Institute of Health & Society

Staff Profile

Dr Ruth McGovern

Senior Research Associate/NIHR Post Doctorate Fellow



I am a NIHR Post Doctorate Fellow and a Senior Research Associate. My research aims to improve both health and social needs through the reduction of lifestyle risk. In particular, my work is concerned with developing and evaluating behaviour change interventions to reduce alcohol and drug use. My research examines feasibility and effectiveness of intervening with a wide range of populations and in various settings, including adults in police custody suite, offenders supervised by the National Probation Service, working age adults and older adults within Primary Care, adults presenting at Accident and Emergency and individuals with mental health problems and other co-morbid conditions. An increasing focus to my work is on children and families. My fellowship work examines the feasibility of embedding brief interventions to reduce parental risky drinking within Children's Social Care. I am also involved in intervention trials with young people with alcohol use disorders in emergency departments, school settings and looked after children.

I have a professional background in social work and counselling. Throughout my professional career I specialised in drug and alcohol treatment, working in a range of therapeutic and social care settings.


BA Hons Social Studies, University of Newcastle, 1998

Diploma in Social Work, Northumbria University, 2000

Post Graduate Diploma in Counselling, Durham University, 2003

MA Counselling, Durham University, 2004

PhD, Sociology, Newcastle University, 2010


Research Interests

Alcohol and drug use

Children and Families

Mental health

Health and social care

Behaviour change

Social and pychological interventions

Research funding

Lingam, R. McGovern, R. Shucksmith, J. McArdle, P. Barkla, X. Robalino, S. Geijer-Simpson, E. Spencer, L. Reynolds, A. and Kaner, E. (2015) Mental Health Issues in Children and Young People. Institute of Local Governance. £39,500


McGovern, R. Lingham, R. McArdle, P. Kaner, E. (2015) Supervising PhD: developing a family involved intervention for young people aged 13-17 years who have alcohol use disorders and are at risk of depression and other mental health problems. Alcohol Research UK, £21,000


Lingam, R. McGovern, R., McColl, E. Howel, D. McArdle, P. Copello, A. Shucksmith, J. Kaner, E., SOLID (Supporting Looked after children In Decreasing Drugs, and alcohol): A multi-centre external pilot randomised controlled trial to decrease risky substance use (drugs and alcohol) and improve mental health and well-being of Looked After Children aged 12 -20 years. NIHR PHR £501,794.20


McGovern, R, McColl, E. Hickman, M. Kaner, E. (2014) Brief interventions to reduce hazardous and harmful drinking in parents referred to children’s social care: a feasibility study. £310315, NIHR post doctorate fellowship


 Newbury-Birch, D. McGovern, R. McColl, E. Scott, R. Vale, L. Howel, D. Todd, L. Tate, L. Sumnall, H. Coulton, S. Drummond, C. Deluca, P. Kaner, E. (2014) A multi-centre cluster-randomised controlled trial of screening and brief alcohol intervention to prevent risky drinking in young people aged 14-15 in a high school setting. NIHR PHR £866,11


Newbury-Birch, D. McGovern, R. Scott, S. Gilvarry, E. (2014) Examining the evidence base for alcohol screening and brief interventions in the UK prison system. Public Health England £20,000


Wilson, G. Kaner, E. Vale, L. Graybill, E. McGovern, R. Newbury-Birch, D. and Stamp, E (2013) An evaluation of the implementation of Sunderland liaison psychiatry service (RAID model). £109,979 Sunderland CC


McGovern, R & Newbury-Birch, D. (2012) SIPS Junior Prevalence Study.  £11,288 NIHR MHRN NE Research Capabilities Funding.


McGovern, R. & Newbury-Birch, D. (2011) Darlington Paramedic Project Evaluation. 10,000. County Durham and Darlington, NHS County Durham and Darlington.


Stephenson, M. & McGovern (2010) Knowledge Transfer within the offender health pathway in the North East. £10,000. NEPHO.


Stephenson, M. & McGovern, R. (2009) Mapping alcohol provision and pathways within the criminal justice system in the North East region. £15,000. NEPHO.


Stephenson, M. & McGovern, R. (2009) Maximising Outcomes from The Huntercombe Centre Inpatient Detox Service. £35,000. South Tyneside Substance Misuse Commissioning Team.


McGovern, R. (2005) The Emergence of a Crack Cocaine Market. £3000. Safer Sunderland Partnership.



I am the module lead for Public Health Intervention (HSC8042).

I am currently supervising two PhD students: Emma Geijer-Simpson - funded by Alcohol Research UK titled: developing a family involved intervention for young people aged 13-17 years who have alcohol use disorders and are at risk of depression and other mental health problems Samuel Parker The 7 S Study: supporting Sunderland smokers - a strategy for stop smoking services. I am also supervising a number of MSc students.