BU helps secure Wellcome Trust Seed Award

The heart of an insect.

The heart of an insect.

A £100,000 Wellcome Trust Seed Award has been granted to fund a project using fruit flies (Drosophila) to examine an important yet poorly understood aspect of human heart physiology.

The heart senses and adapts to its own highly dynamic mechanical environment. This environment changes beat-by-beat, as well as over longer timescales, due to altered physiology or as a consequence of disease. Failure to detect and adjust cardiac performance accordingly is associated with arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death. The mechanism for this adaptation is not known.

The goal is to study the cellular and molecular basis of this mechanism using the Drosophila heart as a simple model. Preliminary data obtained for an Honours project suggests that stretch-activated mechanosensitive ion channels are key components.

Research supported by Paul Hartley’s lab here at Bournemouth University and led by Dr Barry Denholm (University of Edinburgh) will investigate the hypothesis that these channels provide a direct link to convert physical force (stretch of the cardiac tissue) into biochemical signal (ion flux), which in turn regulates heart physiology and function (contractility).

New Public Health paper on Christmas Eve

Douglas 2015 Men healthOur latest paper and the last one for 2015, published the day before Christmas.  The paper ‘Implementing Health Policy: Lessons from the Scottish Well Men’s Policy Initiative’ appeared in AIMS Public Health [1].  The paper draws on evaluation research led by Dr. Flora Douglas (University of Aberdeen).  This was a set of evaluations of the Well Men’s Health projects which were part of an initiative running in many health regions (or health boards as they are called in Scotland).


The focus of this particular paper centres around the fact that little is known about how health professionals translate government health policy into action [2]. Our paper examines that process using the  Scottish Well Men’s Services policy initiative as a ‘real world’ case study [1]. These Well Men’s Services were launched by the Scottish Government to address men’s health inequalities. Our analysis aimed to develop a deeper understanding of policy implementation as it naturally occurred.  We used an analytical framework that was developed to reflect the ‘rational planning’ principles health professionals are commonly encouraged to use for implementation purposes.

Our analysis revealed four key themes: (1) ambiguity regarding the policy problem and means of intervention; (2) behavioral framing of the policy problem and intervention; (3) uncertainty about the policy evidence base and outcomes, and; (4) a focus on intervention as outcome. This study found that mechanistic planning heuristics (as a means of supporting implementation) fails to grapple with the indeterminate nature of population health problems. A new approach to planning and implementing public health interventions is required that recognises the complex and political nature of health problems; the inevitability of imperfect and contested evidence regarding intervention, and, future associated uncertainties.


The paper is published in an Open Access journal, so it is easily and freely available to public health professionals, policy-makers and health workers across the globe.

Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen 




  1. Douglas, F., van Teijlingen, E., Smith, W.C.S., Moffat, M. (2015) Implementing Health Policy: Lessons from the Scottish Well Men’s Policy Initiative, AIMS Public Health 2 (4): 887-905. http://www.aimspress.com/article/10.3934/publichealth.2015.4.887/fulltext.html
  2. Killoran, A., Kelly, M. (2004) Towards an evidence-based approach to tackling health inequalities: The English experience. Health Education Journal;63: 7-14.

Mixed methods: not without its downside?

Prof Edwin van Teijlingen

Conducting mixed-methods research has become very popular over the past decade especially in the health research field.1-4 This development ties in with the growth in inter-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary research. Many grant applications, PhD project and the resulting papers especially in the health field apply a mixed-methods approach, where in the past a single approach would have dominated.   This interest in combining methods seems to be the case even in the more traditional quantitative field of clinical effectiveness and randomised controlled trials. Whilst I find this development encouraging as a mixed-methods social scientist, it also makes me wonder whether the applicants putting forward a mixed-methods project have thought about the disadvantages or at least the opportunity costs of using such approach.

A mixed-methods approach is ‘simply’ combining two or more research methods to address a research question, i.e. what the label suggests. It is often perceived as the combining of qualitative with quantitative methods, but it can technically also be a mix of quantitative methods or a combination of qualitative methods. The advantage of a mixed-methods approach is that the different methods in the mix address different aspects of the research question and that combining these methods offers a synergetic effect. So what are the possible limitations of or barriers to mixed-methods research?

First, using a mixed-methods approach means you need an understanding of two different philosophies and how to bring the findings of these two different methods together.4-6   One requires expertise in two different research approaches, either as individual or in the team as well as someone who can do the combining of the findings. For the latter you really need someone in the team who understand the pragmatic approach commonly used in mixed-methods approaches. Otherwise there is a great risk that the original mixed-methods study will be analysed and reported as two or more separate papers each based on data from one of the methods applied in the mixed-methods study.

Secondly, you can spend your money only once, hence there are opportunity costs. Thus if the maximum grant is £200,000 or £300,000 you can’t spend the full amount on the designing a large-scale quantitative study/survey, as you need to spend a proportion of your money and your attention and time on your qualitative study.

Thirdly, and related the above, both quantitative and qualitative methods have ‘rules’ about sampling and sample-size.5 Just because you have two methods this does not mean you can necessarily do a study with a smaller sample. The sample size calculations will still say you need at least xxx participants. Similarly, although perhaps not so rigidly you need a certain number of interviews or focus groups to do you qualitative study appropriately.

Fourthly, a common mistake seems to be to add a bit of qualitative research to a larger quantitative study, perhaps a bit tokenistic.7 Often it is so obvious in a grant application that the qualitative research is an add-on, an afterthought perhaps from a reviewer in the previous failed grant application.

Finally, not all mixed-methods studies are the same, in fact each mixed-methods study is more or less unique in the way in the way it mixes and matched individual research methods.3 So although mixed-methods may be the best way to address a particular research question, your particular proposed mixed of quantitative and qualitative research might not be the most appropriate to answer the overall research question.8

As with all research methods and research proposals my recommendation is if in doubt go and find an expert for advice.6 If necessary get an expert on your team of researchers to strengthen your application.


Professor Edwin van Teijlingen




  1.  Barbour, R.S. (1999) The case of combining qualitative and quantitative approaches in health services research. Journal of Health Services Research Policy, 4(1): 39-43.
  2. Simkhada, P., van Teijlingen, E., Wasti, S.P., Sathian, B. (2014) Mixed-methods approaches in health research in Nepal, Nepal Journal of Epidemiology 4(5): 415-416.
  3. Plano Clark, V.L., Anderson, N., Wertz, J.A., Zhou, Y., Schumacher, K., Miaskowski, C. (2015) Conceptualizing Longitudinal Mixed Methods Designs: A Methodological Review of Health Sciences Research, Journal of Mixed Methods Research, 9: 297-319.
  4. MacKenzie Bryers, H., van Teijlingen, E. Pitchforth, E. (2014) Advocating mixed-methods approaches in health research, Nepal Journal of Epidemiology 4(5): 417-422. http://www.nepjol.info/index.php/NJE/article/view/12018/9768
  5. Bryman, A. (1988) Quality and Quantity in Social Research, London: Routledge
  6. Bazeley, P. (2003) Teaching mixed methods. Qualitative Research Journal, 4: 117-126.
  7. Maxwell, J.A. (2016) Expanding the History and Range of Mixed Methods Research, Journal of Mixed Methods Research, 10: 12-27.
  8. Brannen, J. (2005) Mixing methods: The entry of qualitative & quantitative approaches into the research process. International Journal of Social Research Methodology 8(3): 173-85.


Congratulations to Dr. Caroline Ellis-Hill

NIHRDr. Caroline Ellis-Hill  has just been accepted as a qualitative methodologist on the NIHR (National Institute for Health Research) panel for Programme Grants for Applied Research (PGfAR).  Caroline from the Centre for Qualitative Research (CQR) in FHSS is the second BU academic to join a NIHR panel this year.  Earlier this year Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen was invited to be a member of the NIHR’s HTA Clinical Evaluation & Trials Board ( http://www.nets.nihr.ac.uk/programmes/hta/our-people ).


Professors Vanora Hundley & Edwin van Teijlingen


CsJCC book launch

On Wednesday 9 December, the Centre for the Study of Journalism, Culture and Community held a book launch to celebrate the work of colleagues who have published monographs or edited collections over recent months.  In total we had around 9 books to browse and discuss and it was great to hear of further book projects in development.  Books on display included Gothic in Comics and Graphic Novels by Julia Round, British Spy Fiction and the End of Empire by Sam Goodman,  The Play of Political Culture, Emotion and Identity by Candida Yates and Narrative: the Basics, by Bronwen Thomas. Edited volumes included Shaun Kimber’s, Snuff: Real Death and Screen Media and Nael Jebril’s Political Journalism in Comparative Perspective. Soon to be published is Chris Pullen’s Straight Girls and Queer Guys, his ninth book so far!

Pictured below are Candida Yates, Sam Goodman and Peri Bradley talking about their books.














Peri Bradley’s book on Food, Media and Contemporary Culture features contributions from several colleagues in the Faculty of Media and Communication, while Media, Margins and Popular Culture edited by Einar Thorsen, Jenny Alexander, Heather Savigny and Dan Jackson is a collaboration between CsJCC and the Centre for Politics and Media in the Faculty.

Colleagues attending the event were keen to start reading the volumes on display. All books will soon be available from the library.










HSS Writing Week 4th-8th January – How can Bournemouth University Clinical Research Unit support you?

bucru identity

The Faculty of Health and Social Sciences is holding a Writing Week between 4th-8th January 2016 aimed at supporting staff to find time in their busy academic diaries to prioritise writing grant applications and papers for publication.

The Bournemouth University Clinical Research Unit offers methodological and statistical collaboration for all healthcare researchers in the area. It supports researchers in improving the quality, quantity and efficiency of research across Bournemouth University and local National Health Service (NHS) Trusts. It incorporates the Dorset office of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Research Design Service who offer free methodological support to researchers who are developing research ideas in the field of health and social care.

BUCRU will be supporting Writing Week in HSS by holding two drop-in sessions on Tuesday 5th January and Thursday 7th January 12-2pm in R508 Royal London House. We would also like to extend the invitation across the other Faculties for anyone who feels we may be able to support them. For those unable to attend the drop-in sessions, we would be delighted to arrange an alternative appointment.

Please see further information here, contact our adminstrator Louise Ward on 01202 961939 / bucru@bournemouth.ac.uk or visit our website. We look forward to seeing you!

Congratulations to FHSS staff on latest KPI publication

Five RiversCongratulations to FHSS Celia Beckett and Jaqui Hewitt-Taylor and colleagues Richard Cross and Pam McConnell based at Five Rivers Child Care, Salisbury. Their first paper describes the exciting process of a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) project between BU and Five Rivers Child Care which started in 2012 and finished recently in 2015.[1]    The project was established to develop a stepped assessment package that would help to identify the emotional and behavioural needs of children who are looked after to ensure the right services are accessed and to monitor their progress.



Professor Edwin van Teijlingen




  1. Celia Beckett , Richard Cross , Jaqui Hewitt-Taylor , Pam McConnell (2015) Developing a process for assessment of the emotional and behavioural needs of “looked after” children: the Five Rivers model Journal of Children’s Services, 10(4):  324-38.

Creative Europe -measuring the creative industries of Europe

Euro_FlagThe origins of the EU – a coal and steel free trade agreement – lie elsewhere; however Europe’s creative industries are likely to be an increasingly important part of its economic future. Creative industries provide jobs that are highly skilled and more resistant to automation, jobs that are therefore more likely to be sustainable. [1] Understanding them is therefore of strategic importance.

A challenge in thinking about creative industries at a European level has been the absence of comparable statistics across the countries of the EU. Nesta’s report by Max Nathan, Andy Pratt and Ana Rincon-Aznar, published today, helps address this by providing consistent estimates of employment in the creative industries of the EU’s 28 member states and, where data has allowed, the wider ‘creative economies’ of 20 member states (the ‘creative economy’ consists of jobs inside the creative industries and creative jobs in other industries, for example a designer working for a car manufacturer).

For more information on this report click here.

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