Jim first trained in Sociology, then in Social Work, and went on to work with drug users. His PhD study, at the National Addiction Centre at the Institute of Psychiatry, was a randomised controlled trial of motivational interviewing for drug prevention among young people, supported by a career development award from the NHS Executive (London). He moved to the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in 2006. With the support of post-doctoral and mid-career awards from the Wellcome Trust, he developed wider interests in addictions and in research methodology. He arrived in York in 2014 to take up the Chair in Addiction. Jim is also Visiting Professor at Linkoping University in Sweden, and Conjoint Professor at the University of Newcastle in Australia. Jim now holds a Wellcome Trust Investigator Award in Humanities and Social Science to advance study of the alcohol industry, public health sciences and policy. This supports one of two five-year research programmes that Jim leads. The other is funded by NIHR Programme Grants (PGFAR) and seeks to rethink brief interventions by developing novel ideas with community pharmacists and patients on how discussion of alcohol may be integrated within routine medications practice. The research will then study whether the new approach can make any difference to patients and the NHS.
Addiction problems cause avoidable suffering to individuals, their families, community and society. In Britain and globally, the burden has largely got worse in recent decades in health, social and economic terms, and will continue to do so unless concerted action is taken to stop this happening.
Jim's research work is principally concerned with better understanding of the nature of alcohol, other drug and other addictive behaviour problems, and what we should do about them. This involves study of their public health and societal impacts and policy responses, and how problems develop in individuals, as well as how they can be helped.
At the individual level, Jim works on randomised controlled trials evaluating behaviour change interventions, both in studies of effectiveness and in addressing problems in their design and conduct, which limit how useful they are. These types of studies, when evaluated in systematic reviews, can provide the highest quality evidence available on how problems can be avoided or reduced. Most of this work is done on alcohol, and is designed to help people to lead healthier lives.
Jim is particularly interested in brief interventions offered to individuals in healthcare and other settings in order to help prevent or resolve problems before they become entrenched and more difficult to change. This is partly because many addictions have their roots in other problems that people face, and at the population level they are strongly socially patterned.
Jim seeks to both develop the prevention evidence base at the individual and population levels, and promote its use by policy makers. We could do much more than we currently do to implement policies that evidence demonstrates are likely to be effective. To support policy making based on the strongest evidence available, Jim investigates the actions of large corporations for whom addictive consumption is profitable, particularly scrutinising how they involve themselves in evidence informed policy making.
Jim has a trans-disciplinary research outlook that involves building relationships with colleagues working in quantitative and qualitative social and public health science disciplines including epidemiology, psychology and policy studies. His research work is thus highly applied, pragmatic and committed to the aim of contributing to reducing the unnecessary burden of alcohol and other addiction problems.
You can find out a little more about how my research work gets used here
Jim is open to enquiries from prospective PhD students interested in the following areas: corporate political activity, commercial influences on science, corporate actors and public health, alcohol policy, drug policy, gambling policy, behavioural intervention trials, complex intervention development, community pharmacies, prevention, brief interventions and motivational interviewing.
Jim is able to supervise dissertations on the masters degrees in Public Health and Applied Health Research on all aspects of addictive behaviours and public health. This is particularly suitable for students with research interests in corporate political activity, commercial influences on science, corporate actors and public health, alcohol policy, drug policy, gambling policy, addiction treatment and prevention services, and brief intervention programmes and content including motivational interviewing.
What is the future of brief interventions? 12th International Network on Brief Interventions for Alcohol and Drugs (INEBRIA) Conference, Atlanta, September 2015
Understanding alcohol industry strategies and tactics in the UK. Global Alcohol Policy Conference, Edinburgh, October 2015