Search for courses or information

IHHD Research programmes and projects

Our research is conducted around four key pillars, each led by one of our world-leading academics: Well Communities (Prof Gail Findlay), Starting Well (Prof Angela Harden); Ageing Well; (Prof Gopal Netuveli); and Global and Mental health (Prof Tine Van Bortel). You can find more details on programmes and projects from all of our pillars below.

REACH Pregnancy Programme

The REACH Pregnancy Programme [Research for Equitable Antenatal Care and Health] aims to generate high quality evidence on how to improve access to antenatal care and enhance the value and experience of that care, for pregnant women living in areas with high levels of poverty and ethnic diversity. REACH is funded by an NIHR Programme Grant for Applied Health Research. There are three main projects within the research programme.

Community REACH is addressing ‘What is the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of a community based intervention for increasing early initiation of antenatal care and improving maternal and infant outcomes?’ Together with communities, midwives and voluntary organisations in 10 sites across North East London and Essex we have co-designed an area based intervention to support early initiation. The intervention has been implemented in all sites and we are currently collecting data on intervention outcomes, process and costs. #CommunityREACH

This group- model of antenatal care brings 8-12 women who are due to give birth around the same time have all their care together in a 2-hour sessions, facilitated by the same two midwives. We are exploring whether this model of care improves women’s experiences of antenatal care and the outcomes for themselves and their babies. Women of different parities, risk profiles and backgrounds/language skills are included. So far we have completed a feasibility study with four Pregnancy Circles, which found that both women and midwives enjoyed this model of care, and we are just finishing a pilot trial which found that randomisation is acceptable to women and tested the data-collection procedures. (see video #PregnancyCircles)

User involvement in maternity services is addressing ‘How can user involvement in planning, monitoring and improving maternity services be strengthened so that it is more effective and equitable?’ We have reviewed the literature and conducted a national survey and qualitative research interviews with Maternity Service Liaison Committees to find out how maternity services have involved local women in shaping services. We are continuing to support Barts Health NHS Trust to involve more women, more effectively.
The REACH study was shortlisted for the Royal College of Midwives’ Annual Awards in 2017 in the category of reducing inequalities.

Addressing low birth weight in Newham

Together with local partners and residents, IHHD carried out research funded by the borough’s Clinical Commissioning Group to understand the problem of low birth-weight from different perspectives, and pilot community-based interventions to reduce its health consequences.

Areas prioritised by stakeholders were care for women to improve their health before they become pregnant, and support for parents and relatives with breastfeeding and healthy infant feeding. Prevention of low birth-weight requires long-term action within wider public health strategies to promote health and reduce inequalities.

NHS Newham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) was shortlisted for the Health Service

Journal’s (HSJ) CCG of the Year award, as a result of the Newham Partnership Programme which includes two projects led by IHHD: Low Birth-Weight in Newham and Dynamic Populations.

Co-designing community based diabetes services

The co-designing diabetes services project has developed a model to empower young people to work with commissioners, providers, researchers and families to improve services and achieve better outcomes for themselves and other children and young people.

This model includes: a) setting up a collaborative ‘youth forum’ with processes for the recruitment and employment of paid roles such as young commissioners, young champions and young co-inquirers; b) a package of training for young people and the resources needed for ongoing support; and c) a ‘how to’ tool kit for commissioners, providers and researchers. The model is underpinned by formative work including reviews of existing evidence, new primary research and a first test of the model in one inner city London borough, all of which focused on disadvantaged and marginalised groups of children and young people who are more likely to experience poor health outcomes. The project has been a collaborative one between CLAHRC researchers, local providers (Barts Health NHS Trust), commissioners (Newham CCG), the local commissioning support unit, our local Academic Health Science Network (UCLPartners) and Healthy London Partnerships.

Funded by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care, North Thames London.

 NHS Involvement Hub
 Funder’s link
 Project video on IHHD site

NHS England Patient & Public Participation Team identified the Co-designing Community- Based Diabetes services for Children and Young People represents best practice, 2016.

