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Claire Kelly

SPHR - ARC West PhD student

Children, young people & families programme, Health inequalities theme

University of Bristol

Research Interests

Children and young people’s health, sexual and reproductive health, health inequalities, mixed-methods research.

Hear more about Claire's research

Claire's Q&A

  • What has been your career journey so far?

    I started my career in clinical medicine, specialising in Sexual and Reproductive Health. This sparked my interest in understanding the public health principles underlying good, holistic sexual health. I studied for a Master’s in Public Health at the University of Bristol, graduating with distinction in 2019. Following this I worked as a research associate in evidence synthesis, contributing to two Neurooncology Cochrane systematic reviews.

  • Why did you choose to do a PhD in public health research?

    My PhD leads on from a qualitative study that I conducted during my MSc, investigating the public reaction to the UK Government’s reform of Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) in England. I wanted to continue research in this field, taking a mixed-methods approach which will allow me to develop a broad range of skills as an early career academic.

  • What is your research focused on?

    My research focuses on Relationships and Sex Education in schools in England. I am using quantitative and qualitative methods to investigate how many children and young people are withdrawn from the sex education curriculum in England, and to understand the contextual factors related to this decision.

  • Why is it important?

    There is good evidence that Relationships and Sex Education works – in delaying young people’s first experience of sex, increasing the use of condoms and contraception and reducing unplanned pregnancies. RSE also has an important role in tackling inequality. In developing an understanding of how many children are withdrawn from lessons and the personal and contextual reasons for this, my PhD will form a vital part of the evaluation of the curriculum reforms. The results of my project can inform plans to increase uptake of the curriculum, with the overall aim of improving health outcomes for children and young people.

  • What do you like about being part of a NIHR SPHR and ARC collaboration?

    I benefit from the expertise and experience of a wide network of public health researchers and practitioners, locally within ARC-West and nationally the SPHR. I have been welcomed into both research communities and there is a wide range of training opportunities available to me.

  • What skills are hoping to learn as part of your PhD?

    I am currently building on my systematic review skills, engaging with mixed-methods evidence for the first time. I am looking forward to developing skills in survey development and analysis, and in qualitative interviewing.

  • What do you hope to do after completing your PhD?

    I plan to continue working in public health research and hope to secure funding for a post-doctoral fellowship.

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