Student & ECR Spotlight – Katrina Messiha is researching about evidence-based co-creation and its methodology in public health, specifically seeking to generate its theory-based principles

Please tell us about your career pathway to date (positions and institutes).

Currently, I am a Marie Skłodowska Curie PhD fellow, based at Amsterdam UMC and hold the position of ESR1 as part of the Health CASCADE project, funded by the European Union (H2020 MSCA ITN; project number 956501). This project sets out to address the “wicked problems” associated with public health through ‘evidence-based co-creation’ by nurturing a cohort of 15 early-stage researchers (ESRs) – to develop and deliver guiding principles, methodology and technologies to render co-creation both effective and trustworthy. Our project team is truly wonderful – it is multi-disciplinary, and consists of a consortium of universities, research institutions and companies.


Prior to becoming a PhD fellow, I was an Observational Research Associate for a global healthcare company where I mainly provided quantitative analysis for their Disease-Specific Programmes™. I was awarded a Distinction from University College London in my MSc in Social Policy and Social Research and a First-class Honours BSc degree in Population and Geography from the University of Southampton. Alongside my education I had taken up part-time career positions in the domains of data analytics, consulting and marketing.

What is your main research interest?

The realms of my research interest include: improving health inequalities, health promotion achieved through co-creation, addressing ‘wicked problems’ via research and policy development as well as ensuring a fair, inclusive and robust approach to participatory research within public health.

How do you explain your current research/job to friends and family?

‘Co-creation’ is a term which has manifested in all fields (not merely public health) – it is a really popular concept and approach as of the early 2000s. However, it is arguably controversial because the way
the term is used can vary considerably and there is no clear or consistent definition given to it. Nonetheless, there have been a plethora of claims and evidence to suggest its prominence within public health. The ability to gain consensus on theory-based principles which are based on systematic evidence, can contribute to the expanding field of co-creation used in public health.


What are the main barriers you encounter/experience when conducting research, or what information/skills do you lack to conduct high quality research?

I would say that an instant main barrier I face with respect to ‘co-creation’, is that we may use the same term but think about it differently and mean something different – both when referring to it as a concept and as a process. Of course, theory is all-encompassing in nature, and therefore the options for how co-creation can be understood appears infinite and thus delimiting it for the sake of producing principles is the immediate challenge.

What do you think will be the next most important development in the nutrition and/or physical activity field?

Improving the field of implementation science, through tapping on the potential of co-creation, when it comes to interventions for health promotion and public health.


If you would like to get in touch with Katrina, you can
do so via email: [email protected] or LinkedIn: