Recent multidisciplinary research has found that inequalities in health status between populations living in areas differentiated by area-level measures of social deprivation continue to increase in most countries in the EU and elsewhere. However, the mechanisms underpinning rising health inequalities are poorly understood. The focus of this study is Scotland, a country with particularly poor health outcomes and high levels of health inequalities. Using novel methods this study aims to investigate the role of various environmental characteristics in shaping health inequalities. Sophisticated Geographical Information Systems measures of environmental exposure for small areas across Scotland will be derived. This research will be the first to simultaneously develop custom designed environmental measures for different social and demographic groups. These measures will be appended to a range of health data sets. Historical environmental data will be juxtaposed with longitudinal health data to provide cumulative environmental exposure measures over the life course. Statistical modelling will be used to examine the effects of the environment in shaping inequalities in smoking, obesity, and mental health. The findings from the research will provide important new knowledge about the intersection of the physical, social and economic environments and their influence on health experiences, behaviours and outcomes. New insights into the role of mobility and migration in shaping environmental exposures and resulting health outcomes will also be provided. An important outcome will be to establish a centre of research excellence that will develop a strong and sustainable international profile in the area of Environment and Health research.
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