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Case study: Your Path in Research - Teresa Salami-Oru, Consultant in Public Health

For Your Path in Research, Teresa spoke to CRN Kent, Surrey and Sussex about why public health research is important and what her path in research has been so far.

Why is it important for people working in public health roles within Local Authorities to engage in research activity?

Academic public health (promoting evidence, knowledge and research) is one of the functions of Public Health. Public Health contributes to reducing the causes of ill-health and improving people's health and wellbeing through health protection, improving people’s health and health services. It is important for us in Public Health to always be aware of the most up to date evidence and research in our respective areas. Decision making based on sound evidence. Be that through actively undertaking research ourselves or being aware of research evidence through evidence appraisal, research forums or networks. Research is a core Public Health tool. This is essential for addressing inequalities, by identifying new interventions and evidence that can prevent adverse health outcomes across the life course.

Why did you want to start working on research and what are you working towards?

I started my career as a nurse and later became a Consultant in Public Health, because I wanted to experience working both downstream and upstream. Additionally, to work at a population level. I really enjoy identifying creative and interesting solutions to address complex issues and therefore started working on various pieces of research to achieve this. I am particularly interested in Arts Based research methods and Mixed Methods research designs. I have led a number of public health programme evaluations over the course of my career and contributed to research.

Right now, I’m working towards a PhD. The most recent stage of my journey took the form of the NIHR Local Authority Short Placement Award for Research Collaboration (LA SPARC). I was awarded this in April this year.

What work have you done so far with the NIHR and what would you like to do in the future?

The NIHR Local Authority Short Placement Award for Research Collaboration (LA SPARC) has enabled me to have a placement with NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) Kent, Surrey and Sussex and to undertake research exploring the impact of digital creativity on young people’s emotional wellbeing. Through the placement I received support for the design of the research methodology, opportunities to network, attend conferences and courses and receive guidance from senior academics. Their ‘pearls of wisdom’ have been very helpful! This has built my knowledge base and has made me more research ready. It’s been an excellent learning experience.

I also chair a research group for my local authority which works to bring together colleagues involved in research in the local authority with academic colleagues. The group has representation from colleagues across the local authority and the NIHR. The group serves to support local authority research through advice, guidance, troubleshooting and the sharing of good practice. We also support colleagues to prepare proposals for funding calls or bids for funding. I hope this will go from strength to strength.

At present we are working towards employing an embedded researcher in the council who will act as a link person or conduit between the local authority and NIHR. Having this person in place will further strengthen our good working relationship with the NIHR. In the future I hope to work with partners to develop a “what good looks like” document for research readiness, so that there is an agreed position and clarity at all levels on what readiness in research can mean.