Dr Mairead Black
PhD, MBchB, MRCOG, MSc
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 the role of caesarean birth, informed and supported decision-making in maternity care, multimorbidity in pregnancy, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on inequalities in pregnant women, and the role of 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 has been a member of the NICE Antenatal Care guideline committee since 2018 and the RCOG clinical studies group in intrapartum care since 2019.
- MSc Public Health and Health Services Research2013 - University of Aberdeen
- PhD Reproductive Biology2016 - University of Aberdeen
- MBchB Medicine and Surgery2004 - University of Glasgow
- MRCOG Obstetrics and Gynaecology2009 - Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
Member of the NICE antenatal care guideline committee (2018-present).
Faculty on the RCOG-affiliated ROBUST course (2016-present).
Member of the RCOG Intrapartum Care Clinical Studies group (2017-present).
Peer reviewer for scientific journals including New England Journal of Medicine, BMJ, PLoS Medicine.
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 multimorbidity. 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.
Applied Health Sciences
Nutrition and Health
Dr Black is currently co-leading 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 are conducting mixed-methods research to understand how the Covid-19 pandemic-related changes in maternity care have affected women using the services and those delivering it, and how these findings can shape future maternity care in Scotland.
Dr Black is also continuing a programme of work to understand how informed and supported decision-making in birth planning can be improved in the UK NHS, with a particular focus on birth mode planning since the 2015 Supreme Court Montgomery ruling. She researches the role of prediction tools and how women would receive their use, and is planning work to support women when planning how to give birth.
Dr Black is working with UK collaborative groups on research on 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.
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.
- MUM-PREDICT Public webinar - Introduction to the findings of the MRC-funded consolidator grant to explore multimorbidity in pregnancy and future plans, February 2021
- ‘A career in medicine and research’. Careers talk aimed at school pupils aged 12-18 years British science week, Aberdeen, UK, March 2015
- ‘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
- 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
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.
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
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
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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Protocol for the development of a core outcome set for studies of pregnant women with pre-existing multimorbidityBMJ Open, vol. 11, e044919Contributions to Journals: Articles
Routine antenatal care for women and their babies: summary of NICE guidanceBMJ, vol. 375, n2484Contributions to Journals: Articles
Ursodeoxycholic acid in intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancyThe Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology, vol. 6, no. 7, pp. 513-515Contributions to Journals: Articles
Cervical ripening at home or in-hospital—prospective cohort study and process evaluation (CHOICE) study: a protocolBMJ Open, vol. 11, no. 5, e050452Contributions to Journals: Articles
Reported outcomes for planned caesarean section versus planned vaginal delivery: A systematic reviewEuropean Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, vol. 256, pp. 101-108Contributions to Journals: Articles
Predicting risk of postpartum haemorrhage: a systematic reviewBJOG-An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, vol. 128, no. 1, pp. 46-53Contributions to Journals: Articles
Implications of vaginal instrumental delivery for children’s school achievement: a population-based linked administrative data studyAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, vol. 59, no. 5, pp. 677-683Contributions to Journals: Articles
Forceps delivery for non-rotational and rotational operative vaginal deliveryBest Practice & Research Clinical Obstetrics & Gynaecology, vol. 56, pp. 55-68Contributions to Journals: Articles
The impact of third- or fourth-degree perineal tears on the second pregnancy: A cohort study of 182,445 Scottish womenPloS ONE, vol. 14, no. 4, e0215180Contributions to Journals: Articles
Cesarean section in China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong: A safe choice for women and clinicians?PLoS Medicine, vol. 15, no. 10, e1002676Contributions to Journals: Articles