Public mental health programme, Health inequalities theme
University College London (UCL)
Jo is interested in physical health problems amongst people experiencing homelessness and their access to and need for health services like physiotherapy. Jo is also interested in physical activity for health gain, in particular the value of physical activity for excluded and marginalised populations. Jo has experience in qualitative methods and intends to develop her skills in quantitative approaches and mixed methods research. Jo is very keen to ensue excluded groups are reached in patient and public involvement activities to inform research.
Jo is well connected to health service providers in the field of homelessness via many years of involvement with homelessness charities Pathway and Crisis. Jo intends to work with colleagues at Pathway to plan and carry out future research. Also, from working as a physiotherapy clinician and academic Jo has good relationships with physiotherapy practice and education.
Public Involvement & Engagement
Joe has carried out public and patient involvement work with “Experts by Experience”, a group of people experiencing homelessness. This session provided extremely useful insights into need for and access to physiotherapy amongst people experiencing homelessness.
What has been your career journey so far?
I started my career as a clinical physiotherapist, initially rotational within NHS Scotland acute hospitals, then specialised as a physiotherapist for people experiencing homelessness in a primary care setting. I then spent a number of years as a lecturer in Physiotherapy (in University of East London, then St George’s, University of London). I have also spent time as a researcher in HIV counselling and testing in Zambia and undertaken a research secondment with NHS Education for Scotland.
Why did you choose to do a pre-doctoral fellowship in public health research?
Ever since working in homeless health services in Glasgow, I have held an interest in public health and health inequalities. I have several research ideas that I am keen to progress with, but in my previous roles I found it difficult to protect time to develop my research ideas. The NIHR pre-doctoral fellowship seemed like an excellent opportunity to dedicate time to working with experts in the field of public health research, and to focus on moving my research plans forwards.
What is your research focus?
Since starting my pre-doctoral fellowship, I have focussed my research on physical health problems amongst people experiencing homelessness, in particular, musculoskeletal problems and frailty. I also intend to better understand the need for and access to physiotherapy and the value of physical activity for helping manage physical health problems amongst people experiencing homelessness and other excluded populations.
Why is it important?
It is widely recognised that people experiencing homelessness live with far poorer health than the general population, and their access to health services to meet their health needs is far poorer. It is important that we better understand the causes and solutions to physical health problems in this group if we are to reduce the health inequalities they experience.
What are you looking forward to during your time with NIHR School for Public Health Research?
I am looking forward to working with experts in public health research and developing my research skills and ideas.
What skills are you hoping to gain by the end?
I hope to complete my fellowship with a greater depth of understanding about public health, health inequalities and how I, as a researcher, will be able to contribute research to better understanding these areas of interests.
What do you hope to do after completing your fellowship?
I hope to secure PhD funding to continue progress with my research ideas.