Ways to Wellness is committed to working with delivery partners and academics to fully understand the impact of our work.

As part of this, Newcastle and Durham Universities have been conducting a study evaluating the impact of the Ways to Wellness service, funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Public Health Research Programme.

The research team undertook interviews and collected health-related quality of life data with 29 Ways to Wellness clients between May and July 2020. The interviews looked at participants and their household members’ health, shielding status and direct experiences of COVID-19. They also looked at the impact of the pandemic on everyday life, employment, health and relationships.

The paper explores the creation of a ‘syndemic’: the co-occurrence of COVID-19 and chronic non-communicable diseases, which amplifies the burden of ill health.

Three themes were particularly identified:

  • The mechanisms through which COVID-19 interacted with chronic health conditions to increase the work required for managing their illness(es).
  • The amplifying effects on existing mental distress of fear of infection and the requirements of social distancing.
  • The further amplifying effects of social conditions, such as poor housing, low incomes and the requirements to earn a living, on the work of managing everyday life during the pandemic.

Ways to Wellness Chief Executive Sandra Mitchell-Phillips said:

“This research provides rich insight into the impact of COVID-19, from the perspective of people already struggling with chronic health conditions. It highlights the critical importance of tackling health inequalities in the North East, and nationwide.”

The full paper can be found in the publication Qualitative Research in Health here: “I wouldn't survive it, as simple as that”: Syndemic vulnerability among people living with chronic non-communicable disease during the COVID-19 pandemic - ScienceDirect