What was the Peckham Experiment?
The Peckham Experiment was an investigation into the nature of health. It ran from 1926 – 1950 in Peckham, south London. It operated from the Pioneer Health Centre, a purpose-built centre in which Doctors observed families interacting in a social setting. The Experiment concluded that health is more than just an absence of disease, and identified the crucial role played by the environment in promoting health.
Why is it of interest today?
The research undertaken at the Pioneer Health Centre was a unique study into the health of individuals, families and a community, which has never been repeated. Its findings have had an impact around the world on professionals seeking to improve health and wellbeing.
The Experiment has lessons for those involved in architecture, health promotion and health education, education, training, sports, nutrition, preconception care and pregnancy, child development, research methodology, community development, social cohesion and diversity.
What did the researchers find?
The Doctors drew an extensive list of important conclusions. In summary, the most important were:
- Health is a process that has to be cultivated if it is to thrive.
- If people are given information about themselves and their families they will attempt to make decisions that are in the best interests of their families.
- People thrive when they are given the freedom to make choices about their activities and will choose those that help in their development.
- When people are given resources in a community to enable them to grow they will be active in their community for the benefit of that community.