Social Relationships and Health Improvement

Social Relationships and Health Improvement

The Social Relationships and Health Improvement programme studies the dynamic, interactive processes through which our relationships influence health and wellbeing.

Social relationships (in families, intimate or sexual relationships, or based on broader friendships/social networks and communities) are fundamental to shaping health at various levels, both as a source of risk and as a protective factor, and understanding this is crucial to informing intervention development. Interventions targeting relationships and social networks also have the potential to influence other people within these and help people to maintain behaviour change; the ‘holy grail’ of behaviour change research.

Our objectives are:

  • To measure and explain the influence of social relationships on health behaviours and inequalities
  • To discover how to modify social relationship influences to improve population health and reduce inequalities
  • To develop and evaluate theory-driven, relationship-based interventions to improve population health and reduce inequalities

The programme has two inter-related themes on: 1) Peers, Communities and Social Networks and 2) Families, Intimate and Sexual Relationships.

Technology is rapidly changing social networks and relationships, and we are exploring how this influences health and how social media and smartphone apps can be used to mobilise social networks and improve health.

Programme Staff

Programme Leader

Programme Students

  • Simon Barrett
  • Bernadette Bonnello
  • Aidan Cassidy
  • Natalie Chalmers
  • Susan Martin
  • Karen Maxwell



MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit