Tower Hamlets Health Determinants Research Collaboration (HDRC) – Research Priority Setting

Contact: Alison Blunt


Department: School of Geography

Institution: Queen Mary University of London

Project timeline:  Work to commence January / February 2024 for 13 weeks full-time or part-time equivalent.

Project duration: 13 weeks, flexible full-time or part time equivalent.

Closing date: 11th December 2023

Expertise required:

  • Previous experience in using mixed methods approaches for public involvement in research, and in preparing research protocols, data management plans, and participant information materials
  • A good understanding of principles and methods for co-production
  • Strong interpersonal skills and an ability to collaborate with diverse stakeholders
  • An interest in working to reduce health inequalities through working closely with local residents and communities
  • Strong writing and organisational skills

Project description: ‘Health determinants’ are the wider social, economic and environmental factors which influence people’s health and well-being, including income, employment and working conditions, social inclusion, food security and diet, housing and homelessness, access to green and blue space, and air and water pollution. These factors play a key role in shaping health inequalities and are heavily influenced by the work of local government. The Health Determinants Research Collaboration (HDRC) programme, funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), is a national programme designed to improve the capacity and capability of Local Authorities to conduct high-quality research on health determinants and address pervasive health inequalities.

In October 2022, Tower Hamlets Council, along with its core partners (Queen Mary University of London, University of East London, London Metropolitan University and Tower Hamlets Council for Voluntary Services) were successful in their bid to join the first cohort of HDRCs. Having been awarded £5 million over the next 5 years to establish a new local research partnership, our vision is to make Tower Hamlets a ‘go to’ place in which to conduct high quality, collaborative, applied and impactful research on health determinants and factors driving health inequalities to improve the health and wellbeing of our residents. Having entered year 2 of the programme, we are now developing our HDRC Research Strategy in consultation with Council staff, academic partners, the voluntary and community sector and residents. This will be underpinned by several thematic research priorities, which we have committed to co-coproducing with residents to ensure that resources are directed to areas that are most important to them. These priorities will be selected using a transparent, rigorous and systematic priority setting methodology.

Description of work involved: This student will work closely with a small project team to:

  • Co-design a methodologically robust prioritisation plan
  • Work with HDRC staff within LBTH to prepare a protocol,
    data management plan, and participant information
    materials and submit them for ethical review
  • Co-lead on implementation with the HDRC Strategy &
    Policy Officer
  • (For a longer-term part-time placement) Assist with the
    write-up of this process for publication in a peer-reviewed

Student benefits:  This student will be given the opportunity to:

  • Work on a pioneering NIHR-funded programme to address
    pervasive health inequalities in Tower Hamlets
  • Gain first-hand experience of working within local
    authority systems and processes at the interface of
    research, policy, and practice.
  • Collaborate with a wide range of external stakeholders
    and work closely in an interdisciplinary team consisting of
    Council staff, senior researchers, representatives from the
    community and voluntary sector and residents.
  • Help to develop a pioneering approach to research
    priority setting, through co-producing priorities with
    residents and local communities at a borough-wide level
  • Possibility to contribute to a peer-reviewed journal