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Dr Sarah Brand

Dr Sarah Brand

Research Fellow, CASCADE

Email:
brands@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone:
+44 (0)29 225 10551
Location:
1-3 Museum Place, Cathays, Cardiff, CF10 3BD

My research focuses on the development and evaluation of complex health and social care interventions. My main interest is using realist approaches to co-produce programme theory with the users and delivers of health and social services to understand how services/interventions work, for whom, and under which circumstances. This provides rich evidence to help make our health and social care systems work better for the people who use and deliver them.

Realist approaches in applied health and social care research

How can we produce the kind of knowledge that decision makers in health and social care policy and practice need to make their interventions work better for their local population? 

Social Care Research

I am a member of the Children’s Social Care Research and Development Centre (CASCADE) programme management team as research partner for the What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care.

I lead a programme of realist research within CASCADE that focuses on meaningfully and rapidly summarising evidence for decision makers in Children’s Social Care to help them to safely reduce the number of children in care.

Our team are undertaking a range of realist projects to engage the sector in building better underlying theory about how interventions in Children’s Social Care can work better to safely reduce the number of children in care. Beginning with a realist scoping review we looked for cross-cutting realist mechanisms in Children’s Social Care. Rapid realist reviews engaged the sector and further tested the underlying theory for some of these mechanisms. Rapid realist evaluations then built on relationships developed with Local Authorities in the first two stages, implementing innovations in Children’s Social Care and testing our theory in practice in action research cycles.

We aim to have a significant impact on policy and practice in Children’s Social Care. We engage with a policy and practice audience to support innovations in practice both directly through our research, and through practice-focused reports, journal articles, workshops, and talks. We publish academic papers describing the over-arching methodological innovations undertaken by our team, as well as papers from individual projects.

Realist scoping review of cross-cutting mechanisms in Children’s Social Care to safely reduce the number of children in care

Brand, S.L., Morgan, F., Stabler, L., et al. (2019). Mapping the evidence about what works to safely reduce the entry of children and young people into statutory care: a systematic scoping review protocol. BMJ Open 2019;0:e026967. doi:10.11

Brand, S.L., Morgan, F., Stabler, L., Weightman, A.L., Willis, S., Searchfield, L., Meindl, M., Wood, S., Nurmatov, U., Kemp, A., Turley, R., Scourfield, J., Forrester, D., & Evans, R. (2019) Mapping the evidence about what works to safely reduce the number of children and young people in statutory care: a systematic scoping review.Retrieved from What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care website: https://whatworks-csc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Reducing_the_number_of_children_in_statutory_care_a_systematic_scoping_review.pdf

Shared decision making meetings between parents and services – rapid realist review 

Stabler, L., O’Donnell, C., Forrester, D., Diaz, C., & Brand, S.L. (in preparation). Shared Decision-Making: What is good practice in delivering meetings? Involving families meaningfully in decision-making to keep children safely at home: A rapid realist review.

Stabler, L., O’Donnell, C., Forrester, D., Diaz, C., & Brand, S.L. (2019). Shared Decision-Making: What is good practice in delivering meetings? Involving families meaningfully in decision-making to keep children safely at home: A rapid realist review. Retrieved from What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care website: https://whatworks-csc.org.uk/research/reports/shared-decision-making-what-is-good-practice-in-delivering-meetings/

Shared decision making meetings between parents and services – rapid realist formative evaluation in three Local Authorities piloting innovations in shared decision-making meetings informed by our rapid realist review programme theory

Brand, S.L., Turley, R., Stabler, L., Evans, R., & Forrester, D. (in preparation). Supporting rapid innovation in children’s social care practice: A rapid realist approach to scoping and formatively evaluating cross-cutting mechanisms in social care. BMC Research Methods.

Family Drug and Alcohol Courts - rapid realist review

Meindl, M., Stabler, L., Sheehan, L., Mayhew Manistre, L., O’Donnell, C., Forrester, D., & Brand, S.L. (in preparation). How do Family Drug and Alcohol Courts work with parents to safely reduce the number of children in care? A rapid realist review.

