September bulletin 2017

Welcome to our SCPHRP monthly update – September Bulletin 2017


  • Welcome to our new PhD students

Mary Allison is co-supervised by Ailsa Niven (PAHRC) and SCPHRPs Ruth Jepson and will be undertaking a PhD on Workplace Step Count Challenges.

Mary’s on twitter @MaryWestview


Gosaye Fida is co-supervised by Ruth and Charlotte Clarke (Health in Social Sciences), and will be undertaking a PhD around the National Diabetes Prevention Programme.



  • UPDATE from Greig Inglis

On 1st September SCPHRPs Greig presented some early work on public attitudes toward income inequality at the British Psychological Society’s Annual Social Psychology Conference in Leicester. The title of the presentation was “Causal attributions of poverty and wealth both predict support for income redistribution in the UK.”

Last week Greig was invited to contribute to a day-long session on social justice for undergraduate students in Education. He delivered four workshops throughout the day to trainee teachers on child poverty, health inequalities and education. The sessions were well received and generated a lot of interest amongst the students. He’ll be following up on this work with some more activities in the future, including a full lecture to Education students in the new year.

  • UPDATE from Jan Pringle

SCPHRP’s systematic reviewer Jan has been invited to present a poster at the Public Health Science conference in London on 24th Nov. The poster will highlight a review of early learning and childcare, carried out with colleagues from NHS Health Scotland, as part of the PHEN collaboration (Public Health Evidence Network). The particular focus of the review was on parental outcomes, and the conference will be an excellent forum to showcase the collaboration. The study abstract will be published in the Lancet around the same time as the conference

Jan also had the adolescent sexual behaviour paper published last month in Cogent Social Sciences. The title is: The physiology of adolescent sexual behaviour: a systematic review.

  • UPDATE from Audrey Buelo

Audrey, SCPHRPs new PhD student, attended the European Respiratory Society Congress in Milan in mid-September to present the results of a systematic review she conducted last fall with the Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research.

The project, supervised by Professor Hilary Pinnock, was a systematic review of risk factors associated with asthma attacks in children with asthma. The abstract was one of seven abstracts allocated to an oral presentation, out of over 90 abstracts submitted for the Primary Care session at the conference. Audrey presented the research to over 300 clinicians and researchers at the session. The talk was very well-received and people were especially interested in the clinical applications of understanding these risk factors.

  • Forest School Project

Girls experiences of Forest School: A qualitative evaluation of the impacts of a Forest School personal development programme for 12-13 year-old girls upon wellbeing, resilience, and community outcomes.

The project has been designed in collaboration with the Nature Unlimited staff, who requested the data collection and study in order to rigorously evaluate their programme and intervention. Adolescent girls who are taking part in the Forest School development program will be interviewed by the primary researcher, Jillian Manner.




  • EVENT: Natural benefits: human-nature relationships in the contemporary world

Have you built a woodland den recently? When was the last time you walked barefoot through the grass? Do you let your children climb trees?

24 October 6.30pm – 8.00pm at George Square Lecture Theatre, The University of Edinburgh, George Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9LD. Read more and register..


  • See Me Scotland PRESS RELEASE

THE HEADS of the Scottish health and social care services have come together for the first time to look at how to tackle mental health stigma and discrimination in the sector.

See Me say that mental health is not treated equally to physical health, which can lead to people experiencing stigma and discrimination, or having mental health needs neglected when experiencing problems with their physical health.

To change this, representatives at the event discussed how to ensure health and social care professionals are equipped to look after the whole person and treat physical and mental health together, providing the parity the Scottish Government aims to achieve in the new Mental Health Strategy.



SCPHRP’s Hannah Biggs and Alexandra Blair attended Children in Scotland’s (CIS) Networking Event on September 19, 2017 at Dovecot Studios (Edinburgh). Over the course of the evening, CIS unveiled their new branding and premiered a short film outlining their vision.



  • CHILDREN IN SCOTLAND Annual Conference 2017 – 8 & 9 Nov at Murryfield Stadium

Children in Scotland annual children’s sector flagship event is a unique opportunity for those who work within the sector to meet, network, learn and debate the key issues facing the sector today.

This year, they’ll be asking – if not you, then who? You’ll have the opportunity to explore, discuss and plan how you can make a positive difference to the lives of the children and young people you work with. Read more and register..



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The Scottish Collaboration for Public Health Research & Policy (SCPHRP) vision is to develop Scotland as a leader in public-health intervention research for equitable health improvement through catalysing strong researcher/research-user collaborations that ensure timely, robust, policy relevant research that is created with – and used by – key decision-makers.

