Dr Elaine Wainwright

Dr Elaine Wainwright
Dr Elaine Wainwright
Dr Elaine Wainwright

PhD, CPsychol, FHEA

Lecturer in Musculoskeletal Health

Accepting PhDs


Epidemiology Group, School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition, Health Sciences Building (1st Floor), Foresterhill, Aberdeen, United Kingdom, AB25 2ZD


Dr Elaine Wainwright is a Chartered psychologist who studies connections between work, health and wellbeing, particularly for people living with persistent pain.  She uses a range of theoretical perspectives in her work including person-fit environment, perceived stress and burnout, and illness narratives. Dr Wainwright started working at the Epidemiology Group, Institute for Applied Health Sciences, University of Aberdeen, in mid-September 2021. Prior to this, she was at Bath Spa University, co-leading their Health and Cognition Research Centre. Before that, she was a post doc at the Centre for Pain Research, University of Bath, as part of a team investigating how naturally occuring headache affects attention. Dr Wainwright came into academia after a career in secondary education, when the lure of PhD work became too strong. Dr Wainwright is a co-investigator at the MRC Versus Arthritis Centre for Musculoskeletal Health and Work, University of Southampton, and holds an Honorary Research Fellowship at the Centre for Pain Research, University of Bath.


  • PhD Health 
    2013 - University of Bath 
    Awarded a University scholarship. Topic: Sickness Certification for Chronic Pain Patients; Exploring the Construction of Acceptable Pain-related Absence: ethnographic studies of sickness certification for chronic pain, including the introduction of the fit-note system. Uses concepts from medical sociology, focusing on the doctor-patient relationship and the subjectivity of many chronic pain conditions, to critique current policy initiatives around return to work when one has pain.
  • MSc Health Services Research 
    2008 - University of York 
    (Awarded an MRC Advanced Studentship) Modules in research methods, applied biostatistics, RCTs, health psychology, epidemiology, health economics, systematic reviews, qualitative methodology, health inequalities and medical sociology. Dissertation: The Role of Metaphor in GP-patient Consultations.
  • BSc Psychology 
    2005 - The Open University 
    First Class Honours
  • PGCE English  
    2008 - University of York 
  • BA (Hons) English 
    1995 - University of Oxford 

External Memberships

Co-investigator and Steering Group member, MRC Versus Arthritis Centre for Musculoskeletal Health and Work

Centre for Musculoskeletal Health and Work (soton.ac.uk)


Honorary Research Fellow, Centre for Pain Research, University of Bath

Centre for Pain Research (CPR) (bath.ac.uk)


Scientific Adviser, The Colt Foundation

The Colt Foundation - Funding Environmental & Occupational Health Research


Academic Forum, Society of Occupational Medicine

Research and Academic Forum | The Society of Occupational Medicine (som.org.uk)


Research Overview

Dr Wainwright has three main research streams supported by a mix of UKRI, charity and Government funders. The first considers improving return to work processes for people either already off sick, or at risk of work attrition, due to pain.  Related to this, she is interested in how we can embed the idea that “good” work can be seen as a health outcome. She specialises in qualitative methodologies and has a third research interest in the use of qualitative research in health services and health psychology research. She uses a range of theoretical perspectives in her work including person-fit environment, perceived stress and burnout, and illness narratives, most recently in researching the experiences of medical doctors at work, and how to ameliorate challenging working conditions.

Research Areas

Accepting PhDs

I am currently accepting PhDs in Applied Health Sciences.

Please get in touch if you would like to discuss your research ideas further.

Email Me

Applied Health Sciences

Accepting PhDs



Research Specialisms

  • Health Sciences
  • Applied Psychology

Our research specialisms are based on the Higher Education Classification of Subjects (HECoS) which is HESA open data, published under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence.

Current Research

Dr Wainwright is a Co-investigator, for an Advanced Pain Discovery Platform (ADPD) consortium led by Professor Ed Keogh at the University of Bath, investigating psychosocial mechanisms of chronic pain. 

