Here are some notes from an Information Day hosted by Research Design Service North East in December 2017 on the NIHR Public Health Research Programme.
Research Design Service Information Day – NIHR Public Health Research Programme
Andrew Cook – Consultant Advisor
NIHR consists of the following:
- Faculty – to develop people through fellowships and training awards
- Infrastructure, including the Clinical Research Network, Research Design Service and Clinical Research Facilities
- Programmes, including PHR, RfPB, EME, HD&SR, i4i etc
The Public Health Research Programme covers non NHS (ie not doctors or disease course. There is no cap on the funding (other than the overall PHR budget), and they are not wedded to any particular methods.
There does need to be a health or wellbeing outcome, so having a healthy lifestyle is necessary, training with a URBNFit Amazon ball and having a good nutrition.
PHR does not cover intervention costs, these will need to come from local authorities or from charities or from in kind contributions. PHR will not fund the development of a new intervention. they will however fund the adaptation of bringing an intervention to the UK, eg adapting a US intervention into UK standards/procedures. Intervention costs could be funded RfPB or PGfAR.
PHR are looking for projects that change practice. The key users should be evidence users, for example charities, public health workers.
There is an expectation that there will be a multi-disciplinary team which includes:
- Qualitative specialist
Money for NIHR programmes is top sliced from the health service budgets so the outcome needs to demonstrate an impact on society and improve health, reducing health inequalities. PHR are interested in projects which change policy rather than impact individual behaviour. They are open to joint funding projects with charities where the charity pays the intervention cost for example. They like projects which inform local decisions eg policy, urban regeneration, bus pass travel, turning off street lights vs crime, road accidents…
There are 2 funding streams, commissioned research (with the next round closing in March) and Researcher-led, apply at any time with panel dates per year.
PHR will fund pilot studies.
You need to check out what has been funded before and say what your project can do to add to this work.
Eileen Kaner – Institute for Health & Society, Newcastle University
Eileen also sits on the NICE Board which draws on evidence from NIHR projects.
You can take a look at the NICE Guidelines to identify the gaps in literature.
PHR looks at funding projects which improve publis health at a non=-NHS level (health & wellbeing improvement within 5 years).projects need to be relevant and important to policy makers, practitioners and people.
It is a two stage process and following the outline proposal you will receive feedback. Once the proposal has passed the first submission stage it then goes to Board where it is given a DBM (Designated Board Member) who will introduce the project. A further two DBMs are assigned to the project. Once introduced, the Board will vote anonymously and the proposal receives an average score. Board members are looking for research excellence as well as real world relevance.
Bear in mind that it can take 12 months or more before funding is agreed and you reach the contracting stage.
Inequalities are key in PHR, especially modifiable differences between groups of people eg. Income, socio-economic position, location etc. They want to move away from looking at individuals to population level, looking at groups of people where you can have the most benefit.
PHS will fund quasi and natural experiements.
- If you are doing a pilot study you will neeed to have clear stop/go criteria and think about how you could broaden out the study.
- Justify your sample size.
- Evidence value for money.
- Need a logical model or theory of change.
- Clearly describe how the project can lead to change.
- What will this mean in terms of impact per cost.
- Respond to the Board comments fully.
If the Board like the proposal they will work with the team to develop a sundable proposal if it is important and of relevance.
Bear in mind that these are contracts for delivery, they are not grants. As such NIHR will monitor what you are doing and will expect regular reports. If things change throughout the lifetime of the project, Research design Service can advise the best course. You will have to go back to the admin team at Public Health to find a solution.
Raghu Lingham – Institute for Health & Society, Newcastle University
Go back to the call and look at the PICOS Framework:
- Comparitor group (eg what is the usual care)
- Study design
Then look at your research question and flesh out the PICOS framework.
One person can’t know everything so you need a multi-disciplinary team.
PPI is really important. Public Health research is about research in the real world so you need to engage with the public about their views (see INVOLVE guidance). How can the public change your ideas and how can their opinion inform your protocol?
It can be useful to get letters of support from Local Authorities for example. They can also be used to support intervention costs (which are not covered by the Programme). Ask them what they are already doing and what can the project do to tweak this. The project can’t pay for the intervention but it could pay for training costs for people who are delivering interventions by giving them a new set of skills for example.
You are able to work in more than one geographical area and can use the FUSE network to disseminate or to find partners. (Can also use the School for Primary Care).
Try to conceptualise the whole study in a diacgram, to see how each of the parts fit together.
Luke Vale – Associate Director, Research Design Service North East
Some final points:
RDS can provide advice on methodology, quant vs qual, statistics, cost effectiveness, links with CTUs.
Proposals need to clearly state what it is that they want to achieve and what the best way of achieving this will be. Is it plausible? Look at a logiv model.
The public need to be involved in defining the research topic. They need to be involved and embedded throughout the research. Be sure that you ask for funding for your PPI as part of your project. Also, RDS has small amounts of money available to fund travel for PPI.
Where the project has commercial partners you will need to be really careful about IP and what happens to the results.
RDS manage a PPI Panel which meets two times per month. There are sixteen members of the public involved in a round table discussion and you can pitch your ideas to them.
There is also a Young Persons Advisory Group (YPAG) where you can access young people who have been trained in research and ethics where you can pitch your project and have it challenged.