Dr Zoë Skea

Dr Zoë Skea
MA(Hons); MSc; PhD; FHEA

Lecturer (Scholarship)
Research Fellow

Dr Zoë Skea
Dr Zoë Skea

Contact Details

work +44 (0)1224 438153
fax +44 (0)1224 559096
The University of Aberdeen Health Services Research Unit
Health Sciences Building
University of Aberdeen
Foresterhill Aberdeen AB25 2ZD


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.


Research Interests

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

REBALANCE - REview of Behaviour And Lifestyle interventions for severe obesity: AN evidenCE synthesis.This 20 month long project is funded by the National Institute of Health Research Health Technology Assessment Programme. This is a collaborative project between the Health Services Research Unit and Health Economics Research Unit (University of Aberdeen), Professor Marijn De Bruin, Health Psychology (University of Aberdeen), Professor Paul Aveyard, Department of Primary Health Care Sciences (University of Oxford) and Dr Laura Webber and Dr Lise Retat (UK Health Forum).

The project comprises a series of systematic reviews of randomised and non-randomised trials, qualitative research and health economic studies, to develop an economic model and inform the management of adults with severe obesity. We will examine the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of different approaches to helping change lifestyles, and compare lifestyle approaches to bariatric surgery. We will use new methods to examine the behaviour change techniques which are most able to support people.


Concept:SSM, conducted in collaboration with colleagues from King's College London and the University of York, aims to develop more practically relevant ways of thinking about how health and social care staff can help people to manage and live well with long term conditions Concept: SSM



Zoë is an advisory panel member for a multi-centred study investigating the health care experiences of men with penile cancer (funded by the Research for Patient Benefit Programme of the National Institute for Health Research). The findings from this qualitative in-depth interview study will result in the creation of an online information and support resource for use by patients and health care professionals (HealthTalkonline site). As well as providing important experiential information for patients, the resource can also facilitate the learning of effective and appropriate communication skills by health professionals in training. The project is being led by researchers from Leeds Metropolitan University, Aberystwyth University and the University of Oxford.

Zoë is also collaborating on an international research project looking at ethical issues in cluster randomised trials from a range of stakeholder perspectives (funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research). This project is being led by Dr Monica Taljaard and Professor Jeremy Grimshaw at the Ottawa Health Research Institute, University of Ottawa. Zoë has been assisting in data abstractions for the systematic review components of this project, and is currently directly involved in the design and development of the various qualitative components of this study.

Research Grants


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 the Masters of Public Health (face-to-face Qualitative Health Research module and fully online Qualitative Health Research module (University of Aberdeen)). She is also responsible for the qualitative research components within the MPH online postgraduate module Fundamentals of Research Design (FORD).

From 2000 Zoë has been an active contributor to the development of and teaching on the MSc in Health Services Research teaching module of the MSc in Health Services and Public Health Research (now MPH, University of Aberdeen). From 2006-2009 Zoë co-ordinated the MSc in Health Services Research teaching module of the MSc in Health Services and Public Health Research. From 2000-2012, Zoë led the qualitative component of the MSc in Health Services and Public Health Research teaching module, delivering lectures and contributed to various aspects of assessments.  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 eight 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 is currently supervising two PhD students (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). 

Further Info

Admin Responsibilities

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.   


MA (Hons) Sociology [1st class], University of Glasgow (1995)
MSc Health Services and Public Health Research, University of Aberdeen (1999)
PhD Health Sciences, University of Aberdeen (2005)