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Health & Social Care Research Across North East & North Cumbria.

Emma's Research Story

Emma's Research Story

Emma Giles says...

"All partners bring different skills, experiences, networks, and expertise, meaning we can approach the research area in a truly inter-disciplinary and partnership way of working."

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I’m Professor Emma Giles, currently holding the position of Professor of Integrating Physical and Mental Health at Teesside University. I lead the Centre for Public Health in the School of Health and Life Sciences. My personal research interests and expertise focus on mental and physical health in relation to diet-related long term health conditions (e.g. food allergy, obesity), wider determinants of health (e.g. food insecurity), and designing health systems that provide seamless and accessible health care. I have methodological expertise particularly in qualitative research, systematic reviews, co-production and peer research.  

A collaborative study around food insecurity in adults with severe mental illness (SMI)

I am a co-applicant on an NIHR Programme Development Grant. This funding supports a new collaboration between Teesside University, Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust (TEWV NHS FT) and Middlesbrough Environment City (MEC). The study focuses on co-producing and piloting a new healthy ready meal, developing in collaboration with adults with SMI. It involves taking surplus food, re-purposing it into a ready meal, and distributing a small number via EcoShops in Middlesbrough.

How did the collaboration come about?

I was already working with Jo Smith (co-lead for this research), Consultant Dietitian at TEWV NHS FT and Clinical Academic at Teesside University, on other funded projects around food insecurity in adults with SMI. Some of the findings indicated that adults with SMI and food insecurity would value a new intervention that addresses food insecurity while also being environmentally and economically sustainable. The collaboration involves Teesside University co-applicants providing research guidance, TEWV NHS FT assisting in the recruitment of adults with SMI, and MEC offering support in the development and distribution of the meals. This means we work in a three-way collaboration across academic, NHS, and community sector organisations to support public health research.

What was the impact/success of this way of working?

All partners bring different skills, experiences, networks, and expertise, meaning we can approach the research area in a truly inter-disciplinary and partnership way of working.

What would be your advice for others who wish to work in a collaborative way?

Different partners and organisations bring different processes and structures to a partnership. Establishing clear lines of oversight, communication, expectations, and roles is important to work in a collaborative way.

Emma Giles's top 3 tips

Different partners have different ways of communicating. Agreeing from the outset can help establish clear lines of communication.

Each organisation can operate in different ways. Understanding what these are early on can help plan for meeting different requirements, e.g. sign-off procedures, ethics approval processes.

Collaboration with multiple – and sometimes very different – organisations can bring many new viewpoints but also challenges. Remaining flexible and understanding of multiple needs and varying viewpoints can help to collaborate in an open and inclusive way.

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