Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care


Spotlight: Dr Fiona Stevenson

18 January 2019

This month IEHC talks to Dr Fiona Stevenson, who recently took over as Head of the Research Department of Primary Care and Population Health (PCPH).

Dr Fiona Stevenson

What is your role and what does it involve?

I am a Reader in Medical Sociology. From 1st January 2019, I have taken over as Head of the Research Department of Primary Care and Population Health (PCPH).  This involves overseeing and shaping the activities of the Research Department and playing a strategic role in the development and growth of the Department. Alongside this, I am continuing with my research on the construction of decision making about medical care and the impact of complex interventions, technology and treatment adherence on communication between health care professionals and patients and teaching of medical sociology, social theory and qualitative methods.

How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?

I joined UCL as a lecturer in April 2001, so nearly 18 years.  Prior to that, I was a lecturer in the Department of Primary Care at Kings College London, and prior to that a research fellow in the Department of General Practice (as it was then) in Birmingham.

What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?

Probably the MSc Module / short course Qualitative Research Methods in Health which I co-developed with colleagues (Julia Bailey and Kate Walters) and continue to co-facilitate with Julia.  Not just because it is successful - it is oversubscribed despite doubling provision this academic year - but mostly because I have watched PhD students and early career researchers move from attendees, to tutors, to teaching leads to successfully running whole days.  It has been a privilege to work with such a committed group of colleagues and to also meet and work with people from other parts of the institute and beyond who have come and supported the course.

Tell us about a project you are working on now which is top of your to-do list?

I am just completing a project on how patients and GPs refer to and use the internet in GP consultations.  We have 281 videos recorded GP consultations with associated survey data on the sources of information patients accessed prior to attending their consultation, 28 interviews with patients and 10 interviews with GPs.   We have permission from participants to share most of these data (subject to usual ethical permissions) and so other researchers are already benefiting from these data.  I have an excellent analyst working with me and we are preparing for a workshop with members of the public and GPs at the end of March to develop ways of moving our findings into practice.  The work came from a long term interest in the use of information from the internet in health care consultations and the interactional issues involved in this.  I have a stellar team of sociologists, health services researchers and GPs who work alongside me providing inspiration from a range of perspectives.

What is your favourite album, film and novel?

I listen to an eclectic mix of music - not least because my children blast out a range of different things in the house and my car

I love Made in Dagenham - and the play a few years ago was even better

My favourite novel is probably Pride and Prejudice, or other Jane Austen novels.   The films are a poor substitute!

Who would be your dream dinner guest?

Probably Harvey Sacks who played a major role in the development of ethnomethodology and conversation analysis so we could discuss his ideas and reflect on what the discipline today

What is your favourite place?

I like to be outside either on the commons near where I live or by the coast