Academic Profile

Susie Sykes

Academic Profile

Susie Sykes

Case study

Susie Sykes

Meet Dr Susie Sykes . Susie is Associate Professor in Public Health. She's worked in public health for over 25 years and brings experience from the voluntary sector, the NHS and as a qualitative researcher into the SimDH programme.

She recently completed work with SimDH member Infertile Life, which resulted in the publication of a journal article, Multidimensional eHealth Literacy for Infertility in this month's International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

Research is a big part of my work. I jointly lead the Population Health and Prevention research group and there is always a research project for which I am either applying for funding, pursuing ethical approval, collecting and analysing data or writing and disseminating findings.

"It's important to me to try and stay as close to public health as possible."

It's important to me to try and stay as close to the practice of public health as possible. We're often commissioned to evaluate local public health projects or deliver workforce development programmes, and I really enjoy this kind of work.

My specialist subject on Mastermind would probably be Health Literacy. It was the focus of my PhD, so it's the thing I've spent the longest period of time studying.

I think academic life is great. If I wasn't an academic, I'd probably still be working in public health practice. There are times when I miss the face-to-face grass roots community work I was involved in at the beginning of my career, and I can imagine returning to that later in life.

The experience I bring to the SimDH programme is a combination of subject area knowledge and research skills. I'm a qualitative researcher, so my work is often interested in the 'how?' and 'why?' type questions.

"There are times when I miss the face-to-face grass roots community work I was involved in at the beginning of my career ..."

It has been really good working with Infertile Life. They are so open to ideas and it was a perfect opportunity to combine the things that they wanted to know, with the things I was interested in finding out, to create a mutually beneficial research study. Since completing the work, I have had really positive feedback from them and I know they have made a lot of changes to the product as a result. Research can often feel quite a long way from observable impact so it's really rewarding to see direct change for the SME as a result of the work.

"I'm a qualitative researcher, so my work is often interested in the how and why type questions."

I've just started work on my second SimDH project - a mobile app to support people with cancer. We've just put the research plan together and we'll be looking at how the app can help people to prepare for consultations with health professionals. While I'm going to be leading the research, we've got quite a few other academics involved. It's a great opportunity for those academics who want to build their research skills and gain some experience as part of a team.

"Try and find out what all these sources of support [like SimDH] are, and access whatever is possible."

Being involved with SimDH has made me realise just how challenging it is to get a new business off the ground. It's also shown me that there are some great projects and initiatives like SimDH around that can help navigate the pitfalls. My top-tip for a start up SME would be to try and find out what all of those sources of support are, and access whatever is possible.

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