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  • Author or Editor: Mandy Cheetham x
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Local government (LG) is ideally placed to influence the determinants of public health (PH) and reduce inequalities, but opportunities are routinely missed.

Aims and objectives:

The aim of the Local Authority Champions of Research (LACoR) study was to explore ways to embed a culture of evidence use in LG.


Five linked work packages were undertaken using mixed methods. In this paper, we report data from semi-structured interviews with UK local authority (LA) staff (n=14).


Findings show a changing culture of LG: embedded researchers can enhance connectivity and interaction, build linkages, use levers of influence, and learn alongside LG navigators. Understanding the diverse microcultures of evidence use in LG is critical. Research champions can help to navigate the social, financial, political and regulatory context of LG and academia, influencing change dynamically as opportunities emerge.


Changing organisational subcultures is ambitious and unpredictable given the complexities of, and variability in, local contexts. Cumulative changes appear possible by recognising existing assets, using relational approaches to respond to LG priorities. In-house capacity remains underestimated and underutilised in efforts to embed evidence use in LG decision making. Co-located embedded researchers can use contextually specific knowledge and relationships to enhance evidence use in LG in collaboration with system navigators.


There is a need for academics to adapt their approach, to take account of the context of LG to achieve meaningful health and social impacts with LG and test the contribution of embedded approaches to wider system change.

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Universal Credit radically changes the welfare system for working age adults in the UK. Although aiming to simplify the benefit system, its implementation has been widely criticised and the rollout beset with difficulties and delays, negatively affecting the lives of many claimants.


Drawing on findings from a qualitative study of Universal Credit claimants and staff supporting them in North East England, we critically reflect on the process of co-producing a play for a public audience with Cap-a-Pie theatre company, artists, public partners, voluntary and community sector organisations and academics.

Reflections and learning

We draw on reflections from stakeholders involved in the creative process and audience members’ responses to a filmed reading of extracts from the play. We explore the pitfalls, setbacks and successes of co-producing a theatre performance to communicate research findings and inform and enrich public discourse about Universal Credit.


The arts are a vital part of the public health landscape, but the potential utility of theatre remains underexplored as a tool to stimulate debate about the effects of welfare reform. We aim to contribute to debates about the challenges of co-production and social value of using arts-based methods in public health to address inequalities and promote social justice.


We explore the extent to which collaborations between researchers, public, policy and practice partners, and theatre makers can raise awareness of the effects of Universal Credit, challenge negative attitudes about Universal Credit claimants, and stimulate debate about the adequacy of social security in the UK.

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Fuse was established in 2008 as one of five public health research centres of excellence in the UK funded by the UK Clinical Research Centres collaboration. The centre works across five universities in the North East of England. This is an innovative collaboration and enables the pooling of research expertise. A prime focus of the centre is not just the production of excellent research, but also its translation into usable evidence, a dual focus that remains uncommon.


This practice paper outlines Fuse’s approach to knowledge exchange (KE) by reflecting on ten years of collaborative research between academics and policy and practice partners in the North East of England. We will describe the principles and assumption underlying our approach and outline a conceptual model of four steps in Fuse’s KE process to develop collaborative research and achieve meaningful impact on policy and practice.

Key conclusions:

Our model describes a fluid and dynamic approach to knowledge exchange broken down in four steps in the KE process that are concurrent, iterative and vary in intensity over time: awareness raising; knowledge sharing; making evidence fit for purpose; and supporting uptake and implementation of evidence. These steps support the relational context of KE. Relationship building and maintenance is essential for all stages of KE to develop trust and explore the meaning and usefulness of evidence in a multi-directional information flow that supports the co-creating and application of evidence.

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