Meindl, M., Stabler, L., Sheehan, L., Mayhew Manistre, L., O’Donnell, C., Forrester, D., & Brand, S.L. (forthcoming on What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care website. How do Family Drug and Alcohol Courts work with parents to safely reduce the number of children in care? A rapid realist review.

Signs of Safety mixed-method EMMIE review

Brand, S.L., O’Donnell, C., Sheehan, L., Forrester, D. Evans, R., Kemp, A., Nurmatov, U. (in preparation). Does Signs of Safety safely prevent children entering care? A mixed-method EMMIE review of the evidence. Child and Family Social Work.

Sheehan, L., O’Donnell, C., Brand, S.L., Forrester, D., Addis, S., El-Banna, A., Kemp, A. & Nurmatov, U. (2018). Signs of Safety: Findings from a mixed-methods systematic review focussed on reducing the need for children to be in care. Retrieved from What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care website:https://whatworks-csc.org.uk/research/reports/signs-of-safety-findings-from-a-mixed-methods-systematic-review-focussed-on-reducing-the-need-for-children-to-be-in-care/

Family budget change – rapid evidence assessment

Brand S.L., Wood S., Stabler L., Addis S., Scourfield J., Wilkins D., Forrester D. (2019). How family budget change interventions affect children being in care: Rapid evidence assessment. Retrieved from What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care website:https://whatworks-csc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/WWCSC_Family_Budget_Change_rapid_evidence_assessment_Summary_Report_Aug2019-1.pdf

This work has informed further pilot studies.

Shared experience between a parent and a worker – rapid evidence assessment

How can shared-experience support for parents help reduce the need for children to be in care? A rapid evidence assessment of peer mentoring and parent-child foster placements. (forthcoming). Brand S.L., Meindl M., Stabler L., Silverwood V., Scourfield J., El-Banna A., & Forrester D.

Health and Social Care Research

RESPECT study: Realist Evaluation of Social Prescribing and Time Credits 

I am the chief investigator on a new HCRW funded project to build on existing realist reviews to test out the underlying theory in practice about how social prescribing can improve the mental health and wellbeing of patients in primary care.

ENGAGER realist review and realist formative process evaluation

The ENGAGER feasibility trial and realist formative process evaluation aimed to coordinate health and social care around the needs of young men leaving prison who have common mental health problems.

Brand, S. L., Quinn, C., Pearson, M., Lennox, C., Owens, C., Kirkpatrick, T., … Byng, R. (2019). Building programme theory to develop more adaptable and scalable complex interventions: Realist formative process evaluation prior to full trial. Evaluation, 25(2), 149–170. https://doi.org/10.1177/1356389018802134

Pearson, M., Brand, S. L., Quinn, C., Shaw, J., Maguire, M., Michie, S., ... & Byng, R. (2015). Using realist review to inform intervention development: methodological illustration and conceptual platform for collaborative care in offender mental health. Implementation Science, 10(1), 134.

Methodological innovations

Realist formative process evaluation

The use of realist formative process evaluationin the piloting and feasibility phase produces rich knowledge about how an intervention works, for whom, and in which circumstances. Such information provides researchers, policy-makers, and practitioners with the type of information that they need to refine interventions to be more adaptable to new populations and settings at full trial.

Brand, S. L., Quinn, C., Pearson, M., Lennox, C., Owens, C., Kirkpatrick, T., … Byng, R. (2019). Building programme theory to develop more adaptable and scalable complex interventions: Realist formative process evaluation prior to full trial. Evaluation, 25(2), 149–170. https://doi.org/10.1177/1356389018802134

Brand, S.L, Day, J., Melville-Richards, L., & Pearson, M.(September, 2019). The Value of Boundary Objects and Realist Formative Process Evaluation in Effective Implementation and Achieving Outcomes: Function versus Form. Workshop to be presented at the Global Implementation Conference: Implementation for Impact, Glasgow.

Rapid realist approaches to early intervention development and formative evaluation

Decision makers in policy and practice work to short timelines. Evaluators sometimes need to work to these timelines in order to build evidence in to decisions that are being made about ‘best practice’. Rapid approaches that build theory about why and how an intervention will work and that engage stakeholders during intervention development and implementation in new settings have the potential to make innovations in health and social care more likely to work in local settings.

