Institute of Health & Society

Staff Profile

Dr Ruth McGovern

Lecturer in Public Health Research/NIHR Post Doctorate Fellow



I am an NIHR Post Doctoral Research Fellow and Lecturer in Public Health Research at the Institute of Health & Society, Newcastle University. My research aims to improve both health and social needs through the reduction of lifestyle risk and promotion of social justice. The focus of my work is upon children, parents and families and substance misuse. Substance misusing parents and their children are among the most disadvantaged within society. My work seeks to benefit this highly vulnerable population through evidenced-based decision making, policy and practice.

A key strand of my work is concerned with developing and evaluating behaviour change interventions to reduce alcohol and drug use. My research examines the feasibility and effectiveness of public health interventions with a wide range of populations and in various settings, often outside of the NHS. I have a professional background in social work; a profession which engages and intervenes with the most disadvantaged populations in society. I am committed to enhancing scientific knowledge through the development of evidenced-based interventions within the social care setting.

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.

Google scholar:


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

Lynch E, Alderson H, Ling J,  McGovern R, Spencer L, Kaner, E. (2018). BEHAVIOURAL INSIGHTS STUDY: To improve uptake of support for services for Drug and Alcohol misuse in Hartlepool and to reduce prevalence in children and young people. Hartlepool Local Authority. £48,555.82

McGovern, R. Araujo-Soares, V. Brown, J. Buykx, P. Edmondson-Jones, P. Evans, V. Fleming, K. Hickman, M. Macleod, J. Meier, P. & Kaner, E. Safeguarding children affected by parental substance misuse: developing parenting interventions to support the non-using parent (2018) NIHR SPHR2 Early Phase Project 2 £35, 331

Brown J, Michie S, Beard E, Shahab L, West R, Hickman M, de Vocht F, Kaner E, O’Donnell A, McGovern R, Holmes J, Angus C, Buykx P, Gillespie D, Brennan A, Meier P, Beynon C, Greaves F, Walmsley M. Extending The Alcohol Toolkit Study: Understanding the population context of alcohol use. (2017-18) NIHR SPHR2 Early Phase Project 2. £91,907

McGovern R. Gilvarry E. Lingam R. Alderson H. Addison M. Geijer-Simpson E. Minos D. Kaner E. (2016) Addressing the impact of parental substance misuse on children. Public Health England. £59.903

Lingam R. Kaner E. Foley T. Rowlands G. Rankin J. McGovern R. Vale L. Balaam M. Watson P. Newham J. Alderson H. Caughey S. Milne E. Dawn Scott D. Jayne Moules J. Jill Baker J. Kaner B. Spring P. Connor M. Wiseman A. Hall V. Vedhara P. SILVER: Smart Interventions for Local Vulnerable Residents. N8 Connected Health Cities - North East and North Cumbria. £403.406

Lingam R. Newham J. McGovern R. Jackson K. Henderson E. Hunter D. Kaner E and Balaam M. (2016) A Needs Assessment of Maternal Mental Health in Rural North Yorkshire. North Yorkshire County Council. £42.000.

O’Donnell A. Kaner E. Gilvarry E & McGovern R. (2016) ATTUNE (Understanding Pathways to Stimulant Use: a mixed-methods examination of the individual. social and cultural factors shaping illicit stimulant use across Europe) ERANID/UK Department of Health. £268.311

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.