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Dr Nicola Boydell is a THIS Institute Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Usher Institute, and Centre for Biomedicine, Self and Society, at the University of Edinburgh. A social scientist with training in medical sociology and public health research, to date Nicola’s work has focused on exploring social and cultural dimensions of sexual and reproductive health. Nicola’s areas of expertise include: qualitative methods and analysis; participatory research methods; healthcare improvement and health services research; and collaboration with health and community practitioners.


  • Funded by The Healthcare Improvement Studies (THIS) Institute, Nicola is the PI of a 3.5 year collaborative project focusing on the application of participatory approaches in service improvement within sexual and reproductive health services for young people https://www.thisinstitute.cam.ac.uk/about/people/dr-nicola-boydell/ The project is informed by participatory approaches to healthcare improvement research, and is exploring how sexual and reproductive healthcare design and improvement is currently practiced. The project is being developed in collaboration with young people (aged 13-18) and service providers, and will work towards the co-design of practical resources that can be used to support the involvement of other young people in work to improve sexual and reproductive health services.
  • Nicola is a co-investigator (PI - Dr Jeni Harden) on a NHS Lothian funded evaluation that seeks to explore women’s and health professionals’ views and experiences of a new telemedicine early medical abortion (EMA) service introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, this project will investigate the impact of COVID-19 on women’s experience of EMA at home, and evaluate how acceptable the telemedicine abortion service is for women and health professionals, with the aim of identifying opportunities for service improvement and development to better support women undergoing EMA.
  • Working with Dr Jeni Harden, in collaboration with the clinical research team, Nicola recently completed a qualitative evaluation of the implementation of a new service for the provision of immediate postpartum intrauterine contraception (PPIUC) in a public maternity service. PPIUC involves the provision of intrauterine contraception (to women who choose this method) within the first 48 hours after childbirth. This qualitative evaluation explored the experience and provision of PPIUC in two maternity hospital settings from the perspectives of women and health care professionals with the aim of identifying areas for improvement and informing PPIUC service provision in other UK maternity services.

Research Interests

Nicola’s research interests include: social aspects of health and illness, particularly sexual and reproductive health; the application of participatory research methods; engaging and involving communities in health research; and the development and evaluation of health interventions.


  • 2015 PhD “Personal communities and safer sex: A qualitative study of young gay and bisexual men in Scotland”, University of Glasgow
  • 2011 MSc Social Science Research, University of Glasgow
  • 2010 PgCert Public Health Studies, Queen Margaret University
  • 2008 BSc (Hons) Sociology and Psychology (First Class), Queen Margaret University


  • Dr Boydell currently tutors on the Health, Ethics and Society, LGBT Health, and Global Health modules as part of the MBChB undergraduate medical programme within the University of Edinburgh Medical School.
  • Dr Boydell supervises Masters' level students on the Master of Public Health Programme at the University of Edinburgh.


  • H Social Sciences (General)
  • HM Sociology


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