Dr Mairead Black

Dr Mairead Black
Dr Mairead Black
Dr Mairead Black


Senior Clinical Lecturer



Dr Black aims to improve women's experiences and outcomes of birth, ensuring informed and supported decision-making in the delivery of safe maternity care. Her role provides leadership in the advance and delivery of maternity care, pushing high-quality care and support for pregnant women up the research and clinical agenda.

Dr Black's research interests include informed decision-making in maternity care, pregnancy with multiple long-term health conditions, inequalities in maternity health outcomes, and the role of caesarean birth and outpatient induction of labour.

Dr Black has experience in qualitative research, synthesis of primary qualitative and quantitative data, epidemiological research using multiple linked Scottish datasets, and health services research employing questionnaires. Her high impact papers to date relate to offspring health outcomes following planned caesarean birth and key beliefs which influence women's birth preferences after caesarean section.

Dr Black currently focuses on how to improve women's knowledge and involvement in planning their maternity care, utilising primary qualitative research, multi-stakeholder consensus-building, and engaging with software companies to understand the possibilities through electronic medical record technology.

Dr Black is an honorary consultant obstetrician at Aberdeen Maternity Hospital with leadership roles in labour ward and obstetric risk management. She was a member of the NICE Antenatal Care guideline committee from 2018 to 2021.


  • MSc Public Health and Health Services Research 
    2013 - University of Aberdeen 
  • PhD Reproductive Biology 
    2016 - University of Aberdeen 
  • MBchB Medicine and Surgery 
    2004 - University of Glasgow 
  • MRCOG Obstetrics and Gynaecology 
    2009 - Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists 

Memberships and Affiliations

Internal Memberships

Institute of Applied Health Sciences equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) committee member.


External Memberships

Member of the NICE antenatal care guideline committee (2018-2021).

Faculty on the RCOG-affiliated ROBUST course (2016-present).

Peer reviewer for scientific journals including New England Journal of Medicine, BMJ, PLoS Medicine.

Member of the NIHR-funded STOPPIT-3 trial data monitoring committee. 

Member of the Chief Scientist Office clinical academic fellowship award committee.

Member of the NIHR-funded PANDA trial steering committee. 

Latest Publications

  • Effectiveness of workplace-based interventions to promote wellbeing among menopausal women: a systematic review

    Rodrigo, U., Sebire, E., Bhattacharya, S., Black, M., Paranjothy, S.
    Post Reproductive Health
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • Clinicians’ perspectives and experiences of providing cervical ripening at home or in-hospital in the United Kingdom

    Yuill, C., Harkness, M., Wallace, C., Cheyne, H., Black, M., Modi, N., Pasupathy, D., Sanders, J., Stock, S. J., McCourt, C.
    PloS ONE
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • England’s preconception health report: convenient and valuable data

    Black, M.
    BJOG-An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
    Contributions to Journals: Comments and Debates
  • Maternal and child outcomes for pregnant women with pre-existing multiple long-term conditions: protocol for an observational study in the UK

    Lee, S. I., Hope, H., O’Reilly, D., Kent, L., Santorelli, G., Subramanian, A., Moss, N., Azcoaga-Lorenzo, A., Fagbamigbe, A. F., Nelson-Piercy, C., Yau, C., McCowan, C., Kennedy, J. I., Phillips, K., Singh, M., Mhereeg, M., Cockburn, N., Brocklehurst, P., Plachcinski, R., Riley, R., Thangaratinam, S., Brophy, S., Sudasinghe, S. P. B., Agrawal, U., Vowles, Z., Abel, K. M., Nirantharakumar, K., Black, M., Eastwood, K., MuM-PreDiCT Group
    BMJ Open, vol. 13, no. 2, e068718
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • Association of pregnancy complications/risk factors with the development of future long-term health conditions in women: overarching protocol for umbrella reviews

    Singh, M., Crowe, F., Thangaratinam, S., Abel, K. M., Black, M., Okoth, K., Riley, R., Eastwood, K., Hope, H., Wambua, S., Healey, J., Lee, S. I., Phillips, K., Vowles, Z., Cockburn, N., Moss, N., Nirantharakumar, K.
    BMJ Open, vol. 12, no. 12, e066476
    Contributions to Journals: Articles

View My Publications


Research Overview

Dr Black is an academic obstetrician at intermediate career stage. Her current and future research focuses on informed supported decision-making and personalised planning of maternity care, optimising pregnancy experiences for birthing people, including those with multiple long-term health conditions.

