I am Chuks Onwunyi from Nigeria. I bagged a Masters of Public Health
degree from the University of Salford in 2017. My interest in public health was
born out of a keen desire to understand the dynamics and variations in health
of population. I wanted to understand what determines human health and how
these factors could be managed in providing optimal population health.
Enrolling in the MSc Public Health program was therefore a way to enhance my
capacity to contribute positively to improving population/community health
Picking University of Salford was easy:
Beyond my love for
Manchester, the testimonials of alumni as well as the structured
curriculum/programme informed my choice of and attraction to the University of
Salford. Moreso, during my time at the university, the support received was
immense. The lecturers were open and accessible, and I also had access to
experts outside the school which helped me see the wide application of my course
of study. The curriculum exposed me to different aspects of public health. I
also enjoyed the mentorship program which gave me access to lecturers who had
great experience in public health. Also, the lectures were designed to allow
engagement with public health experts from different practice areas. This
particularly helped me to see the application of theory in practice post
graduation. I also networked with some of these experts which was helpful in
shaping my next career decision.
Another interesting feature of the public health program at Salford is
that it allowed for public health skill acquisition and development. During my
program I led an external project which gave me firsthand experience and skills
which I honed and have applied over time. Furthermore, after graduation, I have
successfully led major international projects. Much of the successes recorded
on these projects can be traced to the mentorship program which continues
post-study. I have consulted my mentor (that was assigned to me during my
study) at different times for references, ideas and direction.
I currently work as a Health Policy Analyst with the Government. I have
led and supported several projects including the development of the Suicide
Prevention Framework, Opioids harm reduction policy strategy, and design of the
Alcohol harm reduction policy options. Before now, I led a Bill and Melinda
Gates Foundation funded project in Africa targeted at improving Maternal, Neonatal
and Child Health outcomes.
I am grateful for my experience at
Salford. The experience laid the foundation for all I have contributed to
recently and the improved health outcomes being experienced in several
countries. Salford to the World!
is my first time blogging and I hope that this piece helps others in their
journeys when starting their dissertation projects. At first, I had no
understanding of how big a task writing a dissertation was and how much it
would consume my life! From the research methods module, I knew that I wanted
to look into my own research area and I wanted to build upon a piece of work
that I had worked on from start to finish, so my dissertation journey started
from picking a topic area of interest and it ended with a report being
presented to Manchester City Council. A couple of weeks after submitting the
report to the council, I got an email from the council informing that my work
will be used in an upcoming Council guideline. I will be referenced in their
work, which I still to this day can’t believe is
From the start of the dissertation module, I buddied with up a course colleague, David Gilbert, and we set out a task schedule and went over all the tasks that we needed to complete for the dissertation. We had the same supervisor so that made it easier for us to bounce ideas off each other and work together, it was also great having someone who was working at the same pace as me. We had a lot of late nights in the library working on our individual projects, with delirium usually happening around 2 am in the morning. We would find ourselves arguing over who our supervisor’s favorite student was and shouting ‘noooooo more!!’ at our computer screens after receiving our feedback, which meant more work for us to do. (Helpful hint: if working in the library take snacks—we always got the munchies around midnight and that helped to fuel us on through the night and also there are food options that can be delivered to the library!!!.)
Onto the practical side of things, it was important for me to collaborate with one of the city councils, as they would help in providing resources and would also help in refining the topic area being researched. I approached Manchester City Council during the research proposal stage of my work and they offered to assist me in the dissertation project. My initial topic area of interest was shisha/waterpipe smoking in Manchester, however, the council had already completed a lot of work on waterpipe/shisha smoking and asked me to look at a new area that was under-researched. So my dissertation project changed direction, looking at tobacco use and smoking in new migrant communities. The council provided me with the resources to complete the research project, insofar as access to migrant communities that could take part in focus groups.
