A female running on the road

Social work & social policy Health & wellbeing

The key aims of our health and wellbeing research are to:

  • identify the nature and pattern of health and well-being within the UK and internationally from both a contemporary and historical perspective
  • understand the experience of population groups that experience health inequalities
  • identify the policy and practice responses to meet the major health challenges

We support health and well-being research and policy work within a number of centres, including the Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland (CELCIS), the Centre for Youth and Criminal Justice (CYCJ) and the Centre for the Social History of Health and Healthcare. We also play a key role in the University-wide Centre for Health Policy, which focuses on the wide range of health policy expertise across Strathclyde’s faculties and connects them to public policy partners.

Our external partners include Scotland's Commissioner for Children and Young People and Contact a Family, a voluntary organisation supporting families with disabled children across the UK. Our international partners include the World Health Organisation and New York and Yale Universities.

Research topics

Conceptualisations of well-being

We use the Oxfam Humankind Index to explore alternative economic and policy approaches to well-being and examine urban/rural patterns of inequalities in well-being.

Historical changes in height, health, sickness & mortality

We examine historical changes in patterns of health and disease in the UK and more widely. In addition to exploring the nature and causes of changing mortality rates, we use historical evidence relating to height and weight, and sickness rates, to examine changes in health experience.

Risk & protection in adult social work

Our work in this area includes those experiencing mental disorder and learning disability as well as adults at risk of harm. Scotland's rights-based approach to the provision of these services is unique in a UK context and is of significant interest internationally. Staff are currently completing an edited collection focusing on multi-disciplinary approaches to adult protection.

Stigma & discrimination

There's a large body of research within the school on understanding the nature and patterns of stigma and discrimination and how this might be addressed. Different approaches have been explored including the use of the arts in addressing stigma, particularly through the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival.

Human rights & citizenship

Our research includes work with the World Health Organisation on mental health rights and contributing to a human rights-based approach in Scotland. We work with Yale University to measure health citizenship and apply this tool with a range of service user groups.

Health promoting palliative care

We work in partnership with palliative care services and community groups to improve health and well-being at the end-of-life and into bereavement.

Evidence-based health policy

Through the Centre for Health Policy a number of studies have been developed on different aspects of health policy, eg on child health, migrant health, justice, mental health and homelessness. This work has been developed in association with public policy partners and involves a number of international partnerships, including New York University.


Our work with professionals and policy makers, as part of the Health Technologies at Strathclyde initiative, combines expertise on drugs, medical devices, diagnostics and health interventions.

Personal outcomes in health & social care

The primary purpose of this work is to support outcomes-focused and person-centred engagement, with a secondary purpose to measure outcomes and use this information for service planning and improvements. In the past few years the work has drawn increasing interest from wider UK and international universities and agencies.

Our staff

Andrew Eccles is interested in the intersection of political science and social policy. He's also interested in ethical issues across the use of technologies, specifically tele-care technologies.

Christopher Deeming's interests in this area of social policy include research into the social determinants of health and wellbeing, particularly subjective or self-rated health and wellbeing using data from large-scale national and international social surveys. The focus is the distribution of happiness and wellbeing within societies, socio-demographic characteristics influence population wellbeing in important ways and this has implications for public policy. I am also interested in the political economy of happiness and I focus on cross-national comparisons within the different worlds of welfare.

Bernard Harris is interested in a wide range of issues associated with the history of health and well-being, living standards and social policy.

Lee Knifton is co-director of the Centre for Health Policy and has experience working in the NHS and in the community sector in areas including mental health, addictions, disability, prisons, ethnic minorities and poverty. He's been involved in leading/chairing numerous health and policy initiatives in Scotland and the UK.

Gillian MacIntyre is primarily interested in the field of adult social care, working with people with learning disabilities as well as those with mental health problems. She has particular interests in the areas of citizenship, parenthood and transitions for people with learning disabilities.

Emma Miller joined Strathclyde as a senior research fellow in 2009. She has a background in social work practice, and interagency working and has worked between research, policy and practice on the theme of personal outcomes.

Sally Paul is a lecturer in the School of Social Work & Social Policy. Her research explores health promoting palliative care to advance education and support around death, dying and bereavement.

Neil Quinn is co-director of the Centre for Health Policy. He has 20 years' experience in social work, community development and public health and has a specific interest in global public health and social welfare policy.

Ailsa Stewart is course leader for the PG Certificate in Mental Health Social Work within the school, editor of the newsletter for mental health officers in Scotland and chair of the Working Together with Parents Network in Scotland.
The focus of her work is on adult health and social care with a particular interest in risk, protection and the impact of this work on the citizenship and rights of adults experiencing mental disorder and/or with learning disability.

Our PhD students

Roseann Maguire: Roseann is funded by a Scottish Funding Council studentship. Thesis title: An exploration of the impact of social background and economic circumstances (class) on how young people experience disability, negotiate independence and construct identity in their everyday lives.

Melvina Robin: Melvina is funded by a studentship from the ESRC Doctoral Training Centre’s Social Work Pathway. Thesis title: Social worker support for BME families raising children and young people with disabilities.