Guidance for applicants
Background and Context
The NIHR Schools for Primary Care Research (SPCR), Public Health Research (SPHR), and Social Care Research (SSCR) – collectively known as the “Three Schools” – have forged a unique collaboration among leading academic centres in England. This collaboration is dedicated to three distinct programmes funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR): one on mental health hosted by SPCR, the second on dementia hosted by SSCR, and the third on Prevention hosted by SPHR. This research call specifically pertains to the prevention research programme.
The primary goal of each of the three Schools is to enhance the evidence base for practice in their respective fields, ensuring that their research remains both timely and relevant. Within the Prevention Research Programme, we will leverage expertise from across the Three Schools to conduct research targeting the upstream determinants of health-related behaviours. This research aims to support communities, families, and individuals in adopting healthier behaviours, leading to improvements in public, patient, service user, and carer outcomes. Examples of these outcomes include:
• Enhanced access to and experience of health and care services
• Improved physical and mental health and social well-being
• Improved quality of life and ability to work
• Decreased premature mortality
• Mitigation of health and well-being inequalities
The NIHR Three Schools Prevention Research Programme has been granted £10m to implement a comprehensive prevention research programme and conduct capacity-building activities from 2023 to 2027. The programme’s overarching objectives are to develop, evaluate, and understand how to implement interventions that promote health and well-being, treat conditions early, and manage health problems to prevent severe diseases.
What the development grant offers
The call provides opportunity for members of the Three Schools to:
• Collaborate with leading health and care researchers, practitioners, public, patient, service user, and carer in the creation of small preparatory activities. These activities will serve as a foundation for larger research proposals to be submitted to the Prevention Research Programme. Calls anticipated to be in September 2024 and September 2025.
• Generate and share innovative prevention research ideas, contributing to more effective national policies and practices.
• Provide evidence regarding the feasibility, affordability, effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness of prevention interventions.
• Explore the potential for replicating innovative prevention interventions in other geographical areas.
Please note that you can still apply to future Prevention Research Programme funding calls without a development grant.
The Three Schools Prevention Research Programme expects to commission a range of applications, the total budget for a project is not expected to exceed £40,000. Staff and non-staff costs will be funded at 100%, with an overhead rate of 30% applied to staff costs. Please cost your application using the costing template provided, a full justification of resource is required as part of the application.
If you plan to submit a full application to the September 2024 call (projects starting April 2025), development grants are expected to start from June 2024. There is some flexibility with start date and duration for development grants planning to inform a full application to be submitted at a later date (final call likely to be September 2025 with project start date of March 2026).
Funding of research through this programme requires collaboration between at least two NIHR Research Schools, one who must be project lead. Collaborators from outside the Three Schools are permitted. We will assist with arranging links across the Schools through a series of workshops, scheduled at the end of January/start of February.
The Prevention Research Programme is focussed on research that aims to understand and deliver prevention, timely diagnosis and appropriate interventions for people at increased risk of poor health (including but not restricted to areas such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, mental health, multiple long term conditions, musculoskeletal, respiratory disease, the environment, alcohol/substance misuse, smoking/tobacco control, dementia, healthy ageing, children and young people, woman’s health). Research should aim to prevent excess deaths, improve population health (including the health of the working age population), reduce disparities and reduce reliance on health and social care. Research domains, including economics, co-production, implementation, impact, complex systems, workforce, data, social and wider determinants of health and health inequalities are also in scope.
Emphasis is placed on solution focused research rather than descriptive and may include developing effective interventions for disadvantaged populations, understanding the social and wider determinants of health, and exploring new models of integrated care. Consideration should be given to the impact of local and national government actions, as well as the role of digital health in exacerbating or addressing healthcare disparities. Overall, the research should aim to inform evidence-based policies and interventions that address the multifaceted prevention challenges within public health, primary care and social care, fostering healthier communities and promoting equitable access to care.
Special consideration should be given to the inclusion of people from socioeconomically disadvantaged groups and other underserved communities that are more affected by health problems.
Please send completed application forms to email@example.com before the deadline of 5pm, Friday 8th March 2024. Please note the application must be endorsed and signed by a member of one of the Schools, requires collaboration and inclusion of a completed costing template. We expect to receive more applications than we can fund. Following the national panel, unsuccessful applicants will receive constructive feedback on their proposals within four weeks of the decision, and, where appropriate, information on other sources of funding may be provided.
Applications will be reviewed using the following criteria:
• Clear alignment with the Prevention Research Programme priorities, including relevance and importance to the priorities and needs of primary care, public health, and social care.
• Awareness and understanding of previous relevant research or developments in this area.
• Feasibility of developing a robust high-quality research proposal with the potential to impact the prevention agenda; clear aims and objectives with methods to achieve them.
• Background to the development of your research, the evidence it is based on, and why now is the right time to develop.
• Involve at least two of the Three Schools; primary care, public health, and social care. We can support you with collaboration across more than one School.
• Capacity and expertise; this will be assessed at a local and national level.
• Active role of practitioners in the research process; we strongly encourage collaboration with practice colleagues. This could include practitioners acting as peer researchers, joint data analysis and interpretation, and making the best use of local data and knowledge.
• Strength of the proposed plans for patient, carer and/or public involvement throughout the duration of the research.
• Able to complete the research within the prevention research development funding time limits. However, we realise that timescales may need to be flexible to adjust to unexpected changes in the research and organisations’ context.
• Suitability of the work plan and project management arrangements.
• Feasibility of developing a robust high-quality research proposal.
Stage 1 – Work collaboratively with your partners in SPCR, SSCR, SPHR, practice and public partners to develop and complete the application form.
Stage 2 – Completed proposal applications are reviewed, ranked and prioritised by the Three Schools prevention research review panel.
A small number of projects will be selected and the successful applicants will be informed. Unsuccessful applicants will receive feedback.
Stage 3 – Award letters will be issued and contract arrangements begin, with successful prevention research development projects to start from June 2024.
22nd January – call launches
5pm, 8th March – deadline for applications
Week commencing 25th March – national-level peer (academic, practice, public) review of applications. Expert panel to rank and prioritise for funding.
April/May – contracting with host institutions; Research agreements will be between the NIHR School for Public Health Research on behalf of the Three Schools and the host organisation. NIHR SPHR terms and conditions will apply.
1st June – Successful prevention research development projects begin.
Frequently asked questions:
Is a development grant a pre-requisite for applying for further Prevention awards?
No, it’s not a pre-requisite, we appreciate that there are already some strong collaborations across the Three Schools, with research ideas already under development.
How many development grants will be funded?
There will be in the region of 12 grants funded, each award up to £40k.
Are policy and practice partners eligible for funding?
It’s strongly encouraged to collaborate with policy and practice partners however, the lead applicant must be aligned to one of the Three Schools.