Dr Niina Kolehmainen
Senior Clinical Lecturer and Honorary Consultant AHP (Children)

  • Email: niina.kolehmainen@ncl.ac.uk
  • Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 4594
  • Address: Institute of Health & Society
    Newcastle University
    The Baddiley-Clark Building
    Richardson Road
    Newcastle upon Tyne
    NE2 4AX
    United Kingdom


I am an allied health clinician academic with research interests in:

  1. Improving health, especially child and family health, through participation in everyday health behaviours.
  2. Improving health services, especially child and family services, and especially with focus on improving effectiveness, person empowerment, and efficiency.
  3. Advancing complex intervention research methods.

I aim to lead high quality research that is of direct, national and international relevance to health, health care practice, and policy; and to support implementation of research evidence.

With training in public health, health services research, behaviour change, implementation science, and occupational therapy, I integrate a wide range of perspectives to my research and collaborate with colleagues across disciplines.

To date, I have been awarded approximately £1,160,000 of research funding, of which £516,380 as principal investigator. I have authored 16 peer-reviewed papers, most (n=11) of which as the first author. I have a rounded clinical academic portfolio, with evidence of leadership and impact both within and outwith academia. 


  • PhD Health Services Research, University of Aberdeen 2009
  • PgDip Occupational Therapy, Queen Margaret University 2007
  • MSc Health Services Research, University of Aberdeen 2006
  • Toimintaterapeutti (AMK), Helsinki Polytechnic 2002

Posts Held

  • Senior Research Fellow. Institute of Health and Society. Newcastle University, UK, 2013 -   
  • MRC Population Health Scientist. Health Services Research Unit. University of Aberdeen, UK, 2010-13
  • Visiting Research Fellow, CanChild, McMaster University. ON, Canada, 2011-12
  • Clinician Research Fellow. Health Services Research Unit. University of Aberdeen, UK, 2010-11
  • CSO Research Training Fellow. Health Services Research Unit. University of Aberdeen, UK, 2006-09
  • Clinician Research Fellow. Health Services Research Unit. Aberdeen, UK, 2005-06
  • Consultant AHP (Children) (Honorary). Newcastle upon Tyne NHS Hospital Foundation Trust, 2015 -  
  • Senior Occupational Therapist (Honorary). Newcastle upon Tyne NHS Hospital Foundation Trust, 2014-15
  • Highly Specialist Occupational Therapist (Honorary). Child Health, NHS Fife, 2010-14
  • Senior Occupational Therapist (Honorary). Child Health, NHS Grampian, 2007-08
  • Senior II Occupational Therapist. Child Health, NHS Fife, 2004-05
  • Basic Grade Occupational Therapist. St John’s Hospital, NHS Lothian, 2003-04
  • Basic Grade Occupational Therapist. Royal Edinburgh Hospital, NHS Lothian, 2002-03
  • Occupational Therapist. Helsinki City Mental Health Services, 2002-01

Esteem Indicators

  • Member of the National Institute of Health Research Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health TIDE panel, 2015-current
  • Academic Training Advocate for the National Institute for Health Research, 2015-current
  • Winner of the Council for Allied Health Professions Research award for Public Health Research in 2015
  • Merit Award recipient, awarded by the UK College of Occupational Therapists in 2015
  • UK Society of Behavioural Medicine, Executive Committee Member 2014-15, and the Chair of the Local Organising Committee of the 2015 Annual Scientific Meeting UK Society for Behavioural Medicin
  • Member of the British Academy of Childhood Disability Strategic Research Group, 2012-current  British Academy of Childhood Disability 
  • Keynotes and invited presentations at national and international meetings and conferences, e.g. the NeuroDevNet Conference in Vancouver, Canada, 2013, the CountMeIn! international Conference on participation outcomes and interventions in London, UK, 2014, and the National Institute of Health Research meeting for non-medical health professionals in London, UK, 2016.
  • Runner up in Advancing Healthcare Awards – Improving patient care pathways, 2012.
  • The first winner of the Early Career Researcher in Behavioural Medicine Award, awarded by the UK Society of Behavioural Medicine in 2010
  • Steering Group Member, Managed Clinical Network for Children with Exceptional Healthcare Needs, 2009-12
  • Research expert, the NHS Education Scotland Working Group for Paediatric Allied Health Education Strategy, 2009-10

You can find me on twitter: @niinamk

My research

My overarching interest and focus is on developing, evaluating and implementing interventions to improve health and well-being, and to prevent disability. Within this, my specific research interests are:

  1. Improving health through participation in everyday health behaviours, with focus on enabling everyone to participate by changing personal, social and physical determinants of these behaviours.
  2. Improving health services, especially with focus on improving effectiveness, empowerment, and efficiency.
  3. Advancing complex intervention research methods, with reference to the MRC frameworks.