SCPHRP Summer eMag 2017

Welcome to the Summer edition of the SCPHRP magazine, our second edition of 2017

We have had a busy 2017 so far at SCPHRP, we’ve said hello to a whole load of new people and said goodbye to a few. In this edition of the magazine we are sharing updates on some of the exciting projects we’ve been working on including our Citizen Science project, the 20mph Research Study, an Obesity Landscape project, and our Stand Up for Health project (which comes with a creative video from film-maker Felix Adamson). Hope you enjoy.

We would appreciate any feedback you have on what you like or what we could improve. If you have any, please send it to Sam at Thanks


NOTE: We recommend using browsers other than Firefox, as some funtions do not appear in this browser. If you are unable to access the magazine, there is a pdf version here



Danny Dorling – Economic Inequality and our Grandchildren’s Future (2015 Edinburgh Festival talk)

As part of the 2015 Edinburgh Festival, SCPHRP filmed Prof. Danny Dorling (University of Oxford) give a talk on ‘Economic Inequality and our Grandchildren’s Future’: a sharp, witty and fascinating attack on the inequalities in our society. You can watch some short clips from the talk on our YouTube channel, as well as the full talk:

In addition, we also sat down with Danny for the latest edition of ‘SCPHRP Meets…’

To find out more about Danny please see his websites:



Take 5 Minutes… To Update Your Knowledge on Synthesising Qualitative Studies

Synthesising Qualitative Studies: There is growing consensus that the needs, preferences and experiences of patients and the public should be taken into account in developing and evaluating new interventions. One way of ensuring that the views and experiences of the public can be incorporated into research, policy and practice is through identifying and bringing together (synthesising) the relevant research evidence from individual qualitative studies.

While the results from one qualitative study may be difficult to generalise, a syntheses of all the relevant qualitative studies can identify a range of common themes as well as any divergent views. Unlike methods for the synthesis of intervention studies (e.g. Cochrane reviews) there is no single method to the identification and synthesis of health (-related) qualitative research.

Four methods have been most widely used and are described briefly below:

Meta-ethnography is currently the most commonly used method . Meta-ethnography involves seven steps which, by bringing together findings from individual interpretive accounts, produces a new interpretation of the data. It involves both induction and interpretation, and thus follows a similar approach to the methods of qualitative data analysis used in the studies being synthesised.

Thematic synthesis is often (but not exclusively) used for analysing qualitative data alongside quantitative data synthesis. Initially developed by researchers from the EPPI-Centre, it addresses questions around “what works,” primarily in relation to health promotion interventions. This method develops analytical themes through descriptive synthesis and finding of explanations relevant to a particular review question.

Meta-study involves critical interpretation of existing qualitative research. Before synthesis can take place and a new interpretation obtained, three analytical phases are completed—”meta-theory, meta-method, and meta-data analysis”. These phases, equating to the analysis of theoryanalysis of methods, and the analysis of findings , can be conducted concurrently to “provide a unique angle of vision from which to deconstruct and interpret” a body of qualitative literature. Once these analytical processes have been completed, meta-synthesis “brings back together ideas that have been taken apart,” creating a new interpretation of the phenomenon under investigation

Meta-summary uses “quantitatively oriented aggregation of qualitative findings that are themselves topical or thematic summaries or surveys of data”. Such summaries can be conducted on their own, or in association with more traditional qualitative synthesis, and can include qualitative and quantitative descriptive findings.


The views of young people in the UK about obesity, body size, shape and weight: a systematic review.

This systematic review aimed  to examine recent UK research findings where young people aged from 12-18 provided views about their own body sizes or about the body sizes of others.

A total of 30 studies were included. Three main themes were identified:

  1. General perceptions about different body sizes and society’s responses to them (It’s on your conscience all the time);
  2. Overweight young people’s beliefs about influences on size and experiences related to their size (If I had the choice, I wouldn’t be this size); and
  3.  Overweight young people’s experiences of trying to lose and maintain weight and their suggestions for action (Make sure, even when it’s hard, you’ve got people there).

Young people discussed larger body sizes in overwhelmingly social terms. An overweight body size was to be avoided for social, rather than health reasons. Young women and men identified ideals consistently for their own bodies that were very different for the two sexes.

Implications for intervention/service development and delivery: The findings suggest that there is a need for those who develop weight reduction initiatives to recognise the physical, psychological and social constraints faced by young participants; and to consider how they can reduce stigma

Implications for policy: To consider the full range of factors that contribute to obesity, especially those that are social or environmental in nature, and provide opportunities for young people to engage in positive healthy behaviours , and to involve diverse groups of children in the development and evaluation of initiatives.


Ruth Jepson recently ran a two day event on synthesising qualitative research for the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science.

