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Healthy Settings and Organisations


This programme will develop and evaluate whole systems approaches to improving population health and understand their implementation Historically the majority of our work has taken place in schools and is based on the World Health Organisation’s Health Promoting Schools (HPS) model. This connects multiple aspects of school life, including the curriculum, the physical and social environment, and links with families and the local community. We have researchers working with schools on a broad range of health priority areas, including mental health and wellbeing, healthy eating, smoking prevention, alcohol misuse prevention, sexual health and healthy social relationships.

DECIPHer is also leading the School Health Research Network (SHRN), which brings together schools, researchers and key policy and practice organisations, to improve the quantity and quality of school-based health improvement research. The network as supported over 50 research studies to a value in excess of £25 million. .

For the future, education settings work will focus on primary, secondary and further education, and work with Pupil Referral Units. There will be a particular focus on mental health, aligning with Welsh Government policy and UKRI priorities. Development of a national Welsh cohort within SHRN will present opportunities to develop epidemiological studies. Whilst our initial focus will be on education settings, our theoretical frameworks and methods will move to support research studies that adopt a whole system approach in the workplace and community settings.


Current and recent studies

Adoption of Investigating academic pressure as a risk factor for adolescent depression, to inform the development of whole-school interventions

A multicentre cluster randomised controlled trial to investigate the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of an informal school-based peer-led drug prevention intervention (the FRANK Friends study)

Can alcohol media literacy training for children and young people prevent alcohol related harm? A realist review of what works for whom and in what contexts

CHoosing Active Role Models to INspire Girls (CHARMING)

CHoosing Active Role Models to INspire Girls (CHARMING): cluster randomised feasibility study of a school-based, community-linked programme to increase physical activity levels in 9-11 year old girls (CHARMING II) – update for new bid (Youth Sport trust + ALPHA involvement).

Cluster randomised controlled trial of the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of placing social workers in schools on referrals to child social services

Discipline hopping for freshwater solutions

Discovering which modifiable characteristics of the built-environment support good adolescent mental health and wellbeing

ENABLE UK: ENABling Local authority Evidence-based decision-making across the UK – Stage 1

Exploring the uptake and provision of Long Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC) among ‘vulnerable’ groups: a mixed-methods study.

Health dAta SciencE (DATAMIND/PHASE)- A Mental Health Research Data Hub

Healthy Working Wales Evaluation Partner – evaluation tools piloting

The impact of peers in relation to alcohol use in adolescence: investigating social influences to inform a peer-led school-based intervention

Integration of health and wellbeing into the school curriculum: a mixed methods investigation of preparations for Wales-wide curriculum reform and its impacts on health and wellbeing

Investigating academic pressure as a risk factor for adolescent depression, to  inform the development of whole-school interventions.

JACK Trial: A multi-site cluster randomised trial of an interactive film-based intervention to reduce teenage pregnancy and promote positive sexual health

Maximising the impact and reach of evidence from Wales’s Student Health and Wellbeing Survey by improving accessibility and interpretability among schools and students

Mental Health Pathfinder: Integrating generic, clinical and phenotypic data to advance stratification, prediction, and treatment in mental health

Mindset Teams

Optimisation, feasibility testing and pilot randomised trial of Positive Choices: a school based social marketing intervention to promote sexual health, prevent unintended teenage pregnancies and address health inequalities in England

PHaCT Trial: Preventing Homelessness, improving health for prison leavers: a pilot randomised controlled trial of a Critical Time intervention.

PhD thesis on child obesity prevention, focused on food portion size for pre-school children

PHIRST Public Health Intervention Responsive Studies Teams – extension

Primary school expansion of SHRN: SHRN Primary Network-Extending the School Health Research Network into primary schools in Wales to support mental health and wellbeing throughout childhood and adolescence (Pri-SHRN).

Primary school expansion of SHRN: SHRN Primary Network-Extending the School Health Research Network into primary schools in Wales to support mental health and wellbeing throughout childhood and adolescence – Phase 1.

Primary school expansion of SHRN: SHRN Primary Network-Extending the School Health Research Network into primary schools in Wales to support mental health and wellbeing throughout childhood and adolescence (Phase 2).

Public Health Intervention Responsive Studies Teams (PHIRST)

Research exploring what and how adolescents learn about sex and relationships and their associated helpseeking behaviours.

