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How do we support people with long term health conditions?

With an NHS under increasing pressure and more people than ever before living with long term conditions, it’s vital we explore new, sustainable and effective ways of promoting health and wellbeing across all age groups and supporting patients and their families.

The vision of Integrated Health and Social Care is to address the challenges around wellness, healthy ageing and health inequities. 

We will achieve our vision by building partnerships with innovators in the NHS, private and 3rd sector to harness emerging technologies, increasing our capacity to secure high level research funding, working together with local care providers and health innovation enterprises for programme building.

Our research focuses on three pillars:

1) Preventative Health and Exercise and Nutritional Interventions – examines innovative exercise strategies, behavioural interventions and optimal nutrition to promote physical activity and wellbeing.

2) Public health, Inequalities and Marginalised Populations – explores how health inequalities affect individuals, communities, service providers and organisations, and approaches for addressing and overcoming these challenges.

3) Innovative Health and Complex Interventions – aims to improve mental and physical health through the application of optimised and cutting-edge and digital and technical interventions.

Through these pillars, we are tackling global challenges around sedentarism, malnutrition, poverty and social justice. Our research looks at shaping interventions that have impacts on a health, educational, behavioural, economic and social basis, at local, national and international levels. We test innovative interventions and explore how to effectively bridge the interface between hospital, home and other community care services. Our evidence makes the case for financially viable solutions to address the significant health and social care challenges we’re facing and ultimately enable people to live longer, happier and healthier lives.

We want to hear your views.

Who we are 

Academic Departments supporting this research include Nursing and Midwifery, Public Health, Psychology, Sports, Exercise and Rehabilitation, Social Work, Education and Community Wellbeing, Design, Social Sciences, Business, Law and Applied Sciences. Our partners include NIHR, SPHR, Fuse, AHSN, GNCR, QCC, BMA, Family Justice Board, the EC, UK Research Councils, Ministry of Defence, Innovate UK, and Department of Health along with industrial and SME partners in Pharmaceuticals, Technology and Nutrition.

Research agenda 

We are building a critical mass of research excellence that has socio-economic impact setting the following priority areas:

• Develop and evaluate interventions that are designed to optimise the health and social wellbeing of individuals and groups throughout the life-course 

• Explore and analyse the role of factors such as exercise and nutrition in influencing individual experience of health and social wellbeing 

• Examine ways in which health and social care can address the impact of inequalities and marginalisation on health and social wellbeing

Our research pillars are complemented with expertise in research methods, evaluation of change with pace and scale, health economics, implementation science, statistics and patient and public involvement. Common aspects across these three areas are a focus on translational interdisciplinary research, working closely in partnership with both end-users/patients and service providers to co-create and evaluate either new interventions, services, competency frameworks and care pathways that improve care quality, service user experience, patient outcomes and health inequalities. It is anticipated that such inequalities will be magnified in a post pandemic environment. The MDRT is supporting regional economic growth via engagement with the Purposeful Health Growth Accelerator is funded by Research England, Development Fund, enabling SMEs access to Northumbria University’s research expertise in health, wellness and care. The programme was launched in September 2020 in partnership with NEL Fund Managers and has since co-hosted 2 events with AHSN engaging over 80 regional SMEs. Interest in the growth-coaching programme delivered by NEL and innovation support delivered by Northumbria University have been over-subscribed.

Find out more about our research pillars:

Preventative Health and Exercise and Nutritional Interventions

Lead: Professor Ioannis Vogiatzis

Over a quarter of the population in England have a long-term condition and an increasing proportion have two or more long-term conditions. This is the reason why long-term conditions are now a central task of the NHS Long Term Plan. Sedentarism and inadequate nutrition act synergistically, and additively causing long-term conditions and chronic diseases. This has led health authorities to explore the role of different forms of physical activity and nutrition in the management of the risk of developing and/or progressing numerous long-term conditions and diseases.

Our main research areas include the application of innovative exercise strategies to improve functional capacity along with behavioural interventions to promote physical activity and wellbeing in healthy frail and diseased individuals, as well as the optimisation of the role of nutrition and functional foods to improve health status in general population. Through our collaboration with NHS-based services in the North East of England our research has informed the development of novel treatments and interventions, that improve patients’ readiness for major surgery, physical and mental recovery following surgery, and quality of life in older adults with multi-morbidity through participation in wellness programmes in the community. Our research focuses on designing, implementing and evaluating care pathways at the interface of psychology, medicine and rehabilitation in cancer survivors and in patients with chronic lung and heart disease, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s and Parkinson’s disease as well as in chronic pain syndromes, fibromyalgia, chronic musculoskeletal and rheumatologic disorders, and musculoskeletal long-term conditions. 