Dr Black strives to improve the safety of labour and birth, and to enhance the pregnancy and birthing experience for service users through improved engagement between maternity care professionals and those that they care for. She has a specific interest in how clinicians can support service users to make informed choices using evidence-based information and prediction tools. She has an ongoing interest in identifying the key outcomes of maternity research studies that matter to stakeholders.

Dr Black has a track-record of obtaining research funding, publishing in high-impact journals and engaging with the public to ensure responsible dissemination of her research findings.

Research Areas

Applied Health Sciences

Research Specialisms

  • Health Studies
  • Epidemiology

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 Black is chief investigator of an NIHR-funded study commencing Oct 2022 titled: Planning mode of birth in routine antenatal care: Development of a decision aid (Plan-A). The study duration is 30 months. The study team includes four public and third sector representatives, midwives, obstetricians, an NHS manager, qualitative research and social justice academic experts, an implementation expert and woman's health research expert.

Dr Black recently co-led a Public Health Scotland-funded study of the impact of changes in NHS Scotland maternity services on women and staff. Along with Dr Albert Farre at the University of Dundee they conducted a mixed-methods study to understand the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic-related changes in maternity care, and how these findings could shape future maternity care in Scotland.

Dr Black researches the role of prediction tools and how women would receive their use in routine maternity care.

Dr Black is working with UK collaborative groups on research on outpatient induction of labour and multimorbidity in pregnancy (see collaborations section below).

As part of her interest in understanding and reducing inequalities in health outcomes for pregnant women in the UK, Dr Black is supervising a number of student projects (from PhD to BSc level) which set out to increase knowledge of and improve healthcare and experiences for pregnant women from ethnic minority backgrounds.

Past Research

Dr Black has completed several studies of pregnancy and birth outcomes using routinely collected maternity data including the Aberdeen Maternity and Neonatal Databank and Scottish national data. Her work on offspring outcomes of planned caesarean birth (published in JAMA 2015, PLoS Medicine 2016 and Inflammatory Bowel Diseases 2014) has informed the 2021 updated NICE guideline on the topic. 

Dr Black has led a series of systematic reviews of prediction models for birth complications - the first of these (published BJOG 2020) highlighted the key gaps in the existing research which have led to existing models not being used in practice.

Dr Black has led a systematic review of key outcomes of planned mode of birth (published EJOG 2021) which forms the basis of a core outcome set in development. The core outcome set will identify the important outcomes to report in future studies comparing planned vaginal and planned caesarean birth. 

Previous work on clinical thresholds for caesarean birth (published in AOGS 2018) provided granular data on changes in clinical practice regarding threshold for intrapartum caesarean birth over time, which is of value to units striving to understand and safely influence intrapartum caesarean rates.

Knowledge Exchange

Oral presentations

  • MUM-PREDICT Public webinar - Introduction to the findings of the MRC-funded consolidator grant to explore multimorbidity in pregnancy and future plans, February 2021 
  • Caesarean Section through the ages: A North East perspective’. General public audience. British Science Week, Aberdeen, UK, March 2016

Writing for the public

  • ‘Vaginal birth comes with risks too – so should it really be the default option?’ The Conversation. July 2016. https://theconversation.com/vaginal-birth-comes-with-risks-too-so-should-it-really-be-the-default-option-62855
  • ‘How taking drugs while pregnant harms unborn babies’ The Conversation. November 2014 https://theconversation.com/how-taking-drugs-while-pregnant-harms-unborn-babies-33989
  • ‘Understanding pregnancy’ Family Doctor Series, BMA publications. Primary author. 2014 


  • Stall showcasing Aberdeen Maternity and Neonatal Databank May Festival 2015, 2017 University of Aberdeen, UK

Media relations

  • Press release/media interviews in relation to published manuscript ‘Planned repeat caesarean section at term and adverse childhood health outcomes: a record-linkage study’ in PloS Medicine, 2016. Quoted in Time magazine, the Daily Mail and multiple online media outlets.  
  • Press release/factual document/media interviews in relation to published manuscript ‘Planned caesarean section at term and adverse childhood health outcomes’ published in JAMA 2015. Quoted in The Times, The New York Times, The Times India, The Scotsman, The Scottish Daily Mail, and The Sun. These documents largely led to balanced reporting of the study findings which were otherwise at high risk of being misreported.
  • Interviewed for and quoted in Scotland on Sunday newspaper article on elective caesarean section in Scotland as an expert’ June 2015


Plan-A study. Planning mode of birth in routine antenatal care: Development of a decision aid. Partners include researchers at the University of Warwick, Cardiff University and National University of Ireland, the National Childbirth Trust and NHS Grampian.

