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Open Access Eating for Eye Health: Engaging patients with dry age-related macular degeneration in community cookery to support lifestyle change and positive health

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There are limited treatment options available upon diagnosis of dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of blindness in older people, which progressively threatens central vision and quality of life. Community engagement has the potential to support 'positive health' of individuals with untreatable eye conditions. Eating for Eye Health is an award-winning public-engagement project that aims to raise awareness of research suggesting that nutrition might help protect against progression of AMD and to encourage patients to cook and eat antioxidant-rich food in a community environment. The project engaged patients who had a diagnosis of dry AMD through a focus group and a community cookery day organized in partnership with the healthy food outlet, Pod, and the Manor Gardens Community Kitchen Project, Islington, London. A focus group highlighted participants' potential barriers to engagement with research about lifestyle modification and identified that a co-designed community cookery project could help to address unmet needs for support. Individuals with dry AMD reported increased levels of confidence in cooking skills after participating in the community cookery day. The combination of these methods within the context of AMD highlights how a focus on patient needs and expectations can establish and grow mutually beneficial relationships. There is potential for Eating for Eye Health, or similar community kitchen approaches, to be implemented within the community setting through NHS 'social prescribing' initiatives. In conclusion, Eating for Eye Health is unique in its combination of elements of community consultative and collaborative forms of engagement. These methods could be adopted as part of Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) in local health policy development in the community.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2019

More about this publication?
  • Engagement with research goes further than participation in it. Engaged individuals and communities initiate research, advise, challenge or collaborate with researchers. Their involvement is always active and they have a crucial influence on the conduct of the research.

    Research for All is a peer-reviewed journal focusing on research that involves universities and communities, services or industries working together. Contributors and readers are from both inside and outside of higher education. They include researchers, policymakers, managers, practitioners, community-based organizations, schools, businesses and the intermediaries who bring these people together. The journal highlights the potential in active public engagement for robust academic study, for the development of involved communities, and for the impact of research. It explores engagement with different groups and their cultures, and features theoretical and empirical analysis alongside authoritative commentary to explore a range of themes that are key to engaged research including the development of reciprocal relationships, sector-specific communication and participatory action research. The journal is co-sponsored by the UCL Institute of Education and the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement.

    The journal welcomes relevant articles. See the publication homepage for details, or contact [email protected]

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