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Centre for Population Health and Public Health Research

Public Health is wide ranging and multi-disciplinary and a major strand of national and global health activity, policy and practice. The Centre for Public Health and Population Health Research (CPHPHR) has grown over the last five years with key new appointments and is now a major player in public health research.

In 2016, the Scottish Government Review of Public Health recommended that the Public Health function in Scotland was strengthened and ‘Delivering A Fairer Healthier Scotland’ recognised the ‘complex’ challenges it faced with “enduring inequalities; and changes in the pattern of disease requiring action to address the determinants of population health, as well as particular health priorities”.

This approach can also be located within the WHO strategy on research for health and has shaped key aspects of the CPHPHR’s own strategy. Our work also reflects the University’s research themes.

Our work is recognised both nationally and internationally and has had a major impact on both public health policy and practice. We are now growing the next generation of public health researchers to ensure we can continue to address major public health priorities both now and in the future. CPHPHR funding comes from a range of grant funders through competitive funding calls and applications.

Research Programmes

The key aim of CPHPHR is to produce policy and practice-relevant research that will improve the health of populations (in Scotland, the UK and beyond) and reduce health inequalities. Within this broad aim, we have three key programmes of research. The work of these programmes is further supported by a number of research fellows, research assistants and postgraduate research students. These programmes are:

  1. Designing and Evaluating Complex Public Health Interventions and Policies, which includes research on tobacco control and alcohol and drug policy. The core staff within this programme are Professor Sally Hawand Dr Cath Best. Dr Tessa Parkes also contributes to projects in this programme.

  2. Population Health and Epidemiology of Common Conditions, which includes research on diabetes and physical activity and health. The core staff within this programme are Dr Josie Evansand Claire Eades. Dr Gemma Ryde, Dr Dawn Cameronand Dr Jenni Connelly also contribute to projects within this programme.

  3. Social and Economic Determinants of Health and Health Inequalities, which includes research on occupational and environmental health, the social-to-biological transition and the health of vulnerable groups. The core staff within this programme are Professor Andrew Watterson and Dr Tony Robertson.

Our research cuts across the University’s three research themes: Health and Behaviour; Global Security and Resilience; and Cultures, Communities and Society. To this end we collaborate with colleagues throughout the University, including contributing to many of the University’s interdisciplinary research programmes which look to address global challenges. In addition we have numerous active collaborations with national and international partners in research, policy and practice.


Within CPHPHR we have a number of core staff (listed below). However, we also work closely with colleagues across the Faculty and the University. This includes contributing to many of the University’s interdisciplinary research programmes which look to address global challenges.

  • Staff

    Dr Catherine Best, Statistician/ Health Researcher, works on the Determining the Impact of Smoking Point of Sale Legislation Among Youth (DISPLAY) Study. Her research interests are mainly methodological, focusing on data management and statistical methods in population and public health research.

    Dawn Cameron, Lecturer in Health Sciences. Her work focuses on the diabetes, in particular self-monitoring of blood glucose and the prevention of diabetes related complications. 

    Dr Jenni Connelly is a Lecturer in Physical Activity for Health. Her research interests and current projects focus around physical activity promotion in hard to reach populations. 

    Claire Eades, Lecturer in Health Sciences, focuses on the prevention of type 2 diabetes, particularly in high risk groups such as women with gestational diabetes and people with prediabetes.

    Dr Josie Evans, Associate Professor in Public Health, works on the epidemiology of type 2 diabetes. She is also interested in developing behaviour change interventions among people at high risk of diabetes: women who have had gestational diabetes, people diagnosed with impaired glucose regulation, and the relatives of people newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. She is also working on interventions to increase physical activity in novel settings and groups, including the workplace, undergraduate nursing students, and women who play Bingo.

    Professor Sally Haw, Professor of Public Health, works on the evaluation of public health policy (in particular tobacco control) and the development and the evaluation of complex interventions.  She is also interested in the development and application of ecological models of public health to tackle problems associated with vulnerable young adults and homelessness and child neglect. 

    Dr Tony Robertson is a Lecturer in Public Health and his work focuses on trying to better understand the mechanisms linking our socioeconomic circumstances (e.g. education, employment, housing) and our health across the life course to help reduce health inequalities.

    Dr Gemma Ryde is a Post-Doctoral Impact Research Fellow and her work focuses on physical activity, sedentary behaviour and health, particularly in the workplace context.

