Public Health Institute (PHI)

Faculty of Health


The Public Health Institute is a World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Violence Prevention. Professor Zara Quigg and her team, work within the UK and internationally to support effective violence prevention by helping partners understand the burden and impacts of violence, identify at-risk groups, choose appropriate preventive measures and evaluate the effectiveness of interventions. We adopt an applied approach to violence prevention that provides the broad range of knowledge, skills, resources and evidence that organisations need to assess and address violence. This includes the development of intelligence systems providing multi-agency data on violence; original research among diverse population groups to strengthen understanding of the drivers and consequences of violence; systematic literature reviews to provide the most up to date knowledge of effective prevention; and intervention evaluations. These cover issues including knife violence, alcohol-related violence, including that in nightlife environments.

Specific Project Work

A key area of research focus is nightlife violence prevention. STOP-SV training programme was developed as part of the European Union Rights, Equality and Citizenship programme, in 2016 established with partners from Czech Republic, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom. The primary aim of STOP-SV is to support the prevention of nightlife related sexual violence. In the UK these projects include ‘The Good Night Out Campaign: evaluation of a nightlife worker training programme to prevent sexual violence’. Findings suggest that the GNOC training programme is associated with improved knowledge and attitudes towards sexual violence; and greater readiness and confidence to intervene in sexual violence, amongst nightlife workers.

Alcohol and nightlife are viewed as specific areas of risk for violence. The ‘Student Alcohol Research and Prevention Activity (SARPA) project was developed and implemented in 3 phases. Phase one informed the development of interventions or work programmes aimed at reducing alcohol consumption and related harms amongst students across Liverpool through implementing original research. Phase two involved SARPA steering group partners using information gathered in phase one to inform the development of an action plan to reduce alcohol consumption and related harms amongst students, and to implement these activities during the 2018/19 academic year. Phase three, reported on in this report, aimed to explore the development and implementation of the SARPA actions plans, and where applicable early indications of the project’s impacts and, or anticipated impacts.

Impact on curriculum

Undergraduate students on the BSc Public Health are introduced to concerns around alcohol, risk and violence in level 4. At level 5 this is developed into a specific module Health Risk Behaviours, Determinants and Impacts led by Professor Quigg with input from her team and other members of staff from PHI providing research informed teaching and learning. The module also includes a roundtable discussion with the Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership (MVRP), one of our major local stakeholders. This highlights the importance of researching, teaching and learning with our stakeholders. The module content changes with regard to new findings from research conducted within PHI. For example the work of Dr Amanda Atkinson on Alcohol in the media and marketing.

Post graduate students have a dedicated option module on Violence which covers a broad range of topics researched by staff at PHI’s Centre for Violence and Unintentional Injury, including sexual violence, self-directed violence, female genital cutting/mutilation, and adverse childhood experiences.  Guest speakers on this module are SAVERA, a Liverpool based charity which supports the survivors of honour based violence nationally. Students are taught to use the Violence Prevention Information System (Violence Info), a global knowledge platform developed with input from PHI which collates published scientific information on the main types of interpersonal violence. Nadia Butler and Zara Quigg at PHI were responsible for developing the methodology and manage ongoing extraction and preparation of the data. The violence module is utilised as a CPD for public health practitioners, including staff from the MVRP.

In addition, PHI has developed two 30 credit CPDs which support staff with roles in reducing aggression and violence across the NHS. Students are taught to develop a distinctly public health approach to violence prevention by planning and leading on a violence reduction project in the workplace. The CPDs will strengthen the public health capacity of NHS staff through taught sessions, work based action learning, and project implementation, and have been developed with NHSE/I, who are funding fifty places for September, 2022.

Broader Change

Students in PHI can study Work Based/Related Learning and several students have had the opportunity to work with Professor Quigg on several projects. This might be a short placement of 6-8 weeks; but for some students this placement starting in Level 5 has continued into Level 7. Two students who took up placements in the Violence research team last year are now full-time research assistants working on violence related projects. Students can gain a range of transferable skills whilst on placement in PHI. These include development of communication, research, critical thinking and writing skills as well as increasing their knowledge base on violence, its determinants and impacts.

Students who come on the Violence CPD get an insight into public health and its approach to violence prevention. A few students have come back to take up further CPD’s in Public Health as a way to skill up and again further develop public health approaches to prevention in their workplace and critical academic transferable skills.

The new CPD’s on the public health approach to violence prevention will enhance both knowledge and skills of key health and social care workers who are increasingly exposed to aggression and violence in the workplace. The importance of using the public health approach will bring in broader change in knowledge and actions within the health and social care sector. The approach is concerned with understanding why violence occurs, who is more at risk at committing or experiencing violence and how to reduce the incidence and impacts of violence on both the perpetrator and the victim.

PHI reports:

STOP SV: A_training_programme_to_prevent_nightlife-related_sexual_violence_(evaluation report)