Most of my research has been with children and families, but I also collaborate with people in other fields to provide them methods expertise.

I try to focus my research on improving outcomes for the people and populations that currently experience worse outcomes than their peers. My research is not automatically restricted to any specific diagnostic groups.

Research Funding

  • National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), CAT Doctoral Research Training Fellowship. £277,700. Improving health in children with disabilities: an intervention-development study to support participation in leisure in 8-12-year-olds with communication and mobility limitations. Primary supervisor (PI: McAnuff J.). 2015-2018
  • National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), Health Technology Assessment. £245,174 Standing frames as part of postural management for children with spasticity. What is the acceptability of a trial to determine efficacy of standing frames? Co-investigator. (PI: Kisler J.), 2015-2017 Related web site
  • National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), Programme Development Grant. £99,149 How should the NHS deliver rehabilitation services for children after acquired brain injury? Co-investigator. (PI: Forsyth R.), 2015-2017 Related web site
  • UK Occupational Therapy Research Foundation (UKOTRF), Research Career Development Grant.  £10,000. Developing a service-user informed occupational therapy intervention to facilitate meaningful occupation for people with primary Sjögren’s syndrome in the NHS. Co-investigator. (PI: Hackett K.), 2014-2015 Open access protocol
  • Medical Research Council (MRC), Population Health Scientist Fellowship. £283,837. Participation in physical leisure pursuits and play in children with motor impairments: developing a theory- and evidence-based intervention. PI: Kolehmainen N. 2010-2014 Open access protocol
  • Scottish Government Chief Scientist Office (CSO), Healthcare Improvement Grant. £70,396. Using ‘Good Goals’ to improve children’s occupational therapy services: a feasibility study of a multifaceted caseload management intervention. PI: Kolehmainen N. 2009-2010 Open access publication
  • Scottish Government Chief Scientist Office (CSO), Research Training Fellowship. £127,369. Optimising caseload management: developing an intervention in paediatric occupational therapy. PI: Kolehmainen N. 2006-2009 Full list of publications


I collaborate with people across sectors and disciplines. The list below indicates some of the people I work with, but the list is not exhaustive or exclusive!

For collaborating organisations, see also: 


I am always delighted to hear from anyone who would like to explore opportunities to do further learning with me. 

For teaching, supervision, training, and examining, I am happy to be approached for the following expertise: 

  • Complex intervention research, especially intervention development, modelling and feasibility studies
  • Interventions to promote participation in everyday health behaviours
  • Health and health services research with children and families, including family centred services
  • Behavioural medicine, including behaviour change and implementation science
  • Research involving the use of the WHO International Classification of Functioning, Health and Disability
  • Mixed (qualitative and quantitative) methods


I have teaching experience in health service research and public health, health psychology, and research methods for allied health. I have designed new teaching and training (e.g. in mixed methods, complex interventions), and delivered teaching and training to a range of audiences in a variety of settings. I have experience of examining across post-graduate degrees, including as an external PhD examiner.

Current PhD students:

PhD/Mphil Viva examining: University of Groningen (2015), Glasgow Caledonian University (2013)

Masters research supervision: 1 current student, 3 supervised to completion

  • Masters in Clinical Research, Newcastle University (2015)
  • MSc in Health Services and Public Health Research, University of Aberdeen (2013)
  • MSc in Professional Health and Social Care Studies, York St John’s University (2011)

Lecturing: MSc in Health Psychology, Northumbria University (in 2015), MSc in Health Service and Public Health Research, University of Aberdeen (2007-12), and MSc in International Health and Management, University of Aberdeen (2009-12)

Health professionals

I am passionate about increasing research capacity within health professions as evidence consistently suggests that providers involved in research deliver better care and achieve better outcomes.

I supervise and mentor health professionals across levels for research, and I am one of the founding members of the Newcastle Allied Health Development and Modelling of Interventions group to advance research methods.

Mentoring health professionals: 4 on-going, 8 completed

  • Currently 4 ongoing (all band 6, pre-PhD)
  • In 2015, 2 completed to a submission of NIHR PhD fellowship applications (both band 7)
  • In 2014, 1 completed to a successful NIHR PhD fellowship application (band 8a)
  • In 2013, 5 completed to a publication in a peer-reviewed journal (band 6-7)

Professional internship placements: 1 on-going, 7 supervised to completion

  • HEE/NIHR ICA Internship, band 6 podiatrist (2016)
  • Summer Internship, University of Aberdeen, two newly graduate therapists (2012), a student therapist (2011), band 7 therapist (2010)
  • Clinical placement, occupational therapy students (2003, 2002, 2001)

Training for health professionals: eight workshops in 2012-15, of which four in the UK, two in Canada, one in Finland, and one international.


I  occasionally supervise undergraduate research projects (5 students to completion), deliver undergraduate guest lectures, and mark undergraduate assignments/projects.