Participation in the Health-Care Processes (research on the participation of patients in therapy and the evaluation of personalized treatment)
T4. Health & Places (research on the health impacts of spaces and the healthy uses of spaces – e.g., energy efficient and pro-ecological behavior; sustainability and climate changes)
Why did you decide to become a Partner of EuroHealthNet?
The goal of H4A is to internationalize its activities and develop partnerships. We are a group of researchers with a research and intervention orientation focused on health issues. We have been publishing internationally in peer-review journals of high impact and our goal is now to contribute with this expertise to European and international projects in the health domain. EuroHealthNet should give us the opportunity to meet different people and to collaborate in future projects, applying for international funds and collaborating in the promotion of health practices and policies in the European context. The partnership will also allow us to have a broader network to communicate the work and activities developed by our group.
Specifically, one of our goals is to collaborate with different institutions in current projects already dealing with health research and intervention. Our group has experience in participating in multidisciplinary projects and using different types of data collection techniques (questionnaires, interviews, focus groups) that allow to measure people’s opinions, attitudes and health behaviours. We believe we could bring this knowledge to strengthen different on-going and future projects. We would also like to engage in future projects with multiple partners, applying for European and international funds in the health domain. We aim to use the partnership to gain information about the activities of other institutions and research groups working on health issues and, also, to communicate our research and activities to the other partners.
What is your vision (ideal scenario) for public health and health promotion within the EU? How can EuroHealthNet contribute to achieve this?
We envision public health and health promotion within the EU in two important dimensions. On the one hand, we highlight the importance of capacitation / empowerment of users. This factor refers to the active involvement of users of the health services in their own health processes and care. The promotion of greater autonomy on users with respect to the monitoring of their health status and the performance of health behaviors may be both geared for the prevention of disease and for the promotion of well–being. On the other hand, our perspective for public health implies the reduction of inequalities in access to health care and in quality of provision of health care to diverse users. This includes, but it is not limited to, the individual and cultural diversity related to age, gender, sexual orientation, and cultural and ethnic background. We hope EU health services may become more able to ensure a fare, equal and culturally appropriate care to all users.
In order to achieve these goals, EuroHealthNet may (i) support the development of health-related user-friendly tools that capacitate and involve users, while also allowing access of health professionals for supervision; (ii) provide partnerships for the development of European research projects and interventions that aim at more client-centered culturally-sensitive health services; and (iii) connect partners with national and regional government agencies, enhancing the salience of the evidence of research projects and intervention on the political and social agendas.