Further reading:

Ring N, Ritchie K, Mandava L, Jepson R. A guide to synthesising qualitative research for researchers undertaking health technology assessments and systematic reviews. 2010.

Ring N, Jepson R, Ritchie K: Methods of synthesising qualitative research for health technology assessment. Int J Technol Assess Health Care 2011, 27:384-390.


Dr Arlene Bierman – Achieving Health Equity in Ontario: Lessons from the POWER Study

Arlene BiermanThe POWER Study (Project for an Ontario Women’€™s Health Evidence-Based Report) produced a comprehensive Women’€™s Health Equity Report designed to provide actionable data for policy makers, providers, and consumers in their efforts to improve health and reduce health inequities in Ontario (

Health inequities were assessed using a comprehensive set of evidence-based indicators bridging population health and health care for the leading causes of morbidity and mortality among women and men. The study examined gender differences, and also explicitly examined differences between diverse groups of women.

Sizable and modifiable inequities in health and health care on multiple measures were identified. Inequities in health status were much greater than inequities in access to and quality of care. Inequities in screening and chronic disease management were greater than inequities in care of acute conditions. Insights and lessons learned will be discussed.

(Dr Arlene Bierman, University of Toronto)


Richard Tremblay – Early Childhood Origins of Violent Behaviour: Implications for Preventive Interventions

Richard E. Tremblay is professor of paediatrics, psychiatry and psychology at the Université de Montréal and professor of child development at the University College Dublin, Ireland; known throughout the world for his innovative research on socialization and the prevention of violence in children. He has published widely in scientific journals, books and websites. Named as one of Canada’s top five researchers by ‘Time’ magazine and featured in ‘Science’.


Professor Clyde Hertzman ’€“ Early Child Development: A Powerful Equalizer

ABSTRACT: Professor Clyde Hertzman is a social epidemiologist with a distinguished scientific career, who has devoted the last 15 years to both study and action on arguably the most important determinant of lifelong health and function: early life.  He has published many papers demonstrating the close links between early life experiences, especially the social environment around and within the family, and the achievement of full human potential across socio-economic groups in modern society. Furthermore, he has consistently expounded the view that early life is, of all the determinants of health, by far the most amenable to policies and programs to reduce socio-economic inequalities in health, in any reasonable timeframe. Proven pre-primary child development programs can ’€œlevel the playing field of life’€ for a birth cohort within just a few years of initiation.

Over the last several years, Prof. Hertzman has established and directed the Human Early Learning Partnership at UBC in Vancouver, an applied research and knowledge transfer/exchange unit, funded from public sources.  It is dedicated to the population-level measurement, and prompt community feedback, of novel indicators of child developmental health ’€“ especially the Early Development Instrument (EDI), a twenty-minute fully validated questionnaire that assesses ’€œreadiness to learn,’€ which is now completed by kindergarten teachers in every British Columbia school every few years.  [This instrument has been clearly demonstrated to predict primary school achievement, and in turn ’€œlife success,’€ which correlates highly to lifelong health and function ’€“ it is therefore a sensitive indicator of social inequalities in health at the community level.]

The EDI results from all British Columbia’€™s far-flung communities are extensively analysed by HELP, using in particular data depiction methods accessible to lay persons. These data are then fed back promptly to local communities, including school boards, parents and teachers.  Part of the analysis allows these  takeholders to judge how their local children entering school that year are doing in developmental terms, compared to both previous birth cohorts in that setting, and same-aged cohorts of children in socio-economically matched settings across the province. Similar programs of population-wide measurement utilizing the EDI are in place in parts of Australia, and are being piloted in several other countries.

A key benefit to participating communities is the complete separation of these measurements from the contentious issue of school performance per se. Because these measures are taken when indergartners (typically five years of age in Canada) are only a few months into their first formal school experience, the results cannot be used to ’€œblame the schools for below-average performance.’€  Rather, the results are invaluable as resources, to local schools and communities, in advocating for additional resources to both improve future birth cohorts’€™ readiness to learn at school entry, via pre-primary child development programs of established effectiveness, and remedial instruction for those already in school.  The HELP program thus works to the advantage of the disadvantaged, at a local level, while also providing sensitive ’€“ and potentially promptly reversible ’€“ measures of human developmental health, at any level of aggregation in an entire population, that is relevant to program and policy decision-making.


Clyde Hertzman – Early Child Development: A Powerful Equalizer


Dr J David Hawkins ’€“ Using Prevention Science to Promote Healthy Youth Development

Dr J David Hawkins is the Endowed Professor of Prevention and Founding Director of the Social Development Research Group, School of Social Work, University of Washington, Seattle. He received his B.A. in 1967 from Stanford University and his Ph.D. in Sociology from Northwestern University in 1975. His research focuses on understanding and preventing child and adolescent health and behaviour problems.

