93% public health services and primary care research rated as internationally excellent/recognised


Our Public Health, Health Services and Primary Care submission is a new Unit and submission for the University, and is one that we are keen to grow. Our submission included work from our four interacting research themes: Allergic and Respiratory Disorders, Health and Social Care Environments, Health and Social Care of the Older Person, and our newest theme Global Health and Social Care. We submitted ten staff, two of whom were early career researchers.

We submitted two case studies to demonstrate the international impact we have been making on public health and well-being, primarily through informing policies and guidelines, and cost saving healthcare practices. Our impact case studies showcased the research we have conducted on maternal peanut consumption during pregnancy and breastfeeding, and the use of water softeners for eczema in children. Our staff members sit in the School of Health and Care Professions, School of Mathematics and Physics, and Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, and contribute significantly to the activities of the University of Portsmouth Ageing Network, reflecting the interdisciplinary nature of our research.

  • Overall, 38% of our research was rated as world-leading (4*) or internationally excellent (3*).
  • Our impact is international, with 80% of our impacts considered to be either outstanding and very considerable for both the reach and significance of the work.
  • 93% our research outputs were rated as internationally excellent or internationally recognised.
  • We are actively committed to promoting the role of women in Science (6 out of our 10 submitted individuals were female, 3 of whom currently or previously have worked part-time).

Research groups / Research themes

Research activities within this unit are structured across four synergistic themes.

  1. Allergic and respiratory disorders
  2. Health and social care environments
  3. Health and social care of the older person
  4. Global health and social care

These themes reflect our commitment to embrace logistically complex studies, and challenging topics (defining our niche). The nature of work undertaken is multi- and interdisciplinary, as demonstrated through our shared research outputs and collaborative research environment.

Impact case studies

Demonstration of the ineffectiveness of water softeners in reducing symptoms of eczema in children

Research conducted by the University of Portsmouth has shown that water softeners are not effective in reducing the symptoms of moderate to severe eczema in children, and that their use provides no additional benefit over usual care. Healthcare professionals are now able to offer the evidence-based advice to patients that the use of water softeners will not alleviate the symptoms of eczema. This advice not only eliminates false hope in patient groups but also results in significant cost savings for families of children with moderate to severe eczema that might otherwise have purchased water softeners.

University of Portsmouth allergy research leads to overturn of inappropriate department of health guidelines on maternal feeding during pregnancy and breastfeeding

Our research has led to a change in DoH guidelines on maternal consumption of peanut during pregnancy/breastfeeding.

Guidelines until 2009 advocated the avoidance of peanut in allergic families. However evidence base for this advice was poor and the advice was adopted by families regardless of their allergy status leading to significant constraints on their lifestyles. Our research revealed that peanut allergy is not associated with maternal peanut consumption, and that there was no need for pregnant women to avoid peanut during pregnancy. On the basis of our research DoH concluded that previous guidance was inappropriate and it was thus withdrawn.

Infrastructure and facilities

Our staff play an active part within the South Central Research Design Service (RDS; Dean; Fogg; Pallikadavath), in collaboration with the Universities of Southampton and Oxford. This cross-HEI infrastructure facilitates collaborative proposals and pooling of expertise. Other shared infrastructure has stemmed from our collaboration with the Health & Safety Laboratory, whereby they have provided laboratory space and portable testing equipment, and we have provided our expertise in research governance, ethics, and methods for NHS-based projects and those falling under the Mental Capacity Act (e.g. NIHR-funded project in dementia care wards, and DMT-funded project in elderly care wards).

We have pursued a policy of using strategic investment to purchase research software (e.g. for qualitative data analysis and co-ordinating systematic reviews), accessible to all staff who require it. We also stock shared audio-recording and transcribing equipment. The University IT infrastructure provides the majority of our required programmes. Where specialist software is required for specific projects, or time-limited subscriptions, we ensure that these are written into our funding applications. We are working to increase our range of facilities, for example, we have recently purchased a bone densitometry (DXA) scanner, which will be utilised in our research on the health and social care of the older adult, and in collaboration with other local healthcare providers.

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