Dr Katie Brittain
Lecturer in Social Gerontology

  • Email: katie.brittain@ncl.ac.uk
  • Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 8738
  • Address: Institute of Health and Society
    Newcastle University
    Baddiley-Clark Building
    Richardson Road
    Newcastle Upon Tyne
    NE2 4AX

Roles and Responsibilities

Institute of Health and Society's Deputy Postgraduate Tutor (2006-2009)


Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice. Newcastle University, 2009.
PhD (Social Gerontology). Leicester University, 2005.
Teachers Certificate 7307 Stage One. Adult Education, Leicester, 1997.
M.A (Sociological Research in Healthcare). Warwick University, 1997.
B.Sc Honours (Applied Sociology), Surrey University, 1994.

Research Interests

I am a social gerontologist and an experienced quantitative and qualitative researcher. My educational background in applied sociology has enabled me to pursue my research interests in the application of these research methods in order to look at the social impact that illness can have on the lives of older people. During my time as a researcher I have researched and published widely around the impact of ill health on older people and carers, particularly with reference to continence management. More recently my work has focused around how aspects of the physical, social and technological environment pose challenges and opportunities for older people and their wider community.

Other Expertise

I am currently a collaborator on SiDE (Social Inclusion through the Digital Economy), the RCUK Digital Economy Research Hub based at Newcastle University. The aim of SiDE is to tackle social exclusion by making it easier for people to access the potential benefits offered by digital technologies. My main collaborations within this research hub have been with Professor Patrick Olivier who leads the ‘Connected Home and Community’ activity. My principal research interests lie within issues surrounding the use of assistive technologies within the home for older people and how these might inhibit or promote connections to the wider social networks / services outside of the home. On SiDE I have the responsibility for operationalising the insights and methods of social gerontology to improve the user-centred processes the Hub wishes to develop and apply.

Postgraduate Supervision

I have successfully supervised one Doctoral student to completion and am currently co-supervising three others in the research areas of dementia care and informal carers (Dr Valerie Edgell), dementia care and hospital environments (Ms Marie Poole), the experiences of the oldest old (Ms Karen Davies) and access to dental services for older people in rural communities (Ms Lucy Devapal).

Esteem Indicators

Invited speaker at a DeNDRoN workshop on 'Developing Assistive Technology and Dementia Bids for the May NIHR Dementai Call.  Royal College of Physicians, London 30th March 2011.

Invited plenary speaker at a BSA conference on 'Futures of Ageing: Science, Technology and the Body', July 19th 2010, London, www.britsoc.co.uk/events/AgeingPlenary.htm.

Invited speaker at a symposium on 'Embodiment, Subjectivity and Ageing: Emerging Areas of Exploration', September 10-11th 2009, Newcastle University, www.ncl.ac.uk/niassh/Ageing/index.htm.

Invited speaker at the 3rd UK Stroke Forum, 2-4th December 2008, Harrogate.

Invited speaker at the Years Ahead conference (the North East Regional Forum on Ageing). Grey Matters: Engaging the intellectual capital of the region’s older people. 24th April 2008, Sunderland.


1.  Technology Strategy Board (TSB):  SALT 'Sustainable Assisted Living Technologies and Services'.  Led by Professor Feng Li (PI).  June 2011-May 2014

2.  EPSRC Discipline Hop:  'Ageing in Place' and the impact of emerginig technologies on the lives of older people.  Dr Katie Brittain (PI).  September 2011-August 2012

3. Technology Strategy Board (TSB): SHel: Safe Home Living, the use and acceptability of remote monitoring systems for older people living alone. Dr Katie Brittain (PI) and Professor Patrick Olivier. March 2010-February 2011

4. NIHR HTA: CARE-DEM trial (a pragmatic randomised controlled trial to evaluate the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of Collaborative cARE for people with DEMentia in primary care. Led by Professor Robinson (Newcastle University) & Professor Iliffe (University College London). 2010-2015

5. NIHR programme grant: ICONS Identifying Continence OptioNs after Stroke. Led by Professor Watkins, University of Central Lancashire. 2008-2011

6. What do older people value in terms of their well-being? as part of the Mental Capital and Wellbeing Foresight Project. Led by Dr Katie Brittain, Dr Lynne Corner, Professor John Bond. 2008

7. Centre for Excellence and Life Sciences: Keeping in Touch Every Day (KITE) project; developing assistive technologies with people with dementia and their carers to promote independence. Led by Dr Louise Robinson & Dr Patrick Olivier. July 2007-April 2008

8. Norman Richardson Trust: Barriers to dental care for older people in the Teesdale and Barnard Castle area. With Professors Angus Walls, Jimmy Steel, John Bond. 2007-2010

9. NHS HTA programme: NESTAC – North of England Study of Tonsillectomy and Adeno-tonsillectomy in Children. With Professors John Bond, Janet Wilson and Martin Eccles

10. Stroke Association: A feasibility study to develop and evaluate a psychological intervention to facilitate the coping skills of carers of stroke survivors. Led by Dr Louise Robinson & Dr Helen Rodgers

Undergraduate Teaching

Strand lead for MBBS Medicine in the Community

Postgraduate Teaching

MSc Health Sciences Module Leader: Further Research Methods