Skip navigation

Six Pillars of Research

The six pillars of research identify core research themes where we believe there is paucity in evidence and understanding. A central aim of the Hub is to attract and encourage collaborative research in these areas from organisations and institutions from across the UK.

The six pillars of research identify core research themes where we believe there is paucity in evidence and understanding. A central aim of the Hub is to attract and encourage collaborative research in these areas from organisations and institutions from across the UK.

Exercise in Health and Wellbeing

Exercise in Health and Wellbeing

Sport, exercise and physical activity have long been shown to improve the health of mind, body and quality of life. Within this pillar we explore how the various disciplines within the exercise sciences can be applied to improve the overall health and well being to military veterans.

The principal aims are to use exercise-related interventions (ranging from high performance sport challenges to engaging in increase physical activity) to support military veterans and assist established networks and partners in recovery. By optimising individual pathways to recovery we can aspire to improving overall health and prognosis for the military’s wounded, injured and sick.

Lead for Exercise in Health and Wellbeing: Professor Glyn Howatson

Professor Glyn Howatson is now the Director of Research and Innovation in the Department of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation at Northumbria University and takes a lead on this theme. He served for six years in the British Army with tours on Operation Granby in the Persian Gulf and the Balkans. He is a Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine and the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences. Glyn’s research interests predominantly lie in the physiological aspects of optimising human performance. He and his team largely focus on the response to exercise, enhancing recovery, and optimising physiological adaptation, health and wellbeing, where he has published over 100 full peer-reviewed papers. His work as an applied physiologist and researcher has contributed to the support of numerous international athletes that include World and Olympic medalists. More broadly, his work and expertise is being applied to wider populations in improving health and wellbeing.

Professor Glyn Howatson
Dept of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilition
Northumberland Building
Northumbria University
Newcastle upon Tyne
Telephone: 0191 227 3573

Health and Social Care Across The Lifespan: Planning, Commissioning and Delivery

Health and Social Care Across The Lifespan: Planning, Commissioning and Delivery

Health and social care delivery within the UK is complex, and sometimes the consideration for veterans and their families’ can be lost through the planning and commissioning cycles, leading to what was planned never bearing realised in frontline care. We are exploring the complexities of service delivery to understand how and why sometimes the message is lost. A key theme in this arear of research is to engage the service users with the planners, commissioners and service providers to ensure that the service user voice influences the whole process. This pillar of research aims to evolve the processes so that they are more inclusive of veterans and their families and military families as a whole. View our current projects.

The Vulnerable Veteran: Homelessness and Substance Misuse

The Vulnerable Veteran: Homelessness and Substance Misuse

While Britain has some of the most comprehensive services for homeless people in the world, the most effective forms of protection are for families with dependent children. 

Single homeless people, who often have a range of related difficulties such as mental health problems and substance misuse, can become trapped in a cycle of short stay accommodation and periods of rough sleeping.  We are exploring the interaction between homelessness and substance misuse for veterans, with a particular concern to establish whether there are difficulties that are specific to them. 

The aim is not only to make recommendations for more effective services but also to identify and equip mentors who can support homeless veteran into sustainable housing solutions.

Military Veteran Families

Military Veteran Families

Somewhere behind the bravery and heroism of every serviceperson there is a family, whether that is a partner and children, or parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles.

What limited research there has been into the disproportionately valuable but sometimes overlooked contribution families make has largely focused on known problems. 

An aspect of the work that we are undertaking and aim to achieve is to invite families to tell their stories without pre-condition and most importantly place families at the centre of influencing and shaping the direction of research within this pillar.

View our current project.

Women Veterans

Women Veterans

This research area will consider the gender-specific needs and wishes of our female veterans.  The aim is to explore their perspectives of their health and social care needs and to distinguish any gender-specific needs of female veterans now or in the future. 

Women have had permanent recognition in the UK Armed Forces since 1949, while their non-permanent status goes back much further.  Although women have served in uniform alongside their male counterparts in peacetime and conflict, their narratives have not yet permeated societal views of veterans and their voice is seldom heard.  We aim to address this imbalance and give equitable voice to the female veteran’s narrative and exploring the lived experiences of the post-Cold War (1991) female veteran.

Gender-specific research focussing on the experience of female veterans is limited from a UK standpoint.  While other westernised military countries are beginning to address this, the UK still has much work to be done in this area. Veteran research and policy appears dominated by the needs and views of the majority, and is therefore a male-dominated viewpoint.  Despite a growing body of research into the health and social care needs of veterans and a desire from politicians, celebrities and society to recognise the sacrifices our veterans have made, we need to also explore the gender-specific health and social care needs of female veterans. Furthermore we will also explore what female veterans bring to society and their communities, and whether this is the same or different to their male counterparts.

View our current projects.

The Older Veteran

The Older Veteran

It is estimated that there are 6.1-6.2 million members of the ex-service community living in the UK. This community is largely elderly: almost half are over 75 and 64% are over the age of 65 (The Royal British Legion Household Survey). Most of these veterans have engaged in military operations prior to those in Iraq and Afghanistan. We aim to address the paucity of research around older veterans to understand better how individuals’ earlier biographies and experiences in the military have influenced and shaped their later lives and also to investigate the personal impact of being an older veteran, as played out in their particular social context. Little is known at the present time about how veterans’ experience civilian life and much current provision and support is based around assumptions rather than seeking their voice.

We are interested in how physical and mental traumas from combat might mediate on the experiences of ageing, and vice versa, and how veterans make sense of their lives after leaving the service (if indeed they do). Further, we realise that much can be learned about veterans’ health and social needs by drawing on the experiences and perceptions of older veterans through listening to their stories about their lives and their personal resources, and the ways in which this may shape their activities in the present and their plans for the future. 

...I’m still interested in the Royal British Legion...a friend of mine, he took my job over and he always comes to me for advice, “What do you think about this, what do you think about the other?’’. And I explain to him the best way I can. You see, I had some bad cases over the years, I always got something for them, they never refused me, from headquarters...It’s experience you see.

 (Research Participant, Veteran aged 80)


Research Lead for Older Veterans Research: Prof Amanda Clarke

Amanda was a nursing sister on a medical/stroke rehabilitation unit for older adults before graduating with a BA in Social and Political Studies at the University of Sheffield, followed by a MA in Applied Research Methods and Quality Evaluation. Amanda was awarded her Doctorate in Sociology in 2001.

Prior to working at Northumbria University, Amanda worked in the School of Nursing and Midwifery and the School of Health and Related Research at the University of Sheffield and the University of Aberdeen in the Centre of Academic Primary Care. Professor Clarke has taught extensively across undergraduate and postgraduate nursing programmes and her research interests focus on the health care of older adults; specifically, developing ways to offer older adults education, information and support in the management of long-term conditions and when thinking about, and planning for, the end of their lives.

Professor of Nursing and Head of Department
Department of Healthcare
Northumbria University

Telephone: 0191 215 6610

Armed Forces E-learning Programme

An e-learning programme by NHS England has been launched to support healthcare professionals care for serving personnel, veterans & families.

Latest News and Features

Northumbria has the talent!

A team of marketing students from Northumbria University, Newcastle, has been crowned winners…

More news

Back to top