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Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic

24 March 2020 

As one of 14 National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Protection Research Units (HPRUs) in England that provide research support and capacity to Public Health England (PHE), we are joining colleagues from HPRUs across the country to support PHE’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Corona virus

Our research team includes specialists in epidemiology, paediatrics, primary care, evidence synthesis, statistical and mathematical modelling, behavioural science, health psychology, qualitative methods, health economics, trial design, and patient and public involvement. 

We are mobilising our workforce to support PHE in the following ways:

  1. Rapid response to calls for research to help us understand how COVID-19 spreads, in particular assistance with mathematical modelling to predict rates and characteristics of transmission.
  2. Providing expert behavioural science advice and guidance to support public health interventions to change people’s behaviour to reduce virus spread.
  3. Increasing PHE’s capacity to conduct real-time surveillance of COVID-19 infection rates in the community.

We will provide updates on our response effort on this website over the coming weeks and months. 

Please note that from 1 April 2020, our name will change to NIHR HPRU in Behavioural Science and Evaluation. This change reflects our expanded scope to use insights into health behaviour in the design, evaluation and implementation of public health interventions.

Recent publications

How can we involve communities in managing the covid-19 pandemic? 

Slowing down the covid-19 outbreak: changing behaviour by understanding it 

Further information

For COVID-19 updates from the University of Bristol see:


Further information 

About the NIHR HPRU in Evaluation of Interventions at the University of Bristol

The Health Protection Research Unit (HPRU) in Evaluation of Interventions, based in Population Health Sciences at the University of Bristol, is part of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and a partnership between University of Bristol and Public Health England (PHE), in collaboration with University College London, Cambridge Medical Research Council (MRC) Biostatistics Unit and University of the West of England. We are a multidisciplinary team undertaking applied research on the development and evaluation of interventions to protect the public’s health. Our aim is to support PHE in delivering its objectives and functions. Our focus is on the PHE priority area of infection. Follow us on Twitter: @HPRU_EI 

About the NIHR

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is the nation's largest funder of health and care research. The NIHR:

  • funds, supports and delivers high quality research that benefits the NHS, public health and social care
  • engages and involves patients, carers and the public in order to improve the reach, quality and impact of research
  • attracts, trains and supports the best researchers to tackle the complex health and care challenges of the future
  • invests in world-class infrastructure and a skilled delivery workforce to translate discoveries into improved treatments and services
  • partners with other public funders, charities and industry to maximise the value of research to patients and the economy.

The NIHR was established in 2006 to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research, and is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care. In addition to its national role, the NIHR supports applied health research for the direct and primary benefit of people in low- and middle-income countries, using UK aid from the UK government.