Professor Simon Murphy

Professor Simon Murphy

Professor in Social Interventions and Health, Director DECIPHer, Co-Director National Centre for Population Health and well Being Research, Lead for Public Health Improvement Research Network and the Schools Health Research Network

School of Social Sciences

+44 29208 79144
+44 (0)29 208 79054
Media commentator


I am interested in supervising doctoral students taking social science approaches to health improvement, particularly in relation to children and young people, health and health behaviours. This covers understanding a problem by taking a socio ecological perspective, exploring why it is that some young people may protect their health while others take risks, or examining why we see differences in health by social class. It also includes studies that develop theoretically sound interventions with high external validity by following the MRC framework for the development of complex interventions, implementation science and co-production approaches.

Honours and awards

Recent Research Grants

  • G Moore, R Evans, L Moore, S Murphy, A O'Cathain, L Pfadenhauer, Dr E Rehfuess, J Segrott. Adaptation of evidence-informed complex population health interventions for implementation and/or re-evaluation in new contexts: New guidance, (2018) MRC (£374,517)

  • Murphy S - Development of Methodological Guidance for the Coproduction of Health Interventions: Targeting wellbeing in secondary schools to prevent mental health issues Welsh Government 2016 – 2019 (£62,225)

    N., Murphy, S., Evans, R., McEwan, K and Robling, M. Well-being and health in schools project (WHISP). (2016). Wellcome Trust. (£23, 088)
  • Kidger, J., Gunnell, D., Tilling, K., Hollingworth, W., Campbell, R., Murphy, S., Evans, R., Ford, T. and Araya, R. A cluster randomised controlled trial of an intervention to improve the mental health support and training available to secondary school teachers – the WISE (Wellbeing in Secondary Education) project (WISE). (2015 - 2019). NIHR PHR. (£1,292)

  • Moore L, Murphy S, Simpson S, Craig P, Wight D, Moore G, Segrott J, Hood K, Robling M, Turley R. £308, 693. Exploratory trials of complex public health interventions: development of guidance for researchers and funders. MRC, 2016 – 2018
  • Lyons, R, Murphy S et al., £2,250,000 ‘National Centre for Population Health and Wellbeing Research’, Welsh Government Health and Care Research Wales, 1/4/15 – 31.3.18.
  • Simpson S, Coulman E, Kelly M, O'Brien K and Murphy S. £414,390. 'Helpmedoit!' a web and text based intervention to facilitate social support to achieve and maintain health related behaviour change. National Institute for Health Research, 2015 - 2017 (£414,390)
  • Murphy S. £4,999 ‘Support to Deliver a Review of the Welsh Government’s Free Breakfast in Primary Schools Scheme’ Welsh Government 16/03/2015 – 30/06/2015
  • Murphy S, Hawkins J, Gobat N, Rollnick S, Hickman M, Wagner C. Developing a sustainable delivery mechanism for a Group Motivational Interviewing intervention to prevent alcohol misuse in secondary school pupils. £143,953, MRC, September 2015 to March 2017
  • S Murphy and A Fletcher, supervisors for Ruth Turley - Promoting the utilization of health improvement evidence by schools: knowledge translation (KT) intervention development in Welsh secondary schools, ESRC DTC £28,362.50 (2014 - 2017)
  • S Murphy and J White - Substance Misuse Policies in schools, ESRC DTC £28,890 (2015 - 2018)
  • Murphy S, Roberts J and Hewitt G. The School Health Research Network (SHRN): Building research literacy and evidence-informed practice. £16,825, ESRC, July 2015 to June 2016
  • Murphy, S., Campbell, R.,  Lyons, R., (plus 12 others) £3,551,744 DECIPHer: Centre for the Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement. MRC 1.1.14 – 31.12.19
  • Murphy, S. and Hewitt, G. €9791 Schools for Health in Europe (SHE) 1.4.13 – 31.12.13
  • White, J., Moore, L., Fletcher, A. and Murphy, S. £376,000. Adapting the ASSIST model of informal peer-led intervention to deliver the Talk to Frank drug prevention programme in UK secondary schools: exploratory trial. NIHR 2013 - 2016
  • Lowes L, Robling M, Townson J, Channon S, Murphy S Hopkins S, Hayes G. £247,229 'Early Detection of type 1 Diabetes in Youth: the EDDY feasibility study' RfPPB Wales 1/1/14 – 31/12/2015
  • Murphy, S., Moore, L., Fletcher, A., Hewitt, G., Taylor, C., Campbell, R. And Bonell, C. £496.148 'School Health Research Network (SHRN): scoping and feasibility study' MRC 01/10/2013 – 31/03/2015
  • Bonell, C., Thomas, J., Murphy, S., Gough, D., Denton, S., Fletcher, A., Campbell, R. £233,232 'The effects of Positive Youth Development interventions on substance use, violence and inequalities: systematic review of theories of change, processes and outcomes.' NIHR Public Health Research Programme 1/10/2013 – 31/05/2015
  • Murphy, S., Rollnick, S., Robling, M., Bravo, P. ‘The GROMIT study (GROup Motivational InTerviewing): intervention development of group motivational interviewing to promote emotional and physical health in school pupils.’ NISCHR CRC 03/2013 – 11/13 (£13,986)

