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 Institute of Ageing
    Newcastle University
    Newcastle Biomedical Research Building
    Campus of Ageing & Vitality
    Newcastle upon Tyne
    NE4 5PL

Current Roles and Responsibilities

DPD for MSc in Social Science and Health Research

Deputy DPD for MSc in Public Health and Health Services Research

I am also Co-lead the 'Social Care' pathway for the EPSRC funded CDT in Digital Civics (http://digitalcivics.org.uk)


Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice. Newcastle University, 2009.

PhD (Social Gerontology). Leicester University, 2005.

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 six Doctoral students in the areas living with dementia and Parkinson's disease and the impact on individuals and carers, assistive technologies, the experiences of the oldest old and access to dental services for older people living in rural England.  I am currently co-supervising nine others in the broad research areas of dementia care, Parkinson's Disease, Stroke, technologies and the built environment.

Esteem Indicators

Invited guest lecturer at the Department of Applied Psychology, University College Cork, to talk about ‘dementia friendly communities’ with Professor John McCarthy and the ‘ageing’ research team, May 2016.

Invited presentation to the Newcastle Hospitals (NUTH) Essence of care group (bladder and bowel care), a study day for Trust nurses carers working in the private sector within Newcastle, Falcons Rugby Club, Newcastle, October 2015.

Invited speaker at a symposium on ‘Critical Responses to Dementia and the Social Mind’ at the Gerontological Society of America in Florida, November 2015.

Invited Speaker at ‘Primary Care & Public Health 2015’ in their ‘Care of Older People Programme’ on 'Assistive Technologies in Dementia Care’ (www.primarycareandpublichealth.co.uk), Birmingham NEC, May 2015    

Invited external speaker at DATHA (Design and Technologies for Healthy Aging) at Georgia Tech University, Atlanta, USA, October 2012.

Invited external speaker to the Interaction Design seminar series at the Department of Computing and Information Systems, Melbourne University, Australia, July 2012.

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.

Invited speaker at a symposium on 'Embodiment, Subjectivity and Ageing: Emerging Areas of Exploration', September 10-11th 2009, Newcastle University.

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.


NIHR (HS&DR): Innovation to enhance health in care homes, rapid evidence synthesis.  Led by Professor Barbara Hanratty (Co-Investigator).  March 2016-Feb 2017.

EPSRC Digital Economy Research Centre (DERC): Led by Professor Patrick Olivier. 2015-2020 (Co-Investigator). 

Stroke Association:  Wrist-worn Accelerometers with Vibrating-alerts to prompt Exercise after Stroke (WAVES).  Led by Dr Christopher Price (Co-Investigator). 

EPSRC (cross council ageing research funding):  MyPLACE ‘Mobility and PLace for the Age-friendly City Environment’.  Led by Professor Pete Wright.  March 2014-Feb 2017

ESRC:  Standing up for Dementia: exchanging knowledge on developing a patient and professional pathway for physical activity and exercise.  Led by Professor Mike Trennel.  May 2013-April 2014

NIHR RfPB:  FIDELITY: Feasibility of Internet DELivery of Intensive TherapY for children with motor speech disorders and cerebral palsy.  Led by Dr Lindsay Pennington.  July 2014

Health Innovation Challenge Fund (Department of Health & Wellcome Trust):  Limbs Alive: Monitoring Stroke Rehabilitation.  Led by Professor Janet Eyre.  January 2012-December 2014

MRC (Lifelong Health & Wellbeing):  Ageing Creatively. Led by Professor Eric Cross.  December 2012-June 2014

Technology Strategy Board (TSB):  SALT 'Sustainable Assisted Living Technologies and Services'.  Led by Professor Feng Li (PI).  June 2011-May 2014 (http://www.saltproject.co.uk)

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

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

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

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

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

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 



Undergraduate Teaching

Module lead for 'Healthcare Organisation and Practice', Biomedical Sciences

Lecturer on MBBS (Patients, Doctors and Society)

Postgraduate Teaching

Introduction to Qualitative Research Methods on the MSc in Public Health and Health Services Research