Together the work themes presented here form the official programme of work for our Health Protection Research Unit (HPRU) until 2025.

Work theme 1: Intervention development: understanding risk and behaviour

Work in this theme builds on our existing research programme which has pioneered theory-, evidence- and person-based methods to develop effective interventions with impact for policy and practice. We:

  • provide methodological expertise in intervention co-design informed by behavioural and social science theory and empirical evidence;
  • work closely with other themes to refine the pathway from intervention design to evaluation and large-scale implementation;
  • focus on ensuring that all interventions are accessible to and appropriate for diverse communities and contexts.

Work theme 2: Evidence synthesis: establishing ‘what works’ and the size of public health need

This theme provides systematic review capacity for the HPRU, and uses Multiple Parameter Evidence Synthesis (MPES) to support public health surveillance and evaluation of health care programmes.

  • Systematic reviews and network meta-analysis: we provide support for the generation of preliminary evidence for interventions identified by other work themes and HPRUs.
  • Multi Parameter Evidence Synthesis: We use and develop methods that exploit multiple information streams to create new evidence for the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).
  • Natural experiments: We provide expertise on methods that use observational data to evaluate  interventions, appropriately accounting for relevant sampling and other biases.

Work theme 3: Evaluation: clinical and economic evidence to inform decision making

We provide methodological expertise in clinical epidemiology, economic evaluation and infectious disease modelling, and use disease transmission and economic models to provide evidence on impact and cost-effectiveness of different interventions. Where empirical evidence is weak and models are uncertain, we develop new studies that strengthen clincial and epidemiological data on key factors, such as morbidity, quality of life, carriage and mixing patterns. We also oversee the evaluation of interventions in response to UKHSA’s urgent requests and support development of methodologies for evaluating health protection interventions.

Work theme 4: Intervention optimisation and implementation

We provide behavioural and social science expertise for the optimisation and effective co-implementation of public health interventions. This includes:

  • optimising interventions before and during implementation using co-implementation evaluation techniques;
  • collaborating on implementation research and mixed method studies with other HPRUs and parts of the NIHR. 

Schools research network: We will work with UKHSA to support the development of a school-based health research network.

Responsive research

All HPRUs provide research capacity to UKHSA to support their response to emerging and emergency public health threats. Find out more about our responsive research

COVID-19 research

This work theme was added in 2020 in response to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Information about projects in this work theme can be viewed on our COVID-19 research page.