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Emma Adams

Pre-doctoral fellow

Public mental health programme, Health inequalities theme

Newcastle University (Fuse)

Research Projects

Research Interests

Public mental health and populations experiencing various degrees of disadvantage and need (such as homeless, offending, and substance misuse).

Public Involvement & Engagement

All Emma's projects involve working and engaging with public partners using SPHR principles or INVOLVE guidance. Emma is also a member of the Fuse SPHR Public Involvement and Engagement Committee.

Emma's Q&A

  • What has been your career journey so far?

    My past education has taken me from Ottawa, Canada (BHSc) to Trondheim, Norway and Colombo, Sri Lanka (MSc) where my research focus centred around sexual and reproductive health and rights. After graduating, I transitioned my focus towards mental health and worked at a recovery-oriented mental health facility in Ontario. While working in the research department I realised my passion for the multiplicity of interactions between offending behaviour, mental health, and other forms of disadvantage. Transitioning into system-level strategy and project management, I spent over 18 months working on various mental health projects, some of which included service mapping, regional opioid strategy, coordinated care model development, and implementation initiatives. A lot of these initiatives were based on UK practices and standards—prompting my decision to move overseas.

  • Why did you choose to do a pre-doctoral fellowship in public health research?

    Although my research background has varied, my interest in public health has been constant throughout my education and research experience. When I initially found the fellowship advert, I was able to connect with researchers at Fuse to discuss the various projects underway. The warmth and kindness I experienced from the moment I reached out cemented my belief that this fellowship would create an environment where I could be part of a larger community and learn from academics, researchers, practitioners, and members of public. This fellowship presented a unique opportunity to learn about innovative public health practices and research while having the freedom to continue exploring my specific research interests on public mental health and disadvantaged populations.

  • What is your research focus?

    My research for this fellowship is focused on expanding my existing methodological knowledge and enhancing my understanding of public mental health all while focusing on populations experiencing various forms of disadvantage. I have a specific focus and interest on individuals experiencing a combination of homelessness, mental ill-health, offending, and/or substance misuse.

  • Why is it important?

    Individuals experiencing a combination of homelessness, mental ill-health, substance misuse, and offending face the most extreme end of deprivation. Only a small fraction of people experiencing this combination of factors report a good quality of life. The interlocking and multiplicity of these co-occurring factors creates a mutually reinforcing cycle that perpetuates experiences of marginalization and hinders access to health and social care supports. Without the ability to access supports at lower levels of care, individuals with untreated problems gain help through criminal justice or emergency care—placing utilization and cost strains on publicly funded system.

  • What are you looking forward to during your time with NIHR School for Public Health Research?

    I am looking forward to becoming part of the NIHR and ResNet community and developing lasting collaborations with Fuse researchers, other SPHR schools, practice and public partners. I am excited about exploring new opportunities that arise over the duration of the fellowship from funding and research to engagement with practice and public.

  • What skills are you hoping to gain by the end?

    At the end of this fellowship, I am hoping to have further developed my skills in realist evaluations, mixed methods, public involvement and engagement, and practice engagement. I am hoping I will have submitted a doctoral fellowship application and be closer to achieving my ambition of becoming a policy and practice relevant independent researcher.

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

    Upon completing my Pre-doctoral Fellowship, I plan to pursue a Doctoral Fellowship that focuses on public mental health within socially marginalized/disadvantaged populations. From the experiences I gain during this Fellowship and subsequent opportunities, I am working towards my ambition of becoming an independent researcher in this area with a specific focus on those experiencing severe and multiple disadvantage.


Widnall E, Adams EA, Plackett R, Winstone L, Haworth CMA, Mars B, Kidger J. Adolescent Experiences of the COVID-19 Pandemic and School Closures and Implications for Mental Health, Peer Relationships and Learning: A Qualitative Study in South-West England. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2022; 19(12):7163.

Adams EA, Spencer L, Addison M, McGovern W, Alderson H, Adley M, McGovern R, Gilvarry E, Kaner E, O’Donnell A. Substance Use, Health, and Adverse Life Events amongst Amphetamine-Type Stimulant Users in North East England: A Cross-Sectional Study. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2022; 19(12):6996.

Widnall E, Winstone L, Plackett R, Adams EA, Haworth CMA, Mars B, Kidger J. Impact of School and Peer Connectedness on Adolescent Mental Health and Well-Being Outcomes during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Longitudinal Panel Survey. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2022; 19(11):6768.

Adams EA, Parker J, Jablonski T, Kennedy J, Tasker F, Hunter D, Denham K, Smiles C, Muir C, O’Donnell A, Widnall E, Dotsikas K, Kaner E, Ramsay SE. A Qualitative Study Exploring Access to Mental Health and Substance Use Support among Individuals Experiencing Homelessness during COVID-19. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2022; 19(6):3459.

Salonen, D., McGovern, R., Kaner, E., Allen-Sobo, L., Bourne, J., Adams, E., Muir, C., Herlihy, J. Fathers’ lived experience of heavy drinking and other substance use, how these habits affect on their engagement in family life, and enablers of health behaviour change. Qualitative evidence synthesis to identify and explore emerging narratives in applied health and social care research. PROSPERO 2021 CRD42021258493 Available from:

Joyes EC, McGowan LJ, Adams E.A, Paisi M, Burrows M, Shabaninejad H, Beyer F, Haddow K, Coyte A, Landes D, Moffatt S, Watt RG, Sniehotta FF, Bambra C, Craig D, Kaner E, Ramsay SE. Exploring Interventions to Improve the Oral Health and Related Health Behaviours of Adults Experiencing Severe and Multiple Disadvantage: Protocol for a Qualitative Study with Stakeholders. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2021; 18, 11755

McGowan, L.J.; Joyes, E.C.; Adams, E.A.; Coyte, A.; Gavin, R.; Richmond, C.; Shabaninejad, H.; Beyer, F.; Broadbridge, A.; Dobson, K.; Landes, D.; Moffatt, S.; Watt, R.G.; Sniehotta, F.F.; Freeman, R.; Paisi, M.; Bambra, C.; Craig, D.; Kaner, E.; Ramsay, S.E. Investigating the Effectiveness and Acceptability of Oral Health and Related Health Behaviour Interventions in Adults with Severe and Multiple Disadvantage: Protocol for a Mixed-Methods Systematic Review. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 11554.

Duncan, F., Baskin, C., McGrath, M., Coker, J.F., Lee, C., Dykxhoorn, J., Adams, E.A., et al. Community interventions for improving adult mental health: mapping local policy and practice in England. BMC Public Health 21, 1691 (2021).

Harland, J.M., Adams, E. A., Boobis, S., Cheetham, M., Wiseman, A. Ramsay, S.E. Understanding the life experiences of people with multiple complex needs: peer research in a health needs assessment. European Journal of Public Health. 2021;, ckab142,

Perry, R., Adams, E. A., Harland, J., et al. (2020). Exploring high mortality rates among people with multiple and complex needs: a qualitative study using peer research methods. BMJ Open 2021;11:e044634. Doi:

Smiles, C., McGovern, R., Kaner, E., Rankin, R., Adams, E., Orange, M. A systematic review of qualitative studies exploring the lived experiences of pregnancy, including unplanned or unintended pregnancies, amongst women who use illicit drugs. PROSPERO 2020 CRD42020198884

McGowan, L., Joyes, E., Adams, E., Richmond, C., Shabaninejad, H., Beyer, F., Broadbridge, A., Dobson, K., Landes, D., Moffat, S., Watt, R., Sniehotta, F., Paisi, M., Bambra, C., Craig., D., Kaner, E., Ramsay, S. Systematic review of oral health and related health behaviour interventions in adults with severe and multiple disadvantages. PROSPERO 2020 CRD42020202416 

