Institute of Health & Society

Staff Profile

Dr Kirsty Laing

Research Assistant



Immediately after successfully completing an MSc in Epidemiology I moved to the University of Manchester to work on a HTA funded project analysing hearing screening in school age children in the UK. By working on a national research project I was able to underpin my theoretical knowledge and gain extensive practical research and project management experience. This project initiated my interest in research that can impact upon NHS service provision for children and mothers. I then proactively sought a position at the Institute of Health and Society with the aim of developing doctoral level work in a thriving public health research environment.

I have held a National Institute of Health Research Researcher Training Fellowship from 2008 to 2012, which  enabled me to undertake a PhD qualitatively assessing the attitudes of pregnant women to alcohol consumption. The findings of this research have been used to help develop an appropriate and acceptable intervention to facilitate alcohol related harm reduction in pregnant women and thus help to improve NHS antenatal care provision for women in the UK. This intervention is being evaluated within a pilot RCT funded by the NIHR's Research for Patient Benefit Programme ( Brief intervention to reduce risky drinking in pregnancy: protocol for a pilot randomised controlled trial). I am co-applicant on this project.

I am aim to continue my interest in health behaviours in pregnancy, specifically I am interested in how younger pregnant women make decisions regarding alcohol use. My current role is that of qualitative researcher within the SIPS-JNR High project with Dr Newbury-Birch. This position has been invaluable because it has enabled me to gain experience in interviewing younger people and develop a wider understanding of the role and importance of alcohol in younger people’s lives 


BSc Hons Medical Microbiology, Edinburgh University
MSc Epidemiology, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Previous Positions

2006- 2007: Junior Research Associate, Newcastle University
2004- 2006: Research Assistant, The University of Manchester


Research Interests

My research interests span two areas, maternal / perinatal health and substance use.

Research Roles

1) A feasibility trial of screening and brief alcohol intervention to prevent hazardous drinking in young people aged 14-15 in a high school setting (SIPS JR-HIGH).

I am working on this project with Dr Newbury-Birch as the qualitative researcher.

 2) Understanding women’s perspectives on alcohol consumption before and during pregnancy: towards the design of a health promoting intervention for primary care’

I have been awarded National Institute of Health Research Training Fellowship to undertake a qualitative PhD. This work seeks to understand women's attitudes to non- problematic alcohol use during pregnancy. This research complies with the preclinical phase of the MRC Framework for Design and Evaluation of Complex Interventions. This research is nearing completion.

3) A prospective cohort study of pregnant substance users attending specialist services: outcomes and implications for practice and future research’.

I have worked on a project concerning drug and problematic alcohol misuse during pregnancy. The aim of this project is to assess women's views of specialist antenatal care. Also, to attempt to understand which factors in mother's lives are associated with remaining as the primary care giver of her child at 6 months postpartum.

Postgraduate Supervision

I have supervised one MSc student and I am hoping to further develop this role. 

Esteem Indicators

NIHR Researcher Training Fellowship 2008-2012 


Kaner E, Rankin J, Hodgson M, Laing K, McColl E, Deverill M, Howel D. (2011-13) Brief alcohol intervention to reduce risky drinking in pregnancy: a pilot randomised controlled trial. NIHR RfPB; £247,717.

NIHR Research Training Fellowship, £190,725 (2008).
Bristow K, Kaner E, Rankin J, May C. Understanding women’s perspectives on alcohol consumption before and during pregnancy: towards the design of a health promoting intervention for primary care’

MRC Studentship, £16,500 (2003).
Competitive award to complete MSc in Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.


Undergraduate Teaching

I tutor stage 1 and stage 2 undergraduate medical students within the Medicine in the Community course.

Postgraduate Teaching

I teach on the Project Management module of the MSc Health Sciences.