I jumped into the research side of things and started conducting focus groups with different migrant communities. I had given myself a month to collect data and then planned to analyse the data, however, the council asked for more out of the project, they wanted to look at the project from different points of view, so that they could have a complete overview of tobacco use in Manchester. Interviews with primary care professionals were added to the project. I approached primary care professionals that the council recommended, as well as primary care professionals I knew through my work as an Operating Department Practitioner. I used all the contacts available to me in order to make my research project successful. However, adding another aspect to the dissertation project was the greatest challenge as it meant that the project changed from being one dimensional to being a triangulated research project. This meant analysing data from different perspectives and also meant further ethical approval was needed for the interviews, adding more layers to an already complex project.
terms of findings from the research, I found that alternative tobacco products
were popular in new migrant communities, many migrants were using different
tobacco products including shisha/waterpipes, and heated tobacco units. These
products were becoming more popular due to the flavours on offer and also their
price points. However, the research indicated that cigarettes were
still the most prominent form of tobacco being used within new migrant
communities, although migrants were finding ways to get cheaper cigarettes,
thus were importing cigarettes from their home countries or were buying
cheaper/counterfeit cigarettes from certain supermarkets or corner shops.
There were no
services specifically for new migrants, and a lack of data collection on new
migrants makes it difficult to track their needs. Gaps in the research
were presented clearly and I also included recommendations and conclusions in
the report, which the council could implement in the future.
I still can’t
believe that this was the outcome of my work, to be referenced in an important
guideline for the council that I was collaborating with. Getting the email to
say that my work was being used was completely unexpected, but this meant that
all the late nights and library visits were totally worth it…
The one thing that I would recommend to
future students is to work systematically, plan everything from data collection
to data analysis, timetable your plans and make lists. (Lists are super
important in detailing everyday details, the guys on my course used to make fun
of my list making, but they do work!)
As cliché as it sounds, doing a dissertation is a real journey, and it presents a lot of challenges along the way, but the key is perseverance and hard work. I enjoyed every aspect of it, from the data collection to the analysis to write up. Even if it meant sleepless nights and no social life for a few months, it is totally worth it! Even now, as I’m writing this, I am now thinking I want to do more and work on other research areas.
(As a side note, I also want to publicly thank the lecturers on this course, as without them none what I have achieved would have been possible without them and their input.)
Foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) is the range of conditions that can be caused by prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE). People with FASD can have a wide range of physical and mental difficulties, especially with planning, attention, impulsivity, coordination, social communication, emotional arousal, and memory. These difficulties can impact daily living, school, work, social relationships, and long-term health and wellbeing. In the UK, it is estimated that at least 3%, and possibly up to 17% of the population would qualify for a diagnosis on the foetal alcohol spectrum, although the majority will never be diagnosed. FASD has been known about for several decades but does not yet receive appropriate attention in schools and universities, meaning that many doctors, teachers, social workers and other professionals are not trained to spot the signs of FASD. This can leave children and adults with FASD struggling with the academic and social demands of everyday life without the support they need. Unsupported, people with FASD are more likely to be excluded from school, lose their job, struggle with addictions, and be convicted of a crime. FASD is thought to be especially common in looked after and adopted children and care leavers. Many of these individuals also have histories of traumatic experiences such as abuse or neglect in early childhood, which are also known to lead to developmental difficulties similar to those seen in FASD.
I came to the University of Salford in 2015 to conduct research on the combined effects of PAE and childhood trauma. The project was offered as a funded PhD in partnership with the National FASD clinic in Surrey. I had just completed my degree in psychology and already had some experience in alcohol research, but like many others I had never heard of FASD. The first stage of the project was a thorough review of the published literature on FASD and trauma. I was surprised to see that very little research had been published on the combined effects of both exposures, only five studies in fact, but there did seem to be an interesting pattern of results emerging. Taken together, the studies suggested that children with both PAE and trauma were functionally similar to children with just PAE but tended to have more difficulties than children with just trauma. This suggests that, where children have both exposures, PAE is more likely to be the primary driving force behind those children’s difficulties. The published studies had tended to focus on speech, language and communication, but other areas of functioning still needed to be addressed. Therefore, during the next stage of the project I conducted studies into brain functioning, intelligence, working memory (the ability to hold and manipulate information in the short-term), inhibitory control (the ability to stop oneself from performing an action that feels natural), empathy (an understanding of the perspective and emotional state of other people) and behavioural difficulties in children with PAE, about half of whom also had a history of trauma. I was interested to see whether the children with both exposures had similar or more severe difficulties than the children with just PAE.
