DECIPHer: Centre for the Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement

DECIPHer is a UKCRC Public Health Research Centre of Excellence.

DECIPHer brings together leading experts from a range of disciplines to tackle public health issues such as diet and nutrition; physical activity; and alcohol, tobacco and drugs, with a particular focus on developing and evaluating multi-level interventions that will have an impact on the health and wellbeing of children and young people. The Centre engages strongly with policy, practice and public user communities as our stakeholders, to translate the research results into practical outcomes.

DECIPHer is led by Professor Laurence Moore, Cardiff University, in a strategic partnership with colleagues at the University of Bristol, led by Professor Rona Campbell, and Swansea University, led by Professor Ronan Lyons.

Public involvement in research

A core tenet of DECIPHer’s work is that children, young people, their carers and parents should be actively involved. The key objectives are to:

  • involve the public in the strategic development of DECIPHer;
  • involve the public in the research process within individual projects;
  • increase awareness and opportunities for public involvement in DECIPHer research;
  • develop the capacity within DECIPHer to involve the public in its work.

Therefore, research undertaken within DECIPHer is undertaken with the public, rather than to or on them.

Public involvement is undertaken in the Centre by employing a full time Involving Young People Research Officer who supports and organises a young people’s advisory group called ALPHA.  ALPHA stands for Advice Leading to Public Health Advancement. It is an advisory group of 25 young people aged 14-20 who live in South Wales. A full-time Involving Young People Research Officer and a youth worker support the group to meet monthly for three-hour sessions at Cardiff University and at an annual residential weekend.


The young people have undergone training relevant to the work they are asked to pursue. Training sessions cover topics such as public health, the research cycle and ethics procedures, as well as developing knowledge of a range of quantitative and qualitative methods including focus groups, interviews, systematic reviews, questionnaires and randomised control trials.


The young people have been involved in a range of projects with researchers from Cardiff University, the University of Bristol, Swansea University and the University of East London. These projects have covered topics such as the take up of free school meals, methods for teaching young people Personal and Sexual Education (PSE), youth homelessness, young people’s wellbeing, and interventions to support self-esteem. Within these projects, young people have piloted materials, tested questionnaires and interview schedules, developed research ideas, and suggested themes for analysis of data.

ALPHA has been involved in several research projects. More information about these can be found on webpage.


South Wales; South West of England

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