December 2017

A very warm welcome to the December 2017
CoE Ezine!

We've had a busy past few months in the centre, and would like to take this oportunity to reflect and inform you of some of our highlights.

We would like to thank all our friends and collegues for your support over the last year and we look forward to working and meeting with you again in 2018
Frank, Roisin, Pauline & Michael


1     CoE Away Day 2017

2     Working together for better health and wellbeing - understanding what works

3     NICOLA Study Report:  Key findings from WAVE 1

4     Sharing ageing Research - Beeson and CARDI Fellows International Scientific Meeting

5     CoE Public Engagement Highlights

6     Research Council Policy Internship with the Northern Ireland Assembly for Anne Devlin

7     Royal Society Pairing Scheme

8     Recent Grants

9     Recent Publications


Picture ...  Queens University Belfast

CoE Away Day 2017


The 10th, and final, Annual CoE Away Day was held on the 24th of November 2017 at the Slieve Donard Hotel in Newcastle, Co. Down (#coeawd17). Just over 130 delegates including teachers and students from St. Louise’s Comprehensive College and the Royal Belfast Academical Institution and invited guests from the Community Development and Health Network (CHDN), the Public Health Agency (PHA) and Belfast Healthy Cities.

In typical CoE fashion, Dr Hugh Campbell, resumed his role as our excellent facilitator for the day. After an energetic start, including various interactive icebreakers and intermingling, we were tasked with constructing a giant Christmas themed jigsaw puzzle with the help of the entire CoE stationary cupboard - glitter, tinsel, cotton wool, crepe paper - you know, just the usual office items!      

Our first guest speaker Professor Alicia O'Cathain (University of Sheffield) helped us take a look at how we could develop new ways to improve health. Dr Denise O'Hagan, on behalf of the Faculty of Public Health in NI, then provided details for those interested in joining the Faculty of Public Health.

In a change of proceedings this year, we created a more intimate setting for our usual 'stand and deliver' PhD presentations, which were all well received at their respective tables. Prior to lunch we also conducted the CoE version of the popular BBC Room 101 series. This was a comedic look back over the past 10 years of CoE funding, in which our invited panellists (Prof Roger O'Sullivan [IPH], Prof Jayne Woodside [CoE], Dr Aideen Maguire [CoE], Dr Laura Dunne [CESI] and Joanne Morgan [CDHN]) were asked to select an item that represented an aspect of the CoE in the past decade that they valued or would like to keep, and an aspect that they would like to change, would rather forget or dump. We had some very thoughtful recollections from the panellists including Rodger's nod to further funding of longitudinal studies such as NICOLA, ELSA, TILDA and HAGGIS, Joanne's acknowledgement of Prof Lindsey Prior's advocacy towards community engagement in research, and Jayne's appreciation of Prof Frank Kee's energy and devotion to Public Health research; aptly represented with the retention of a haggis, pair of jazzy shoes and a bouncing Tiger respectively. Perhaps most humorous of all, were the items representing things which the panellists would like to see binned, which included gender inequality (Barbie doll), the pecha kucha presentation format (a clock) and Research Fish (Nemo soft toy).

Following lunch we had a joint presentation from the Community Development and Health Network (CDHN) (Joanne Morgan and Jenny Hanna) and Prof Lindsay Prior (CoENI) examining community-based interventions to improve people's health. This was followed by an enlightening presentation from Matt Bird (Relationology International, @relationology) focussing on how in building unlikely relationships you experience unlikely opportunities. Knocking us up a gear, if that was at all possible, we had another excellent and lively presentation from our last guest speaker of the day Dr Zoe Williams (@DrZoeWilliams) entitled 'Walking the walk, and talking the talk', which seen us get up out of our seats, interactively cast our opinions, and develop our motivational interviewing skills to elicit behaviour change.

Once again creativity was key to the day, and this was no more evident, than in the various poster displays which summarised, in the most innovative of ways, the depth and breadth of research being undertaken in the centre. A special mention must go to Aideen Johnson (School of Education) for winning the best poster competition for her 'spot the difference' themed systematic review of school-based physical activity interventions. Praise too, to Dr Aideen Maguire and Rachel O'Neill who also won prizes for their creative displays on the day.   

The day ended with a wonderful '10 up' presentation by Prof Frank Kee, summarising a few of the successes from the centre over the past 10 years of CoE funding, and his closing remarks and words of thanks.

