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Dr Kate Sykes

Mental Health Research Fellow

Dr Kate Sykes – Mental Health Research Fellow linked to the Knowledge Mobilisation and Implementation (SKIM) theme.


I am a lecturer in Public Health at Northumbria University. My background is in Health Psychology. I completed my PhD in 2021.


Kate is currently Principal Investigator for a research study funded by the NIHR ARC North East and North Cumbria. The study is known as PErson Centred Cancer Screening (PECCS) study. The aim of this research is to identify how cancer screening services can be adapted to support the uptake of people with severe mental illness and/or learning disabilities.

To achieve this aim, the following objectives have been set.

  • To explore the barriers and facilitators for people with severe mental illness and/or learning disabilities in accessing NHS cancer screening services.
  • To make recommendations to practice, ensuring equality of access to person centred screening services for both groups.
  • To plan and design future research to obtain an expert consensus on solutions to implement recommendations to support informed and shared decision making and uptake cancer screening for both groups.


Kate is supporting a research study called “Implementation of mental HEAlth uRgent and emergency care interventions for frequent service use”. The study is being ran by Dr Jason Scott, with Celia Mason working as the Senior Research Assistant. The research aims to understand how interventions are implemented to support people with low and medium acuity mental health issues in Urgent and Emergency Care settings using case studies of three interventions in the North East of England.

To achieve this aim, the following objectives have been set:

  • Using Normalisation Process Theory, develop an understanding of the extent to which selected interventions are implemented, embedded, and normalised into practice, including identification of barriers and facilitators.
  • Map how service users are identified and what referral pathways exist for service users.
  • Determine the actors involved in the current delivery of care within the selected interventions using social network analysis to examine multi-disciplinary and cross-organisational working.
  • Explore how service users currently experience care prior to, during and upon completion of the intervention.
  • Understand which outcomes would be of importance for staff and service users to demonstrate effectiveness in relation to quality improvement / performance management, and for future research.

Areas of interest 

Kate’s research focuses on access to services for seldom heard groups including people with learning disabilities, and people with mental ill health, ensuring that services (community and/or healthcare based) are person centred. Kate’s research typically employs qualitative methodologies and/or systematic reviews.

Recent or relevant publications 

  • McKeown, D. and Byrnes, K., 2022. Trialling a volunteer workforce to provide psychosocial care to hospital inpatients: a plan-do-study-act project. British Journal of Healthcare Management, 28(4), pp.1-7. Doi: 12968/bjhc.2020.0175
  • McGeechan, G.J., Byrnes, K., Campbell, M., Carthy, N., Eberhardt, J., Paton, W., Swainston, K. and Giles, E.L., 2022. A systematic review and qualitative synthesis of the experience of living with colorectal cancer as a chronic illness. Psychology & Health, 37(3), pp.350-374. Doi: 10.1080/08870446.2020.1867137
  • Scott, J., Brittain, K., Byrnes, K., Dawson, P., Mulrine, S., Spencer, M., Waring, J. and Young-Murphy, L., 2022. Residents transitioning between hospital and care homes: protocol for codesigning a systems-level response to safety issues (SafeST study). BMJ open12(1), p.e050665. Doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2021-050665
  • Byrnes, K., Hamilton, S., McGeechan, G.J., O’Malley, C., Mankelow, J. and Giles, E.L., 2020. Attitudes and perceptions of people with a learning disability, family carers, and paid care workers towards cancer screening programmes in the United Kingdom: A qualitative systematic review and meta‐ Psycho‐Oncology, 29(3), pp.475-484. Doi: 10.1002/pon.5311

Get in touch

Email:  [email protected]
Twitter: @DrKateSykes