Master of Public Health

Student publications

Recent publications from students enrolled on the Master of Public Health at University of Edinburgh.

The benefits, challenges, and best practice for patient and public involvement in evidence synthesis: A systematic review and thematic synthesis

Authors: Eldad Agyei-Manu, Nadege Atkins, Bohee Lee, Jasmin Rostron, Marshall Dozier, Maureen Smith, Ruth McQuillan


Abstract: Despite the growing evidence on patient and public involvement (PPI) in health research, little emphasis has been placed on understanding its quality and appropriateness to evidence synthesis (ES) and systematic reviews (SR). This study aimed to synthesise qualitative evidence on the benefits, challenges, and best practices for PPI in ES/SR projects from the perspectives of patients/public and researchers.

Female empowerment to improve sexual and reproductive health outcomes and prevent violence in adolescent girls and young women in Uganda: evidence reviews for policy

Authors: Jessica Lewington, Rosemary Geddes, Grace Gabagaya


Abstract: Adolescent girls and young women in Uganda face numerous public health challenges including high HIV prevalence, teenage pregnancies, poor sexual and reproductive health rights, child marriage, and violence.

Rural-urban difference in the prevalence of hypertension in West Africa: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Authors: Ruqayya Nasir Sani, Paul J. Connelly, Mette Toft, Neneh Rowa-Dewar, Christian Delles, Danijela Gasevic & Kamilu Musa Karaye


Abstract: Urbanisation is considered a major contributor to the rising prevalence of hypertension in West Africa, yet the evidence regarding rural-urban differences in the prevalence of hypertension in the region has been mixed. A systematic literature search of four electronic databases: PubMed, Embase, African Journals Online, and WHO’s African Index Medicus; and reference lists of eligible studies was carried out. Original quantitative studies describing the rural-urban difference in the prevalence of hypertension in one or more countries in West Africa, and published in English language from the year 2000 to 2021 were included. A random effects meta-analysis model was used to estimate the odds ratio of hypertension in rural compared to urban locations. A limited sex-based random effects meta-analysis was conducted with 16 studies that provided sex-disaggregated data. Of the 377 studies screened, 22 met the inclusion criteria (n = 62,907). The prevalence of hypertension was high in both rural, and urban areas, ranging from 9.7% to 60% in the rural areas with a pooled prevalence of 27.4%; and 15.5% to 59.2% in the urban areas with a pooled prevalence of 33.9%. The odd of hypertension were lower in rural compared to urban dwellers [OR 0.74, 95% CI: 0.66-0.83; p < 0.001]. The pooled prevalence of hypertension was 32.6% in males, and 30.0% in females, with no significant difference in the odds of hypertension between the sexes [OR 0.91, 95% CI: 0.8-1.05, p = 0.196]. Comprehensive hypertension control policies are needed for both rural, and urban areas in West Africa, and for both sexes.

Prevalence of child maltreatment in India and its association with gender, urbanisation and policy: a rapid review and meta-analysis protocol

Authors: Gwen Fernandes, Megan Fernandes, Nilakshi Vaidya, Philip De Souza, Evgeniya Plotnikova, Rosemary Geddes, Bharath Holla, Eesha Sharma, Vivek Benegal, Vikas Choudhry


Abstract: India is home to 20% of the world’s children and yet, little is known on the magnitude and trends of child maltreatment nationwide. The aims of this review are to provide a prevalence of child maltreatment in India with considerations for any effects of gender; urbanisation (eg, urban vs rural) and legislation (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act 2012).

