culture + environment creating health + wellbeing engaged research

Katrina Wyatt

Centre Academic


I joined the Medical School in Exeter in 2000 as Lecturer in Research Methods with the Research and Development Support Unit (RDSU), now Research Design Service. As part of the RDSU I became the lead for Folk.us, a Department of Health funded research programme which sought to create a culture of meaningful service user, patient and carer involvement across the SW Peninsula.  This Programme was funded until 2014 and informed the development of the patient and public involvement group and ‘engagement by design’ ethos of the Peninsula Applied Research Collaboration.

I am currently Professor of Relational Health in the University of Exeter Medical School and lead the Relational Health Group.

My research

My research is concerned with understanding how the conditions for health and reducing health inequalities can be created. Understanding workplaces, schools and communities as complex systems and developing processes to support emergent, self-organising partnerships has led to the development of the Connecting Communities Programme, C2. C2 is a transformational engagement programme which create the conditions for health and wellbeing in very low income communities. A central tenet of how I undertake research is to involve parents, teachers, young people, residents and service users as partners in the design and delivery of the research.

My research interests are in the nature of causality in non-linear systems, developing new forms of evidence to support commissioning of self organising groups and in developing complex system approaches to health and health inequalities.

Key to this work are the processes underpinning the identification of the issues (or problems), which are specific to the neighbourhood/ workplace/community and developing partnerships to address these problems, which can create the conditions for health.

Key grants:

(PI) Understanding the sustainable processes and impact of engaging young people in a peer-led dance group, the TR14ers £48,750 NIHR Public Health 2018-2019

(PI) Supporting healthy teen lifestyles:  Development of a school-based healthy lifestyles programme to prevent obesity in 11-13 year olds £129,000 All Saints Education Trust. Fellowship funding 2017-2020

(CoI) Wellcome Trust Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health. £4.1 million. Wellcome Trust March 2016-2021

(CoI) 2016-2019 Poverty, pathology and pills: moral narratives and the medicalisation of distress £480,000 Economic and Social Research Council. 2016-2019

(PI) Cluster Randomised Controlled Trial of a novel obesity prevention programme, the Healthy Lifestyles Programme. £1.4 million NIHR Public Health 2012-2016

Key Publications:

  • Thomas, F, Hansford, L, Wyatt, K, et al. An engaged approach to exploring issues around poverty and mental health: A reflective evaluation of the research process from researchers and community partners involved in the DeStress study. Health Expect. 2020; 00: 1– 9. https://doi.org/10.1111/hex.13065
  • Williams A J, Maguire K, Morrissey K, Taylor T, Wyatt K. Social cohesion, mental wellbeing and health-related quality of life among a cohort of social housing residents in Cornwall: a cross sectional study. BMC Public Health 2020. doi: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-020-09078-6
  • Thomas, F; Hansford L, Wyatt KW. The violence of narrative: embodying responsibility for poverty-related distress. Sociology of Health and Illness. 2020 in press
  • Hansford, Lorraine; Thomas, Felicity; Wyatt, Katrina. The impact of the Work Capability Assessment on mental health: claimants’ lived experiences and GP perspectives in low-income communities Journal of Poverty and Social Justice September 2019 doi.org/10.1332/175982719X15637716050550 
  • Thomas F, Hansford, L, Ford J, Wyatt K, McCabe R, Byng R. Moral narratives and mental health: rethinking understandings of distress and healthcare support in contexts of austerity and welfare reform Palgrave Communications 2018.
  • Hinchliffe S, Jackson MA, Wyatt K, Barlow AE, Barreto M , Clare L, Depledge MH, Durie R, Fleming LE, Groom N, Morrissey K, Salisbury L, Thomas F Healthy publics: enabling cultures and environments for health. Palgrave Commun. 2018 May 15;4:57.doi: 10.1057/s41599-018-0113-9
  • Lloyd J, Creanor S, Price L, Abraham C, Dean S, Green C, Hillsdon M, Pearson V,  Taylor R, Tomlinson R, Logan S, Hurst, A Ryan E, Streeter A, Wyatt KM. The effectiveness of a novel Healthy Lifestyles Programme (HeLP) to prevent obesity in primary school children: a school-based cluster randomised controlled trial. Lancet Child and Adolescent Health Volume 2, Issue 1, January 2018, Pages 35-45

Key collaborators:

C2 partnerships, Devon and Cornwall Police, Directors of Public Health; Housing Associations; Public Health England