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How do we support people with long term health conditions?

With an NHS under increasing pressure and more people than ever before living with long term conditions, it’s vital we explore new, sustainable and effective ways of promoting health and wellbeing across all age groups and supporting patients and their families.

Our research looks at factors such as regular physical activity, nutrition, sport participation and sleep, and how they can improve people’s health. We test innovative interventions and explore how to effectively bridge the interface between hospital, home and other community care services. Our evidence makes the case for financially viable solutions to address the significant health and social care challenges we’re facing and ultimately enable people to live longer, happier and healthier lives.

We want to hear your views.


Integrated Health and Social Care 

Research in Integrated Health and Social Care is tackling global challenges around sedentarism, malnutrition, poverty and social justice. Our research looks at shaping interventions that have impacts on a health, educational, behavioural, economic and social basis, at local, national and international levels. 

We are constantly engaged in debates, acting as a voice for vulnerable members of the community and publishing high quality research that offers real solutions for some of the major issues we’re facing in these areas. 

Our team of researchers are challenging the status quo and looking at what we can do to improve the life chances of people, particularly some of the most vulnerable people in our society.


Our research focuses on 3 areas:

Prevention and Management of Long-Term Conditions

Prevention and Management of Long-Term Conditions

Over a quarter of the population in England has a long-term condition and an increasing proportion have two or more long-term conditions. This is the reason why long-term conditions are now a central task of the NHS Five Year Forward View. Lack of physical activity and inadequate nutrition act synergistically, and additively causing long-term conditions and chronic diseases. This leaded health authorities to explore the role of different forms of physical activity and nutrition in the management of the risk of developing and/or progressing numerous long-term conditions and diseases.

Our main research areas include the application of innovative exercise strategies to improve functional capacity along with behavioural interventions to promote physical activity and wellbeing in healthy frail and diseased individuals, as well as the optimisation of the role of nutrition and functional foods to improve health status in general population.


Exercise for patients with long-term conditions

Research is focusing on populations with chronic lung and heart disease, colorectal and prostate cancer, multiple sclerosis and on adults with Crohn’s disease. Specific research themes include the optimisation of exercise therapy to induce the greatest health or therapeutic benefits for clinical populations, the role of rehabilitative exercise training in peripheral muscle fibre phenotypic and genotypic characteristics and the strategies  to maintain benefits of rehabilitative exercise training long-term.

Strategic collaboration with the NHS has allowed the deployment of cardiopulmonary exercise testing and rehabilitation research projects and services. In addition, research is focused on the development and evaluation of rehabilitative interventions for musculoskeletal deconditioning. This overarching theme is underpinned by research looking at exercise rehabilitation strategies to restore spinal/postural stability as a result of chronic injury (e.g. lower back pain) or muscular unloading (e.g. ageing, long duration bed rest, microgravity), and the effectiveness of surgical interventions to restore lower limb joint function and stability, using multidisciplinary approaches.

Further research interests focus on conditions at the interface of psychology, medicine and rehabilitation in disease entities such as chronic pain syndromes in adults and children, fibromyalgia and chronic widespread pain syndromes, chronic musculoskeletal and rheumatologic disorders, and musculoskeletal long-term conditions. By using novel techniques such as transcranial magnetic stimulation and motor nerve stimulation research has focused on the mechanisms and sites of exercise-induced neuromuscular fatigue.  


Human nutrition to optimise wellbeing and athletic performance

Capitalising on the wide expertise relevant to all aspects of conducting multidisciplinary nutritional clinical trials, we have an important contribution in the areas of product development, in biomolecular science, in microbiomes research and in mics development. Furthermore, we investigate the effects of different nutrition interventions in cardiovascular function, physical performance and brain function. Finally, we are creating a ‘virtual’ one-stop shop for multidisciplinary research proactively targeted at existing and future industrial collaborators.

In this frame, we collaborate with local, national and international partners to develop and conduct work using exercise to improve human performance and improve health and wellbeing of the broader population.  In recent years the research group had an increasing interest in the use of functional foods (such as cherry juice and beetroot) to improve exercise recovery and how these might be applied to improve human health and sports performance.  Although a majority of work is focussed on human performance there is increasing application and translation from this work to the general population to maintain health along the life span, but also to improve the prognosis in clinical populations.

Vulnerable populations and Social Justice

This includes three research areas: 

  • understanding the health and social care experience of vulnerable individuals and groups;
  • exploring and evaluating multidisciplinary approaches to working with vulnerable groups; and
  • examining collaborative approaches to meet the needs of vulnerable groups, including third sector services outside mainstream provision.

