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Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL)

Caroline is a Senior Research Associate with over 20 years’ experience in project and programme evaluation and research across a variety of policy areas, including public health, mental health, employment, education, and childcare. With experience across the range of research methodologies, she favours qualitative approaches, and is interested in participatory methods. 

She has recently been conducting a review of community-based initiatives in support of mental health of older adults at times of psychosocial stress; and contributing to a participatory review of community involvement in place-based decision-making. Caroline is also co-leading a realist informed case study in this region for a national project on approaches by local authorities to improving public health and reducing inequalities in the context of austerity. 

Other recent projects include: developing age-friendly rural communities: the contribution of local participatory planning processes; reviewing the potential of time credit systems for improving public health; supporting local commissioners in developing evaluation frameworks for a healthy communities fund; increasing attention to ethnicity and migration within public health; engaging communities in thinking about dementia risk; investigating peer support approaches to social care for older prisoners; and evaluating a creative participatory approach to research with young people attending Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.



Before joining the University of Cambridge’s Institute of Public Health in 2011, Caroline held research positions at the University of Oxford, IPSOS MORI and ECORYS consultancies.


  • MA Social Policy, University of York. 1995. (Thesis: “The ‘Seamless’ care of older people returning from hospital into the community: reality or rhetoric?”)
  • BA (Hons) European Studies, with French and Spanish (Class 2.1) University of Hull, UK. 1994

Other affiliations

Caroline also contributes to the NIHR School for Public Health Research programmes of work on ‘public mental health’ and ‘places and communities’, through her position at Cambridge Institute of Public Health (CIPH).

Trinity College Affiliated Post-doc, Cambridge

Funding and awards

Cambridge Humanities Research Grants Scheme 2016: CHILL: Connected for Cognitive Health in Later Life. A Community Based Participatory Research project in Chatteris, UK (Co-PI with Dr Lafortune)

Public Health England (East of England) Seed funding awarded 2017 to support Public Health Registrar in developing an evaluation framework for complex community-based public health programmes.


Her research interests include addressing inequalities through preventative, sustainable, system-based and context-sensitive approaches to population health.


Key publications: 

Lee, C, Bassam, ERW, Kuhn, I. Community-oriented support actions by food retailers and community wellbeing: A systematic scoping review. Public Health 2021, 201: 115  

Lee, C, Kuhn, I, McGrath, M, et al; the NIHR SPHR Public Mental Health Programme. A systematic scoping review of community‐based interventions for the prevention of mental ill‐health and the promotion of mental health in older adults in the UK. Health Soc Care Community. 2021; 00: 1– 31.

Lee C, Parker G, Buckner S, Mattocks C, Barnes A, Oliver EJ, Cowan A, Lafortune L. Neighbourhood planning, rural ageing and public health policy in England. Town Planning Review. 2022 (published online ahead of print) 

Duncan F, Baskin C, McGrath M, et al. Community interventions for improving adult mental health: mapping local policy and practice in England. BMC Public Health. 2021;21(1):1691.  doi:10.1186/s12889-021-11741-5practice in England Community interventions for improving adult mental health: mapping local policy and practice in England ( 

McGrath M, Duncan FH, Baskin C, Osborn D, Dykxhoorn J, Kaner EFS, Gnani S, Lafortune L, Lee C, Walters KR, Kirkbride J, Oliver EJ. (2021) Effectiveness of community interventions for protecting and promoting the mental health of working-age adults experiencing financial uncertainty: a systematic review. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. Online First: 30 April 2021. doi: 10.1136/jech-2020-215574 

Duncan FH, McGrath M, Baskin C, Osborn D, Dykxhoorn J, Kaner EFS, Gnani S, Lafortune L, Lee C, Walters KR, Kirkbride J, Fischer L, Jones O, Pinfold V, Stansfield J, Oliver EJ. Delivery of community-centred public mental health interventions in diverse areas in England: a mapping study protocol. BMJ Open 2020;10:e037631. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2020-037631

Lee C, Burgess G, Kuhn I, Lafortune L. The effect of Community Exchange and Time Currency systems on public health and economic outcomes: a systematic review. Public Health. 2020. 180.

Lee C, Treacy S, Haggith A, Darshana N, Cater F, Kuhn I, Van Bortel T.  A systematic integrative review of programmes addressing the social care needs of older prisoners. BMC Health and Justice. 2019.7(1):9.

Lee C, Mellor T, Dilworth-Anderson P, Young T, Brayne C, Lafortune L. Opportunities and challenges in public and community engagement: the connected for cognitive health in later life (CHILL) project. Research Involvement and Engagement. 2018. 4(1):42.

Lee C. Preparing transition from child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS): Evaluating a creative participatory approach. Social Research Practice. 2016.  2:11-19.

Lee C, Haggith A, Mann N, Kuhn I, Cater F, Eden B, Van Bortel T. Older prisoners and the Care Act 2014: an examination of policy, practice, and models of social care delivery. Prison Service Journal. 2016. 224:35-41.

Other publications: 


  • Lee C, McGrath M, Duncan FH, Baskin C, Osborn D, Dykxhoorn J, Kaner EFS, Gnani S, Walters KR, Kirkbride J, Oliver EJ, Lafortune L. A systematic scoping review of community-based interventions to support the mental health of older adults. Social Science and Medicine Annual Conference. September 2020


  • Lee, C. and Hammant, C. Corporate social and community-oriented support by UK food retailers: A documentary review and typology of actions towards community wellbeing. Perspectives in Public Health (under review) 
  • Lee, C. From philanthropy to systems-thinking? A theoretical framework for understanding initiatives for community wellbeing by supermarkets, Business and Society. 
  • Baxter S, Barnes A, Lee C, Mead R, Clowes M. Increasing public participation and influence in local decision-making to address social determinants of health during times of resource constraint: a systematic review examining initiatives and theories. Local Government Studies. (under revision)

Other Professional Activities

Complementary research activities, connected with the Fellowship but funded through different research projects, include: 

Cambridge School of Technology Seed Fund 2021. Branching out: A seed for supermarket solutions - food retailer community-focused actions in support of older adults’ wellbeing

Cambridge Humanities Research Grant 2021. What is the nature and effect of community interventions for wellbeing by food retailers: Enhancing community voice through co-production and peer research. 

Caroline Lee
Prince of Wales Fellow in Retail Organisations Engagement Activities and Community Wellbeing, supported by ASDA

Contact Details

+44 (0) 1223 731028