Since FASD is largely a hidden condition, I suspected that recruitment of participants would be challenging. Most of my participants were recruited via social media, especially online FASD support groups, which had been set up by families affected by FASD to provide mutual support and information. In order to access as many participants as possible, I used an anonymous online questionnaire to ask parents and carers about their children’s PAE, trauma, empathy and behavioural problems. The strategy worked, and 245 parents or carers completed the questionnaire, many more than I had expected. As well as UK respondents, many were from the United States and Canada, which reflected the populations of the online support groups. To make as much use as possible out of the participants, I invited the UK respondents to bring their children in for some further assessments. Many of the families lived outside of the Greater Manchester area where we are based, and I only had funding to offer £10 for travel expenses, but an amazing 25 families affected by FASD came into the university, some travelling hundreds of miles at their own expense to get here. In the lab, I used a brain-imaging technology called functional near infra-red spectroscopy (fnirs) to look at brain activity, a standard IQ test to measure intelligence, and puzzles to assess working memory and inhibitory control. Finally, I also conducted interviews with 12 parents and caregivers, to explore their experiences of raising a child or children with FASD.
The results of the questionnaire and lab studies between
them supported the findings of the literature review. Children with both PAE
and trauma had similar brain activity, intelligence, empathy, inhibitory
control, and working memory to children with just PAE. In terms of behavioural
difficulties, children with both exposures had a slight tendency to have more
severe conduct problems than children with just PAE, but their emotional
functioning was similar. The studies also showed that children with PAE have
high levels of childhood trauma, severe behavioural difficulties and poor
empathy compared to typically developing children, although intelligence,
working memory and inhibitory control were within the average range. In the interviews,
parents’ experiences were fairly consistent, and there was little difference
between the experiences of parents of children with and without trauma. I asked
parents about their children’s behavioural difficulties, which I expected would
be described as stress inducing. This was the case, although parents also
described many positive experiences. However, even though I didn’t specifically
ask, every family described some level of stress caused by dealing with service
providers. Doctors and other healthcare workers often didn’t understand and
were unable or reluctant to diagnose FASD. Adoption agencies and social workers
were accused of playing down the impact of PAE in order to secure a placement,
then leaving families to deal with FASD with no specific support or training.
Parents and children were offered services designed for trauma and attachment
issues, even when children had no history of trauma. There was a widespread
lack of understanding and lack of services designed to deal with FASD, and this
seemed to be the most stressful part of their experiences.
Taken together, the results of the published studies, questionnaires, lab studies and interviews show that children with both PAE and a history of trauma appear to function similarly to children with just PAE and tend to have more severe difficulties than children with just trauma. Therefore, the difficulties seen in children with both of these exposures seem to be primarily caused by PAE rather than childhood trauma. Based on these findings, my recommendation would be that children seen in care, school, or in a medical setting, who have both PAE and a history of trauma, should be thought of more as a child with FASD than a child with a history of trauma. The trauma absolutely should not be overlooked, as it will definitely have had an impact, but in terms of interventions, therapies and strategies, those designed specifically for FASD may be more effective than those designed for trauma. These conclusions have led to a new project; my colleagues and I are currently developing a parent training programme designed specifically for FASD issues, something which is currently missing in the UK. The full thesis is available in the University of Salford institutional repository.
My PhD journey started when I joined the University of
Salford in 2015. Before this I had completed a BSc in Sport & Exercise
Science and an MSc in Clinical Exercise Physiology, followed by several years
working as a researcher in the health technology industry. Along the way I had
also completed qualifications in gym instruction and exercise referral
instruction. Therefore, the planets aligned well when an opportunity arose to
complete a PhD about exercise referral schemes, combining research experience
with personal interests.
Exercise referral schemes are one of the most common
approaches to increasing physical activity levels in people with long term
conditions, providing access to individualised exercise programmes and support
from qualified exercise professionals. There are hundreds of these schemes
operating across the UK, illustrating their popularity as a method of physical
activity promotion. However, the evidence base underpinning the effectiveness
of these schemes to-date has been poor. The aim of my PhD was to contribute to
this evidence base, by evaluating Tameside’s “Live Active” exercise referral
Fortunately, the scope of my PhD was quite broad, meaning
that I could develop and practice a wide range of research skills. The majority
of my data was quantitative, some of which was secondary data collected by the
scheme, and some of which I collected using accelerometers. With so many different types of data, I found myself
conducting several types of statistical analyses, from simple to complex
statistical tests, several of which I was trying for the first time!
Fortunately, I was able to take a break from all of this quantitative data, by
conducting a qualitative study. This was the most enjoyable chapter for me, and
in the end, turned out to be a very important chapter, revealing findings that
were central to my final conclusions.
In March 2019 my PhD journey came to an end, when I successfully defended my thesis at the viva. Following this, I was fortunate enough to be offered a position as a senior research associate at the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Health inequalities were an important consideration in my thesis, and have always been an area of interest and motivation, so this is a fantastic opportunity to explore equality and human rights more broadly. I have no doubt that I would not be in this position, if it were not for the research and transferable skills that I developed throughout my PhD, with the help of my fantastic supervisors, Dr Margaret Coffey, Dr Anna Robins, and Prof Penny Cook. By the end of your PhD, you will have developed more skills than you may realise, some of which will be quite broad and highly valuable, and you must not forget this when planning your next steps after the PhD!
Of course, for myself, and many other students, the PhD
journey provided an opportunity to experience and practice more than just the
intricate details of research study. Throughout the three years I attended
several conferences, both home and abroad, sharing the findings of my research
through posters and oral presentations. I also met several other researchers at
these conferences, with the same research interests as myself. It has been
great to stay in touch with these people, to discuss our research, provide each
other with feedback, and some have been kind enough to invite me to collaborate
on their work in the future. It was also great to complete this PhD with a
partner organisation, Live Active, where I got to develop my stakeholder
engagement skills, and attempt to influence practice with my research findings!
At the Chevening official award ceremony in London
My Salford adventure started on August 2017 when I got awarded of the Chevening Scholarship that permitted me to pursue a post-graduate study of Public Health in the United Kingdom. The Chevening Scholarship is the UK government’s global scholarship program, funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and partner organisation that aimed to provide opportunities to leader, scholar, researcher and influencer from 144 countries worldwide to fulfil their dream to study in the UK. The application process for this life-changing opportunity was very demanding and competitive but I was driven and strengthened by my desire to experience the best that the UK has to offer in terms of academic life, career opportunities, culture, history, and leisure activities. Therefore, I challenged myself to fulfil all the requirements that was necessary in order to be awarded of such honour to study in the UK, where so many researchers, influencers, scholars, and leaders have shaped our modern world through their astonishing achievement – for example Sir Isaac Newton, Alexander Fleming, Sir Charles Darwin, Sir Alex Ferguson, or John Lennon.
Through my Chevening application process, I had to choose the UK universities that could provide me with the platform to achieve my lifetime project. I, therefore, conducted a thorough search of all UK Universities to find the one that could help me to fulfil my academic and professional goal. My search for the most appropriate university was based on my professional and academic background of public health and occupational medicine. In addition, I was looking for a University that could provide me with the skills and knowledge to strengthen the health system in my country Madagascar, particularly in terms of health at work and well-being, disease surveillance, epidemiology, data monitoring and statistics.
The University of Salford, particularly the Department of Public Health, stood among all UK universities as my first choice. Indeed, during my search for the best university, I discovered that the Salford Department of Public Health delivered a specific module about Health at Work and Well-being led by Dr Margaret Coffey – a well-known and respected researcher in the field of public health. Therefore, I contacted the University of Salford about this module that interested me. The public health team at Salford were keen to enlighten me with additional information through the module leader Dr Margaret Coffey and the programme leader Dr Anna Cooper-Ryan. I was surprised to discover that the module Health at Work and Well-being had been integrated into a particular module called 21st Century Global public health challenge. This module, led by Dr Anna Cooper-Ryan and Dr Margaret Coffey looked at the challenges of public health on a global scale. Because the Chevening Award represents a global initiative to promote tolerance, excellence in research, leadership and diversity, the choice of the Department of Public Health of the University of Salford became obvious to me as it promotes this global vision of public health by giving opportunities to international students, such as myself, to gather skills and knowledge, and to share my experience of public health among my peers. Definitely, the University of Salford was the place to be to achieve my master’s degree of public health.
With Prof Richard Stephenson the University Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the International Student Scholarship ceremony held at the University of Salford
When I first arrived in Manchester, and I met the public health team, my choice of the University of Salford was reinforced by the level of expertise of the lecturers, the university’s cutting-edge facilities, the amazing students Union, and the International Society activities. In addition, the city of Manchester appeared a vibrant city for the average student, which promoted diversity and tolerance, and provided a wide range of entertainment and leisure. This had a positive impact on my well-being as a student when the master’s study became more demanding. The high level of academic support and the workshops provided by the University of Salford helped me also to achieve a successful academic life.