MuM-PreDiCT Multimorbid Pregnancy: Determinants, Clusters, Consequences and Trajectories (MuM-PreDiCCT). Seven universities, NHS Trust and Patient/Pulic Partners: University of Birmingham (lead), University of Aberdeen, University of St Andrews, University of Manchester, Keele University, Queen's University Belfast, Swansea University, Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Trust.

Choice Study – Cervical Ripening at Home or In-Hospital – prospective cohort study and process evaluation (CHOICE Study) University of Edinburgh (lead), City University of London, University of Stirling, Imperial College London, University of Cambridge, King's College London, Cardiff University.

Perinatal experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic: a mixed methods study. University of Dundee.


PhD Students

Improving maternity care experiences for pregnant women seeking asylum or with refugee status in Scotland. Heba Farajallah. University of Aberdeen. 2020-2025.

Multimorbidity in Pregnancy: Epidemiology, clustering, pharmacoepidemiology and core outcome set development. Dr Siang Ing Lee University of Birmingham. 2020-2023.

Funding and Grants

National Institute of Health and Care Research 'Planning mode of birth in routine antenatal care: development of a decision aid' £973,032 October 2022-March 2025. Chief investigator.

Public Health Scotland Perinatal experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic: a mixed methods study £62,187 October 2020-March 2021 Commissioned research. Co-chief investigator.

Medical Research Council Multimorbid Pregnancy: Determinants, Clusters, Consequences and Trajectories (MuM-PreDiCCT) (MR/V005243/1) £99,598 June 2020-December 2020

National Institute for Health Research Cervical Ripening at Home or In-Hospital prospective cohort study and process evaluation (CHOICE Study) £782,967 2019-2022 Co-applicant and CHOICE implementation lead

Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund ‘Shared decision-making in planning childbirth – Proposed multi-stakeholder research agenda-setting workshop’ £11,275 2019-2020 Sole applicant.

Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity Research Fund Reproductive outcomes after a fully dilated caesarean section: is there a risk of preterm birth and late miscarriage? £4998 2019-2020 Co-applicant.

NHS Grampian Endowments funding ‘Baby boxes and parental capabilities: developing a measure of social outcomes’ £10,427, 2019-2020. Co-applicant.

Medical Research Scotland Vacation scholarship (main applicant to propose supervision of medical student Miss Catriona Young). £1600, Summer 2019. Primary data analysis of impact of duration of second stage of labour on maternal and offspring outcomes.

MRC Proximity 2 Discovery University of Aberdeen ‘Supporting birth planning through personalised risk predictions’ 2018 £1200 Used to underpin current funding applications.

Medical Research Scotland Vacation scholarship (main applicant to propose supervision of medical student Miss Anna Rose). £1500, Summer 2016. This award funded a medical student to perform a systematic review.

National Institute of Health Research grant ‘Offspring renal calculi following elective caesarean’ £11,595, 2017-2018 This award is funding research costs including data access and statistical support.

Wellcome Trust Research training fellowship (personal award). £225,190, 2013-2016. This award funded 36 months of full-time PhD-focused research.

Wellbeing of Women Research scholarship (co-applicant as supervisor of Dr Andrea Woolner). £19,939, 2015-2018. This award is funding research costs, including data access and statistical support.

Medical Research Scotland Vacation scholarship (supervisor of student Miss Anna Rose). £1500, Summer 2016


Teaching Responsibilities

Dr Black leads the MSc-level course in Evidence Based Health which is delivered fully online. This teaches the steps of conducting a systematic review and how to implement evidence-based healthcare in practice. The implementation modules include the process of shared decision-making with individuals through to influencing healthcare policy.

Dr Black leads the year 3 teaching on the reproductive system for MBchB students - this is evolving into a blended learning course utilising online lectures, flipped classrooms, online poster boards and quizzes among other delivery formats.


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Books and Reports

Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings

Contributions to Journals

Contributions to Specialist Publications