Dr Fiona Duncan, Postdoctoral Research Associate in Fuse (Durham University), talks to us about her role in the SPHR Public mental health programme.
What are your main research/involvement interests?
I am currently involved with research which investigates how the mental health and wellbeing of communities can be improved.
Can you tell me about your work with the NIHR School for Public Health Research?
I started working with the NIHR School for Public Health Research public mental health programme in May 2019. Since then, I have been involved with a mapping study that investigated what interventions to improve mental health and wellbeing were currently being delivered across England and I am currently working on a project which is investigating whether co-locating services within community spaces such as churches, community centres or libraries can have a positive impact on the mental health and wellbeing of the community. You can read more about this project here.
What impact will/has this research have/had? E.g. societal benefit, enhanced understanding about an issue, changes in public health practice, changes to policy and legislation, improved public involvement, understanding the value of lived experience
We hope that policy makers and commissioners will find our research useful when making decisions about service provision in their areas. We also hope that it will increase understanding about the determinants of public mental health in communities and the specific underlying mechanisms that are required to address these determinants sufficiently.
What made you decide to have a career/choose a pathway in public health research?
I wouldn’t say I deliberately decided to pursue a career in public mental health. It was more of a happy accident. But I do intend to continue in public mental health as it is a very interesting, important and varied field of research.
What has been the highlight of your research involvement/career?
The opportunity to work with the NIHR SPHR has been one big highlight. I have had the chance to work in a great team with inspiring and intelligent people who are dedicated to using research evidence to improve public health and the lives of many people across the country.
What advice would you give to someone considering a career or involvement in public health research?
Public health research is a huge field and there are many different routes you could go down. Choose a couple of specific topics that really interest you and focus on becoming an expert in these.