Our research

SPRU conducts research in a variety of applied health and social care areas employing a broad range of methods. We both generate research agendas and respond to calls generated by funders.

Our research projects are within SPRU's six research themes. 

Read about our research themes

Current / recently completed research

Disability, care and participation: secondary analysis of the Life Opportunities Survey and the 2009/10 Survey of Carers in HouseholdsMarch 2015 - August 2016

This project is reanalysing data from three national surveys of caring and of impairment and disability.

The IRIS project: Improving Rehabilitation for People with Impaired SightSeptember 2015 - May 2018

The project examines the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of two types of community-based vision rehabilitation services funded by LAs in England.

The MoRE project: models of reablement evaluation: a mixed methods evaluation of a complex interventionOctober 2014 - July 2017

This mixed-methods study aims to evaluate the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of different ways of providing reablement in England.

The SHAPE project: mapping and evaluating Specialist Autism Team service modelsSeptember 2014 - May 2018

This project is evaluating Specialist Autism Teams, and investigating their role in supporting autism-specialist practice in mainstream services.

Evaluating support for carers of people with dementiaNovember 2015 - July 2017

This project is evaluating a specialist support service for the carers of people with dementia.

The SIgN project: self-funders and information needsFebruary 2015 - October 2016

This project will produce a short film and leaflet to help people looking for care and support as they get older.

Pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions for non-respiratory sleep disturbances in children with neurodevelopmental disorders: a systematic reviewFebruary 2016 - January 2017

Many children with neurodisabilities experience sleep problems: this project is reviewing existing evidence on the effectiveness of the different ways sleep difficulties may be managed.

Workplace Personal Assistants: exploring the role of workplace personal assistants for physically disabled peopleJanuary 2016 - August 2017

An exploration of the role of workplace personal assistants and their relationships with disabled people and colleagues.

Co-design, co-evaluation and co-learning: street triage, mental health and policing in North YorkshireFebruary 2015 - July 2015

The THINC project: therapy interventions for children with neurodisability - a scoping study of current practice and perceived research needsMay 2016 - February 2016

This scoping study will be used to inform future research into physical, occupational and speech and language therapy support used by children with neurodisabilities.

The Making Sense? study: how do parents and young adults with Autistic Spectrum Disorders make sense of behaviour problems and mental health difficulties?September 2014 - October 2016

This study is exploring how young adults with Asperger syndrome, and parents of children with autism, understand and make sense of emotional and behavioural difficulties.

Independent financial advice about funding social care in later life – a project exploring evidence and practiceNovember 2016 – December 2017

Completed research

Care and support for people with complex and severe needs: innovations and practice. A scoping studyJune 2010 - February 2012

People with complex and severe needs constitute a relatively small proportion of all adult social care users.

Evaluation of Tameside Cultural Arts Pilot ProjectApril 2015 - September 2016

Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council’s (TMBC) public health team is currently undertaking a pilot project around the use of cultural arts interventions to manage behaviours that challenge in people with dementia.

Evaluation of 'Life Story' intervention: Feasibility studyJuly 2012 - March 2015

Everybody has a life story. These are rich and varied and can be used to communicate who we are to the people around us. People with dementia sometimes need help to communicate their histories and identities, and 'life story work' might provide a way for them to do this more easily.

Risk, safety and safeguarding: understanding and application of concepts and implications for integrated care servicesJanuary 2014 - April 2014

This research aims to explore conceptual understandings of risk, safety and safeguarding in different organisational contexts and assess whether any differences might impact on effective integrated service provision or act as barriers to closer working and integration of health and social care.

The LIPOP project: life in paediatric oncology: development and validation of a measure of work-related stresors and rewardsFebruary 2009 – January 2011

The purpose of this project is to develop a measure of the work-related stressors and rewards experienced by staff working in multi-disciplinary teams in paediatric and adolescent oncology treatment centres (doctors, nurses, social workers, play specialists and youth workers).

Children in Scotland requiring palliative care: identifying numbers and needs (ChiSP)May 2014 - September 2015

The purpose of this project is to identify those children and young people who may be affected with life-limiting conditions and discover what their needs are.

Living with inflammatory bowel disease: the experiences of adults of South Asian origin (the LISA project)November 2012 - May 2014

The primary aims of the study are to describe what living with Inflammatory Bowel Disease is like for South Asian adults, including their experiences as health service users, and to understand whether ethnicity impacts on this experience and, if so, how.

Parents' experiences of being responsible for painful procedures (the PEAPIP project)May 2014 - October 2015

Parents' experiences of administering painful and invasive nursing procedures as part of caring for their ill child at home. The purpose of this study is to explore and better understand these issues.

The personal is political: women's experience of dementiaJanuary 2014 - September 2015

Dementia is an issue that disproportionately affects women. Little is known about the particular experiences of women living with or caring for people with dementia, particularly in respect of issues such as power, control, choice and influence. This project aims to address this gendered gap in evidence by consulting women and using their stories to change the tenor of policy and practice debates and to adjust the focus of future research

The personal is political: women's experience of dementiaApril 2014 - April 2015

White Rose is a three university consortium that fosters joint working across the universities of Leeds, York and Sheffield. White Rose is supporting a collaboration in 'dementia, cognition and care' through 2014 and into 2015. Using this support, we created a virtual centre for dementia care research, which involved researchers from the three universities, in partnership with dementia practitioners and people living with the condition.

Risk, safeguarding and personal budgets: exploring relationships and identifying good practiceNovember 2012 - April 2014

This study explored the relationships between safeguarding and personalisation. Safeguarding is about enabling people to maintain independence, well-being and choice, as well as the right to live a life free from abuse and neglect. Personalisation is about tailoring services to the needs of the end user.

