Yvonne Birks

Professor Yvonne Birks
Co-Director of SPRU
  • yvonne.birks@york.ac.uk
  • +44 (0)1904 321328
  • Social Policy Research Unit, University of York, Heslington, York YO10 5DD

Visit Yvonne Birks's profile on the York Research Database to see publications, projects, collaborators, related work and more.

Yvonne trained as a general and children's nurse specialising in intensive care, before moving into research. She joined the University as a researcher in the Department of Health Sciences in 1999 and moved to SPRU in 2013 from York Trials Unit where she was deputy director. Over the years she has worked on projects spanning the life course but is particularly interested in issues around professional/ public attitudes and behaviour, particularly in relation to the quality and safety of care. She is a mixed methods researcher with expertise in developing projects that evaluate complex interventions in both health and social care.


  • BSc Psychology, University of York
  • DPhil Psychology, University of York

Current / recently completed research

Supporting policy development and evaluating change: A fast response analytical facility

Funded by the Department of Health Policy Programme, and involving a team of researcher at the University of York (led by Karen Bloor) and the King's Fund (led by Richard Murray) this programme of research aims to improve the quality of evidence upon which strategic health policy decisions are based, by providing expert advice, policy briefings and empirical and theoretical analysis.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employee networks within the NHS The project will complete in September 2019

Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council this 36 month study examines lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employee networks within the NHS. An interdisciplinary research team from Management, Economics and Social Policy Research Unit lead by Dr Anna Einarsdóttir in collaboration with Professor Karen Mumford and Professor Yvonne Birks aims to establish understanding of LGBT employee networks and how networks may be mobilised as drivers for inclusive work environments. Building on integrated methodology and extensive public engagement strategy, the project involves partnership with NHS Employers; Stonewall; Employers Network for Equality and a theatre production team, to deliver state of the art research aimed to improve working conditions and experiences of LGBT employees in and outside of the NHS.

Helping older people to engage effectively with community social care (The HOPES study)September 2019 - February 2021

This study aims to understand how support workers help older adults with mental health needs to accept and receive social care.

DETERMIND: Determinants of quality of life, care and costs, and consequences of inequalities in people with dementia and their family carersJanuary 2019 - December 2023

DETERMIND is designed to address critical, fundamental, and as yet unanswered questions about inequalities, outcomes and costs following diagnosis with dementia.

The INSIGHT project: Isolation and loneliness for people with sight loss in care homesAugust 2017 - April 2019

This study will explore current provision for the identification and prevention of loneliness and social isolation in older people with sight loss in care homes.

The influence of social care on delayed transfers of care (DTOC) among older peopleApril 2017 - March 2019

This project will explore the relationship between the discharge approach employed by a particular NHS/local authority site and their delayed transfers of care (DTOC) rates. The project aims to answer two questions: 1) why delays are happening; and 2) how they might be reduced or prevented.

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

This study explored existing research and current practice regarding independent financial advice about funding social care in older age.

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

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

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 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.

External roles

  • Director of Research - Department of Social Policy & Social Work, University of York
  • Associate Director - NIHR School for Social Care Research
  • Deputy Director - NIHR Research Design Service- Yorkshire and Humber
  • Associate Editor - Journal of health Services Research and Policy
  • Panel Member - NIHR Programme Grants for Applied Research

PhD supervision

Vivienne Descanio: Pilot Trial of Acupuncture v Manual Therapy alone and in combination for low back pain. Co-supervisor with David Torgerson, Health Sciences

Helen Anderson: Professional Identity and the Advanced Nurse Practitioner in Primary Care. Co-supervisor with Joy Adamson, Health Sciences