He is principal investigator of the Community Youth Development Study, a randomized field experiment involving 24 communities across seven states testing the effectiveness of the Communities That Care prevention system developed by Hawkins and Richard F. Catalano. He has authored numerous articles and several books as well as prevention programs for parents and families, including Guiding Good Choices, Parents Who Care, and Supporting School Success. His prevention work is guided by the social development model, his theory of human behaviour.


Watch: Measuring Health Inequalities. Talks by Rob Young (Oxford) & Frank Popham (St Andrews)

Talk 1: Rob Young, MRC Functional Genomics Unit, University of Oxford: What is the shape of the dose-response relationship between markers of socioeconomic status and health status indicators?

The association between socioeconomic status (SES) and health status has been extensively studied as a linear one, but this assumption of linearity is rarely tested. We have developed a novel technique based on spline theory which calls turning points, known as ’€˜knots’€™, within this linear relationship. Both the number and the position of these knots can be estimated using various standard regression models. The results of this modelling are summarised graphically and by two summary statistics ’€“ the Population Attributable Risk (PAR) and the Relative Index of Inequality (RII). We have used this approach to observe a significant increase in the strength of the positive association between the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) and the rate of hospital admissions due to alcohol misuse after reaching the bottom 10% of SIMD scores. When modelling a categorical variable such as education status we find that accounting for the population distribution can remove significant non-linearity even when analysing individual-level data. This new method improves the accuracy of traditional regression modelling while preserving much of its parsimony and, with the use of standard reporting statistics, its ease of interpretation.

Rob Young has just completed a six-month fellowship at the Scottish Collaboration for Public Health Research and Policy looking at non-linearity in the relationship between SES markers and health status indicators. This fellowship was a break at the end of the 3rd year of his DPhil based in the MRC Functional Genomics Unit, University of Oxford where he worked both computationally and experimentally on noncoding RNAs in the fruit-fly, Drosophila melanogaster.

Talk 2: Frank Popham, School of Geography and Geosciences, University of St Andrews: Comparing health inequalities in Scotland to elsewhere in Europe.

There is growing interest in how the extent of socio-economic inequalities in morbidity and mortality varies across countries. In Europe there have been a number of major comparative studies, the most recent of which covered data from the 1990s. However, Scotland has not been included in this work. So using data from the 1990s and 2000s the aim of the project was to replicate the most recent European work in Scotland. This talk will present the results.

Frank Popham is a research fellow in the School of Geography and Geosciences at the University of St Andrews. He has a social science background and his main research interests are health inequalities and population health.


John Frank & Sally Haw: Measuring and Monitoring Scotland’€™s Health Inequalities: New Approaches

Rob Young – hat is the shape of the relationship between socioeconomic status and health status?

Frank Popham – Comparing health inequalities in Scotland to elsewhere in Europe


Adolescent Health and Risk Behaviours Symposium: Policy, Research and Practice

On Wednesday 29th February 2012 SCPHRP and Health Scotland co-hosted an Adolescent Health and Risk Behaviours Symposium. The Symposium focused on policy, research and practice relating to adolescent health and featured presentations from a variety of speakers, as well as panel discussions and opportunities for Q&A.


Welcome and Opening Introduction: John Frank and Grant Costello

Adolescent Health and Wellbeing – Time to do things differently? Dr. Harry Burns

Trends in adolescent risk behaviour and relationships between risk behaviours – Helen Sweeting

Intervention programmes to prevent multiple risk behaviour – Ruth Jepson

City of Edinburgh Council – Multiple risk behaviour approach

Dumfries and Galloway ’€“ Life stages

Tayside – Taking an asset based approach to reducing teenage pregnancy

Themes from Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children – Candace Currie

Comments from discussion panel and open discussions


Helen Sweeting: Trends in adolescent risk behaviours and relationships between risk behaviours: comparison of two West of Scotland cohorts

Ruth Jepson: Review of interventions/approaches to address multiple risk behaviours in adolescents

John Nicholls: An emerging policy to address young people’€™s Risk Taking Behaviours

Jo Kopela & Michele Mccoy: Approaches to Addressing Adolescent Health Needs in Dumfries & Galloway

Felicity Snowsill & Ann Eriksen: Teenage Pregnancy: Everybody’€™s business!

Candace Currie & Kate Levin: Risk, wellbeing and assets for health: findings from Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children: WHO Collaborative Cross-National Study


Program: Adolescent Health and Risk Behaviours Symposium

List of Attendees