Public Health, Health Services Research and HTA

EU H2020 Project RECETAS

 

The RECETAS Project Will Assess Whether Nature-Based Social Prescribing Can Reduce Loneliness and Promote Mental Wellbeing in Cities

13 organizations participate in this H2020 project coordinated by ISGlobal

RECETAS evaluates how the social prescription of urban nature-based social activities can improve the loneliness experienced by many city dwellers and improve their quality of life.

RECETAS is a Research and Innovation Action and has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under Grant Agreement number 945095.

Link: https://cordis.europa.eu/project/id/945095

The EU Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Project RECETAS “Re-imagining Environments for Connection and Engagement: Testing Actions for Social Prescribing in Natural Spaces” is conducted by a consortium of 13 organizations from 9 countries and coordinated by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), an organization supported by the ”la Caixa” Foundation. UMIT TIROL leads the Work Package on the “Evaluation of the Benefit-Harm and Cost-Effectiveness Relation of Nature-Based Social Prescribing Strategies”

RECETAS addresses loneliness, a modifiable health condition that is known to shorten one´s lifespan and may be as dangerous to one’s health as smoking or obesity. Loneliness is associated with chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cerebrovascular disease, and as well as anxiety, depression, cognitive decline and mental well-being. In Europe alone, and before the COVID-19 pandemic, over 75 million European adults reported meeting with family and friends at most once per month and 30 million European adults frequently felt lonely. Loneliness knows no geographic, economic, cultural, and social boundaries and affects all age groups. Moreover, COVID-19 and quarantine have placed the issues of loneliness and social isolation at the forefront of communities all over the world.

Social prescribing consists of care professionals and lonely people identifying community activities that can improve their health and wellbeing. For urban dwellers, nearby nature, with social structures, can improve health and mental well-being and reduce loneliness. Even under the extraordinary circumstances of COVID-19, people need time in nature for its healing benefits and its role in allowing people to interact in nature.

In cities, nearby nature can provide therapeutic benefits and promote social interaction. Investments in nature-based solutions and green infrastructure, intended to mitigate rapid urbanization and its adverse consequences on environmental systems in our cities, can also be harnessed to improve health and wellbeing, including in emergency contexts such as the confinements related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

RECETAS explores loneliness through a transdisciplinary lens, integrating social, behavioral, health, and natural sciences, and is grounded in participatory principles. It will use randomized controlled trials (RCT) and other epidemiologic, causal, anthropological and health economic methods to test socially- and culturally-innovative nature-based social prescribing (NBSP) as a socio-environmental antidote to loneliness.

Specifically, RECETAS co-designs and tests nature-based social prescribing, group-based interventions that connect people to green spaces (e.g., parks, rooftops, gardens, nearby nature) and activities in six urban areas in Europe, Latin America, and Australia. Working with trained facilitators, RECETAS aims to improve upon real-world policy and practice at connecting people to nature-based solutions and green infrastructure. If successful, RECETAS will systematically reduce loneliness and health inequalities by creating the social and technological infrastructure needed to foster community cohesion and support. “RECETAS” is part of the European Cluster on Urban Health.

One of the key features of the RECETAS project is its interdisciplinary approach, bringing together professionals from different fields including: public health, psychology, clinical medicine, engineering, economics, business, law, health data & decision science, modeling, among others.

The UMIT TIROL Institute of Public Health, Medical Decision Making and Health Technology Assessment (IPH) contributes advanced methods in data & decision science and causal inference to the analysis of the randomized trial results. In addition, IPH leads the Work Package 5 on the assessment of the benefit-harm balance and cost-effectiveness of nature-based social prescribing strategies. This assessment will also integrate social values with intervention effects on health and health-related quality of life. Innovative health decision science methods will be explored and further developed to achieve this integration. The ultimate goal of these evaluations is to provide scientific evidence for health policy decisions on the implementation of nature-based social prescribing strategies and to offer healthcare providers, care professionals, social service organizations and communities sensible and cost-effective solutions to address loneliness.

 

The project, which began in March 2021, will last 5 years, and is financed by a 5 million Euro grant from the European Union's Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme [No. 945095].

Link: https://cordis.europa.eu/project/id/945095

 

The 13 participating organizations are: Agence des Villes et Territoires durables en Mediterranée (AViTeM, France), Agència de Salut Pública de Catalunya (ASPCAT, Spain), Aketh Investments Services (AIS, Spain), Assistance Publique Hôpitaux de Marseille (AP-HM, France), Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal, Spain), Charles University (CU, Czech Republic), Fundació Salut i Envelliment UAB (FSIE-UAB, España), UMIT - Private University for Health Sciences, Medical Informatics and Technology (UMIT TIROL, Austria), RMIT University (Australia), University of Cuenca (UC, Ecuador), University of Helsinki (UH, Finland), University of the West of England (UWE, UK), Visible Network Labs (VNL, USA).