Hulin, J., Weich, S., Mukuria, C., Clowes, M., Buckley Woods, H., Ramsay, S., Kaner, E., Spencer, L., Adams, E., Dykxhoorn, J., Walters, K., Osborn, D., Zamperoni, V., Fischer, V., Pinfold, V., Petermann, M., Jones, O. A systematic review of public mental health outcome measures. PROSPERO 2020 CRD42020186218

Muir, C., McGovern, R., Kaner, E., Geijer-Simpson, E., Smart, D., Kidger, J., Winstone, L., Evans, V., Phillips, S., Salonen, D., Adams, E. A systematic review of qualitative studies exploring lived experiences, impacts and coping strategies of children and young people affected by parental substance misuse. PROSPERO 2019 CRD42019137486 

Additional funding and grants

Principal investigator

  • Adams, E.A., Muir, C., Smiles, C., Dotsikas, K., Crosby, L., Widnall, E., Ramsay, S., Kaner, E., Burrows, M., Broadbridge, A., Reed, C. (2020-2022). Exploring and understanding access to community-based mental health and addiction services for service users experiencing severe and multiple disadvantage and providers in Newcastle and Gateshead in times of extreme adversity. NIHR School for Public Health Research (SPHR) – ResNet ECR Funding. £25,627.44
  • Ramsay, S., Adams E., Adamson, A., Kaner, E., Howells, K., Sanders, C., Brown, J., Kesten, J. Learning from the ‘Everyone In’ approach to providing mental health and physical health support (including substance misuse), and how this can be translated to future policy and practice. (2022-2023). NIHR Public Health Policy Research Unit. Co-Principal Investigator: £351,212
  • Adams, E.A., Kaner E, Ramsay S.E. Exploring and understanding access to community mental health and addiction support for individuals experiencing homelessness during the pandemic (2021). NIHR School for Public Health Research (SPHR) Summer Internships. £2,500.


  • McGovern, R., Firth, J., Adams, E., Alderson, H., Barron, C., Frost, H., McGovern, W., Redgate, S., Renwick, T., Smart, D., Xeros, P., Kaner, E. (2020-2022) Working with Children and Families at the Edge of Care – A realist evaluation of North Tyneside Council’s Keeping Families Connected (KFC) Provision. NENC Applied Research Collaboration. £55,162
  • Widnall, E., Winstone, L., Plackett, R., Crosby, L., Adams, E., Haworth, C.M., Mars, B., Kidger, J. (2020-2021). Exploring the longer-term impacts of Covid-19 on young people’s mental health and addiction support required post-lockdown. NIHR School for Public Health Research (SPHR) – ResNet ECR Funding. £20,605.67
  • Ramsay, S., Adams, E., Conway, A., Coyte, A., Harland, J., Kaner, E., et al. Identifying multi-agency, trauma-informed and integrated solutions for unmet need of individuals experiencing homelessness in Northumberland and North Tyneside (2021-2023). NIHR Research for Social Care (RfSC) Rapid Call on Mental Health. £309,663

Useful Links

Emma Adams supervised Katy Denham during her SPHR internship project ‘Exploring and understanding access to community-based mental health and addiction services for severe and multiple disadvantage service users and providers in Newcastle and Gateshead in times of extreme adversity’.

Emma Adams Fuse blog: Is a picture truly worth a thousand words?

Emma Adams Fuse blog: Cookies, coffee and co-production during Covid

Lancet Public Health Science 2021 conference presentation – “It’s been up and down” – perspectives on living through COVID-19 for individuals who experience homelessness: a qualitative study

Adams, E. (2021, January 26). Research capacity development. Blog Post on Fuse:

Adams, E. (2020, November 3). Exploring and understanding access to community-based mental health and addiction services in Newcastle and Gateshead. Research Video:

Perry R., Adams, E., Harland, J., Giles, E., McGeechan, G., O’Donnell, A., Broadbridge, A., & Ramsay, S. (2020, October). Evidence for Practice Guide: understanding high mortality rates among people with multiple and complex needs. Evidence for Practice Guide:

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