Dr Zoë Skea

Dr Zoë Skea
Dr Zoë Skea
Dr Zoë Skea

MA(Hons); MSc; PhD; FHEA

Lecturer, Advanced Research Fellow

Email Address
Telephone Number
+44 (0)1224 438153
Office Address

Health Services Research Unit

Health Sciences Building

University of Aberdeen

Foresterhill Aberdeen AB25 2ZD

School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition


Zoë Skea joined the Unit in 1999. She graduated in Sociology from the University of Glasgow in 1995 and gained an MSc in Health Services and Public Health Research from the University of Aberdeen in 1999 and her PhD in 2005. Since joining the Unit, Zoë's portfolio of research involves sociologically informed investigations of stakeholders’ experiences of healthcare and of health services research. Zoë has particular interest and extensive expertise in using qualitative approaches to investigate patients’ perspectives of their care and treatment and also clinician – patient relations.

Internal Memberships

Zoë is a member of the College Ethics Review Board (College of Life Sciences and Medicine, University of Aberdeen)(2010-present)). 

Zoë is also currently a member of the University of Aberdeen’s Monitoring and Audit Group (MAGI). MAGI reviews research conducted within IAHS, with a view to assuring its quality and rigour, and identifying any issues that need to be addressed by the IAHS.  MAGI personnel conduct periodic inspection of facilities, audits of studies in progress and checks on staff training and competence.   


Research Overview

Zoë currently has particular interests in:

‘Person centred care’ and associated concepts such as shared decision-making and support for self-management; clinician-patient communication issues; and issues relating to patient support and information provision. She also has interests in using evidence from patient/public and health professionals' perspectives to inform the design of health care research (e.g. clinical trials). 

Zoë is always willing to discuss potential PhD supervisions and postdoctoral mentoring arrangements within these broad areas. Please contact Zoë at the e-mail address shown above or enquire at the Graduate School https://www.abdn.ac.uk/study/postgraduate-research/

Current Research

Baby boxes and parental capabilities: developing a measure of social outcomes. 

The introduction of baby boxes is a unique Scottish policy within the UK, aiming to improve health outcomes for babies and provide practical support for new parents in Scotland. The overall aim of this study is to provide the methodological underpinnings for a future longer term study which will seek to design a holistic measure of wider social benefits. We anticipate that this could support not only a future evaluation of baby boxes but also other health interventions with an intended public health outcome. 

Specific aims:

To improve understanding of how issues relating to the introduction of baby boxes have been reported in a sample of media coverage.

To explore how issues relating to the introduction of baby boxes have been publicly discussed within a sample of online parental discussion forums.

To investigate how a range of Scottish parents feel about and respond to baby boxes as they roll out into routine practice.

PAtient-centred Care for Fibromyalgia: New pathway Design (PACFiND)

This project (funded by Versus Arthritis) aims to improve healthcare services for patients with fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is a common condition with symptoms of pain, fatigue and sleep disturbance. There is not much evidence on the best way to organise health services for fibromyalgia. Patients are dissatisfied with current services and believe no-one takes responsibility.

We will gather information from patients about their current healthcare. We will work with health professionals to understand how services are organised. We will then identify what better care for patients with fibromyalgia looks like. We will also estimate the benefits and costs of existing and alternative care models. By the end of the study we will have developed a new model of care for people with fibromyalgia. The model will prioritise what people with fibromyalgia think is important. It will be cost-effective and ensure better outcomes for patients. We will develop a plan for how the service can be put in place to ensure higher levels of patient satisfaction across the country. We will also produce an online resource offering information and support to patients via Healthtalk.

Using Care Opinion for patient-centred quality improvement

NHS Scotland formally supports the use of Care Opinion as a way for patients and families to give feedback to the NHS and for hospitals to identify improvements which could be made to respond to patient comments.  This project will involve 1) analysis of recent comments about NHS Grampian services and how staff have responded, and 2) interviews with staff at different levels in the organisation about their experience of working with Care Opinion data, to understand their concerns and how they can be better supported to use Care Opinion. The lead investigator is already involved in two English studies on how staff use different types of patient experience data for quality improvement, including online data. This project will bring learning from those projects into the Scottish context, and pave the way for a Scotland-wide study of Care Opinion.