Seen but not heard: addressing the silent epidemic of child maltreatment in India

Authors: Dr Gwen Fernandes (University of Bristol and part-time MPH alumni of the University of Edinburgh), Dr Megan Fernandes (Norwich and Norfolk University Hospital), United Kingdom Dr Vikas Choudhry (International Planned Parenthood Federation), Professor Vivek Benegal (NIMHANS), India


Student reflection

"My part-time Master of Public Health degree was integral in inspiring me to delve into the heart of public health problems, the ‘so what’ behind the evidence, numbers or rhetoric. Why might a specific group of the population be more at risk, what are the best interventions and are they cost effective, and how can we build equity and sustainability into our public health systems. It enabled me to think about public health challenges from a bottom-up and top-down approach and to understand the global interconnectivity of public health challenges, particularly affecting lower- and middle-income countries. Child maltreatment is a global health concern. We need to do more and do better to stop kids from falling through the gaps in current policies, legislation and safeguarding." - Dr Gwen Fernandes

Effectiveness of eccentric‑biased exercise interventions in reducing the incidence of falls and improving functional performance in older adults: a systematic review

Authors: Durga Kulkarni, Sarah Gregory, Michelle Evans


Key summary points

Aim: To systematically review the literature on the effectiveness of eccentric exercise interventions in reducing falls and improving the functional performance in older adults. Findings: The existing literature was of mixed quality and suggested that eccentric exercises can be as effective as conven-tional exercises in improving functional performance in healthy older adults. There was limited evidence focussing on the aspect of incidence of falls. Message: Eccentric exercises may be as effective as conventional exercises in improving geriatric function, although evidence remains limited. More research is needed to explore any adverse effects of such exercises in older adults.

The effects of mobile health on emergency care in low- and middle-income countries: A systematic review and narrative synthesis

Authors: W Tyler Winders, Stephanie C Garbern, Corey B Bills, Pryanka Relan, Megan L Schultz, Indi Trehan, Sean M Kivlehan, Torben K Becker, Ruth McQuillan


Stigma and Smoking in the Home: Parents’ Accounts of Using Nicotine Replacement Therapy to Protect Their Children from Second-Hand Smoke.

Author: Grace Lewis

Abstract: Evidence and campaigns highlighting smoking and second-hand smoke risks have significantly reduced smoking prevalence and denormalised smoking in the home in Scotland. However, smoking prevalence remains disproportionally high in socioeconomically disadvantaged groups. Using stigma as a theoretical lens, this article presents a thematic analysis of parents’ accounts of attempting to abstain from smoking at home, using nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), in disadvantaged areas of Edinburgh and the Lothians. Smoking stigma, particularly self-stigma, underpinned accounts, with two overarching themes: interplaying barriers and enablers for creation of a smoke-free home and reconceptualisation of the study as an opportunity to quit smoking. Personal motivation to abstain or stop smoking empowered participants to reduce or quit smoking to resist stigma. For those struggling to believe in their ability to stop smoking, stigma led to negative self-labelling. Previously hidden smoking in the home gradually emerged in accounts, suggesting that parents may fear disclosure of smoking in the home in societies where smoking stigma exists. This study suggests that stigma may act both as an enabler and barrier in this group. Reductions in smoking in the home were dependent on self-efficacy and motivations to abstain, and stigma was entwined in these beliefs.

Citation: Lewis G, Rowa-Dewar N, O’Donnell R. Stigma and Smoking in the Home: Parents’ Accounts of Using Nicotine Replacement Therapy to Protect Their Children from Second-Hand Smoke. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2020; 17(12):4345.


Reflection blog post from Grace

A systematic review and meta-analysis to assess the association between urogenital schistosomiasis and HIV/AIDS infection.

Author: Ludoviko Zirimenya

Abstract: Urogenital schistosomiasis and HIV/AIDS infections are widespread in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) leading to substantial morbidity and mortality. The co-occurrence of both diseases has led to the possible hypothesis that urogenital schistosomiasis leads to increased risk of acquiring HIV infection. However, the available evidence concerning this association is inconsistent. The aim of this study was to systematically review and quantitatively synthesize studies that investigated the association between urogenital schistosomiasis and HIV/AIDS infection.

Citation: Zirimenya L, Mahmud-Ajeigbe F, McQuillan R, Li Y (2020) A systematic review and meta-analysis to assess the association between urogenital schistosomiasis and HIV/AIDS infection. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 14(6): e0008383.


Reflection blog post from Ludoviko