Dr Mairead Black

Dr Mairead Black
Dr Mairead Black
Dr Mairead Black



Email Address
Telephone Number
+44 (0)1224 438437
Office Address
Room 4, second floor, AB252ZD Royal Aberdeen Maternity Hospital
Foresterhill Campus
AB25 2ZL

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School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition


Dr Black aims to improve women's childbirth experiences and outcomes, 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 conditions, inequalities in maternity care, the role of caesarean birth and induction of labour. 

Dr Black has experience in qualitative research, synthesis of primary qualitative and quantitative data, epidemiological research using multiple linked datasets, health services research and formal consensus processes. 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. She is a member of an NHS England working group developing decision aids for maternity care.


  • 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

Aberdeen Maternity and Neonatal Databank academic lead (2023-present)

Institute of Applied Health Sciences equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) committee member (2022-present)

Aberdeen Clinical Academic Training programme co-depute lead (2023-present)

External Memberships

Member of NHS England Maternity Transformation Programme Personalisation and Choice working group (2022-present)

Member of the Chief Scientist Office clinical academic fellowship award committee (2022-present)

Member of the NIHR-funded STOPPIT-3 trial data monitoring committee (2022-present)

Member of the NIHR-funded PANDA trial steering committee (2022-present)

Member of the NIHR-funded LAMP data monitoring committee (2023-present)

Chair of the NIHR-funded PIONEER data monitoring committee (2023-present)

Member of the Public Health Scotland Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Evaluation advisory group (2022-present)

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

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

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

Latest Publications

View My Publications

Prizes and Awards

HDRUK Research Team Award - 2022. MuM-Predict consortium.


Research Overview

Dr Black is an academic obstetrician at intermediate career stage. Her 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, coproduction 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 titled: Planning mode of birth in routine antenatal care: Development of a decision aid (Plan-A). The study duration is 30 months  (Oct '22-March 2025). The study team includes a panel of public and third sector representatives, midwives, obstetricians, an NHS manager, qualitative research, social justice and implementation expertise.

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. She is supervising a PhD student who is exploring the role of prediction tools in induction of labour.

Dr Black is working with UK collaborative groups on NIHR-funded research into outpatient induction of labour, epilepsy in pregnancy, patient safety and management of postpartum haemorrhage. She also collaborates on MRC-funded research into multiple long-term conditions in pregnancy.

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 report on the impact of changes in NHS Scotland maternity services on women and staff (PHS website) 2022. Interviewed on BBC radio Scotland.
  • 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 Cardiff University, The University of Warwick 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/Pubic 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.

OBS UK is a UK-wide collaboration aiming to reduce postpartum haemorrhage and related blood transfusion  in a randomised trial. The team includes Cardiff, Oxford and Keele University academics with 40 participating NHS sites.

Epi-safe is an NIHR-funded collaboration focused on improving outcomes for women (and babies) affected by maternal epilepsy in pregnancy. Led by University of Birmingham with Birmingham City university and University of Manchester collaborators.

Patient Safety Research Collaboration funded by NIHR and led by University of Birmingham. 

EBLIA is an MRC-funded project led by University of Birmingham with partners in South Africa. Funding stream: Funding for early stage development of new healthcare interventions July 2023. 

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 for Health and Care Research NIHR152057 – Clinical and cost-effectiveness of a maternity quality improvement programme to reduce excess bleeding and need for transfusion after childbirth: the Obstetric Bleeding Study UK (OBS UK) Stepped Wedge Cluster Randomised Trial. Co-investigator. £2.6M 2023-2027 

National Institute for Health and Care Research Midlands Patient Safety Collaborative. Co-investigator. £3.6M 2023-2028

National Institute for Health and Care Research Optimising outcomes in pregnant women with epilepsy and their babies: Reducing maternal seizure risks and assessing long-term safety of antiepileptic drugs (EpiSafe). Co-investigator. 2023-2028. £2.6M            

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

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 Charities '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. 

National Institute of Health Research ‘Offspring renal calculi following elective caesarean’ £11,595, 2017-2018 

Wellbeing of Women Research scholarship (co-applicant as supervisor of Dr Andrea Woolner). £19,939, 2015-2018. 

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


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 supported decision-making with individuals through to influencing healthcare policy.

Dr Black delivers ethics-based teaching to year 4 MBchB students, while supporting the delivery of teaching on the reproductive system for year 3 MBchB students.

Non-course Teaching Responsibilities

Dr Black is regent to eight medical students.


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Books and Reports

Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings

Contributions to Journals

Contributions to Specialist Publications