Our interests include schools’ approaches to overcoming disadvantage/engaging their communities; multidisciplinary approaches to working with vulnerable children/families; collaboration between schools and with other agencies; working with veterans and their families, and with traveller communities, exploring inequalities experienced by carers, outreach workers, lay/peer health advisers, and working with third sector services (such as Citizens Advice) outside mainstream provision.  

Innovative health Interventions in context

This research area aims to improve mental and physical health, and quality of care via psychological, technological and workforce interventions.  It spans both individual and community level interventions; particular interests at an individual level are in interventions related to sleep, stress, anxiety and behaviour change, particularly but not exclusively in long terms conditions. At a community level, our particular focus is in tools and technologies, and workforce innovations.

The research will draw from theories and methods of health psychology, social psychology and design; driving the development and evaluation of real-world interventions, often supported through technology.


Everyone knows someone living with a long term condition. At some point in our lives, we’ve likely all faced a difficult situation where someone we love is struggling to cope.

As people live longer, we have to face more conditions that impact on our quality of life. In the UK today, approximately 85% of older adults have at least one long term condition, with many more suffering from multiple conditions, both mental and physical, affecting their day-to-day lives and independence.

For the individual or the care-giver, it can be hard to know where to turn. How could we build up resilience and prevent problems? Do we resort to extra support in the home or the local community? Do we look at care homes? If so, where, when and how? When do we go to A&E?

Barely a day goes by where we don’t read a news story about the NHS under pressure, struggling to cope with increased demands for services.

When is it ever right that somebody should have to wait 12 hours or more on a corridor trolley before being seen to by a doctor?

At home, so often, older people in particular are dependent on their families for care and support. But do we really have the resources, or the time, when we’re all trying to juggle a little bit of everything? Have we really got the right infrastructure to support people? What more can be done to bridge the gap between hospitals, care homes and the home? How can we effectively apply ICT to monitor and care for vulnerable populations in their home environment?

As researchers, we have a duty to tackle these issues head on and give a voice to some of these groups. We’re looking at ways we can apply a patient-centred approach to help people more effectively manage and cope with the complex issues associated with long term conditions.

The simple fact is, things can’t go on as they are. In a time of unprecedented demographic change, where more cuts are being made to vital public health budgets, we need to challenge the status quo and find evidence-based solutions that make a real difference to each person affected, their families, and society as a whole.

What do you think? Share your views using #ChangingChallengingWorld

Ioannis Vogiatzis

Professor of Rehabilitation Sciences

Department: Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation

I co-lead the Integrated Health and Social Care MDRT and lead a sub-theme on Prevention and Management of Long-Term Conditions.

I am currently a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Applied Physiology and the Journal of Respiratory Physiology and Neurobiology. I specialise in the area of Pulmonary Rehabilitation, holding the Chair of the Rehabilitation and Chronic Care group of the European Respiratory Society (ERS).

I hold an Honorary Professorship (Cardiopulmonary Exercise Testing and Rehabilitation) with Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust which allows me to deploy cardiopulmonary exercise testing and rehabilitation research projects and services within the NHS.

Get in touch: / 0191 349 5446 


Prof Tracy Finch

Professor of Healthcare & Implementation Science

Department: Nursing, Midwifery and Health

I am co-lead for the Integrated Health and Social Care MDRT. I am an applied social scientist in the health research field, with a primary background in health psychology.

My research focuses on the social, psychological and organisational aspects of implementing new interventions in health and wellbeing. My research interests span a broad range of topics in health and social care, but include applied health research methodologies (qualitative/mixed methods), mental health intervention, improvement of services and care for older people, patient safety systems, health care experiences, and e-health interventions. 

I am co-developer of Normalization Process Theory (NPT), which is a theory of how new practices in health and social care become successfully implemented and embedded into routine practice. This work includes developing theory-based but practically focused tools for users conducting implementation work in practice settings, to facilitate improvement in treatments and care provision across the health and social care systems. Currently, I am leading work with colleagues at Northumbria University and partners in Europe and Australia under Horizon 2020 funding to improve the provision of internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy through the development of and evaluation of an ‘implementation toolkit’ (‘ImpleMentAll’ study).

Get in touch: / 0191 215 6477



Our Staff

Innovative Health Interventions in Context

Vulnerable Populations and Social Justice

Prevention and Management of Long Term Conditions


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