Sarah Blower is a Chartered Psychologist and Research Fellow in the Department of Health Sciences at the University of York. Sarah specialises in the design, implementation and evaluation of interventions to improve the health and wellbeing of infants, children, young people and their families. Sarah has extensive experience working collaboratively with charities, local authorities and other organisations seeking an effective way to prevent or intervene early in difficulties with children’s health and development.
Sarah is a member of the Early Life and Prevention workstream of the Yorkshire and Humber Applied Research Collaboration (YHARC) and leads the ‘Best Start’ topic. She is also the Evaluation Workstream Lead for the Bradford Better Start Innovation Hub (BSBIH). Sarah previously held posts in the Institute for Effective Education (IEE) and spent a decade as a researcher at Dartington Social Research Unit (now Dartington Service Design Lab) an independent charity that brings science and evidence to bear on policy and practice in children's services to improve the health and development of children and young people.
- BSc Psychology (hons) – University of Bath
- PhD – Dept of Social Policy – University of Bath
Sarah is able to supervise PhD projects with a broad focus on child development and family well-being. Specific areas of interest include infant and child mental health, parenting, assessment and outcome measurement, service or intervention design, implementation and evaluation and projects involving quantitative, qualitative or mixed methods.
- Module lead for Qualitative Health Research
- Member of the Disability, Long-Term and Chronic Health Conditions steering group, 2022 to present
- Member of the DOHS Contract Research Forum, 2016 to present
- Contract Research Forum Training Committee 2016 to 2019
- Member of DOHS Dissertation Development Committee 2017-2018
- IEE Departmental Research Committee, 2014 to 2016
- Co-founder and co-ordinator of the University of York Children and Young People Research Network 2015-2018
- Member of International Centre for Mental Health and Social Research, 2014 to present
- Library Committee representative for the IEE, 2014 to 2016
Sarah's research interests and expertise are in the design, adaptation, implementation and evaluation of complex interventions. She is broadly interested in interventions that address infant and child mental health, including those that work with parents and families, and that have potential to achieve impact at scale. Sarah is also interested in the relationships between interventions and the systems they sit in, co-production, and the development and testing of outcome and implementation measures.
Sarah has led and contributed to a variety of studies drawing on a range of quantitative and qualitative designs and methods including systematic and scoping reviews, randomised controlled trials, process evaluation, qualitative interviews, focus groups, cognitive interviewing and needs analysis.
- Evaluation of an intervention to improve infant mental health: Ready to Relate
- Early Life and Prevention (ELP) theme of the Applied Research Collaboration (YHARC). The ELP brings together policy makers, communities and charitable organisations to develop effective and sustainable interventions to improve health, catalysing systems change across the region and beyond. Specific projects include the development of a new self-report measure of parent-infant bonding and a project focusing on inequalities in the disclosure, identification, capture, referral and treatment of perinatal mental health problems.
- Bradford Better Start Innovation Hub (BSBIH). The BSBIH is a Partnership between Better Start Bradford and Born in Bradford. The Innovation Hub unites leading academics from the Universities of York, Bradford, Leeds and Leeds Beckett to establish a new birth cohort and provide a centre for evaluation of the effectiveness of the Better Start Bradford projects.
- Enhancing social and emotional health in the early years (E-SEE). A multi-disciplinary randomised controlled trial evaluation of the effectiveness and acceptability of a proportionate universal parenting intervention (Incredible Years programmes) for 0-2 year-olds. E-SEE project page
- Evaluation of the Mental Health Navigator Scheme: one of five studies funded through the NIHR ARC National Priority Consortium in Health and Care Inequalities.
- A suite of systematic reviews on the psychometric properties of child, parent and dyadic outcome measures to evaluate parenting programmes for 0-5 year olds. Designed and implemented through the NIHR funded CLAHRC YH Healthy Children, Healthy Families workstream.
- Service design and evaluation partnerships with third sector organisations:
- TLG Early Intervention Programme: Sarah was awarded a £15,000 grant from Nesta and the Cabinet Office (via the Centre for Social Action Innovation Fund) to support a Bradford-based charity to develop and implement an evaluation and monitoring framework for a school-based coaching programme.
- Sarah was awarded an ESRC Impact Accelerator fellowship award (£19,992) to work with London-based charity Chance UK, to support the adaptation of a parenting programme for children with behavioural difficulties and the development of a resilience intervention for girls at risk of emotional difficulties.
- Evaluation of the Step Change project (£218,000). Funded through the DfE Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme, Sarah co-led an outcome, implementation and economic evaluation of a new service for adolescents on the edge of care delivered by Action for Children in three London Boroughs.
Sarah is able to supervise masters dissertations and PhD projects on the topics outlined above.
- Lecturer for Psychological Medicine Block in Phase 1 for the Hull York Medical School
- Module Lead for Qualitative Health Research
- Dissertation supervisor for Master of Public Health
- Dissertation supervisor for MSc Health Research
Sarah is able to supervise PhD projects with a broad focus on child development and family well-being. Specific areas of interest include infant and child mental helath, parenting, assessment and outcome measurement, service or intervention design, implementation and evaluation and projects involving quantitative, qualitative or mixed methods.