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Working together for better health and wellbeing - understanding what works


Date: 15th Nov 2017

Venue: Chartered Accountants House, Pearse Street, Dublin

‘Working together for better health and wellbeing – understanding what works’ was organised by the Institute of Public Health in Ireland IPH in partnership with the Departments of Health (North and South), the Health Service Executive (RoI), the Public Health Agency (NI), and the UKCRC Centre of Excellence for Public Health (Northern Ireland).

There was a high level of interest and attendance at the event. The opening address was given by the Minister of State for Health Promotion, Catherine Byrne TD. Keynote speakers included Prof Kevin Fenton, Director for Health and Wellbeing, London Borough of Southwark and Gerry Power, Director of Integration, Health and Social Care Alliance, Scotland.

Parallel sessions ran throughout the day with twelve workshops covering a wide range of public health topics including: Active Ageing, Children & Young People, Healthy Communities – Physical Activity, Wellbeing Services, Infectious Diseases, Participation & Public Involvement, Making Use of Research & Data, Healthy Eating, Mental Health, Healthy Workplaces, Alcohol, and Tobacco.

Presentations can be viewed here

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NICOLA Study Report:  Key findings from WAVE 1


On Monday 27th November 2017, an event was held at Riddell Hall, Queen’s University Belfast to mark the publication of the Key findings report from wave one of the NICOLA study. Speakers included, Prof Frank Kee, Prof Ian Young, Dr Sharon Mary Cruise and Acting President and Vice-Chancellor of Queen's University Belfast, Prof James McElnay.

Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland Eddie Lynch and the Director of Social Inclusion Policy Division, Department for Communities Ms Bernie Rooney The commissioner for Older people, Eddie Lynch that loneliness was a “key challenge in our ageing society”. Indeed, one finding which will be of interest to policy makers is that over half of 75 year olds live alone in Northern Ireland and living alone is twice as common in the most deprived areas.

Speaking of the results from wave one, Prof Frank Kee stated “Although the report presents only preliminary findings covering older people's social circumstances, their health behaviours and use of health services, there are some important results that have a bearing on government policies. As the study develops, its value to policy makers will increase, and will help government to evaluate a range of policies and keep us focussed on what counts for older people."

The key findings from Wave 1 of the NICOLA study can be read here.‌

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Sharing Ageing research -
Beeson and CARDI Fellows International Scientific meeting


The American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR) and Institute of Public Health in Ireland (IPH) organised a recent Beeson and CARDI Fellows International Scientific Meeting.   

Participants included Beeson Scholars, CARDI Fellows, mentors and invited guests and the event took place on 28 and 29 November in the Powerscourt hotel, Dublin.

The meeting provided an opportunity for Beeson and CARDI Fellows to give updates on their research and learn about the latest developments in ageing research.

Keynote presentations were given by Ian Robertson, Trinity College Dublin, ‘Inside the Innovators Brain’ and Chris Callahan, Indiana University School of Medicine ‘Improving the Diffusion of Innovation for Persons Living with Alzheimer's Disease’.

Congratulations must go to Dr Claire McEvoy and Dr Charlotte Neville, who both were successful in their bid to receive $45,000 funding (from AFAR and CARDI) to further assist their ageing research.

From Left: Emeritus Professor Robert Stout , Dr Claire McEvoy, Dr Joanne Feeney, Dr Joanna McHugh (CARDI Leadership Programme in Ageing Research) and Professor Roger O'Sullivan (IPH Interim Chief Executive)

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Public engagement, as defined by the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE), is a term used to describe the myriad of ways in which academics can better connect the work of universities and research institutes with the public. It is by definition a two-way process, involving interaction and listening, with the goal of generating mutual benefit.

Public engagement is nothing new to the Centre of Excellence for Public Health Northern Ireland (CoENI). In these highlights, we take a moment to review the various platforms used for public engagement over the past 12 months (2017).

The staff and students of CoE have participated in at least 7 local outreach activities spanning events in the Northern Ireland Science Festival (health benefits of the Mediterranean diet and Foyle arena research showcase), World antibiotic awareness week (W5), Culture Night Belfast (Carnival for a Cure – CRUK), Science uncovered event at the Ulster Museum (European researcher’s night), the 2017 Balmoral show and Queen’s University Belfast research showcase event. Many of the Staff and students of the centre are also STEM ambassadors, volunteering their time, enthusiasm and experiences to encourage and inspire young people to progress further in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects.

As a centre, we look forward to a very successful run of public engagement events in 2018.

