Lifelong Learning – a holistic approach to health

April 7, 2019 Joe Brady

What if you went to the doctor and instead of a handful of pills she gave you a pass to the art museum? that’s what Dr Stephanie Tierney, a researcher at the University of Oxford’s Centre for Evidence Based Medicine, is researching with the help of the University’s Gardens, Libraries and Museums (GLAM) team to look at what they are calling “social prescribing” can offer. Perhaps medical tests and pills ‘aren’t always going to be the solution to everybody’s problems. Even if they go to the doctor with a health issue, it may be that there are other things that could help them.’

That’s the thinking behind ‘social prescribing’ – a relatively new idea that recognises that our health and wellbeing are influenced by the lives we live, by how much exercise we get, how well we eat and how much time we spend with other people. Isolated lonely people, might benefit more from joining a walking group than by taking an anti-depressant. we all know older adults who would enjoy the mental stimulation and companionship of an evening class. Or, as Dr Tierney says: ‘If you go to a museum and start looking at objects, it can distract you from the problems in your life – or it might just give you a bit of time looking at something beautiful or interesting and make you think differently even just for 10 or 15 minutes.’

If you are interested in finding out more about the project, please email Further information on the Department’s programmes in Evidence-Based Health Care can be found on our website.

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140 Years of Lifelong learning at Oxford

The biggest problem in the world today is, ignorance and the only cure for ignorance is education. This year marks Oxford Continuing Education’s 140th anniversary year, and the 100 year anniversary of the landmark 1919 ‘Report on Adult Education.’ Reeling from the aftermath of WW1, the world faced many challenges – new technologies and industries, and the need to for an educated populace that could weigh political claims, so as not to be mislead by demagoguery. At the 2019 Award Ceremony in Oxford’s historic Sheldonian Theatre, Professor Jonathan Michie pointed out that these issues are eerily resonant with those we face today,  – and that today’s world has the added threat of climate change. Speakers who stressed the vital importance of lifelong learning and education at all times of life.

Oxford University’s Department for Continuing Education was founded in  September 1878, with the aim of extending Oxford teaching beyond the limits of the University’s full-time undergraduate community. 

To read more about the 2019 award ceremonies Click Here

Community Med School:
A Study in Integrative Medicine and Lifelong Learning 

Bridging the gap between world class research and local health promotion efforts the Community Med School is linking the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Denver and the Colorado School of Traditional Chinese Medicine in studying the effects of lifelong learning on global health, pain, depression, anxiety and cognitive function. Initially the project seeks to bring together researchers, academics, clinicians, policy makers and members of the public to share ideas and learn from each other, as well as raising public awareness and improving the evidence base on lifelong learning and health promotion. 

Purpose: Integrative medicine approaches in lifelong learning programs offer many opportunities that support health literacy and empowerment in health promotion. Lifelong learning classes in medicine, tai chi, yoga, pilates, meditation, art, music, literature and other mind/body therapies have the potential to improve the health of millions of people.1,2,3 

Primary Objective – This study is intended to increase the evidence base of the effects of integrative medicine and mind/body approaches in lifelong learning on global health measures and self efficacy. 

Secondary Objective – Closing the gap between world class research and community health promotion efforts, we intend to share best practices and research data on integrative medicine approaches in health promotion. Making data available to others allows for replication and increasing statistical power. Data shall be shared internationally through, PROMIS Health Measures Scoring Service, Harvard Dataverse, and the Oxford International Roundtable. 

If you are interested in finding out more about the Community Med School contact Joseph Brady at are interested in finding out more about the Oxford project, please email

Because social prescribing is an emerging practice, there is still plenty to learn. But ultimately it could herald a more rounded approach to looking after people’s wellbeing, says Dr Tierney: ‘It’s more than just the physical. It’s the social, it’s the environment and the economic. So many things can affect people’s health, so it’s trying to take a holistic view of people and their needs.’

If you are interested in finding out more about the Oxford project, please email Further information on the Department’s programmes in Evidence-Based Health Care can be found on our website.

Published 1 April 2019