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Professor Mike Robling

Professor Mike Robling

Director of Population Health Trials

Email
roblingmr@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone
+44 (0)29 2068 7177
Campuses
702F, Neuadd Meirionnydd, University Hospital of Wales, Heath Park, Cardiff, CF14 4YS
Users
Available for postgraduate supervision

Overview

I am Professor and Director of Population Health Trials at Cardiff University’s Centre for Trials Research. My main research interests are in the use of randomized trials and other research designs to evaluate complex interventions to improve the health and wellbeing of patients and the public. I have worked across many different contexts including primary and secondary medical care, community and social care settings.

Since 2008, I have led a research programme evaluating the Family Nurse Partnership specialist home-visiting programme in England (Building Blocks, Building Blocks 2-6, BABBLE studies) and now in Scotland.

I am a co-investigator and part of the senior management team of the Centre for Trials Research (CTR). I am also an investigator with the Children’s Social Care Research and Development Centre (CASCADE), the Centre for Development, Complexity and Implementation in Public Health Improvement (DECIPHer) and the HealthWise Wales population health research platform.

In CTR I am the Centre Directorial lead for research using routine data and the Centre lead for Public Involvement and Engagement. I am a standing committee member for the NIHR Policy Research Programme, Ireland’s Health Research Board’s Definitive Interventions and Feasibility Awards panel and Health and Care Research Wales’ Social Care Research grants committee.   

Biography

Evaluating the Family Nurse Partnership programme

  • Since 2008 I have led a programme of research evaluating specialist home visiting in the UK. This commenced with the Building Blocks trial of the Family Nurse Partnership programme in England. Funded by NIHR Policy Research Programme this involved over 1600 families followed until children were aged 2 years old. We published this work in 2016.
  • In the BABBLE study and working with researchers from Cardiff University's School of Psychology we were funded by the Wellcome Trust to do some additional analysis of videos showing maternal child interactions that we had collected from families.
  • We followed up the same families using routinely collected administrative data in the BB:2-6 study funded by NIHR Public Health Research Programme. By this time children were aged seven years old. Our results were published in early 2021.
  • We are currently evaluating the impact of the Family Nurse Partnership in Scotland in a study funded by the Scottish Government. This work is led by my colleague Dr Rebecca Cannings-John.
  • We are also working with researchers from two different teams as UCL. One project involves further analysis of our own trial cohort dataset and the second is a large observational study of families in England. 
  • We have summarised what we have found out from these studies so far in our dedicated website.

Academic positions

Positions since 2000:

  • 2014 - 2015: Director, South East Wales Trials Unit, Cardiff University
  • 2013 - 2016: Reader, Cardiff University
  • 2012 - 2014: Co-Director, South East Wales Trials Unit, Cardiff University
  • 2006 - 2012: Associate Director, South East Wales Trials Unit, Cardiff University
  • 2009 - 2013: Senior Lecturer, Institute of Translation Innovation Methodologies & Engagement, School of Medicine, Cardiff University
  • 2004 - 2009: Lecturer, Department of Primary Care & Public Health, Cardiff University
  • 1995 - 2003: Research Fellow - Department of General Practice, University of Wales College of Medicine (UWCM)

Committees and reviewing

Funding panel, grant, journal reviews

  • Panel member, Health and Care Research Wales Social Care Grants Committee, Wales Government
  • Panel member, Definitive Intervention and Feasibility Panel, Health Research Board of Ireland (Since 2018)
  • Core committee member, NIHR Policy Research Programme
  • Grant reviewer: MRC, NIHR
  • Journal reviewer: several medical, healthcare and social care journals

Membership of trial oversight committees

  • Chair, Study Steering Committee, A Better Start Study (The University of Oxford, funder The Big Lottery, CI Prof Jane Barlow)
  • Chair, Trial Steering Committee, E-SEE trial (York, Sheffield, funder NIHR PHR: £1,849,153.00). Start date: Feb 2015
  • Independent member, Data Monitoring Committee: First Steps trial of group FNP (Birkbeck College UL, funder NIHR PHR: £1,353,658.50)
  • Independent member, Trial Steering Committee, HELP trial of weight reduction in overweight teenagers (UCL, funder NIHR PROMISE Programme Grant)

Doctoral examinations

  • I have acted as internal examiner for four PhD / Masters candidates
  • I have acted as external examiner for one PhD Student

Publications

2021

2020

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2014

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2012

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My research interests include:

  • Specialist home-visiting / Family Nurse Partnership Programme
  • Child and maternal health
  • Population health
  • Children's social care
  • Domiciliary care
  • Complex interventions
  • Social prescribing
  • Public involvement and engagement
  • Routine administrative data
  • Promoting early access to preventative healthcare

Current research

I am the lead investigator for the OSCAR Study with co-lead Dr Rebecca Cannings-John. The study is measuring the impact of COVID-19 on the health of domiciliary care workers in Wales. The work is funded by the ESRC as part of the UKRI's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We will establish how workers' health has been affected, what risk factors may have contributed to this and what are the key messages for policy leaders in Wales and the rest of the UK.

I am the joint lead investigator on a study evaluating the impact of specialist home-visting support in Scotland. The lead investigator is Dr Rebecca Cannings-John. We are using routinely collected administrative data to compare families who have received support from the Family Nurse Partnership programme with those who have not.

Other current studies that I am a co-investigator for include:

The Pool Study led by Professor Julia Sanders (Cardiff Univesrsity) which is funded by NIHR Health Technology Assessment programme and is assessing the safety of water births in the UK. 

The CABS-COVID study led by Professor Kate Brain (Cardiff University) which is funded by ESRC through the UKRI to evaluate the impact of COVID-19 on public awareness and behaviour in relation to cancer symptom presentation, screening and prevention.

The RESPECT Study led by Dr Ceri Jones (University of Leicester) which is funded by Health and Care Research Wales (Social Care Research Programme) and is a realst evaluation of social prescribing using time credits.

The TIC-TOC Study jointly led by Professor Kate Brain and Dr Grace McCutchan (both Cardiff University) which is funded by Cancer Research Wales. The study is evaluating a public awareness campaign designed to help people living in deprived communities recognise vague cancer symptoms.

The CHIMES Study led by Dr Rhiannon Evans (DECIPHer, Cardiff University) which is funded by NIHR Public Health Research Programme. The study is systematically drawing together international evidence about initiatives which may support the mental well-being of children in care in the UK.

Supervision

  • I currently lead or co-supervise two doctoral students.

Past projects

Previous students:

  • Lead supervisor for Gwenllian Moody - Measuring child maltreatment in community-based trials (awarded 2020)
  • Co-supervisor for Sarah Rees - Disclosure of mental ill health by doctors and medical students (awarded 2019)
  • Lead supervisor for Nina Gobat - Agenda setting in the clinical encounter: what is it, and is it measureable? (awarded 2014)