Centre for Health Services Studies

Excellence in Health Research

Public health

The public health group within CHSS encompasses broad experience and a wide range of public health skills. Our scope is multidisciplinary and we work with a wide range of partners to build the evidence base for improved public health and reduced health inequalities. CHSS and Kent Public Health Department have recently agreed to collaborate and develop an informal research and evaluation team. The aim of this is to build and strengthen local evidence for preventative programmes and support robust public health commissioning. Proposals on topics such as childhood obesity and evaluation of the Year of Care programme in Kent are under consideration. Other benefits of the partnership include the possibility of CHSS as a formal academic training location for public health speciality trainees.

Our current work falls into a number of areas:

Health intelligence
Current projects include collecting and analysing health and lifestyle survey data for Directors of Public Health in local government and collaborating with third sector organisations to run UK-wide patient satisfaction surveys for hospices.

Previous work covers a broad range of surveys, comparative and performance analyses, service evaluations and literature reviews. We have over 20 years' experience of survey research in Public Health, for example ‘Apple a day’, Healthquest SouthEast and the Welsh Health Survey. We led a partnership with Lille University and public health staff in the NHS and local government in a EU-funded study comparing health, lifestyle and mortality between south east England and northern France. Another significant area of work has been carrying out comparative analyses of hospital episodes at local and national levels, with the aim of understanding more about inequalities in population health and uneven health service utilisation, the most important being a study of cancer admissions across England and Wales for the Care Quality Commission.

Health policy and systems research
This year we started on a 3-year project called ‘PHOENIX’ to examine ‘public health systems’ in England following the health and social care reforms implemented in April 2013. A key focus is to explore the impacts of structural changes at national, regional and local levels on the planning, organisation, commissioning and delivery of health improvement services. We will be tracing the way that the issue of obesity is being tackled within public health ‘systems’.

Together with our colleagues in the Health Economics Group, we are also collaborating with the NIHR School for Public Health Research on their project entitled ‘Shifting the gravity of spending - exploring methods for supporting public health commissioners in priority-setting to improve population health and address health inequalities’.

Evaluations of public health interventions
CHSS have been involved in numerous small and large scale evaluations. One example was a ‘New Opportunities into Work’ project, which used qualitative and quantitative approaches to evaluate a variety of initiatives to help long-term unemployed into work. Another project evaluated sexual health education with teenagers. It was funded by the Kent Teenage Pregnancy Partnership to find out teenagers’ views and experiences of sex and relationships education, sexual health and family support services. We also undertook research aimed at tackling obesity in young teenage girls; the ‘Am I Bovvered?’ study explored the factors that motivate physical activity, developed and implemented a programme of exercise to facilitate an increase in physical activity and then evaluated the impact of the intervention.

International public health
We have a number of international links, and have an ongoing project with colleagues in Japan to develop a framework for comparative health systems analysis, and to establish a knowledge exchange network on comparative public health systems.

Who is involved


Contact for further information

Email: Professor Stephen Peckham

Centre for Health Services Studies, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NF

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Last Updated: 13/05/2016