Assessing outcomes of integrated care for long-term conditionsApril 2010 - February 2013

Integrated services for people with long-term neurological conditions: an evaluation of the National Service FrameworkMay 2006 – September 2010

This project identified what helps or hinders integrated services and designed a benchmarking system, based on these factors. The key question was how different people with long-term neurological conditions (LTNCs), men/women; older people/younger people; people from minority ethnic communities, etc., and people with different types of LTNCs experienced integration.

Provision of informal care in England: exploring geographical and cultural associations and neighbourhood characteristics to inform policyOctober 2014 - July 2015

Previous studies have found that the likelihood of unpaid caregiving varies across local authorities. In this small pilot study, we extended the analysis of geographic variations by studying what influences unpaid care at the level of neighbourhoods.

Improving Care for people with Dementia: development & initial feasibility study for evaluation of Life Story work in dementia careJuly 2012 - March 2015

To carry out the development and initial feasibility stages of evaluation of a complex intervention – life story work – for people with dementia.

NHS Panel Study Data ArchivingDecember 2011 - January 2012

Personalisation of home care for older people using managed personal budgetsJanuary 2011 – December 2012

This study aimed to explore factors affecting the delivery of personalised support to older service users who opt for managed personal budgets.

Choice and change: extending choice and control over the lifecourseMay 2006 to December 2010

The Panel Study formed the core of SPRU’s Department of Health Research Programme from 2006-11. It examined the realities of choice in the context of changing circumstances, whether these changes arose from changes in illness or disability or from other social transitions.

Access to information about social care – response to recommendation from the Better Regulation Task ForceJanuary 2006 - July 2006

SPRU was commissioned to undertake a scoping review of available evidence about accessibility and availability of information for service users and carers across the spectrum of adult social care.

Domiciliary care agencies' responses to increased user choice: perceived threats, barriers and opportunities from a changing marketJanuary 2007 - March 2008

The aim of this study was to examine, from the perspectives of domiciliary care agencies, the perceived threats, barriers and opportunities for responding to increases in user choice exercised through mechanisms such as direct payments and personal budgets.

Review of the research evidence surrounding risk perceptions, risk management strategies and their consequences in adult social care for different groups of service usersApril 2006 – September 2006

The aim of this scoping study was to identify and review recent research evidence on perceptions of risk and risk-related practice in the field of adult social care.

Research review of risk and adult social care: focused updateAugust 2011 – October 2011

During 2007, the Social Policy Research Unit conducted a review of research evidence on perceptions and management of risk amongst users of adult social care services. This update aims to identify empirical research conducted and published within the UK since 2007 (and, to a limited extent, currently in progress).

Examining the dynamics of choice: the context for informal caredult social care: focused updateMay 2005 - December 2005

The work undertaken as part of the Anniversary Lectureship involved a literature review of empirical work on issues related to carers and choice. One of the aims was to provide a background scoping paper for the Department of Health programme, summarising evidence about the dynamics of choice for carers.

Household finances of carer's allowance recipientsApril 2013 - December 2013

In-depth interviews with 44 people who claimed Carer's Allowance (CA) or had an underlying entitlement to it, were carried out in three areas of the UK in summer 2013.

Sunlight Exposure: Communicating the benefits and risks of ultraviolet lightJanuary 2014 - June 2014

The purpose of this work is two-fold. First, to examine the accuracy and comprehensiveness of UK national newspaper and magazine reporting of research evidence on the health benefits and risks associated with sun exposures. Second, to identify and describe how the UK media present the health benefits and risks associated with sun exposure.

Transition to adult services of disabled young people leaving ‘out of authority’ residential schoolsFebruary 2008 - June 2008

Little has been known about the transitions of young people leaving residential schools which are outside their home authority. This was a small exploratory study of local authority practice with regard to how the transitions from residential schools of pupils of school leaving age were planned and managed.

Models of multi-agency services for transition to adult services for disabled young people and those with complex health needs: Impact and costsMarch 2007 - December 2009

A survey of all local authorities in England was undertaken to investigate arrangements for multi-agency assessment for planning of and actual transfer from child to adult services for young people with disabilities or complex health needs.

Transition to adult services and adulthood for young people with autistic spectrum conditionsNovember 2009 - April 2012

There was little research which explores transition for young people with ASC to identify the components of good practice that are associated with more positive experiences for young people and their parents. The research addressed these issues in order to inform standards of good practice in services for young people with ASC and their families at transition.

Fuel poverty and disabilitySeptember 2012 - February 2015

Growing up and living with ataxia-telangiectasia (A-T)April 2012 - September 2012

Ataxia-telangiectasia (A-T) is a very rare, complex, progressive genetic condition which affects physical coordination and control. The A-T Society is concerned that current understandings of young people’s lives are primarily based on parents’ accounts. They commissioned this project in order to hear directly from young people about their experiences of growing up and living with A-T.

Taking on and taking over: physically disabled young adults and their care and support arrangements (the TOTO project)July 2012 - April 2014

This study focused on physically disabled young adults and those with chronic, complex or degenerative health conditions (but without learning disabilities). It identified what support was needed and provided for them to achieve their aspirations for choice and control over their support arrangements.

Informing the NHS Outcomes Framework: evaluating meaningful health outcomes for children with neurodisabilityFebruary 2012 - May 2013

The identification of suitable outcome measures will improve the evaluation of integrated NHS care for the large number of children affected by neurodisability, and has the potential to encourage the provision of more appropriate and effective health care. This research sought to appraise the potential of patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) for children and young people with neurodisability.

Quality of life in children with congenital heart defectsNovember 2001 - April 2004

Yvonne Birks led work to develop a quality of life measure for children with heart disease (the ConQol).