  • Fletcher A, Murphy S, Moore G, White J and Townson J. £424,005 'The filter FE challenge: Pilot trial and process evaluation of a multi-level smoking prevention intervention in further education settings' NIHR 1/07/2014 – 30/06/2016

  • Moore S, Sivarajasingam V, Playle R, Shepherd J, Moore L, Murphy S, Hood K  and Spasic I Randomised controlled trial of All-Wales licensed premises intervention to reduce alcohol-related violence NIHR 1/4/12 – 30.9.14  £652,159

  • Moore L, Murphy S, Hood K, Robling M, Simpson S. £742,332 Public Health Improvement Research Network (PHIRN) RRG 2009. National Assembly for Wales – WORD 1.04.10 to 31.3.2015
  • Bonell C, Harden A, Thomas J, Petticrew M, Whitehead M, Campbell R, Moore L, Murphy S, Fletcher A, Hamilton V, Shemilt I. £182,641 The effects of schools and school-environment interventions on health: evidence mapping and syntheses. National Institute for Health Research. 01.04.2010 to 31.10.2011
  • Murphy S - £23,610  Alcohol and social norm intervention development  (academic supervision of Welsh Government initiative), Alcohol Education Research Council, 01.01.2011 – 3009.2012
  • Murphy S, Moore G and Moore L - £82,481 Pilot study of alcohol policy and social norms in Welsh Universities, Alcohol Research UK,  11.4.11 – 31.7.12
  • Segrott J, Simon Murphy, Laurence Moore, and Philip Daniels £188,230 Preventing alcohol misuse in young people. An exploratory trial of the Kids, Adults Together (KAT) Programme NHS NIHR 1.7.11 – 31.8.12.
  • Chestnutt I, Hood K, Nuttall J, Playle R, Chadwick B , Morgan M, Hunter L, Murphy S - £997,225. Seal or Varnish? A randomised trial to determine the relative cost and effectiveness of pit and fissure sealants and fluoride varnish in preventing dental decay. HTA, Sept 2009 to Aug 2012
  • Scourfield J & Murphy S - £56,805 Do mental health promotion initiatives accommodate hetrogeneous needs?  A process evaluation of the student assistance programme.  National Assembly for Wales - WORD 1.01.10 to 15.01.13
  • Williams G & Murphy S - £59,056  An investigation of take up of free school meal entitlement in secondary schools: barriers and facilitators. National Assembly for Wales – WORD 1.10.09 to 30.09.12.
  • National Prevention Research Initiative. Preventing substance misuse: Randomised controlled trial of the strengthening families 10-14 UK programme. (Moore L, Segrott, Foxcroft D, Murphy S, Phillips C). £2,144,955. (2009-2014)
  • Welsh Assembly Government. Primary prevention of cancer: research capacity for the development and evaluation of interventions. (Moore L, Murphy S, Elwyn G). £232,725. (2009-2012)
  • UK Clinical Research Collaboration. Centre for the development and evaluation of complex interventions for public health improvement. (Moore L, Campbell R, Lyons R, Murphy S, Butler C, Elwyn G, Gunnell D, Hickman M, Donovan J). £5,000,000. (2008-2013)
  • National Prevention Research Initiative. The Primary School Free Breakfast Initiative: Data Augmentation and Analysis. (Moore L, Murphy S, Tapper K, Lyons R, Benton D). £265, 000. (2008- 2010)
  • Medical Research Council. A feasibility study of a licensed premise intervention to reduce alcohol misuse and violent injury. (Moore S, Murphy S, Moore L, Shepherd J). £331,891. (2008-2010)
  • Welsh Assembly Government. Evaluation of the Cooking Bus in Wales. (Moore L, Segrott J, Murphy S, Phillips C). £78,125. (2008-2009)