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Research Council Policy Internship with the Northern Ireland Assembly for Anne Devlin


Anne has recently secured a Research Council Policy Internship with the Northern Ireland Assembly. For three months next year, she will be on secondment to the Executive’s Research and Information Service (RaISe) at Stormont. The policy internships are designed to give PhD students funded by one of the Research Councils first-hand experience of working within influential policy organisations. RaISe provides research and information for Assembly members (when there are any!), their staff and the secretariat across the wide range of business areas which are devolved to the Executive.  At this stage, it has not been confirmed what area Anne will be working within, but it is likely to be the Finance & Economics research team. While on the internship it is expected that Anne will work within the team on various topics and over the three months she will be producing briefing papers, getting involved in policy inquiries and helping to organise policy events.  Anne's hope is that the internship will help in her future academic career by giving her insight into how policymakers use academic research and how best to produce policy relevant research for Northern Ireland.

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Royal Society Pairing Scheme


This year Dr Michael O’Rorke, Public Health Intelligence Officer for the CoENI, was successful in applying for the Royal Society Pairing Scheme. This scheme gives research scientists the opportunity to learn about how parliament and government work, build lasting relationships with parliamentarians and civil servants, and illustrate how research can feed into the policy world.

Each year the society shortlists 60 applicants, but is only able to find a pairing for approximately 30. Unfortunately, The Royal Society was unable to find Michael a pairing for this year’s scheme, however like 30 others, he was able to attend the introductory components, take part in a tour of parliament buildings, workshops in Portcullis house and hear from invited speakers including the Rt Hon John Bercow MP.

For the 30 research scientists which were paired with UK parliamentarians and civil servants this year, they spent two further days shadowing their pair in Westminster. After the ‘Week in Westminster’, it is the turn of the parliamentarians and civil servants to get an insight into the world of research, undertaking reciprocal visits with their pairs.

This is a fantastic scheme and more applications from Northern Ireland would be welcomed.

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Recent Grants


The centre has recently received population & systems medicine Funding (PSMB) (MRC) for a collaborative proof of concept study, using game theory to assess the effects of social norms and social networks on adolescent smoking in schools. Co-PIs for this study include Prof Frank Kee and Dr Ruth Hunter, as well as co-investigators elsewhere in Queen’s (School of education, the School of management and the School of electronics) and from across the UK (Stirling, Glasgow and East Anglia) as well as the USA (Michigan), Canada (Vancouver) and South America (Colombia).
The aims of the project are to develop and test new measures of social norms around smoking behaviours in adolescents using Game Theory approaches, and then use these improved measures to better understand the diffusion of social norms in school settings in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs), and in High Income Countries.

This will enable better characterisation of the potential mechanisms of action of smoking prevention interventions in schools, and learn lessons for the design and evaluation of behaviour change interventions that invoke mechanisms that change social norms. Ultimately, the project will foster a legacy of transdisciplinary research capacity in public health science in a LMIC setting, with clear pathways to impact.
This is a very exciting project, and we wish all involved well with its conduct.

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Recent Publications


Mohan G, Longo A, Kee F. Evaluation of the health impact of an urban regeneration policy: Neighbourhood Renewal in Northern Ireland. J Epidemiol Community Health. 2017 Aug 7. pii: jech-2017-209087. doi: 10.1136/jech-2017-209087. [Epub ahead of print]

O'Doherty MG, French D, Steptoe A, Kee F. Social capital, deprivation and self-rated health: Does reporting heterogeneity play a role? Results from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Soc Sci Med. 2017 Apr;179:191-200. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2017.03.006. Epub 2017 Mar 6.

Moore SE1, McEvoy CT1, Prior L2, Lawton J3, Patterson CC1,2, Kee F1,2, Cupples M1,2, Young IS1, Appleton K4, McKinley MC1,2, Woodside JV1,2. Barriers to adopting a Mediterranean diet in Northern European adults at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease. J Hum Nutr Diet. 2017 Nov 21. doi: 10.1111/jhn.12523. [Epub ahead of print]

Hunter RF, Gough A, O’Kane N, McKeown G, Fitzpatrick A, Walker T, McKinley M, Lee M, Kee F on behalf of the Ethics of Social Media Research for Public Health Group. Ethical issues in social media research for public health: Considerations to guide future research. (in press with AJPH)

Badham J, Kee F, Hunter R.Simulating network intervention strategies: Implications for adoption of behavior. (in press:  Social Networks 2017)

McHugh Power JE, Lawlor BA, Kee F. Social support mediates the relationships between extraversion, neuroticism, and cognitive function in older adults. Public Health. 2017 Jun;147:144-152. doi: 10.1016/j.puhe.2017.02.015. Epub 2017 Apr 8.