The NIHR Central Commissioning Facility (CCF) identified the Co-designing Community- Based Diabetes services for Children and Young People represents best practice and merit dissemination to other Centres, 2017.

Me and EU

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)-funded site, ‘Me & EU’, which is complemented with a mobile phone app, aims to give young voters the key, relevant information to make informed decisions in the UK Referendum on EU membership, 2017 General Election and to understand the key issues being debated in the Brexit negotiation.

The easy-to-understand tools breaks down some of the complexities involved with the Brexit negotiations and colourfully presenting information on a range of topics, including security; the environment and sustainable energy; income and economic justice; education; travel and transport. The site is coordinated by UEL and NTU and is part of King’s College London UK in a Changing Europe programme.

The website was shortlisted for the 99% Campaign Youth Digital Award at the 5th Annual IARS Research and Youth Leadership Awards 2016. IARS annual awards aim to celebrate and reward cutting-edge research and youth leadership from around the world and exemplifies the project meaningful involvement of young people.

Keep Me Safe in Europe (KMSE)

The Keep Me Safe in Europe (KMSE) e-learning tool is a collaboration led by Anglia Ruskin University, the University of East London and other organisations including Walsall Council, European University Cyprus and the South-East European Research Centre.

It was funded by the European Union’s Erasmus+ programme and the game was co-designed and co-produced by groups of young people who have knowledge and experience of the care system and young asylum seekers. The main goal for the tool is to keep young people moving across the continent safely. It provides an engaging, culturally-specific and multi-lingual platform to understand and locate sources of help in new and challenging environments.

Keep Me Safe in Europe is unique in its merging of a videogame game play experience and feel with learning about neglect and abuse. This results in a mediate and curated experience that can reach a wide audience, all in context of a carefully safe guarded digital environment. Keep Me Safe in Europe is also widely accessible from browsers and devices and has specific features to facilitate its usage in classes and for facilitating interactive discussions of the themes presented.

The game can be played and downloaded from Keep me safe website.

“Keep me Safe” was shortlisted for the Research of the Year Award at the 5th Annual IARS Research and Youth Leadership Awards 2016.

Reducing blindness in India: Global challenge in reducing blindness

The ORNATE India project is funded by RCUK and aims to reduce the risk of visual impairment due to diabetes by developing a diabetic retinopathy care pathway.

This project is in collaboration with Moorfields Hospital Trust, UEL, LSE and Imperial College London in the UK and four major ophthalmology centres in India and the Government of Kerala. The strategy of this UK-India academic programme is to increase research capacity and capability at individuals, institutional and national levels and establish partnerships to address the challenges of decreasing blindness due to Diabetic Retinopathy (DR) through research. We will select a few government centres, private hospitals and well established diabetes and ophthalmology centres to ensure support is provided at all levels.

ESRC international studies for life course research

ESRC International Centre for Life Course Studies in Society and Health (ICLS). This in collaboration with UCL, Imperial College London, Manchester University, and Orebro University, Sweden.

Started 2008, the Centre is now in the process of applying for transition funding. Gopal Netuveli’s role in the Centre is leading the international perspectives in ageing and wellbeing.

ESRC Cross-investment project on social exclusion with Bangor University and UCL. This project is collaboration between two ESRC funded projects, ICLS and CFAS. GN leads on the influences of the environment on social exclusion in older ages.

Well Communities

Since 2007 IHHD has played a major role in the development, delivery and evaluation of Well Communities (formerly called Well London).

This is an innovative framework that enables disadvantaged communities and local organisations to work together to improve health and wellbeing, build community resilience, and reduce inequalities using a community development and co-production approach. This framework approach has been developed over two phases through work with 33 London neighbourhoods, across 20 London boroughs, supported by Big Lottery funding.

Our vision is empowered local communities who have the skills and confidence to take control of and improve their individual and collective health and wellbeing.

Our mission is to develop a robust, evidence-based framework for community action for health and wellbeing that will influence policy and practice to secure real enhancements to wellbeing and reductions in health inequalities across all communities in our capital city and beyond.

