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Research and Projects

STRENGTHEN - Firm Foundations for Health and Wellbeing

Who is involved?

Theme: CLAHRC - Healthy People, Healthy Environments
Status: Live

The STRENGTHEN project aims to improve health and wellbeing for people under community supervision, with the support of a Health Trainer.


Health Trainers are individuals with a good understanding of the health and social challenges faced by people in the target group, with basic training in effective behavioural change techniques to help address health inequality. They support their clients by helping to build motivation and confidence to make changes. They also provide information about other support options and are there to offer encouragement, share successes and support recovery from relapses.

This trial, led by health service researchers from Primary Care at Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, and supported by a grant from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Public Health Research Programme, will assess whether additional support via Health Trainers is effective in improving the health behaviours and wellbeing of people receiving community supervision.

Project aims

The STRENGTHEN study aims to evaluate the possibility of utilising a new and cost-efficient way of engaging a group of people that are seldom reached and frequently have multiple and complex needs. Building health and wellbeing can have a wide range of additional benefits, including an improved chance of finding work or training, perhaps reduce offending and becoming more integrated in mainstream society.

Project activity

In developing the Health Trainer service, researchers will listen to those who have experience of the criminal justice system to understand things from their perspective. The research team expects to offer potential participants support from a health trainer for up to 12 sessions, to support improvements in their wellbeing and changes in health behaviours, such as alcohol and smoking reduction, increased physical activity, and improved diet.

Anticipated outputs

This research project will explore the most effective ways to offer health trainer support to people receiving community supervision, and attempt to assess what the benefits are. If the research suggests that this additional support is an acceptable and a cost-effective way of improving health and wellbeing, then it may be rolled out across the country.

Find out more about STRENGTHEN on the Plymouth University website


Plymouth University
Adrian Taylor,  Professor in Health Services Research
Dr Lynne Callaghan, Research Fellow
Dr Tom Thompson, Research Fellow
Ms Emma Hazeldine, Research Assistant
Mrs Siobhan Creanor, Trial Statistician
Mr Christopher Hayward, Clinical Trials & Health Research
Dr Jill Annison, Associate Professor in Criminal Justice Studies

Primary Care
Plymouth City Council

Manchester University
Dr Jane Senior, Research Manager (Principle Investigator)
Professor Jenny Shaw, Professor of Forensic Psychiatry

Other collaborators
Professor Colin Green, Professor of Health Economics, University of Exeter
Dr Antonieta Medina-Lara, Senior Lecturer in Health Economics, University of Exeter
Mr Gary Wallace, Senior Specialist Drugs & Alcohol Team Manager, Plymouth City Council
Mr Christopher Martin, Interchange Manager, Cheshire & Greater Manchester Community Rehabilitation Company
Associate Professor Julia Sinclair, Southampton University, Associate Professor in Psychiatry, Honorary Consultant in Alcohol Liaison and Wessex Alcohol (AHSN) Lead