Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine - Barts and The London

Evaluating of the impact of Olympic-led urban regeneration on young people and their families – The ORiEL (Olympic Regeneration in East London) study

Centre for Psychiatry

Funding Body:  National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Public Health Research Programme

Project Investigator:  Neil Smith


Policies and interventions that tackle the wider socio-economic and environmental determinants of poor health have been promoted by successive UK governments to help improve health and wellbeing and reduce health inequalities. In recent years large-scale programmes that tackle entrenched social and environmental deprivation through improvements in living conditions have become commonplace. Such programmes have usually taken the form of large-scale urban regeneration programmes which have good potential to tackle health inequalities as they directly influence the wider social, economic and environmental determinants of physical and mental health, such as employment, housing, education, income and welfare.

Despite continuing large-scale public investment, there is a dearth of evidence of the effectiveness of urban regeneration programmes in improving health. Most published studies to date have focused on adults: evaluations of the impact of neighbourhood renewal on young people and their families are needed, since adolescence is likely to be a critical point for the emergence of health inequalities in later life.

The primary aim of the ORiEL (Olympic Regeneration in East London) study is to:

  • Assess the impact of a multifaceted urban regeneration programme linked to the 2012 Olympic Games on the social determinants of health (employment), health behaviours (physical activity) and health outcomes (mental health and wellbeing) of adolescents and their parents.

Underpinning this objective are the following secondary research questions:

1. What are the wider socio-environmental and health impacts of urban regeneration in terms of receipt of welfare benefits, educational attainment, social cohesion/capital, diet, smoking, alcohol use and obesity?

2. How are socio-economic and health impacts of the urban regeneration programme distributed by age, gender and ethnicity?

3. How, and to what extent, do specific components of the regeneration programme influence health and health behaviours?

4. To what extent are socio-economic and health impacts of urban regeneration sustained over time?

The study comprises two main elements:

1.) A longitudinal controlled quasi-experimental study examining changes in socio-economic status, health behaviour and health outcomes in a cohort of adolescent school pupils and their parents or primary carers. Newham residents in the intervention area receiving urban regeneration will be compared with those living in Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Barking & Dagenham who are not receiving urban regeneration of the same magnitude. Adolescent and parent survey data has been collected in three waves: wave one (baseline pre-intervention, 2012) recruited 3,105 adolescents in year 7 (aged 11-12 years) and 1,280 of their families; wave two (six months post-intervention, 2013) followed up 2,730 adolescents and 504 of their families; and wave three (18 months post-intervention, 2014) will complete in summer 2014.

2.) An in-depth longitudinal qualitative study of family experiences of and attitudes towards regeneration in the intervention area and influences on socio-economic status, health behaviours and health outcomes.

The first investigation pre-Olympic Games comprised of a sub-group of approximately 20 families which reflected the diversity of the survey sample; interviews were repeated at wave two post-Games.

Further information is available on the study website: Oriel



Main Contact

Neil Smith
Email: n.r.smith@qmul.ac.uk
Phone: +44 (0)20 7882 2039