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Nursing and Public Health

Lead: Professor Amanda Clarke  Meet our staff

The Nursing & Public Health research group are members of the Health & Lifestyle research area. This interdisciplinary research group is concerned with examining processes of, and attitudes to, health and social care in a variety of contexts (spanning hospital and community settings) and at different life stages, as well as improving the health of the public and reducing inequalities in health through community and population based interventions. Knowledge translation, practice development and user involvement are core elements of much of our research. Strategic partnerships with a wide variety of health and social care providers, commissioners, practitioners and service users enhance the relevance and use of our research in nursing and healthcare practice. We have access to a state of the art Clinical Skills Centre simulating hospital and community environments. The University has also invested more than £20m in IT infrastructure and equipment, with computing laboratories and computational resources for high-level computing, storage and manipulation of very large data sets, valuable for public health research.

Caption: Prof Glenda Cook with robotic sealThere are two main areas of focus within the group. The first of these is on nursing practice development, with a particular emphasis on quality, safety and patient experience. Recent research has included work to understand quality of life with enduring health needs, as well as studies examining quality and patient safety which build on previous work on patient safety education for medicine, nursing, physiotherapy and pharmacy, which was the subject of evidence to the Health Select Committee's 6th report on Patient Safety. Other studies have addressed user perspectives on care, work based learning for end of life care and workforce and practice development together with professional education. Professor Amanda Clarke is part of a major 5-university MRC funded project that is investigating the experiences of older people in chronic pain. Professor Glenda Cook is working with an international consortium (UK, Germany and Australia) to examine technological solutions - for example robotic animals  - to improve quality of life for people with dementia. She has also examined mechanisms to optimise involvement of older people in policy development, helping transform health and housing services. 

The second main area of focus is public health. Professor Mima Cattan has an international reputation in healthy ageing research and mental health promotion. She has recently secured NIHR PHR funding, starting in May 2014 for 28 months, to conduct a feasibility study on the use of exercise to prevent falls in visually impaired older people. Professor Susan Carr is principal investigator on a large NIHR funded study of effectiveness of outreach with traveller communities. Other recent work has examined the work of lay health advisers in public health, workforce development in public health, the evaluation of complex public heath interventions and the economic evaluation of policy initiatives to underpin the formulation of evidence-based policy. We have developed innovative methodologies for example combining realist evaluation and soft systems methodologies to provide a framework for evaluating complex public health interventions, and have not only economic but also statistical expertise within the group. We also work with colleagues in the Northumbria University Centre for Forensic Science in a number of related areas, for example building on MRC-funded work by Dr Eleanor Graham on the forensic detection of physical child abuse.

The group is closely linked to Fuse, the Centre for Translational Research in Public Health (one of five UKCRC Public Health Research Centres of Excellence). Professor Susan Carr is Associate Director of Fuse, and Northumbria has 2 Fuse funded posts. Other colleagues are associate researchers. We are active contributors to delivering Fuse objectives i.e. to improve health and wellbeing and to reduce inequalities by tackling major and emerging public health challenges (funded by ESRC and MRC with NIHR, and the School for Public Health Research among others).

We have a thriving group of postgraduate research students undertaking PhDs and professional doctorates (reflecting our commitment to the development of professional practice). We welcome interest from potential doctoral and post-doctoral researchers interested in working with us.


  • High quality accommodation for on-site research participants, international visitors and partner organisations
  • Clinical Skills Centre simulating hospital and community environments
  • Excellent computing laboratories and computational resources for high-level computing, storage and manipulation of very large data sets
  • Northumbria University Centre for Forensic Science facilities.

Case Study: Making it work: involving older people in their own care


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