Research Literacy for the Welsh Baccalaureate: Scoping Study

Review Of Statutory School And Community-Based Counselling Services And Research & Design Of A Pilot For Primary Aged Children

The role of schools in supporting positive social relationships to improve school engagement, wellbeing, and substance use outcomes among young people in care: A mixed review

Safe sex and relationships in FE (SaFE): mixed-method, multi-case study to develop a comprehensive sexual health intervention for FE settings

School-based interventions To Prevent dating and relationship and gender-based violence (STOPDRV-GBV): systematic review to understand characteristics, mechanisms, implementation and effectiveness

School Holiday Enrichment Programme (SHEP) Evaluation 2017

Secondary SHRN Student Health and Wellbeing Survey 2021 – 2023. (Extension)

The School Health Research Network: creating regional-level impact for health, education and social care holders

SHRN (School Health Research Network): Next stage funding 2022-2024; Secondary SHRN 2022-2024.

Socio-economic status and wellbeing among secondary school students in Wales: an intersectional perspective

Theory of Change and Evaluability Assessment for the Whole School Approach to Mental Health

Understanding alcohol advertising exposure in secondary school pupils: the role of age in media engagement

Wellbeing and health in schools project (WHISP) – Phase 1

WISE (Wellbeing in Secondary Education) project – A cluster randomised controlled trial of an intervention to improve the mental health support and training available to secondary school teachers

Wolfson Centre for Adolescent Mental Health in Wales


Previous studies

Please contact us if you require further information on these projects

Understanding outcomes for Welsh children who are placed in secure accommodation

The Filter FE Challenge: pilot trial and process evaluation of a multi-level smoking prevention intervention in further education settings

PLAN-A: Development and feasibility cluster randomised control trial evaluation of a Peer-Led physical Activity iNtervention for Adolescent girls

Primary School Free Breakfast data augmentation and analysis

Activity and Healthy Eating in Adolescence

Bristol Girls Dance Project: A cluster randomised controlled trial of an after-school dance programme to increase physical activity among 11-12 year old girls

Bristol Girls Dance Project: feasibility study

CHETS – Changes in Child Exposure to Environmental Tobacco Smoke Wales

CHETS 2 – Changes in Child Exposure to Environmental Tobacco Smoke Wales 2: Research into smoking in cars carrying children

Cluster randomised controlled trial to test the effectiveness of an educational intervention to promote hand washing in reducing absenteeism in primary schools

Evaluation of Primary School Free Breakfast Initiative

Evaluation of the Cooking Bus in Wales

Evidence review for NICE public health guidance on ‘Managing overweight and obesity among children and young people: lifestyle weight management services’

Pilot study of alcohol policy and social norms in Welsh universities

Preventing substance misuse: randomised controlled trial of the Strengthening Families Programme 10-14 (UK)

School health and well-being: perceptions of secondary school teachers

School Health Research Network scoping and feasibility study

Supporting socially and emotionally vulnerable young people in schools: an evaluation of Barnardo’s Bounceback service

The effects of schools and school-environment interventions on health: evidence mapping and syntheses

The World Health Organization’s Health Promoting Schools framework for improving the health and well-being of students, and their academic achievement

Preventing alcohol misuse in young people: evaluation and exploratory trial of the Kids, Adults Together programme

Active for Life Year 5: A cluster randomised controlled trial of a primary school-based intervention to increase levels of physical activity, decrease sedentary behaviour and improve diet

Adapting and piloting the ASSIST model of informal peer-led intervention delivery to the Talk to Frank drug prevention programme in UK secondary schools (ASSIST+Frank): intervention development and a pilot trial

ASSIST (A Stop Smoking in Schools Trial): Randomised controlled trial of the effectiveness of a schools-based, peer-led, smoking intervention

Developing and piloting a peer mentoring intervention to reduce teenage pregnancy in looked after children and care leavers

Engage with Research: Exploring the Public Health Potentials of Coproduction

GMI_ALC: Developing a teacher training programme for a group motivational interviewing intervention to prevent alcohol misuse in secondary schools

GW4 Behavioural and Decision Making Sciences in Healthcare GW4 network (BeDMaSH)

How can interventions integrating health and academic education in schools help to prevent substance misuse and violence among young people? A systematic review and evidence synthesis

Increasing physical activity in pre-school aged children: systematic review, individual participant meta-analysis and intervention pilot (PhD)

Initiating change locally in bullying and aggression through the school environment (INCLUSIVE): cluster randomised controlled trial

Investigating the use of mentoring for improving the health, wellbeing, educational outcomes and employability of young people (PhD)