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18/70 Fire and rescue visits to improve health outcomes



Deadline for submission: 19 November 2019, 1pm

Please note: The Public Health Research (PHR) Programme would like to draw researchers’ attention to the commissioning brief below, which was first advertised in Spring 2018. This is a brief that we have previously advertised as a commissioned funding opportunity. We are still interested in receiving applications in this research area, as it remains a priority in our portfolio. However, please note that the commissioning brief, along with the underpinning literature searches, has not been updated since originally written.

Research Question(s)

• Which fire and rescue safety and health related interventions are effective* at improving health outcomes and reducing health inequalities?

As well as their duties directly tackling fires, fire and rescue staff undertake interventions related to safety and health promotion within peoples’ homes and the wider community. Prevention work in communities is often second nature to every fire-fighter and core business in every local fire and rescue service. The high regard and trust of the public for the fire and rescue service and its access to vulnerable members of society means it is uniquely placed to provide critical interventions, promote health messages and refer to appropriate services. By working in partnership with local services, fire and rescue services have developed an understanding of the needs and the risks of the communities they serve.

The NIHR Public Health Research Programme wishes to commission research on the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of interventions that have been, or have the potential to be delivered in the UK by Fire and Rescue Services to improve health outcomes and reduce health inequalities. Studies may evaluate multi-component interventions which may be delivered in different settings. Relevant target groups may be studied which may include those defined by age, gender or ethnicity.

The following interventions are examples. Researchers are not limited to these and may want to investigate combinations of interventions:

  • Safe and Well visits within the homes of the most vulnerable people in a community.
  • Delivery of education packages to schools to help raise awareness about safety issues.
  • Trained officers working with the deaf/visually impaired community.
  • Coordination of fire and rescue teams with other organisations, such as social housing providers, drug and alcohol teams, community nurses, social workers.
  • Staff being trained as Dementia Friends.
  • Working with children and young people who have demonstrated fire setting behaviours.
  • Ensuring eligible people receive the flu immunisation.
  • Looking out for babies and toddlers through the Safe start programme.
  • Health champions, including getting people more active.
  • The prevention of cold homes.
  • Falls prevention.
  • Those that aim to prevent social isolation.

Researchers should demonstrate the relevance of their proposed research to evidence-users.

Additional notes

Studies may evaluate multi-component interventions. Researchers are asked to specify and justify study design and indicate how long-term impact will be assessed. Interventions to be evaluated must be outside the NHS and the primary outcome must be health-related. Researchers should identify underlying theory and may include a logic model to help explain underlying context, theory and mechanisms. Research should consider the impact of the intervention on health inequalities. Proposals should ensure adequate public involvement in the research.

Public health initiatives are complex and wide-reaching. Evaluation should acknowledge this by adopting a broad perspective, taking account of costs and benefits to all relevant sectors of society. A health economic evaluation to inform affordability and return on investment should be included where appropriate.

For all proposals, applicants should clearly state the public health utility of the outcomes and the mechanisms by which they will inform future public health policy and practice. Details about the potential impact and scalability of interventions, if shown to be effective, should be provided.

For the evaluation of time sensitive naturally occurring interventions applicants may wish to consider the fast-track work stream -

*‘Effectiveness’ in this context relates not only to the size of the effect, but it also takes into account any harmful or negative side effects, including inequitable outcomes.

Remit of Call

All proposals submitted under this call must fall within the remit of the NIHR Public Health Research (PHR) programme. For the evaluation of time sensitive, policy driven, interventions applicants may wish to consider the fast-track work stream.

Notes about NIHR and the PHR Programme

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.

Applicants should consider how their findings will impact upon decision making in public health practice, whether results are generalisable to other populations and affordable, setting out a clear pathway to impact. The NIHR PHR programme recognises that there is a need for an evidence base for disinvestment and that the removal of an intervention from a population can be worthy of evaluation.

The affordability of the intervention, and at least an indication of the stakeholder(s) willing to fund the intervention, should be referenced within the stage 1 application. At the stage 2 application point, statements of support confirming stakeholder commitments to funding will be required. Applicants should be aware that the NIHR PHR programme is unable to fund intervention costs.

The NIHR PHR programme is open to the joint funding of research projects with other organisations such as those in the third sector. If you would like to explore the potential for joint funding, please contact us at with details of your proposal and the other funder prior to submission.

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.

Notes to Applicants

The NIHR PHR programme is funded by the NIHR, with contributions from the CSO in Scotland, NISCHR in Wales, and HSC R&D, Public Health Agency, Northern Ireland. Researchers in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are eligible to apply for funding under this programme.

Applicants are recommended to seek advice from suitable methodological support services, at an early stage in the development of their research idea and application. The NIHR Research Design Service can advise on appropriate NIHR programme choice, and developing and designing high quality research grant applications.

The NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) supports health and social care research taking place in NHS and non-NHS settings. The CRN provides expert advice and support to plan, set up and deliver research efficiently.

Clinical Trials Units are regarded as an important component of many trial applications however, they are not essential for all types of studies to the PHR programme. The CTUs can advise and participate throughout the process from initial idea development through to project delivery and reporting. NIHR CTU Support Funding provides information on units receiving funding from the NIHR to collaborate on research applications to NIHR programmes and funded projects. In addition, the UKCRC CTU Network provides a searchable information resource on all registered units in the UK, and lists key interest areas and contact information.

Transparency agenda

In line with the government’s transparency agenda, any contract resulting from this tender may be published in its entirety to the general public. Further information on the transparency agenda is at: