Dr Ben Heaven
Research Associate (Social Science)

  • Email: ben.heaven@ncl.ac.uk
  • Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 3808
  • Address: Institute of Health & Society,
    Newcastle University
    Baddiley-Clark Building
    Richardson Road
    Newcastle Upon Tyne
    NE2 4AX


I am a medical sociologist with a background in critical health psychology.  For the last 8 years I have worked with collegues across a range of disciplines, using qualitative methods to explore research questions around the implementation and development of new health technologies and services. This work has almost entirely concerned technologies for 'older people' across many different life stages and contexts: from pre-retirement through to residential and secondary care.


  • PhD.  Medical Sociology: ‘Epistemological authority and hidden work: negotiated meaning in the conduct of a randomised controlled trial’, Newcastle University, (2009).
  • Master of Arts (Hons), Psychology, Second Class Honours, First Division (2:1): ‘Prostate Cancer and the Lives of Current Survivors: A Phenomenological Study’, Massey University, New Zealand, (2002).
  • Bachelor of Arts, Psychology, Massey University, New Zealand, (2000)

Informal Interests

  • Traditional film-based photography using medium and large format cameras (landscape and portraiture) including the subsequent processes of development, scanning, digital processing, printing and mounting
  • Walking
  • Brewing ales and lager using traditional (time-intensive!) methods and 'raw' ingredients
  • Drinking above home-made beers with friends!

Research Interests

My research interests fall into two specific areas;

1) Diversity in the interests of clinicians, researchers and patient/lay groups, regarding the conceptualisation, development and implementation of new health care technologies for older people (from pre-retirement through to the older-old). In particular I am interested in the functional purpose of these differences, and how they are negotiated in practice across research settings and the clinical-research encounter.

2) I have an interest in the manner in which problems of health and social care are enacted within clinical interactions, the forms of knowledge that are drawn on to shape these interactions, and the way in which clinical practices and conditions are problematized and reconfigured by researchers situated outside the clinical encounter.

Combined, these interests lead to a central question: how are knowledge’s, identities and practices coordinated and negotiated in health and social care?

Other Expertise

Ethnographic research including participant observation.

Current Work

Currently I work on the LiveWell programme: a 5 year study to develop a suite of interventions, and associated outcome measures, to promote health and wellbeing in the peri-retirement window.  In the first instance I am responsible for a systematic review of interventions targeting social factors with health and wellbeing outcomes for people approaching, and beyond retirement.  I will also be involved with intervention development including user-engagement and qualitative investigations to ascertain the feasibility and acceptability of prototype interventions.  My work in LiveWell involves close collaboration with colleagues from a range of disciplines including health and cognitive psychology, social gerontology, dietetics, movement science and science and technology studies


I currently co-supervise a Master's Student

I am also one of a panel of supervisors for a PhD student, advising in the application of ethnographic methods. 

Other teaching-related roles include:

  • Course Tutor (2008, 2010): Undergraduate Module: Medicine in the community
  •  Deputy course administrator (2010-11): Undergraduate Module: Medicine in the community 
  •  Internal Assessor for PhD student (2010)
  •  Contribution to the Further Methods in Health Research Module (2010): Lecture on Ethnography and participant observation


 Other Activities 


 Reviewer for:

  • Qualitative Health Research (2011)
  • British Journal of Health Psychology, (2007 & 2008)
  • Implementation Science (2008)
  • Social Science & Medicine (2007)