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Personal profile

Research interests

Over the last 35 years John has carried out research for the Department of Health and the NHS on de-institutionalisation, community mental health services, violent mentally disordered offenders and assertive outreach teams. For the Department for Children Schools and Families (now Department of Education), he has researched the impact of Sure Start programmes, and the outcomes and costs of family support services and interagency training to safeguard children. He has also researched for the Department of Health and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the lives of disabled children and young people and their experiences of social care and health services.

Since 2012, John has been leading a team from Bristol and Durham Universities evaluating the implementation, impact and costs of a therapeutic intervention for children affected by sexual abuse and their carers.  This study incorporates a large randomised control trial and economic evaluation. 

John’s other longstanding research is in the evaluation of interprofessional education and social work education. He is one of the leading international experts on these topics and is co-editor with Hilary Burgess of The Outcomes of Social Work Education: developing evaluation methods (Higher education Academy, 2010) and of a special issue of Social Work Education on outcomes research. John lead a three-year longitudinal cohort study evaluating a national programme to support children’s social workers in their first years in practice after qualification.  He completed a three year study with colleagues at Durham University on the longitudinal outcomes of postgraduate social work education programmes funded by the Department for Education, published in 2018.  Two further studies of this topic are in progress with Durham and Cardiff universities. .

Research projects


  • Letting the Future in: A therapeutic intervention for children affected by sexual abuse and their families.  (1) Economic evaluation (2) Evaluation of an adapted model for children with intellectual disabilities.
  • Evalution of Think Ahead fast track postgraduate qualifying programme for mental health social workers (with Durham University)
  • Longitudinal evaluation of Fast Track programmes for social work with children and families - Step up and Frontline (with Cardiff and Durham universities) 



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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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