Helen Walters

Dr Helen Walters, Consultant Advisor to the NIHR Public Health Research programme, describes Phinder, a new website designed to match-make Public Health workers with researchers. 

The health of the public is affected by the actions of a wide range of professions and organisations, whether they know it or not. It is important that we learn how these actions improve or damage health or health inequalities, so that we can do more of the good stuff and mitigate the harms of the bad stuff.

But how do we know what is good if we don’t use robust research methods to evaluate and investigate? How can frontline public health people find researchers to research the stuff they know is happening; and how can researchers, who are keen to undertake this work, research work if they don’t know about it?

Some bright spark suggested “What we need is Tinder for public health!” We need to match-make frontline work and researchers so that they can get together and make beautiful evidence together. So, after some word play we came up with “phinder”. We think it rhymes with Grindr, rather than Tinder, but you get the idea… (we hope)

Phinder  is a website that lists interventions that impact on public health, from across the UK, and that are open to being researched. Researchers are invited to look at the searchable list and to contact the attached name to find out more. The researchers can then use this for a basis for funding applications for research to any relevant research funder.

Phinder also tweets as @researchphinder and has over 330 followers. RSPH is now supporting Phinder, along with the NIHR, FPH , LGA, ADPH, Scotland’s CSO, Northern Ireland’s HSC and PHE.

Phinder is not a guarantee of research funding and not an evaluation service. But we hope it is a missing link in the system that will help researchers to find the answers to real questions. Directors of Public Health and professors of Public Health research have been equally enthusiastic about the idea. We have a large number of researchers looking for research opportunities. 

What phinder needs now is the details of all that amazing work that is going on – and for that we need frontline public health people to give us some simple data about the work and about the person who researchers can contact to find out more.  It is easy to do – there is a simple online form to fill out. Nothing is too big or too small. 

Let’s heal the divide between public health research and practice by feeding ideas for research into Phinder and build an evidence base to help us take impactful action. All it takes is a little match-making…

Tell us about your work today!