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REF2014 Results - UoA2: Public Health, Health Services and Primary Care

Research at King’s has helped to shape clinical guidelines and government policy, particularly in the areas of stroke, health inequalities and medical diagnosis and air quality. The results of our submission to the Research Excellence Framework (REF), published today (18 December), demonstrate the strength of our research in public health and primary care and its impact on our wider society.

The Division of Health & Social Care Research submitted 26 staff in this Unit of Assessment, of which a fifth were early career researchers.  With 86% of our overall performance being rated 4* and 3* in this unit of assessment, the results position us sixth in the UK in terms of the proportion of the submission ranked at 4* and 3*.  

Professor Charles Wolfe, Head of the Division of Health & Social Care Research, says: "Our Division has a particular focus on translational research from ‘bench to community’. We have strong links with local communities, particularly those of Lambeth and Southwark, and more widely with UK, US and European research partners. Addressing health inequalities is a public health priority." 

A new element of the REF was the requirement for higher education institutions to demonstrate the impact of their research on the economy, society, culture, public policy, services, health or environment, beyond academia. The examples we submitted of how our research is helping to transform healthcare reflect our excellent  performance, with 80% of our Impact judged to have made ‘outstanding impact in terms of their reach and significance’, and all our impact case studies rated 4* or 3*.

The King’s South London Stroke Register, part of the Division of Health & Social Care Research, is the world’s longest running, population-based stroke register assessing the incidence of stroke, the acute and long-term needs of stroke patients, and the quality of stroke care.  The South London Stroke Register provides a platform for designing and evaluating new models of stroke care, including the largest trial of Early Supported Discharge, a cost-effective intervention which is now provided in two-thirds of hospitals in England, as well as being rolled out internationally. 

Poor air quality is another important public health issue, especially in cities where traffic is the major source of pollution. King’s research, based on the London Air Quality Network (LAQN), has shown that improvements in air quality could be achieved by restricting specific types of vehicles in urban areas. These research outputs were used by the Mayor of London to introduce the Congestion Charging Scheme (CCS) in 2003 and the London Low Emission Zone (LEZ) in 2008. This research, together with King’s ongoing evaluation of air quality and the impact of traffic control schemes in London, has generated increasing international interest in this method of pollution control resulting in the adoption of similar interventions across Europe. 

Our Research in Action pages provide more examples of the impact of King’s research.


The Grade Point Average (GPA) represents an average score (out of four) for the submission to a unit of assessment and is derived by multiplying the percentage of the submission at each of the levels (4*, 3*, 2*, 1*) by the number of the star ranking and dividing by 100.

The Quality Index is similar to the GPA but gives an additional weighting to the proportion of research at the higher star level. The index that the university has used is % 4* x 9, % 3* x 3, divided by 9. Different league tables may use different proportions for this.

The ‘power’ ranking uses the quality index to derive a score relative to the other submissions. The quality index is multiplied by the full-time equivalent (FTE) submitted and is then divided by the FTE of the largest submission.

Read the summary of results for the Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine.