The best medicine? The importance of relationships for health and wellbeing

Document type
Handley, Sarah; Joy, Iona; Hestbaek, Cecilie
New Philanthropy Capital
Date of publication
24 March 2015
Health Services, Mental health services
Social welfare
Material type

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In an era of fiscal constraint, efficiency drives, and increasing costs of advanced health care, the cost of meeting the needs of people with long-term conditions outstrips the current NHS budget by an estimated £30 billion. The system is under unprecedented pressure, and as long term health conditions are the primary drivers of increasing cost, we need to find new and different ways to prevent, treat and care for those living with long term conditions. Relationships may hold some of the answers to improving our health and wellbeing. Relationships with friends, families and partners are fundamental to our wellbeing and the quality of these relationships has a major impact on our health. Evidence shows that our relationships can protect us from the effects of long term health conditions, aid recovery, and even prevent us from becoming ill in the first place. On the other hand, poor quality relationships can also be a risk factor, increasing the chance of us acquiring a long term health condition and reducing our likelihood of recovery. With all this is mind, there is an opportunity to address public health demands differently, by considering people in the context of their relationships.