Cruise S, Kee F, Hunter R, Tully M, Ellis G. A comparison of road- and path-based walkability and their association with active travel. Journal of Transport and Health 2017 (in press)

Murray JM, Brennan SF, French DP, Patterson CC, Kee F, Hunter RF. Effectiveness of physical activity interventions in achieving behaviour change maintenance in young and middle aged adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Soc Sci Med. 2017 Nov;192:125-133. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2017.09.021. Epub 2017 Sep 19.

Heron N, Kee F, Mant J, Reilly PM, Cupples M, Tully M, Donnelly M. Stroke Prevention Rehabilitation Intervention Trial of Exercise (SPRITE) - a randomised feasibility study. BMC Cardiovasc Disord. 2017 Dec 12;17(1):290. doi: 10.1186/s12872-017-0717-9.

Best P, Badham J, Corepal R, O'Neill RF, Tully MA, Kee F, Hunter RF. Network methods to support user involvement in qualitative data analyses: an introduction to Participatory Theme Elicitation. Trials. 2017 Nov 23;18(1):559. doi: 10.1186/s13063-017-2289-5.

Marley J, Tully MA, Porter-Armstrong A, Bunting B, O'Hanlon J, Atkins L, Howes S, McDonough SM. The effectiveness of interventions aimed at increasing physical activity in adults with persistent musculoskeletal pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2017 Nov 22;18(1):482. doi: 10.1186/s12891-017-1836-2.

Cawley S, McCartney D, Woodside JV, Sweeney MR, McDonnell R, Molloy AM, Turner MJ. Optimization of folic acid supplementation in the prevention of neural tube defects. J Public Health (Oxf). 2017 Oct 20:1-8. doi: 10.1093/pubmed/fdx137. [Epub ahead of print]

Patel K, Kouvonen A, Koskinen A, Kokkinen L, Donnelly M, O'Reilly D, Vaananen A. Distinctive role of income in the all-cause mortality among working age migrants and the settled population in Finland: A follow-up study from 2001 to 2014. Scand J Public Health. 2017 Sep 1:1403494817726620. doi: 10.1177/1403494817726620. [Epub ahead of print]

Treanor C, Kyaw T, Donnelly M. An international review and meta-analysis of prehabilitation compared to usual care for cancer patients. J Cancer Surviv. 2017 Sep 12. doi: 10.1007/s11764-017-0645-9. [Epub ahead of print] Review.

Murray MA, Cardwell C, Donnelly M. GPs' mental wellbeing and psychological resources: a cross-sectional survey. Br J Gen Pract. 2017 Aug;67(661):e547-e554. doi: 10.3399/bjgp17X691709. Epub 2017 Jul 17.

Bosqui TJ, Maguire A, Kouvonen A, Wright D, Donnelly M, O'Reilly D. Ethnic density and risk of mental ill health - The case of religious sectarianism in Northern Ireland: A population data linkage study. Health Place. 2017 Sep;47:29-35. doi: 10.1016/j.healthplace.2017.06.010. Epub 2017 Jul 8.

Morgan E, Black CR, Abid N, Cardwell CR, McCance DR, Patterson CC. Mortality in type 1 diabetes diagnosed in childhood in Northern Ireland during 1989-2012: A population-based cohort study. Pediatr Diabetes. 2017 May 26. doi: 10.1111/pedi.12539. [Epub ahead of print]

Cardwell CR, Spence AD, Hughes CM, Murray LJ. Statin use after esophageal cancer diagnosis and survival: A population based cohort study. Cancer Epidemiol. 2017 Jun;48:124-130. doi: 10.1016/j.canep.2017.04.015. Epub 2017 May 6.

Patel K, Kouvonen A, Close C, Väänänen A, O'Reilly D, Donnelly M. What do register-based studies tell us about migrant mental health? A scoping review. Syst Rev. 2017 Apr 11;6(1):78. doi: 10.1186/s13643-017-0463-1.

Hughes J, Kabir Z, Kee F, Bennett K. Cardiovascular risk factors-using repeated cross-sectional surveys to assess time trends in socioeconomic inequalities in neighbouring countries. BMJ Open. 2017 Apr 3;7(4):e013442. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2016-013442.

Gough A, Hunter RF, Ajao O, Jurek A, McKeown G, Hong J, Barrett E, Ferguson M, McElwee G, McCarthy M, Kee F. Tweet for Behavior Change: Using Social Media for the Dissemination of Public Health Messages. JMIR Public Health Surveill. 2017 Mar 23;3(1):e14. doi: 10.2196/publichealth.6313.

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