Children and Families

Group Leader: Professor Jane Appleton


About us

The focus of the work of the Children and Families Research Group is around children, young people and family wellbeing. Our research around children covers the prenatal period, up to age 18 years. It includes research on safeguarding, child protection, child health, looked-after children, and the role of the family unit including parenting, school, and community influences on child and family wellbeing.

We are interested in research that makes a difference to the lives of children and families and improves health and wellbeing outcomes. Our family-focused research covers additional topics such as domestic violence and abuse, family community services and the development of resilience.

Our work takes place in family homes, hospitals, schools and with the wider community including health, social care and third sector services. Regular meetings of the Children and Families Research Group bring together researchers, students, academics and practitioners who have an interest in children, young people and family wellbeing and who wish to develop research and influence policy and practice in this area. Our research has been funded by a range of organisations. The OxCAF_research Group works closely with the Institute of Public Care at Oxford Brookes University.  

Girl talking to a social worker


Jane V. Appleton

Professor Jane Appleton

Professor of Primary and Community Care

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Name Role Email
Dr Haggi Michael Haggi Ansera Research Fellow
Dr Sarah Bekaert Senior Lecturer
Katy Burch Assistant Director
Dr Georgia Cook Postdoctoral Research Assistant and Associate Lecturer
Mr Lindsey Coombes Associate Lecturer
Dr Clive Diaz Senior Lecturer in Social Work
Professor David Foxcroft Professor of Community Psychology and Public Health
Dr Mary Malone Director of the Oxford School of Nursing and Midwifery
Dr Kathy Mumby-Croft Lecturer in Adult Nursing
Dr Nick Pike Associate Lecturer
Dr Louise Taylor Principal Lecturer Student Experience (PLSE)
Dr Farzaneh Yazdani Senior Lecturer in Occupational Therapy


Name Thesis Title Supervisors Completed
Helen Bosley Maternal Attitudes to Antibiotic Use: A Community Based Case Study Professor Jane Appleton


Sharon Brownie Nursing and Health Service Leadership: The Power to Influence Professor Debra Jackson, Professor Jane Appleton


Georgia Cook Parental influences on children’s sleep Dr Luci Wiggs 2019
Samantha Jane Donohue What is the experince of professional enjoyment in nursing? Professor Jane Appleton


Monica Duman How are assessment tools and chronologies used by health and social care professionals to identify child neglect Professor Jane Appleton


Briony Enser Alcohol Driven Harm to Others Professor David Foxcroft 2018
Kimberley Harcourt Weight loss and weight loss maintenance using exercise, nutrition and behaviour change strategies among an overweight/obese, pre-diabetic adult population 2019
Lauren Harding How do school nurses identify and work with school-aged children at risk of child abuse and neglect? Professor Jane Appleton 2020
Jon Hyslop How Do Peer Networks Enable Service Users and Informal Careers to Obtain and Manage Personal Budgets Professor Jane Appleton 2019
Josie Jacobs Developing a wellbeing and resilience programme for parents of Key Stage 1 primary school children Dr Emma Davies


Elizabeth Jestico What are parents’ experiences of being supported by significant others, when faced with making decisions about their child’s cancer case? A phenomenological study Professor Jane Appleton


Karen Lascelles Experiences and Support Needs of Adult Carers of Adults at Risk of Suicide: A Mixed Methods Doctoral Research Study Professor Jane Appleton


Claire Litchfield Is the use of water immersion for women in labour or giving birth both safe and effective as a method for improving rates of normal birth for women who are obese? Dr Jane Carpenter, Dr Louise Hunter, Dr Mary Malone


Catherine Lowenhoff Moving on from ‘Listening Visits’: a mixed methods, multi-phase study exploring the support that health visitors provide to mothers with mental health problems Professor Jane Appleton


Mark Mason The illegal drug use behaviours and social circumstances of older adult regular Class A drug users Professor Jane Appleton 2015
Elaine Strachan-Hall Robots in Nursing: False Rhetoric or Future Reality? Professor Jane Appleton