One of the memorable periods of my academic life in Salford, was our field trip in Eyam when all the teaching staff and the students went on a public health field trip. Not only did the field trip help me to understand in a practical way the “nitty-gritty” of public health and epidemiology, but also permitted me to develop warm relationships with my lecturers and classmates, which strongly contributed to my academic success and well-being later. Apart from the field trip in Eyam, the dissertation project at the end of the academic year was also one of the best moments of my academic life at the University of Salford. During this dissertation project, I had the privilege to work with and to take advantage of the expertise of my supervisor, Dr Margaret Coffey, about the experience of part-time employment in the UK in respect of health and well-being. This project provided me with an in-depth understanding of the challenges that part-time workers might face in terms of health and well-being at work, and the drivers that might explain the level of commitment and satisfaction of the workers for their chosen career. Through this thesis project, I have gathered all the knowledge and skills I needed to go any further in the career of public health with a particular focus on health at work and well-being. In addition, it permitted me to reinforce my research skills and to learn to tackle efficiently all the issues that may occur during a research project that involves a systematic review methodology. I was also astonished by the high level of supportmy supervisor and all the teaching staff provided to me to achieve this memorable success in academic research.
In a nutshell, my academic year at Salford was full of success and was one of the best moments of my life so far. It permitted me to work and to learn from the experience of well-known researchers in public health. It taught me to think outside the box when a public health issue occurs and prepared me to address serenely any public health challenge. This experience helped me to grow, to be more confident, to be bold and to get ready to fight against all form of inequities, inequalities and injustices.
The first transition for me was moving from my home country, Nigeria, to England to study – it was very daunting to begin with. The initial decision to come to England to study for a Masters was very different from the decision I made to stay to further my studies and start a PhD. When I came to England to study for my Masters, I wanted to gain further skills and knowledge – the decision was based on the challenge to get better academically, and in turn to inform my future career path. The decision to further my education and embark on a PhD was based on the skills and knowledge I had acquired during my Masters degree. The wide range of resources available to students to make learning convenient at the University of Salford was beyond expectations. As a postgraduate student, I had unlimited access to an extensive range of books, e-books, journal articles, and government publications to help me study, as well as request for articles that are not licensed to the University.
The major influence in deciding to apply for a PhD was based on the final semester of my Masters programme, when I conducted a research study for my dissertation. The research study examined the associations between sitting at work and mental wellbeing. I loved the idea of looking into a problem and trying to find out as much as I could about it, and looking into something that there was little previous research on. That’s the joy of being a researcher (although it is not always as simple as it sounds!).
The progression from a postgraduate taught degree to a postgraduate research degree is a big step in one’s education, because the doctorate degree is seen as the highest level of educational achievement. The move from a ‘regimented and structured’ life of a taught programme to the ‘unstructured’ life of a PhD can be scary. This is because the structure of deadlines and assignment submissions is no longer there – you have to carefully plan your own time and set your own targets. It can be quite overwhelming at times, sitting in an office every day of the week, rather than attending classes for two to four hours every day. I am in an office with other PhD students, many of whom are working in studies that are not related to my field – this can make the PhD journey lonely at times, but also interesting because I get to learn about things outside of my own area of research.
When I started my PhD, all of a sudden I was exposed to all these opportunities and changes. The PhD involves independent research and that means a lot of input from me as a researcher – like I said, it can be quite scary if you face it all alone. The University has provided various workshops and study skills sessions to help me adapt to the system, without feeling too overwhelmed! Also, there is an allocated staff member to stand in as a personal tutor to help discuss any issues that may affect one’s studies. I have made use of these resources and intend to keep making use of them. So far so good, it’s been an interesting journey and I hope it will get even better!
In the first year of Abolanle’s PhD, she has had the work from her Masters study accepted at the International Conference on Ambulatory Monitoring of Physical Activity and Movement (see poster), and has recently submitted work from her first PhD study to the International Society for Physical Activity and Health Congress.