Exercise for patients with long-term conditions

Research is focusing on populations with chronic lung and heart disease, colorectal and prostate cancer, multiple sclerosis and on adults with Crohn’s disease. Specific research themes include the optimisation of exercise therapy to induce the greatest health or therapeutic benefits for clinical populations, the role of prehabilitation in those patients waiting for surgery and tele-rehabilitation in heart and lung disease patients and those post-surgery.

Strategic collaboration with the NHS has allowed the deployment of cardiopulmonary exercise testing and rehabilitation research projects and services. In addition, research is focused on the development and evaluation of rehabilitative interventions for musculoskeletal deconditioning. This overarching theme is underpinned by research looking at exercise rehabilitation strategies to restore spinal/postural stability as a result of chronic injury (e.g. lower back pain) or muscular unloading (e.g. ageing, long duration bed rest, microgravity), and the effectiveness of surgical interventions to restore lower limb joint function and stability, using multidisciplinary approaches.

Further research interests focus on conditions at the interface of psychology, medicine and rehabilitation in disease entities such as chronic pain syndromes in adults and children, fibromyalgia and chronic widespread pain syndromes, chronic musculoskeletal and rheumatologic disorders, and musculoskeletal long-term conditions. By using novel techniques such as transcranial magnetic stimulation and motor nerve stimulation, research has focused on the mechanisms and sites of exercise-induced neuromuscular fatigue.  

Human nutrition to optimise wellbeing and athletic performance

Capitalising on the wide expertise relevant to all aspects of conducting multidisciplinary nutritional clinical trials, we have an important contribution in the areas of product development, in biomolecular science, in microbiomes research and in proteomics and metabolomics development. Furthermore, we investigate the effects of different nutrition interventions in cardiovascular function, physical performance and brain function. Finally, we are creating a ‘virtual’ one-stop shop for multidisciplinary research proactively targeted at existing and future industrial collaborators.

In this frame, we collaborate with local, national and international partners to develop and conduct work using exercise to improve human performance and improve health and wellbeing of the broader population. In recent years the research group had an increasing interest in the use of functional foods (such as cherry juice and beetroot) to improve exercise recovery and how these might be applied to improve human health and sports performance. Although a majority of work is focused on human performance there is increasing application and translation from this work to the general population to maintain health along the life span, but also to improve the prognosis in clinical populations.

Public health, Inequalities and Marginalised Populations

Lead: Professor Monique Lhussier

The North / South divide in the UK in terms of health inequalities is now well recognised. This has been significantly exacerbated by a sustained period of austerity, and more recently the global pandemic and its impact on mental health, unemployment, poverty and all of their associated issues, including significant impact on life expectancy, and childhood mortality for example. This subtheme capitalises on our location at the heart of the North East, and our position at the core of the local research and practice driven organisations, with our staff holding leading positions in networks such as Fuse (the Centre for Translational Research in Public Health) and the North East North Cumbria Applied Health Collaboration

This pillar includes the following research areas: 

  • Marginalisation, inequalities, health equity
  • Intersecting equity and public health issues  
  • Children, young and elderly people
  • Prevention education and substance misuse 
  • Impact: knowledge transition, mobilisation and implementation
  • Mental health and wellbeing
  • Evaluation of complex interventions

Our interests include schools’ approaches to overcoming disadvantage/engaging their communities; multidisciplinary approaches to working with vulnerable children/families; collaboration between schools and with other agencies; working with military veterans and their families, and with traveller communities, exploring inequalities experienced by carers, outreach workers, lay/peer health advisers, and working with third sector organisations, as well as examining how local authorities respond to crises, in order to continue meeting the health and care needs of their residents. We work in close collaboration with a range of external partners, who work across a range of aspects of marginalisation, including organisations working with carers, people with learning disabilities or other cognitive impairments, poverty and disadvantage, ethnic minorities and addictions.

Innovative Health and Complex Interventions

Lead: Professor Lynn Coventry

This includes the following research areas:

  • Design digital, social and community interventions to improve health and wellbeing
  • Improvement of patient safety through education and practice
  • Inform behaviour change interventions to facilitate healthy lifestyle behaviours and ill health prevention.
  • Explore the role of social media in promoting (un)healthy behaviours and media campaigns in driving public health campaigns such as cervical screening, vaccine uptake, organ, egg and sperm donations. This includes work on misinformation and health conspiracy theory.
  • Improve self management of chronic, long term and stigmatising conditions through data gathering and sharing
  • Optimise efficiency of interventions via health economic analysis

This research area aims to improve mental and physical health, and quality of care via psychological, social, technological and workforce interventions. It spans individual, local community level and media-based interventions. Our interests cover many different health behaviours including sleep, stress, anxiety, eating disorders, sexual health and the management of long term chronic, and stigmatising health conditions. We focus on understanding, facilitating and maintaining health behaviour change. At a community level, we have a particular focus on tools and technologies, and workforce innovations. At a social level, we are particularly interested in the influence of social media and communication strategies around health behaviour, including understanding the factors that influence people into sharing and believing health conspiracy theories and misinformation and what sort of interventions might counteract this influence. From a technological perspective we are exploring how to integrate the substantial data relating to health behaviours, which can now be gathered by people, into intelligent interventions of the future and future medical consultations.

The research will draw from theories and methods from psychology, design and economics; driving the development and evaluation of real-world interventions, often supported through technology.


Everyone knows someone living with a long-term condition. At some point in our lives, we’ve likely all faced a difficult situation where someone we love is struggling to cope.

As people live longer, we have to face more conditions that impact on our quality of life. In the UK today, approximately 85% of older adults have at least one long-term condition, with many more suffering from multiple conditions, both mental and physical, affecting their day-to-day lives and independence.

For the individual or the caregiver, it can be hard to know where to turn. How could we build up resilience and prevent problems? Do we resort to extra support in the home or the local community? Do we look at care homes? If so, where, when and how? When do we go to A&E?

Barely a day goes by where we don’t read a news story about the NHS under pressure, struggling to cope with increased demands for services.

When is it ever right that somebody should have to wait 12 hours or more on a corridor trolley before being seen to by a doctor?

At home, so often, older people in particular are dependent on their families for care and support. But do we really have the resources, or the time, when we’re all trying to juggle a little bit of everything? Have we really got the right infrastructure to support people? What more can be done to bridge the gap between hospitals, care homes and the home? How can we effectively apply IT to monitor and care for vulnerable populations in their home environment?

As researchers, we have a duty to tackle these issues head on and give a voice to some of these groups. We’re looking at ways we can apply a patient-centred approach to help people more effectively manage and cope with the complex issues associated with long term conditions.

The simple fact is, things can’t go on as they are. In a time of unprecedented demographic change, where more cuts are being made to vital public health budgets, we need to challenge the status quo and find evidence-based solutions that make a real difference to each person affected, their families, and society as a whole.

What do you think? Share your views using #ChangingChallengingWorld

Ioannis Vogiatzis

Professor of Rehabilitation Sciences

Department: Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation

Photo of Ioannis Vogiatzis




I am an internationally recognised scientist in the area of pulmonary rehabilitation in respiratory disease. I contribute my expertise to educational and research curriculum development activities undertaken by the European Respiratory Society (ERS) – the largest Respiratory Medicine Society in the world. I have co-authored six Official Position Statements on clinical exercise and pulmonary rehabilitation in respiratory patients, which have been published by the American Thoracic and European Respiratory Societies. The majority of my publications are in high impact factor medical journals, making an important contribution to the area of pulmonary rehabilitation in COPD. I am the Secretary of the Respiratory, Clinical Care and Physiology Assembly of the ERS, a member for the COPD Development group of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Rehabilitation Programme, and member of the Specialist Advisory Group for Pulmonary Rehabilitation of the British Thoracic Society. I hold an Honorary Professorship (Cardiopulmonary Exercise Testing and Rehabilitation) with Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, which allows me to deploy cardiopulmonary exercise testing and rehabilitation research projects and services within the NHS Trust.

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Monique Lhussier

Professor in Public Health and Wellbeing

Department: Social Work, Education and Community Wellbeing

Photo of Monique Lhussier




My expertise lies in marginalisation, welfare and wellbeing. My work focuses on understanding processes of engagement for groups, which are often deemed ‘hard to reach’ or in situations of social or health precarity. I am experienced in a number of research methodologies, and am particularly known for innovative work in realist work, using variations of soft system methodology and realist evaluation and synthesis. These have been particularly successful in the analysis and articulation of complex community interventions. Prolific in social science research, I have produced a substantial body of high quality peer-reviewed publications (51 published in the current REF cycle), a monograph and a large body of published abstracts. My h and i10 indices are increasing incrementally and stand at 16 and 22 respectively, with my work featuring 969 citations.  

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Innovative Health Interventions in Context

Vulnerable Populations and Social Justice

Prevention and Management of Long Term Conditions


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