    Professor Andrew Watterson’s work focuses on health impact assessments across a range of sectors, as well as public engagement and participatory action research with communities and workers. Other major interests include occupational and environmental disease recognition and the science, policy/ civil society interface.

  • Doctorate students

    There are eleven doctorate students currently working directly on public health topics, with many other doctorate projects in the Faculty that include significant public health aspects and impact. For further information about studying for a PhD or Clinical Doctorate in the Faculty, please visit our dedicated webpage.

    Current doctorate students include:

    Tina Barrows - An exploratory study of the health visitor universal antenatal home visit

    Kathleen Clarke - Cultural sensitivity in health visiting practice: exploring health visitors experience and competencies working with Syrian refugee families

    Elena Dimova - Prevention of Type II diabetes in high-risk groups (relatives/spouses of patients newly diagnosed with Type II diabetes) - 'The Teachable Moment'

    Fiona Dobbie - An exploration of the ASSIST smoking prevention programme in social networks beyond the school setting

    Claire Eades – Impaired glucose regulation and gestational diabetes - development of brief interventions

    Danielle Mitchell – Novel ways of using tobacco packaging to deter smoking

    Andrea Mohan - A behavioural cardiovascular risk reduction intervention for prisoners in a Scottish Prison

    Karen Rimicans - Health in Mind: a survey of mental health, wellbeing and lifestyle in the Falkland Islands and an explorative qualitative study of managing metal health and wellbeing by primary healthcare professionals

    Clare Sharp - Nalmefene prescribing in the UK - patterns and influences

    Colin Shore - The impact and feasibility of exercise specialist located with general practice

    Andrea Sinesi - The development and initial validation of a screening scale for antenatal anxiety

    Ashleigh Ward – A Delphi study on capacity development in prostate cancer services in NHS Scotland


Below you will find some of the recent CPHPHR publications that relate to our research. Please click on the image to view the full article. We will periodically add new grant funding and projects to this page.

  • Relationship between trying an electronic cigarette and subsequent cigarette experimentation

    Background: This study examines whether young never smokers in Scotland, UK, who have tried an e-cigarette are more likely than those who have not, to try a cigarette during the following year.

    Read the full paper

  • Prevalence of gestational diabetes mellitus in Europe: A meta-analysis

    Aims: Estimates of the prevalence of gestational diabetes vary widely. It is important to have a clear understanding of the prevalence of this condition to be able to plan interventions and health care provision. This paper describes a meta-analysis of primary research data reporting the prevalence of gestational diabetes mellitus in the general pregnant population of developed countries in Europe.

    Read the full paper

  • Using evaluability assessment to assess local community development health programmes

    Background: Evaluation of the potential effectiveness of a programme’s objectives (health or otherwise) is important in demonstrating how programmes work. However, evaluations are expensive and can focus on unrealistic outcomes not grounded in strong theory, especially where there is pressure to show effectiveness. The aim of this research was to demonstrate that the evaluability assessment (a cost-effective pre-evaluation tool that primarily gives quick, constructive feedback) can be used to help develop programme and outcome objectives to improve programmes while they run and to assist in producing more effective evaluations. This was done using the example of a community development programme aiming to improve health and reduce health inequalities in its target population.

    Read the full paper

  • A Rapid Evidence Assessment of Fracking for Shale Gas, Regulation, and Public Health

    Abstract: The evidence on public health regulation of the unconventional gas extraction (fracking) industry was examined using a rapid evidence assessment of fifteen case studies from multiple countries. They included scientific and academic papers, professional reports, government agency reports, industry and industry-funded reports, and a nongovernment organization report. Each case study review was structured to address strengths and weaknesses of the publication in relation to our research questions. Some case studies emphasized inherent industry short-, medium-, and long-term dangers to public health directly and through global climate change impacts. Other case studies argued that fracking could be conducted safely assuming industry best practice, “robust” regulation, and mitigation, but the evidence base for such statements proved generally sparse. U.K. regulators’ own assessments on fracking regulation are also evaluated. The existing evidence points to the necessity of a precautionary approach to protect public health from unconventional gas extraction development.

    Read the full paper

  • Accessing and engaging women from socio-economically disadvantaged areas

    Background: Our aim was to use participatory methods to investigate the feasibility and acceptability of using Bingo clubs for the design and delivery of an evidence-based physical activity and/or healthy eating intervention to socio-economically disadvantaged women. This paper describes the participatory process that has resulted in a physical activity intervention for women aged >55 years, ready for pilot-testing in a Bingo club setting.

    Read the full paper

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