Association between sitting at work and mental wellbeing
Realistic workloads, supportive managers, fairness, and a bit of recognition for good work: are things like this too much to ask for employees? I’ve always been interested in work psychology, even before I knew it was possible to study it; after all, who wouldn’t be interested in making work better and less ‘stressful’? Despite recommendations from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence that preventative interventions (strategies that target potentially stressful working conditions rather than employees’ ability to cope with them) should be prioritised, there is relatively little research of this type. Many years later, and having just completed my PhD looking at how employers might improve work for employees, and I’m probably a bit more realistic about how challenging that can be!
Who wouldn’t be interested in making work better and less ‘stressful’?
Can we make work better?
I was initially surprised when I started my research that the evidence for methods of improving work for employees and supporting their psychological health and well-being was rather mixed; some studies reported reasonable results, but many seemed to suggest they didn’t do any good at all. I soon found that this is in part because preventative approaches are usually very complex and involve lots of people and decisions, as well as relying on effective implementation. On top of that, there are likely to be many contextual and practical factors that can influence the process: unexpected events, organisational changes, limited resources, and even cynical employees, have the potential to derail even the most careful plans. So my initial focus on whether or not preventative approaches were effective quickly shifted to look at why even the most well-intentioned efforts can lead to disappointing results. My research aimed to add to our understanding of the factors that can derail them and learn lessons that can help with future efforts.
It’s certainly not all bad news, because there are things that employers can do to improve things, they just need to be aware of some of the pitfalls and get the planning and implementation right. For example, ensuring that employees have a say in identifying what aspects of the workplace should be prioritised, rather than senior managers deciding what’s best for them. Then there are seemingly obvious things – that are often forgotten – which can make a huge difference: communication, and follow-up. If you’re going to start a project to improve your workplace, it is vital to keep employees up to date on plans and progress, and that any promises are followed-up – fail to do that and employees might see yet another ‘well-being initiative’ introduced with great fanfare before it silently disappears under layers of new priorities. Is it any wonder employees might be cynical at times? There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, it’s incredibly complex, but thankfully the evidence suggests there are things that can be done.
Research in the ‘real world’
It can also be challenging to conduct research in organisations – although well worth doing – because, let’s face it, they are not there for the benefit of researchers. They naturally have their own priorities. For example, in my research, the organisation I worked with were supportive of my work and very keen to take action to improve things for their employees. However, because they were severely hampered by substantial cuts to their budget during my PhD project it meant large-scale restructuring was required, making it very difficult for them to fulfil all their original plans. As a researcher this was hugely frustrating, particularly as I had to complete my work within a set timescale, but it was obvious the organisation was being stretched and doing their best under very difficult circumstances. As a result, things didn’t happen when they were supposed to, or didn’t happen at all in some cases; welcome to the ‘real’ world of research! However, it taught me so much and it is probably a better piece of work because of some of these challenges, to be honest. There were also some positive outcomes (and plenty of lessons) for the organisation to use as they continue with their work to support employee well-being. And, as I graduated at The Lowry on the 18th July 2017, and having progressed to a lecturing post at Staffordshire University, I was able to look back with so much pride and wonder how on earth I got there!
The organisation was very keen to take action to improve things for their employees
Why the Lindsey Dugdill award is so special
The graduation was made all the more special by receiving the Professor Lindsey Dugdill award for my PhD thesis. Knowing how much Lindsey meant to her many friends at Salford, it’s quite hard to adequately express how much more this award means as a result. I was fortunate to meet Lindsey during my PhD, but I’d like to finish with an experience that took place several years previously when I submitted a proposal for a different PhD to the university. I had lots and lots of questions, and I was advised to contact Lindsey as the proposal was in her field. She was incredibly generous with her time and advice – spending her own time talking through my ideas and giving feedback. It is worth emphasising that this is despite Lindsey not being involved in the project, and had never even met me before – I was just a potential student with an interest in Lindsey’s field of expertise (or one of them!). It would be a better story if my application had been successful but circumstances at the university meant the funding was unavailable – Lindsey still got in touch with some encouragement. I cannot tell you how much I appreciated the time and trouble she took to help someone she didn’t even know, and I was delighted to be able to tell her in person when I actually joined the University a couple of years ago. Having met Lindsey, and having worked alongside so many of her close friends in Public Health and Psychology, I know this sort of support and encouragement was not a one off, which says it all really. A lovely person.
