Institute of Health & Society

Staff Profile

Dr Sian Russell

Research Associate



PhD: Health Services Research and Sociology, The University of Dundee, School of Nursing and Midwifery

MSc (taught): Social Research, The University of Edinburgh, School of Social and Political Science

MA (Hons.)*: Social Anthropology, The University of Edinburgh, School of Social and Political Science

*A Master of Arts with Honours represents a four year undergraduate qualification as awarded by Scotland’s ancient universities. The fourth year requires students to complete a piece of novel research in the form of a dissertation.


Since 2016 Siân has being involved in teaching qualitative methods as part of the MSc in Public Health and Health Services Research at Newcastle University, as well as CPD modules co-hosted by Newcastle University and Northumbria University. She has also co-organised and taught informal qualitative methods workshops for colleagues within the Institute of Health and Society.

Siân has taught on topics such as developing topic guides, sampling and recruitment, data collection via focus groups, data analysis, and applying theory in qualitative research.


Siân is principally a qualitative researcher and has utilised her expertise across a range of applied projects.


Recent work:

Multi-method evaluation of the use of the National Early Warning Score (NEWS) in care homes: Identifying acute illness in older adults is notoriously difficult. The National Early Warning Score (NEWS) is used to identify acute deterioration through recording and monitoring of vital signs. Although embedded across UK hospitals, the NEWS remains uncommon in care homes. For this intervention, staff across 47 care homes in the North East of England were tasked with digitally recording NEWS scores at baseline and when a resident appeared unwell. Scores were then shared with external healthcare professionals to inform decision-making, triage and avoid unnecessary hospital admissions. The evaluation sought to identify challenges to implementation and potential areas for improvement. Siân lead the qualitative component which explored stakeholders attitudes towards, and experiences of the intervention. 


Health literacy policy: Evidence synthesis of health literacy policy, either current or under development, across the WHO European region.


COPD self-management: This project explored the barriers and facilitators to COPD self-management from the perspectives of people with COPD and healthcare professionals involved in the care of COPD patients. The results from a systematic review of reviews, a qualitative synthesis, semi-structured interviews, and workshops were used to inform the development of an evidence-based self-management intervention in the form of Shared Medical Appointments (SMAs). Siân led the qualitative synthesis and interviews with COPD patients.


Mental health disorder in young people (prevention and promotion): This research explored the mental health risks for young people in the North East of England, and the factors impacting on their access to, and engagement with mental health services, from the perspectives of young people and service providers. Siân contributed to the collection and analysis of qualitative data.


Equal North: The Equal North research and practice network aims to build a network of researchers, practitioners, and academics from across the North of England who hold an interest in tackling socio-cultural and health inequalities. Siân assisted with a research prioritisation exercise conducted across the network utilising qualitative workshops and a Delphi survey.


Previous work:

As a research associate at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) Siân worked on a large qualitative study exploring how prevailing constructions of masculinity in socioeconomically deprived areas relate to sexual health attitudes and behaviours in heterosexual men and women. She conducted in-depth interviews and focus groups with men and women from in socioeconomically deprived communities across Scotland.


As a research assistant at GCU she has worked on an intervention design, implementation, and evaluation project for stroke self‐management. The findings from semi-structured interviews and a systematic review were used to inform the developed the tailored self‐management support intervention.


For her PhD study Siân used semi-structured, in‐depth interviews to explore the experiences and perceptions of living with cognitive and physical impairments acquired by stroke. Data were analysed via a theoretically driven thematic analysis in which Bourdieusian theoretical concepts were used to interrogate data and vice versa. Two prominent themes of 'phantom dispositions' and 'devalued identities' were explored further via a case study approach.


Research interests:

Chronic illness and disability; sexual health and pleasure; masculinities and femininities; neoliberalism and inequalities; Bourdieusian, Foucauldian, and Eliasian theoretical perspectives; qualitative approaches.