Over 35,000 people have participated in Well Communities, which have delivered a wide range of positive outcomes and impacts from improved open spaces to empowered communities with increased knowledge, skills and confidence, and greater capacity for working together to make a positive contribution to their community’s health and wellbeing.

A unique feature of Well Communities is the robust research and evaluation that runs alongside each programme to capture its effectiveness and cost-effectiveness together with comprehensive implementation support, to ensure the fidelity of, and learning about, the model. This IHHD led research has also involved collaboration with a number of other research institutions, including the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and the Centre for Health Service Economics and Organisation at Oxford University.

Supported by the Mayor of London and endorsed by Professor Sir Michael Marmot, Well Communities has been recognised nationally and internationally as best practice.

Documentary evidence of the effectiveness of the approach and its very positive impact in Phase 2 is captured in a short film. More information can be found on our website.

Dynamic Populations

This research project aimed to improve understanding of the nature of patient ‘churn’ in Newham and to co-produce improvements that could mitigate its impact on health outcomes and on primary care services.

This project aimed to improve understanding of the nature of patient ‘churn’ in Newham and to co-produce improvements that could mitigate its impact on health outcomes and on primary care services. The research has brought together evidence from a number of complementary sources, including: a literature review; individual and GP Practice level data analysis; insights from patients and staff; and early improvement evaluation with case studies. It has also developed a new set of measures for calculating churn rates in the primary care context, facilitated the coproduction of improvement recommendations and scoped the potential for economic impact evaluation.

Social Prescribing

Members of the IHHD team have developed significant expertise in the evaluation of social prescribing with evaluations for Newham, City and Hackney and Waltham Forest CCGs. They also contributed to London-wide and national guidelines on social prescribing (e.g. economic evidence review and social prescribing toolkit) in collaboration with the national social prescribing network of which they are steering group members.

Members of IHHD have also delivered evaluation workshops to commissioners and practitioners of social prescribing. The work in City and Hackney has featured in ‘The Learning Environment’ on the NHS England website, and the team has a number of collaborations with IT companies to develop social prescribing software packages.

The expertise of Dr Marcello Bertotti and Caroline Frostick is recognised nationally through their membership of the steering group of the Social Prescribing Network (SPN) which unites health professionals, researchers, practitioners, commissioners, and citizens to exchange valuable practice and develop social prescribing in the UK. The network was set up in 2016 and now has more than 1,300 members across the UK. Through this network, they have contributed to London-wide and national guidelines on social prescribing (e.g.Healthy London Partnership and NHS England) and have facilitated evaluation workshops specifically aimed at commissioners and social prescribing practitioners. More recently, Bertotti has contributed to consultancy work for NHS England investigating the economic evidence base for social prescribing and the development of a social prescribing toolkit.

Post Research Ethics Analysis (PREA) for health research in humanitarian crises

PREA is a research project investigating ethical issues in health research in humanitarian crises.

It aims to identify good ethical practice from lessons learned in the field and develop a tool that assists reflection on ethical issues in humanitarian research. The PREA project is firmly based on the assumption that research ethics needs to go beyond ethical approval mechanisms and support ethical practice during and after research projects. The PREA tool will provide researchers and other stakeholders with a pragmatic instrument that assists learning lessons about the actual ethical challenges that develop during health research in humanitarian crises. It aims to encourage good practice regarding equitable and meaningful stakeholder involvement from inception right throughout to completion and dissemination of research.


PROMISE (PROactive Management of Integrated Services and Environments) is a paradigm of co-producing an alternative discourse in mental health care.

A discourse that creates hope and agency and empowers patients to take the driving seat in moving towards recovery and life beyond illness. A discourse that empowers staff to ‘re-innovate the wheel’ and continuously improve on the small changes that make a big difference. A discourse in which patients and professionals can empower each other to eliminate reliance on force across the entire recovery journey. PROMISE has been funded and supported by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care East of England (CLAHRC EOE).   Additional matched-funding has come from the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT) and the Institute for Health and Human Development at the University of East London.