About the institute

Health and Social Care Institute

The Health and Social Care Institute aims to create an environment that promotes, supports and develops high quality research on health and social care topics. It aims to nurture interdisciplinary research across the University and in partnership with external groups and bodies. Dissemination of high quality outputs at local, national and international levels is key.

Our work is coordinated within two major strands:

  • Rehabilitation sciences.
  • Public health

Rehabilitation Sciences

The applied research and innovation work in rehabilitation sciences is focused on the themes of disabling and painful conditions, the development and application of technology, and physical activity.
More about our rehabilitation sciences work

Public Health

The applied research and innovation in public health focuses on the translation and application of research evidence into practice and policy and is pursued, in part, through our collaboration in Fuse: the Centre for Translational Research in Public Health , a UKCRC funded Public Health Centre of Excellence.
More about our public health work

What is distinctive about the research agenda of HSCI?

Research in HSCI is essentially applied in nature. Our goal is to undertake and produce work capable of making a real practical difference in the fields of health and social care. Many projects arise from practice or policy problems experienced in the field, so the development of new research involves a two-way exchange of ideas as researchers help practitioners establish ways of researching or studying a problem or evaluating a service development to see if it is really effective. Service users are part of this equation as the end users of many of the products or service developments, and we are developing our ability to involve them in the development of research ideas and projects.

How will HSCI nurture inter-disciplinary research?

HSCI contains an eclectic mix of researchers from different disciplinary backgrounds. People originally trained in physiotherapy or nursing work alongside those from social science backgrounds. Those with strong skills in statistics are complemented by others with interests in systematic reviewing or physiological measurement. This means there is an Institute-wide capacity for peer review of applications or work going forward for publication. Many researchers are also involved in collaborative work with colleagues in different institutions, and draw down the specialist knowledge needed for some projects to produce the best quality application or project design.

What partnerships with external groups will HSCI seek to establish?

All HSCI researchers are encouraged to build and develop collaborative working links with academic colleagues in other institutions. Most major projects require a range of specialist skills. An example of an important collaboration is Fuse: the Centre for Translational Research in Public Health , a UKCRC-funded collaborative venture between the five North East universities which seeks to build capacity in researching public health and which specifically focuses on the issues and problems in translating public health research evidence into practice and policy. Our rehabilitation research group works closely with clinicians in the James Cook University Hospital and our public health evaluation group works with a number of local PCTs and government agencies in Scotland and England. We maintain day-to-day partnership working on a variety of projects and involve external bodies through membership of the Institute Board and advisory committee.

How do the research themes within HSCI relate to one another?

In rehabilitation, there are specific strands of work relating to research on pain, to rehabilitation after stroke, to work on knee and shoulder injury and to the use of exercise following major trauma or illness. In public health there work is on maternal obesity, the measurement of physical activity, and on children and young people’s mental well-being, with a strong strand of work focused in CHASE (Centre for Health and Social Evaluation which undertakes evaluation of public health interventions. Several members of staff work across these two principal areas of rehabilitation and public health, bringing their skills to studies in each strand.

How will HSCI develop the research environment to encourage less experienced researchers and nurture quality research students?

In our membership we have a number of early career researchers and research associates. Not all of these are new or recent graduates. It is a characteristic of the health field that people may come into research after a career in practice. All junior or early career researchers are mentored through their principal investigator if they are working on externally funded projects or through an assigned mentor from experienced researchers. Mentors meet with their mentees at intervals to review their career plans where these involve research and to examine what needs to be put in place to support and assist their development. Our recently established research seminar series encourages all researchers in HSCI, including PhD students, to present their work. Seminars focus on methods and process issues rather than substantive findings, so they can become an occasion for sharing learning about research. A regular email newsletter contains updates of research grant opportunities, relevant training opportunities, seminars and stories about publications and grant successes of HSCI members.