Brand, S.L., Turley, R., Stabler, L., Evans, R., & Forrester, D. (in preparation). Supporting rapid innovation in children’s social care practice: A rapid realist approach to scoping and formatively evaluating cross-cutting mechanisms in social care. BMC Research Methods.

Brand, S.L.(September, 2019). The Value of Boundary Objects and Realist Formative Process Evaluation in Effective Implementation and Achieving Outcomes: Function versus Form. Workshop to be presented at the Global Implementation Conference: Implementation for Impact, Glasgow.

Lecturing

I lecture on the following Masters level courses at Cardiff University

  1. Social Science Research Methods Masters
  2. Social Work Professional Doctorate Year 1: Research Methods module
  3. Social Work Professional Doctorate Year 2: Research Methods module

Recent invited talks, blogs, and seminars

Brand, S.L. Creating meaningful evidence for decision-makers in health and social care: Realist approaches to evaluation. (April, 2019). Invited seminar for the What Works Centre for Public Policy.

Brand, S.L. How realist research enables co-production to arrive at new and meaningful implementation knowledge. (April, 2019). Invited blog for the UK Implementation Society.

Brand, S.L. Creating meaningful evidence for decision-makers in health and social care: Realist approaches to evaluation. (Feb., 2019). Invited presentation to the Social Research Association, the professional membership body for social researchers.

Brand, S.L. What is it about social work that helps to safely reduce the numbers in care, for which children or families, and under which circumstances? (Nov, 2018). Invited blog for the What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care.

Career Overview

  • 07/2017-present: Research Fellow, Cardiff University, Social Science Department (CASCADE)
  • 07/2013-06/2017: Research Fellow: Peninsula School of Medicine and Dentistry
  • 05/2012-07/2013: Research Fellow: Exeter University Medical School, European Centre for Environment and Human Health
  • 01/2010–05/2012: Researcher: SANE Mental Health Charity, London

Education and Qualifications

  • Ph.D. Cognitive Psychology: Department of Psychology, University College London
  • B.Sc. Psychology: Department of Psychology, University of Wales, Bangor (First Class Honours)

Honours and awards

  • 2008 Cognitive Neuroscience Prize: Department of Psychology, University of Wales, Bangor

Speaking engagements

Workshops and Training Delivered

  • Byng, R., Quinn, C., Brand, S.L., & Pearson, M. Conceptualising contexts, mechanisms, and outcomes: Dilemmas and the road ahead in Health Services Research. Workshop delivered at: Peninsula Medical School, Plymouth University, Jan., 2017.
  • Byng, R., Quinn, C., Brand, S.L., & Pearson, M. Conceptualising contexts, mechanisms, and outcomes: Dilemmas and the road ahead in Health Services Research. Workshop delivered at: The 2nd International Conference on Realist Approaches to Evaluation and Synthesis:Advancing Principles, Strengthening Practice. London, Oct., 2016.
  • Brand, S.L., Callaghan, L., Stirzaker, A., McGauley, G., Kirkpatrick, T., Byng, R. Engager practitioner training, Exeter, September, 2015.
  • Brand, S.L. & Stewart, A. Barriers and facilitators to working towards the outcomes / goals individual offenders are interested in. Workshop delivered at the Offender PsychologicalTherapy Network conference, London, Nov. 2014.

Selected academic presentations

  • Brand, S.L., Pearson, M., Lloyd, H., Byng, R., Briscoe, S., Wanner, A., Sheaff, R. System-level mechanisms and contexts for health and social care coordination through Multi-Specialty Community Providers in England: a realist evidence synthesis. Paper presented at the International Conference of Integrated Care: Building a platform for integrated care:delivering change that matters to people. Dublin, May, 2017.
  • Brand, S.L., Quinn, C., Pearson, M., Lennox, C., Stewart, A., Carroll, L., Kirkpatrick, T., Byng, R. Using Realist Evaluation in intervention development: Key learning from a Realist ProcessEvaluation of a complex intervention in a pilot trial (Engager). Paper presented at: The 2nd International Conference on Realist Approaches to Evaluation and Synthesis: Advancing Principles, Strengthening Practice. London, Oct., 2016.
  • Brand, S.L., Quinn, C., Pearson, M., Callaghan, L., Lennox, C., Kirkpatrick, T., Byng, R. Developing effective behaviour change interventions: A novel ‘Realist’ methodology for formative process evaluation. Paper presented at: 29th Conference of the EHPS: Principles of Behaviour Change in Health and Illness, European Health Psychology Society. Cyprus, Sept., 2015.
  • Brand, S.L., Quinn, C., Michie, S., Callaghan, L., Pearson, M., Lennox, C., Kirkpatrick, T., Byng,R. ‘Engager’ formative process evaluation: Development of a two-stage behaviour change intervention for offenders. Poster presented at: 29th Conference of the EHPS: Principles of Behaviour Change in Health and Illness, European Health Psychology Society. Cyprus, Sept., 2015.
  • Pearson, M., Brand, S.L., Quinn, C., Shaw, J., Maguire, M., Michie, S., Briscoe, S., Lennox, C.,Stirzaker, A., Kirkpatrick, T., & Byng, R. Realist review to inform intervention development: Methodological illustration and conceptual platform for collaborative care in offender mental health. Paper presented at: The Health Services Research Network (HSR UK) Symposium. Nottingham, July, 2015.
  • Brand, S.L., Pearson, M., Briscoe, S., Quinn, C., & Byng, R. Using realist review to develop theory about collaborative care for offenders’ mental health: key learning from the journey. Paper presented at: The 1st International Conference on Realist Approaches to Evaluation and Synthesis: Successes, Challenges, and the Road Ahead. Liverpool, Oct., 2014
  • Brand, S.L. Using realist review to develop theory about collaborative care for offenders’ mental health: key learning from the journey. Paper presented at: Brownbag seminar series of the Primary Care Research Group, Peninsula Medical School, Plymouth University, Oct., 2014.
  • Brand, S.L. Formative evaluation of Engager II. Paper presented at: Brownbag seminar series ofthe Primary Care Research Group, Peninsula Medical School, Plymouth University, Aug.,2014.
  • Brand, S.L., Fleming, L.E., & Wyatt, K.M. Developing healthy workplace programmes that are transferable across worksites and engage employees. Paper presented at International Social Science Conference, Prague, Dec., 2013.
  • Brand, S.L., *Fleming, L.E., & Wyatt, K.M. Increasing health-promoting behaviours among healthcare professionals in a UK national health service (NHS) workplace: Developing anovel context-based intervention. Poster presented at: American Public Health Association Annual Conference, Boston, Nov., 2013.
  • Brand, S.L., Ashby-Pepper, J., Abraham, J., Fleming, L., & Wyatt, K. Increasing health-promoting behaviours among healthcare professionals in an NHS workplace: developing a novel context-based intervention. Poster presented at: UK Society for Behavioural Medicine Annual Conference, 2012.
  • Brand, S.L., Gibson, S., & Benson, O. A grounded theory investigation of the feeling of being suicidal. Paper presented at the Mental Health Qualitative Research Network meeting, 2011.

2019

2018

2017

2015

2014

2013

Intervention development 
I use realist review and realist evaluation to understand what it is that works about an intervention or innovation, who it works for, in what circumstances, and in what way. Knowledge generated using this approach facilitates the design and delivery of interventions / innovations that can be tailored to different individuals or populations (e.g. care leavers), and contexts (e.g. a hospital or prison). 

Realist formative evaluation 
I am developing the use of realist formative process evaluation in the piloting and feasibility phase. Realist evaluation embedded in pilot trials produces rich knowledge about how an intervention works, for whom, and in which circumstances. Such information provides researchers, policy-makers, and practitioners with the type of information that they need to refine interventions to be more adaptable to new populations and settings at full trial.

Vulnerable groups in transition
A particular focus of my research is to use realist approaches to co-produce programme theory with people using and delivering services that will help policy makers and practitioners understand how to make service transitions better for vulnerable groups such as prison leavers and care leavers.