About Population Health Sciences and Mental Health Services

The Population Health Sciences and Mental Health Services (PHS&MHS) RRG is hosted by the Bamford Centre, based in the School of Psychology.

This RRG aims to harness a range of skills and expertise towards high impact interdisciplinary research, via four major strands of research:

Administrative and Secondary Data Research

Routinely collected administrative data are a valuable source of information for research and policy evaluation. These data are relatively inexpensive to exploit, compared to the costs of establishing specially commissioned surveys.  In 2013, an Administrative Data Research Network (ADRN) was established across the UK, with an Administrative Data Research Centre (ADRC) set up in each of the four countries. The ADRC-NI is a partnership between Queen's University of Belfast (QUB), Ulster University and the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA).  The ADRC-NI is responsible for commissioning and undertaking linkage of data from different government departments and making the linked data available for analysis, thereby creating new resources for a growing research agenda.   RRG members working under this strand have substantial expertise in quantitative methods and statistical modelling, resulting in over 400 peer-reviewed publications and research council funding for research projects and statistical training.

The Bamford Centre

The Bamford Centre aims to use expertise gained through the development of research that is relevant to the needs and priorities of patients, government and services.  Research conducted by the Centre aims to: (1) understand the determinants of health and the patterning of health service use; and (2) improve health services and the quality of life for people with mental health problems.  In our research, service user and carer involvement is given a dominant and sustainable role in our research activity.  We also seek to work with health and social care organisations and professionals to ensure that our research is relevant to the needs of patients and services. We are committed to interdisciplinary research within Ulster University while building national and international collaboration with academic research partners in Ireland, the UK and internationally.

Northern Ireland Clinical Research Network – Mental Health (NI CRN-MH)

The Bamford Centre plays a leading role in the Northern Ireland Clinical Research Network – Mental Health (NI CRN-MH), working with the Public Health Agency to build the mental health research infrastructures in Northern Ireland and to help create an all-island research network. These will link to the activities of research communities, industry and health services in the UK, Europe and North America.  Key areas for development of capacity will be clinical trials and use of administrative data.

Interdisciplinary Mental Health Research

There are a considerable range of strategic and, of course, economic, benefits to widening the academic communities of interest connected to the Bamford Centre. First, in the context of a shift in governmental policy there is now an emphasis and investment on promotion, prevention and early intervention in mental health.  This is demonstrated by a rapid growth in the Public Health research funding streams of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and the Medical Research Council (MRC).  Of significance to the Bamford Centre, mental health promotion and prevention require an active engagement across all sectors of government, such as education, industry and employment, agriculture and rural affairs, criminal justice systems, to name a few. The research funding platforms and the new research programmes that are funded through them, increasingly demand strong interdisciplinary collaboration; they do not fund projects that lack interdisciplinary skills and perspectives (e.g. social science, nursing, health economics).  Building robust and authentic partnerships requires time and continuity of engagement.  Successful research teams are constructed through exchange of ideas and opportunities.  The Bamford Centre has the potential to grow these kinds of research partnerships by acting as a useful conduit, cutting across sectoral interests.  It also has the advantage of offering research skills and knowledge that are currently lacking in various faculties.