Human potential and wellbeing

Our research approach brings disciplines together

We combine education, science, technology and social science research to enhance people’s lives.

Every day we make discoveries and develop new knowledge with the potential to transform our society and improve human health and wellbeing.

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Tackling substance use in research, policy and practice

Our Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (DARC) leads our policy-relevant research to develop guidelines and best-practice approaches and to share ideas. Our work supports professionals working with young people, BME groups and older people.  We always look for opportunities to exchange knowledge with professional bodies, voluntary organisations and service providers.

The focus of DARC's work

We're involved in European Union, national and locally funded studies on drugs and alcohol. Exchanging Prevention practices on Polydrug use among youth In Criminal justice systems (EPPIC) is a key project with six European countries to develop guidelines, gather knowledge and disseminate best practice around prevention initiatives for this vulnerable group of young people aged 16 to 24.

We also work on areas such as alcohol use and interventions for BME groups, contingency management approaches for drug users, workforce development and training issues, and the effects of alcohol in older people.

More about DARC's work

Professor Betsy Thom and DARC

Professor Betsy Thom, Professor of Health Policy, co-directs DARC working with a strong research team. She has led the development of a European Masters in Drug and Alcohol Studies and other EU funded work.

Professor Thom has an interest in critical examination of evidence based policy and practice and in the communication of alcohol-related risks in public health messages. She teaches on alcohol and drug use as well as problem use and policy.

Better assessment for young people in residential and foster care

We’ve developed an innovative child-care assessment model that helps care workers to understand young people better and plan more effective care.

Our researchers at the Centre for Abuse and Trauma Studies (CATS) work with voluntary organisation St Christopher’s Fellowship on this research. It includes a package of self-report tools given to young people when they arrive at residential homes and interview assessments that explore young people’s relationships with their parents, siblings and others.

Our positive impact on care for young people

Our researchers regularly disseminate the findings of their work at national and international conferences, and in practice journals for commissioners and practitioners. We’re now extending this work in partnership with the charity Action for Children and we're working with Youth in Mind to deliver the assessments electronically.

More about CATS

Professor Antonia Bifulco and CATS

Professor Antonia Bifulco co-directs the Centre for Abuse and Trauma Studies (CATS). Her research is focused on social and lifespan influences on psychological disorder. She has also investigated childhood experience, adversity and attachment style intergenerationally.

She is the co-author of Child abuse and protection: Contemporary issues in research, practice and policy (Routledge, London 2018).

Music therapy that assesses cognitive decline

We’ve devised a new neuropsychological Music Cognitive Test to assess cognitive decline in older people. This innovative work is part of our research to investigate the benefits of music therapy on cognitive function.

The background to the test

Dr Fabia Franco, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, along with Anthony Mangiacotti, Visiting PhD Researcher developed the new test with funding from the British Academy, the Methodist Home Association and the Society for Education, Music and Psychology Research. The test is currently being validated.

This research is in partnership with the University of Padua in Italy, Vrije Universiteit in Belgium, École Normale Supérieure in France and the Methodist Home Association.

Dr Fabia Franco and her research

Dr Fabia Franco studied in Italy, first at the University of Padua (BSc/MSc Experimental Psychology, Summa cum Laude) and was awarded the Italian Society of Psychology prize for best pre-doctoral dissertation (yrs. 1980-82), and then at the University of Bologna (PhD Developmental Psychology).

She worked as a Post-doctoral Research Scholar at the University of Stirling, Infant Study Unit, thanks to initial grants from the Italian National Research Council and the European Science Foundation, followed by two grants from the Economic and Social Research Council in which she was a co-investigator. Recently she established the Music Cognition and Communication Lab.

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