  • Alcohol Education and Research Council. The role of parents in preventing alcohol misuse: An evaluation of the Kids, Adults Together Family Forum programme (KATFF). (Segrott J, Moore L, Murphy S, Rothwell H). £59,101. (2007-2009).Welsh Assembly Government. Evaluation of Welsh network of healthy schools schemes (Moore L. PI, with2 other co-investigators). £149,220. (2007-2008).
  • Welsh Assembly Government. Developing Health Challenge Newport as a resource for rigorous evaluation of community based health initiatives.(Moore L. PI, with Murphy S and 2 other co-investigators).£88,596. (2007-2008).
  • Department of Health and NHS R&D, and the Wales Office of Research and Development for Health and Social Care (WORD). Families, households and health improvement: Exploring roles and responsibilities (co PI with Williams G, MacDonald S). £214,035. (2006-2010).
  • Medical Research Council. Social network analysis of the dynamic relationship between adolescent smoking behaviour and peer influence. (Moore L. PI, with Murphy S and 2 other co-investigators).£316,629. (2006-2009).
  • Welsh Assembly Government. Research into the impact of smoke-free legislation in Wales. (Moore L. PI, with Murphy S and 2 other co-investigators). £353,880. (2006-2009).
  • Welsh Assembly Government. Evaluation of National Exercise Referral Scheme. (PI with Moore L). £642,906. (2006-2009).
  • Cancer Research UK. Smoking uptake in adolescence: a longitudinal investigation of peer influence and peer selection. (Moore L. PI, with Murphy S and 1 other co-investigator). £49,268. (2006).
  • Welsh Assembly Government. Evaluation of Health Challenge Wales. (PI with Francis S, Elliott E, Williams G). £85,000. (2005).
  • Wales Office of Research & Development in Health and Social Care. Public Health Improvement Research Network. (Moore L. PI, with Murphy S and 2 other co-investigators). £360,000. (2005-2008).
  • Welsh Assembly Government Health Promotion Division.Cluster randomised controlled trial of free breakfast initiative. (PIwith Moore L, Tapper K). £485,000. (2004-2007).
  • Department of Health. An evaluation of an education and support programme to promote routine antenatal screening for domestic violence. (Price S. PI, with Murphy S and 1 other co-investigator). £43,000. (2003-2004).

My research interests focus on two main areas. The first focuses on understanding and explaining young people's health and health related behaviours within their social context, drawing on socio ecological frameworks.  This work informs the development and piloting of sustainable complex interventions for health improvement that address influences on multiple risk outcomes and health inequalities. The second concerns the evaluation of theoretically driven complex public health improvement initiatives, with a particular concern for the social processes and contextual influences that impact on implementation and effectiveness. I have undertaken a large number of pragmatic randomised controlled trials of complex interventions utilising mixed methodologies, including a number of national policy trials.
I am particularly keen to develop the quality of public health improvement research and I am principal investigator for the Welsh Government funded Public Health Improvement Research Network. This is an innovative transdicplinary action n research network that brings together policy makers, practitioners, the public and academics, which has facilitated a large number of innovative evaluation studies and secured over £35 million in research income. I also lead the national Schools Health Research Network linking school communities, policy, practice and researchers to develop and conduct helath improvement research in schools