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Health & well-being in BME populations in England

Exploring the determinants of health and well-being in BME populations in England

Explaining the determinants of health and well-being in BME populations in England

Start Date:  Aug 2013   End Date:  April 2014   Status: Completed


Self-reported wellbeing differs between different ethnic groups in the UK. Even controlling for the social and economic factors known to influence wellbeing, there appears to be a residual, non-random difference – with people from Black and Minority Ethnic communities reporting lower levels of wellbeing than their white counterparts. This discrepancy in wellbeing, persisting across the social gradient, is recognised, but has not previously been investigated in detail. This review aims to explore the determinants of minority health and well-being and help move the discourse deeper than the deprivation/poverty paradigm and to less well recognised 'causes of the cause'.


The specific objectives of this work are:

  • To carry out a scoping on trans-cultural health with an additional focus on 2nd and 3rd generation BME populations
  • To focus in particular on concepts of well-being in BME groups in East London, examining how the language of well-being fits with cultural reality and language, especially in terms of population survey language where ethnic groups score poorly.
  • To get a sense even at a small scale of the cultural interpretations of the questions and concepts being used nationally to assess health and well-being
  • To explore the concepts of social isolation and loneliness in BME communities and enhancing understanding of cultural perceptions of these issues.
  • To present a case study of wellbeing among BME staff in the NHS


The methods included a brief review of the existing data and literature on ethnic disparities in wellbeing, analysis of the evidence and views of key opinion leaders on the relevant issues gathered through a call for evidence, interviews and a roundtable meeting, and analysis of national data sources.


Self-reported wellbeing in consistently lower in BME populations in England, across the social gradient. The aim of the research was to establish the key issues associated with differential levels of reported wellbeing in BME communities and to gather the relevant data and evidence, with a view to presenting recommendations for both further research, and action to address these disparities. This review is anticipated to have a strong impact on policy to address health and social inequalities in England.

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Project Lead:

Professor Mala Rao

Project Team:  Jacqueline Stevenson (Acting CEO of the African Health Policy Network), Prof Gopal Netuveli (IHHD),  IHHD team 

Funder: Community Voices Funding UEL

Project Partners: The work is being carried out in close collaboration with senior members of Public Health England, the leadership of the NHS. leaders in the field of ethnicity and health research as well as associations and NGOs representing Black and Minority Ethnic communities in England.

ReportExplaining levels of wellbeing in BME populations in England

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