Public Health Research

The PHR Programme funds research to generate evidence to inform the delivery of non-NHS interventions intended to improve the health of the public and reduce inequalities in health. Our scope is multi-disciplinary and broad, covering a wide range of interventions that improve public health.

The primary aim of the programme is the evaluation of practical interventions. We will fund both primary research (mainly evaluative, but also some preparatory research) and secondary research (evidence synthesis); precise methods will need to be appropriate to the question being asked and the feasibility of the research. 

Our research serves a variety of key stakeholders including: decision-makers in local government; primary care organisations and other local public services; third sector organisations; relevant national agencies (e.g. NICE) concerned with improving public health and reducing health inequalities; researchers; public health practitioners and the public.

All of our funded projects are eligible for publication in the NIHR Journals Library. This open access resource is freely available online, and provides a full and permanent record of NIHR-funded research.

Scope

The PHR Programme funds research to generate evidence to inform the delivery of non-NHS interventions, specifically, we provide new knowledge on the benefits, costs, acceptability and wider impacts of non-NHS interventions intended to improve the health of the public and reduce inequalities in health.

Proposed primary outcome measures should always be health related, unless otherwise specified in a commissioning brief. Examples include examining whether regeneration programmes improve public health and reduce health inequalities; evaluating employer schemes to encourage walking or cycling to work; and assessing interventions that encourage healthy eating among school children.

Applicants wishing to evaluate public health interventions that sit both inside and outside of the NHS, or on the boundary, are encouraged to discuss their proposals with PHR Programme staff at an early stage.

The PHR Programme will generally only consider applications focused on intervention development where an intervention already exists and for which there is an evidence base, but it requires adaptation to situations such as a new context (e.g. a change in setting or target behaviour or client group) or amalgamation of separate, defined interventions so that they complement each other. 

However, where a compelling case is made, we will also fund work to establish feasibility and to pilot a definitive intervention. This research may also include work to optimise an existing intervention prior to evaluation, where research has shown that the intervention performs sub-optimally and there are specific remediable aspects of the intervention such as the delivery method or the timing of elements.

The programme does not, however, fund the creation of new interventions as this research would likely fall under the remit of the MRC Public Health Intervention Development (PHIND) programme. 

The PHR programme will not support

  • The creation of new interventions, or processes, where active components of existing interventions are recombined to create a new intervention whether or not driven by a logic model or underlying theory. 
  • The design and development of new websites, apps, text messages or other software designed as all or part of creating a new intervention. Websites or other supporting material with the aim of publicising the study or supporting study recruitment, for example, which is only required to carry out the research study, would be supported within the general rules of the programme as would material associated with the optimisation of an existing intervention prior to evaluation.

Contact us

We offer a wide variety of assistance during all stages of the research process. If in doubt, please get in touch.