Centre for Pain Research (CPR) (bath.ac.uk)

She is working on several studies as part of collaboration with the MRC Versus Arthritis Centre for Musculoskeletal Health and Work.

Centre for Musculoskeletal Health and Work (soton.ac.uk)

She will also be working on a range of studies within the Epidemiology group.She is also currently working on the VALUE study, aiming to understanding more about the use of add-ons in infertility treatment, and the EFONA study, investigating cognitive and affective barriers to emergency front of access. 

Past Research

Most recently, Dr Wainwright led a topical review of pain and work, co-edited a book on work and pain across the lifspan with Professor Christopher Eccleston of the Centre for Pain Research, University of Bath, and has been working on the COVID-19 Clinician Cohort (CoCCo) Study, which in September 2021 published empirically grounded recommendations for forward-facing psychological care of frontline Doctors; and the HOW study; Healthier Outcomes at Work for social workers (please see publications list for full details of outputs). 

Knowledge Exchange

Elaine has a longstanding relationship with the Work and Health Unit, a cross government unit jointly sponsored by the Department for Work and Pensions and Department of Health and Social Care, advising on fit note use, and how to improve sustainable working lives for people with ongoing pain. Elaine has run interactive seminars with a range of organisations including the Bath Centre for Pain Services and The Pain Toolkit. 


Elaine is a member of the Centre for Musculoskeletal Health and Work, based at the University of Southampton; an Honorary Research Fellow in the Centre for Pain Research, University of Bath; and Visiting Research Fellow, Health and Cognition Research Centre, Bath Spa University.


Centre for Musculoskeletal Health and Work

Professor Macfarlane is the principal investigator for the Aberdeen spoke of this centre, which is based at the University of Southampton Dr Wainwright, with other Aberdeen colleagues, is a co-investigator. Coordinated by the University of Southampton, the centre brings together fifteen different academic institutions across the UK, with interest and expertise in rheumatic and musculoskeletal disease, and its relation to occupation, to identify effective and cost-effective ways to minimise the adverse impacts of musculoskeletal disorders in the workplace. The work at the University of Aberdeen is focussed on investigating: media campaigns for low back pain; axial spondyloarthritis; pain management; instrumenting work as a health outcome. 


My current supervision areas are: Applied Health Sciences, Psychology.

One PhD completion as Director of Studies; currently co-supervising 4 PhDs in a range of pain and health topics.

Funding and Grants


  • £3.8 million, Co-investigator, July 2021, MRC/ESRC/BBSRC/Versus Arthritis. Advanced Pain Discovery Platform (ADPD) Multidisciplinary Consortia for Data Generation (pain, sleep and fatigue): Psychosocial mechanisms of chronic pain


  • £19,757, Co-investigator, Dec 2020, North Bristol Trust: COVID-19 clinicians cohort (CoCCo) study: trauma needs and preferences.


  • £10,913, Co-investigator, May 2020, Melbourne Innovation Grant Scheme: The VALUE study: Understanding lack of evidence-based care: IVF add-ons.


  • £6,735, Co-investigator, Jan 2020, RUH RCF, Exploring how children, adolescents and parents with co-occurring chronic pain and Autism Spectrum Disorder perceive, understand and experience pain.


  • £9,964, Co-investigator, Dec 2019, National Institute of Academic Anaesthetists (NIAA), Cognitive and affective barriers to emergency front of neck access (eFONA).


  • £2.2 million, Co-investigator, Jan 2019, MRC and Versus Arthritis to fund the Centre for Musculoskeletal Health and Work for five further years.


  • £235,000, Co-investigator, Oct 2018, Government Challenge Fund.  Healthier Outcomes at Work for social workers.


  • £11, 685, Co-investigator, April 2015, National Institute of Academic Anaesthesia (NIAA), Professional satisfaction and wellbeing among specialty trainees in Anaesthesia within the South West of England and Wales: A collaborative, mixed-methods study.


  • Dr Wainwright won studentships from the University of Bath and MRC for her PhD and MSc respectively

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Books and Reports

Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings

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