University of St Andrews

Research theme: People and Populations

This theme is based on three programmes: health psychology, violence reduction and child and adolescent health.

Child and Adolescent Health

Established in 2000, the Child & Adolescent Health Research Unit (CAHRU) is dedicated to improving understanding of child and adolescent health in Scotland. Cross-national comparisons and evaluation of health-related programmes and interventions are core aspects of our work and particular attention is given to young people's perceptions and the influence of social context.

The effects of family, peers, socioeconomic circumstances and school are considered in relation to key determinants of health including physical activity, smoking, risk behaviours and mental health. The Unit has an important role as the International Coordinating Centre of the Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children (HBSC) World Health Organisation Collaborative Cross-national Study, which at present involves 43 countries across Europe and North America.

Violence Reduction

Violence reduction is a growing and critical area of national and international importance. The work aims to understand the drivers for individuals engaged in gang violence and to propose practical methods to address them.

The Public Health and Health Policy group at St Andrews University has become established as a leading centre in Violence reduction research. Initiatives include evaluations of both policy development and intervention initiatives both within Scotland and internationally including evaluating a gang member rehabilitation and violence reduction initiative (CIRV) in Glasgow exploring the origins of violent and anti social behaviour through a mixed methods community project looking at issues of gender and adulthood, exploring the concept of the “accidental” homicide.

Work focussed on reducing levels of alcohol related violent reoffending is piloting innovative technology for real time sobriety monitoring. This initiative has strong international links with Jamaica, Cape Town and Lithuania undertaken in conjunction with the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Work in Scottish prisons has explored the feasibility and acceptability of introducing a parenting programme for young male prisoners with children and it has established a link between violent breaches of prison discipline and symptoms of ADHD (Gordon, Williams, Donnelly)

Health Psychology

The health psychology group’s strategy is to continue to foster the relationship between theoretical analysis, enhanced methodology, empirical support and application in the local, national and international health care and community services. This includes joint posts with NHS-Fife that acts as an important research bridge between the Medical School and the local clinical services. This group is engaged in research that aims to improve Oral Health in Scotland.

Internationally leading research is performed on clinical communication to patients with European collaborators, risk perception and the motivating factors surrounding food choices.


The ophthalmology strand of the community health sciences research theme within the School of Medicine is a collaborative multidisciplinary programme of research involving an ophthalmic research network across the UK, Europe, US and in East Asia.  The work is developing a robust evidence base to inform policy decisions on effective and efficient models for identifying those at risk of sight loss and developing efficient models of care in different country contexts