John Hudson receives his award from Dean of Health Sciences Kay Hack
James is a researcher with experience using both qualitative and quantitative research methods and an understanding of the social determinants of health, particularly the role of work and how the psychosocial work environment impacts on employees’ mental and physical health and wellbeing.
His PhD explored the impact of working in a social enterprise on employee health and wellbeing through the lens of ‘good’ work, culminating in the development of an empirically informed conceptual model that illustrates how working in a social enterprise may lead to improved health and wellbeing outcomes.
Following the completion of his PhD, he secured the role of Researcher at the Work Foundation, a think-tank based in London, which is dedicated to promoting the concept of ‘good’ work and its benefits for employees and employers alike. Drawing on the knowledge and research skills acquired through his PhD, he is, primarily, focused on developing evidence-based policy recommendations relating to the health and wellbeing at work agenda. Recent projects include: overseeing the development of an ‘early intervention toolkit’ designed to make the case, using the example of musculoskeletal conditions, for the implementation of early intervention services across the European Union; and a service evaluation of a newly-formed early intervention clinic, based in Leeds, which aims to get people signed-off work with a musculoskeletal condition back to work as soon as possible. To read more about this see – http://earlyinterventiontoolkit.com
James was awarded a BA (Hons) in History and Politics from Keele University in 2008 and an MA in Political Economy from the University of Manchester in 2010. His MA dissertation explored the relationship between income inequality and health, which focused his interest on the areas of public health and health inequalities. Prior to starting a PhD in Public Health at the University of Salford, James conducted a literature review for the university in 2011 on the impact of working for a social enterprise on employee health and wellbeing – this project served as a platform for his PhD research.
His PhD explored the experience of working for a social enterprise – an organisation with social aims that uses profits for that purpose – and whether these organisations provide good quality work conducive to employee health and wellbeing. Using a mixed-methods approach, comprising (i) a mapping study that identified social enterprises active in the Greater Manchester region, (ii) semi-structured qualitative interviews, and (iii) a survey completed by social enterprise employees across the region, the research finds that social enterprises provide good quality work environments conducive to employee health and wellbeing – furthermore, when compared to a national sample of individuals working in non-social enterprise organisations, social enterprise employees report significantly higher levels of control over their work, support at work, job satisfaction and job-related wellbeing.
My name is Umar Kabo Idris from Kano state, Nigeria. I am a passionate public health professional who is highly interested to be a part of strengthening health systems and closing the wide gap of health inequality in Nigeria. In pursuance of this interest, I was fortunate to work with an NGO that plays a vital role in health systems in northern Nigeria through the use of appropriate technology. My interest grew even bigger while working in many rural areas across various states. After working for almost two years, I thought of getting a masters degree in the field of public health in order to acquire the appropriate research skills and vast knowledge to fulfil the desired passion and achieve my end goal of changing people’s lives in the area of better health services and to also advocate for better health policies. With gratitude to God, that has been achieved as I have just concluded my masters degree program in Public Health from the prestigious University of Salford, Manchester.
During the masters programme time, I thought of a dissertation topic that would fit into what could change or bring in better health policies, add value to our localities particularly with regards to improving the lives of people in my state. I arrived at something to do with technology because from my ideas and those found from research, it is clear that technology is massively used to support many interventions through health systems strengthening in many developing countries. The research looked at the impact of local public health workers using GIS technology for polio vaccination coverage. It was a successful research, in the end we explored on ways the same technology could be used in other local interventions especially now that Nigeria is officially no longer listed as a polio endemic countries. Thereafter, that led us to find out the prevalent diseases that needed more attention and how the technology could be used to support those interventions.
The journey of my passion did not stop at that, my masters research has given me a broad scope of what I love to do. I immediately got the opportunity to apply for an opening of Assistant Project Manager in my second week of coming back. I applied and was called for interview due to my experience of work in the same organization I left for masters last year. Part of the job interview focused on my dissertation findings and it was an easy ride for me. In the end, I can say I got the job and my first task is to be a part finding out how we can use appropriate technology to support the upcoming measles campaign scheduled to take place in the third week of November 2015. I am highly exited and happy to get my masters from a great team of public health in the University of Salford, even more so from my inspiring project supervisor (Anna Cooper). I am also happy that I am on the right track of achieving my aim.