Personal profile

Administrative Posts

  • School of Rehabilitation Sciences Research Lead
  • Member of School Executive Committee
  • Member of School Marketing Group
  • Chair of RSC Research Consultation Group
  • Member of Institute of Health Research Committee
  • Institute of Health Research Capacity Development lead


As a sociologist, Fiona’s research and teaching reflects her many years' experience developing multidisciplinary research on community-based support, especially for older people and particularly those living with dementia and their paid and unpaid carers while living at home, in care homes and other settings. Her research projects and publications explore how and how far community connections and participation may affect access to resources for health and wellbeing. She was twice Chair and is currently Vice Chair of the Association for Research in the Voluntary and Community Sector (ARVAC) and is active within national and regional groups of the NIHR Dementias and Neurodegenerative Diseases Research Network (DeNDRoN). Her teaching is mainly in qualitative, mixed and participative research methods. She is currently examining how qualitative methods can be “embedded” unobtrusively within clinical and quantitative designs to encourage more collaboration in research, evidence-building and learning, in dementia support and in living with life-changing health conditions. She has successfully supervised PhD students across a wide range of health and social support-related topics and disciplines, emphasising innovative and inclusive approaches to research. She has recently been awarded grants totalling £16 million. She has 80 peer-reviewed publications and is journal editor of Quality in Ageing and Older Adults. Her contribution to participative and community-based working was recognised in 2013 by the University of East Anglia’s Individual Award for Engagement.

Key Research Interests

As a mainly qualitative researcher, I aim to use the power of qualitative research methods such as ethnography and social network analysis, to understand and foster the partnership work involved in managing health and wellbeing concerns as for individuals and communities. I am especially interested in qualitative research relating to structures and resources which can promote action and independence in community settings, involving work with voluntary groups and in relation to care work and rehabilitation, particularly involving older people.  This has enabled more recent studies and proposals in: social capital and health; community-based assessment of health needs; volunteer befriending for carers of people with dementia; community based rehabilitation; community support for people with chronic illness; evidence-building in community-based rehabilitation.

Areas of Expertise

Family carers; community-based health and social care services; elder care; dementia care; qualitative research; community-based evaluations; participative research.

Academic Background

  • 1978 BA Econ (Hons) Social Anthropology, II(i) University of Manchester
  • 1983 MA Econ, Applied Social Research, Distinction, University of Manchester
  • 1992 PhD, Sociology Department, University of Manchester Thesis title: Negotiating spaces: deploying ethnography, acquaintanceship and other resources in Rochdale.


  • 1992-1998 Lecturer in Sociology, Acting Research Programme Coordinator, School of Nursing and Midwifery Studies, University of Wales, Bangor
  • 1991-1992 Development Officer, Research Exchange, University of Manchester
  • 1990-1991 Census Officer, 1991 Census, OPCS
  • 1988-1992 Freelance consultant in social research and evaluation, research training with independent agencies and HE research projects in health and social care
  • 1986-1988 Research Associate, Dept of Sociology, University of Manchester
  • 1985-1986 Development Officer, Research Exchange, Manchester.
  • 1978-1985 Research Assistant, Manchester Social Services Department

Research Group or Lab Membership

Policy and Decision-Making Research Theme Group

Evidence-Based Practice:

* East Anglia Research Synthesis research sub-theme group

* Communication and Health sub-theme group

Teaching Interests

I have set up training and education at community level, in FE and in HE , often initiating teaching courses usually related to researching.  These have ranging from organising, delivering or chairing unaccredited research skills-sharing workshops in-house or with local and national voluntary and community organisations, local and national conferences to diploma and degree (UG and PG ) modules in sociology and research methods as well as PGR studies teaching and supervision.


Current teaching activities

· Joint Coordinator and Lecturer  MSc Health Sci: MED-M31Y Introduction to Research Methods ;

· Coordinator and Lecturer: MSc Health Sci: MED-M33Y Further Qualitative Research Methods; AHP-115 Self-Directed Literature Review

· Research Dissertation Supervisor  MSc Health Sci and MSc Occupational Therapy, MSc Physiotherapy

· Tutorials/seminars: RSC and MED PGR Student Programmes

MSc Health Sci Research Dissertation workshops


· PhD/MPhil students:   Successfully supervised: 9; Currently supervising: 5


- Ethnomethodologically-informed ethnographic study of interdisciplinary collaboration in two child development teams

- Comparative case study analysis of user involvement in three local NHS trusts

- Critical discourse analysis of constructions of medicine-taking by people with mild to moderate asthma

Methodological innovation in the research synthesis of quantitative and qualitative evidence in psychosocial interventions in cardiovascular disease

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or