Public Health Intervention Responsive Studies Teams (PHIRST)

Funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), Public Health Research (PHR) Programme. Public Health Intervention Responsive Studies Teams provide timely and accessible evaluations of public health interventions to local authorities.

Public Health Intervention Responsive Studies Teams explanation video

PHIRST Evaluations

PHIRST teams have evaluated a range of public health initiatives, from ways to address gambling harms through to active travel schemes. Exploring the impact of weight management programmes and moving the delivery of drug and alcohol services from in-person to online. Find out more on our evaluations page

The PHIRST funding call is now accepting expressions of interest from local government organisations in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to submit public health initiatives to be considered for evaluation. The closing date is 24 September 2024, find out more.


Health & Care Professionals

Our work is driven by local government partners, mainly Directors of Public Health and their teams. We undertake research and evaluation on real-world initiatives in timescales relevant to local government.


Public Partnerships

Public Partnerships are valued and embedded in the work of PHIRST activities. Public Health Initiatives have the public as their end users so the Public Voice needs to be part of co-production of our research.
From initial ideas to dissemination.

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  • “Working with University of Hertfordshire, in collaboration with services in Leeds, on this evaluation, has been a unique learning experience. The project is robustly and systematically unearthing the learning from the move to remote service delivery, in drug and alcohol services in Leeds, in a very real-world environment, as these services respond to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. The findings and recommendations will help inform future commissioning, service delivery and, ultimately, how service users experience drug and alcohol treatment, not just in Leeds, but nationally and internationally.”

    Dan Burn, Health Improvement Principal, Leeds City Council

  • “Local authorities have huge opportunities to influence health and health inequalities but without an evidence-base they cannot maximise these opportunities”

    Dr Helen Walters, Public Health Consultant Advisor, NIHR

  • “We are very grateful to be one of the successful PHIRST applicants. Findings will make a big difference to re-commissioning of our Service. This is a new process for us so there is always plenty to learn”

    Pegs Bailey, Employment Development Officer, Fife Voluntary Action


  • “We were thrilled to hear that we were going to have involvement from PHIRST to evaluate our Essex Community Action Site (ECAS) project. We had been running an internal evaluation but having PHIRST involved has added an invaluable layer of academic rigour, objectivity and scope given the added resource. The sandpit workshops were a great way to show PHIRST what we had done and we were all confident that they really understood what we were doing by the end of it. Very excited to see what they come up with!”

    Neave Beard, Lead for Strengthening Communities, Essex County Council

  • “Our involvement with PHIRST will have an ongoing legacy that goes beyond the community kitchens. The learning gained and perhaps the methodology developed during this study promises to help us understand the health and wellbeing impacts of some of our other projects focusing upon waste and the environment, and has the potential to help us develop closer partnership working with Public Health in Leicestershire in the future.”

    Matthew Copley, Leicestershire County Council

  • “Food poverty is a national crisis, we are grateful to be working with PHIRST Insight and our local schools as we look to create innovative and effective solutions to help ensure that children are not going hungry.”

    Marcus  Robinson, Commissioning Transformation Lead - Children’s Services, Hammersmith & Fulham Council

  • “Active Oxfordshire (a registered charity) works in partnership with Oxfordshire County Council on Active Travel measures. It is vital to evaluate these interventions to constantly improve provision for residents and working with PHIRST is key to enabling this to happen.” 

    Josh Lenthall, Strategic CYP Relationship Manager, Active Oxfordshire


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