Thursday, 10 April 2014

52 weeks of public health research, part 14

Posted by Michael Heasman, Martin White and Lynne Forrest

From Martin White: The MRC has this jigsaw-like object in its 13th floor stair lobby. I think it celebrates 100 years of the MRC (Centenary last year). I attended two meetings: the Population Health Sciences Research Network board, which has overseen ‘methodological knowledge exchange’, including the hugely cited MRC Guidance on the development and evaluation of complex interventions; and the Public Health Interventions Development panel, which funds competitive, small scale research.

From Martin White: At the Public Health intervention Development research funding panel we reviewed 29 applications in less than 3 hours. Two panel members per application. You do the maths. The applications are short (a couple of pages) and the stakes not high (maximum of £150k over 18 months). But, only few will get funded. The MRC assessment criteria demand a high level of rigour and innovation. Only an agreed score of 8 or more can be considered for funding. There is no room for error as an applicant.

From Michael Heasman: no description required.

From Lynne Forrest: This poster appeared in the 3rd floor coffee room at IHS recently, urging us all to take the stairs for health and fitness reasons and also to ‘avoid awkward silences’ in the lift! I do wonder if it might be more useful if the notice were stuck beside the lift on the ground floor? And, as public health evidence is what we’re all about, is anyone evaluating its effectiveness?

Just to remind you:

Each Thursday of 2014 we’ll try and post around four pictures on the Fuse blog that capture our weeks in public health research, from the awe-inspiring to the everyday and mundane. Given that more of the latter than the former exists in my life, I foresee problems compiling 208 images worth posting on my own. So this is going to have to be a group project. Send me an image (or images) with a sentence or two describing what aspect of your week in public health research they sum up and I’ll post them as soon as I can. You don’t have to send four together – we can mix and match images from different people in the same week.

Normal rules apply: images you made yourself are best; if you use someone else’s image please check you’re allowed to first; if anyone’s identifiable in an image, make sure they’re happy for it to be posted; nothing rude; nothing that breaks research confidentiality etc.

Also, this doesn’t mean we wont also be posting words. You word-based posts are, as always, much appreciated.


  1. Regarding the signs... I wonder if you've come across StepJockey, which got some DH funding a while ago: The whole NFC / app / tracking aspect seems to overengineer the problem to my mind, but it's an interesting idea. They did at least attempt some evaluation, too.

    I was a little frustrated to be in a modern health-related building here in the North East recently where I had to ask for directions and found that (a) I was directed via the lift and (b) when I came to leave, I couldn't find the (unsignposted) stairs, so ended up coming back down in the lift, too.

  2. Yes - I think I saw StepJockey on the news, I think. Agree the whole app thing seems a bit over-faffy. Feels a bit like someone decided that the solution was going to be an app whatever happened. And the message is slightly disappointing - 12 calories from bottom to top of our building if I counted the steps correctly. Which barely seems worth it!