Funding and Grants


2021-2022 NHS Grampian Endowments.  Remote and rural healthcare: Pilot study to investigate experiences, differences and changes to medical care for people living in remote and rural areas of Scotland.'  Maclaren A, Locock L, Skea ZC, Wilson P, Skåtun D £11,957

2020-2022 Chief Scientist Office. Enhancing Recruitment And Retention Of Rural Doctors In Scotland: A Mixed-Methods Study. Locock L and Cleland J, Evans J, Hollick R, Murchie P, Skåtun D, Skea ZC, Watson V, Wilson P, Denison A. £298,984

2019-2020 NHS Grampian Endowments. Baby boxes and parental capabilities: developing a measure of social outcomes. Skea ZC, Locock L, Ryan M, Morgan H, Black, M. £10,427

2018-2019 NHS Grampian Endowments. Using Care Opinion for patient-centred quality improvement.Locock L, Entwistle V, Skea ZC. £11,959

2016-2018 NIHR Health Technology Assessment Programme. (REBALANCE) REview of Behaviour And Lifestyle interventions for severe obesity: AN evidenCE synthesis. Avenell A, Skea ZC,  Aveyard P, Boyers D, de Bruin M, Webber L, MacLennan, G. £478,689.71

2014-2015 NHS Grampian Endowment Fund. Entwistle V, Swinton J, Oldroyd L, Skea Z, Sierawska A. Shared Decision-Making with Adults with Learning Difficulties: Pump Priming a New Research Theme for Person Centred Care. £11.670

2013-2015 The Health Foundation. Entwistle V, Cribb A, Watt I, Skea Z, Owens J. Re-conceptualising support for self-management of long-term conditions (Concept:SSM). £259,597

2011-2012 Prostate Cancer UK.  Skea Z & MacLennan S (Joint CI), McCann S, N'Dow J. Support groups for men who have prostate cancer, their families and friends: identifying best practice models. £24,680

2011-2012 Scottish Cancer Research Network.  Skea Z & MacLennan S (Joint CI). Information for choice in urological cancer: What people need, prefer and use. £21,629 

2009 -2012 CSO Postdoctoral Fellowship in Health Services and Health of the Public Research. Schumm K, Campbell M, Ramsay C, Skea Z, MacLennan S, N'Dow J. The acceptability and usefulness of a trial participation decision aid: a mixed methods study of patients and clinicians in the UK.  £167,975

2001-2005 CSO Research Training Fellowship.  Skea Z, Entwistle V, Watt I, Russell E. Communication in different arenas: the case of MMR vaccine.  £81,850

2000-2001 CSO small grant. Bhattacharya S, Entwistle V, Skea Z, Templeton A. Decision making in hysterectomy for heavy menstrual bleeding: how satisfied are women? (A pilot study).  £20,575


Teaching Responsibilities

Zoë is currently the Course Co-ordinator for two University of Aberdeen courses - Qualitative Health Research PU5529 (on-campus) and Qualitative Health Research PU5039 (fully online). These courses form part of the Masters in Public Health and Masters in Global Health and Management programmes. She also contributes to the following courses: Evidence Based Health PU5031; Systematic Reviewing (PU5526);Fundamentals of Research Design (PU5027); Work-Based Placement with Health and Development Sector Organisation (PU5521); and Standard Project in Public Health (PU5910).

Zoë has developed a range of post-graduate research proposals within her programme of research (including an MRC doctoral training grant proposal and has been involved in two cross-college PhD studentship applications with colleagues from IAHS and CASS).  She has supervised numerous MSc projects to successful completion (MSc in Health Services and Public Health Research; MSc in Public Health), one MPhil (Mental Health), one CSO postdoctoral fellow, and one PhD student (IAHS).

Zoë provides one-to-one expert advice to colleagues within HSRU (and across IAHS) on a range of project proposals /funded projects (particularly in the area of qualitative methodology/mixed methods research). 


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