 

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Press Release: June 16, 2021

The RECETAS project will test whether Nature-Based Social Prescribing can reduce loneliness and promote mental wellbeing in cities.

UMIT TIROL leads a work package in the EU Horizon 2020 project in a consortium of 13 organizations from 9 countries under coordination of ISGlobal

Can the prescription of social activities in natural spaces reduce feelings of loneliness and improve quality of life in urban contexts? The EU project RECETAS (Re-imagining Environments for Connection and Engagement: Testing Actions for Social Prescribing in Natural Spaces) aims to provide answers. This research and innovation project will be carried out by a consortium of 13 institutions from 9 different countries and coordinated by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), an organization supported by the ”la Caixa” Foundation. The project runs over 5 years and is funded with 5 million euros by the European Union through its Horizon 2020 program. Due to the international reputation and expertise in the fields of health data & decision science, causality research and modeling of public health measures, UMIT TIROL was commissioned with its own work package, which is funded with around EUR 800,000.

Social prescribing consists of interventions where care professionals work together with lonely people to identify community activities that can improve health and wellbeing. RECETAS will evaluate how the social prescription of urban nature-based activities can improve the loneliness experienced by many city dwellers. 

“We will use participatory processes to involve the public and other stakeholders in the intervention design,” explains Jill Litt, ISGlobal researcher and Project Director. “The project includes novel methodologies such as social network analysis, economic feasibility studies, and randomized trials The goal is for RECETAS not only to contribute to the scientific evidence, but to offer healthcare providers, care professionals, social service organizations and communities sensible solutions to address loneliness in a cost-effective way”, she adds.  

UMIT TIROL researcher and lead of the work package for the evaluation of benefits, risks and economic aspects of nature-based social prescribing, Ass.-Prof. Priv.-Doz. Dr. Ursula Rochau, explains: “UMIT TIROL will contribute significantly to the new field of nature-based social prescribing. We will evaluate the long-term effect of interventions on loneliness and quality of life and we will assess the health economic consequences.“ Department Chair and UMIT TIROL Prof. Siebert adds “I am pleased that our Institute of Public Health will contribute its scientific expertise in data science and modeling to the RECETAS project. Especially for Tyrol with its unique nature and the economic potential, this innovative project offers important perspectives in nature-based and social health care.“ 

In Europe alone, and before the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 75 million adults indicated that they met with family or friends a maximum of once a month, and 30 million felt frequently lonely. Evidence has shown that loneliness shortens our productive lifespan and can be as dangerous to health as smoking or being overweight. The good news is that loneliness is modifiable. 

In cities, nearby nature can provide therapeutic benefits and promote social interaction. Investments in nature-based solutions and green infrastructure, intended to mitigate rapid urbanization and its negative environmental consequences in cities, can also be used to improve health and wellbeing, including in emergency contexts such as the confinements related to COVID-19 pandemic.

One of the key ingredients of the RECETAS project is its interdisciplinary approach, bringing together professionals from different fields including: public health, psychology, clinical medicine, engineering, economics, business, and law, among others.

To achieve its objectives, RECETAS will carry out three observational studies and three randomised controlled trials in six cities worldwide: Barcelona, Marseille, Prague, Helsinki, Cuenca and Melbourne. These studies will make important contributions to the small, but growing body of evidence around the potential for nature-based social interventions to help create health and wellbeing. At the same time, these solutions aim to reduce pressure on already stressed medical systems.

Leads of the work package on benefits, risks and health economic consequences: 

Ass.-Prof. Priv.-Doz. Mag. Dr. Ursula Rochau, ursula.rochau@umit.at

Prof. Uwe Siebert, MD, MPH, MSc, ScD , public-health@umit.at

Website: www.recetas.umit.at

 

The 13 participating organizations are:

  • Agence des Villes et Territoires durables en Mediterranée (AViTeM, France)

  • Agència de Salut Pública de Catalunya (ASPCAT, Spain)

  • Aketh Investments Services (AIS, Spain)

  • Assistance Publique Hôpitaux de Marseille (AP-HM, France)

  • Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal, Spain)

  • Charles University (CU, Czech Republic)

  • Fundació Salut i Envelliment UAB (FSIE-UAB, España)

  • Private University for Health Sciences, Medical Informatics and Technology (UMIT, Austria)

  • RMIT University (Australia)

  • University of Cuenca (UC, Ecuador)

  • University of Helsinki (UH, Finland)

  • University of the West of England (UWE, UK)

  • Visible Network Labs (VNL, USA)