Fiona Tierney Families’ experience of using sleep-related routines with their young children Professor Anna Barnett, Dr Georgia Cook, Dr Luci Wiggs


Suzanne Watts An exploration of the referral and communication systems between primary health care professionals and children's social care services Professor Jane Appleton


Diana Yardley An exploration of health care professionals’ perceptions of non-medical factors affecting management of Type 1 diabetes in children Professor Jane Appleton, Dr Olga Kozlowska



Active projects

Project title and description Investigator(s) Funder(s) Dates


Stopping Child Maltreatment through Pan-European Multiprofessional Training Programme: Early Child Protection Work with Families at Risk.
Professor Jane Appleton, Eija Paavilainen European Commission From: December 2019
Until: December 2021

A synthesis of the evidence for effective parenting support

Professor Jane Appleton Public Health England From: March 2021
Until: September 2021

Evaluating the Navigator Project

Trauma informed support for young people attending the ED as a result of violence.
Dr Sarah Bekaert Brookes Research Excellence Award From: August 2021
Until: March 2022

Think Baby - Take 2

Professor Jane Appleton Brookes Research Excellence Award From: August 2021
Until: January 2022

The Wessex FRIEND Toolbox (Family Risk IdEntificatioN and Decision)

Combining individual and area-based measures of disadvantage for risk stratification and intervention to improve health in Wessex’s young families.
Dr Nisreen Alwan NIHR ARC Wessex From: October 2019
Until: March 2022

Think Baby - online course for trainee health visitors

Think Baby is an online course to develop trainee health visitors' observational skills by asking them to think about the way in which they perceive and assess mother-infant interactions. Reflective self-assessment activities, based on short videos showing examples of mother-baby interaction, allow student health visitors an immersive learning experience.

Mother and baby interaction

Seminars and events

The Children and Families Research Group host a seminar series in Semester 1 of each academic year. We are grateful to all of our speakers and to the many staff, students and professionals who enthusiastically support these events. 

Our first seminar in Semester 1 2021/22:

Virtual seminar

How has a think family approach been put into practice when responding to vulnerable children: a scoping review and illustrative qualitative study? 

If you would like to attend, please contact Professor Jane Appleton or Dr Sarah Bekaert.


Appleton J.V. (2021) Editorial: Vulnerable Children and Early Intervention: What about Health Visiting? Child Abuse Review. 30 (2): 89-97.

Bekaert, S & Appleton JV. (2021) Ch 60 Intimate Partner Violence in Teen Relationships, in The Sage Handbook of Domestic Violence. Edited by Shackelford T.K,

Whittaker K, Appleton J.V., Peckover, S. and Adams C. (2021) Organising health visiting services in the UK: Frontline perspectives. Journal of Health Visiting 9 (2):

Bosley H, Appleton JV, Henshall C, Jackson D. (2020). The influence of perceived accessibility and expertise of healthcare professionals, and service austerity, on mothers' decision-making. Health Soc Care Community. 29 (2): 526-534.

Cook G, Appleton J.V. and Wiggs L. (2020) 'Parentally reported barriers to seeking help and advice for child sleep from healthcare professionals' Child: Care, Health and Development. ISSN: 0305-1862 eISSN: 1365-2214.

Harding L, Bekeart S. and Appleton J.V. (2020) Exploring the challenges of using electronic health record systems in nursing research. Nurse Researcher. 9 April. doi: 10.7748/nr.2020.e1695.

Harding L, Davison-Fischer J, Bekeart S. and Appleton J.V. (2019) The role of the school nurse in protecting children and young people from maltreatment: An integrative review of the literature. International Journal of Nursing Studies. 92: 60-72.

Bekaert, S and Bradly, J. 2019. The Increasingly Leaky Stigma of the ‘Pregnant Teen’: When Does ‘Young Motherhood’ Cease to be Problematic? Studies in the Maternal, 11(1): 8, pp. 1–8. DOI: https://

Appleton J., Powell C. & Coombes L. (2016) Children's missed healthcare appointments: professional and organisational responses. Arch Dis Child. 0:1–5. doi:10.1136/archdischild-2015-309621