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Gina Marie Awoko Higginbottom

The Mary Seacole Professor of Ethnicity and Community Health, Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences



Gina Higginbottom is The Mary Seacole Professor of Ethnicity and Community Health. She is a qualified nurse, midwife and health visitor and her clinical career as a nurse spans 22 years. Prof Higginbottom is an alumna of the Nottingham School of Nursing and completed her PhD at the University of Sheffield. She is a registered nurse in England and Canada. Prof Higginbottom is the recipient of a number of prestigious awards, a Canada Research Chair (renewed, a recognition of research excellence by peers), a Nursing Research Scholar of the Smith and Nephew Foundation, a Mary Seacole Leadership Award holder and her PhD was supported by a prestigious National Primary Care Research Fellowship, Gina was the first health visitor to receive this award. In 1998 she was awarded an MBE for services to young people and Health Promotion.

She is Visiting Professor at University of Sheffield, Sheffield Hallam University and has held Visiting Professorships at the University of Sao Paolo, Riberao Preto, Brazil, the University of California Davis and the University of Pennsylvania, the United States, the University of Almeria, Spain and at the University of Karolinska, Stockholm, Sweden. Her international networks and collaborations are extensive via virtue of her grant acquisition and research trainee supervision and includes links with Canada, Brazil, the US, Ghana, Australia, Sweden, Spain, Pakistan, and South Africa. Gina has supervised 11 international postdoctoral fellows (from Canada, Mexico, Sweden, Brazil, Australia and New Zealand) and 4 PhD students to conclusion (Dr Barolia, Aga Khan University, Pakistan, Dr Boadu, International Research Development Council, Canada, Dr Jalal Safipur, Linuaeus University, Sweden and Dr Brummell, Sheffield Hallam University). A central goal in her research endeavors is building research capacity in ethnicity and health research. She strives to facilitate a superlative training environment and has co-authored extensively with research trainees.

Formerly, a non-executive director of Sheffield Health Authority, a committee member of the Sheffield Health and Care Consortium and the Community Practitioners and Health Visitors Association. Prof Higginbottom has participated in research review panels for many national funding agencies in the UK and Canada. Her close affiliation with the International Institute of Qualitative Methodologies (IIQM) as a board member enabled her chairing of the Advances in Qualitative Methodologies conference and co-chairmanship of Qualitative Health Research conference. Prof Higginbottom is a member of the executive group of the International Collaborations in Community Health Care Nursing and Research (ICCHNR) co-chairing the 2011 conference in Edmonton, Canada and contributing to planning for the 2013 conference in Edinburgh, Scotland and the 2015 conference in Seoul, Korea.

Prof Higginbottom holds a substantive publication record and her Sage Publications text book 'Participatory Qualitative Research Methodologies in Health' demonstrates her commitment to participatory models of research.

Expertise Summary

Gina's research portfolio focuses on ethnic minority populations and immigrant health using participatory models of research. She particularly focuses on the broad issue of social exclusion and equity in health care, lay understandings of health and illness, chronic disease management in primary care, self-care strategies, the cultural congruence of health care services, access and utilization of health care services, and ethnic and cultural diversity in care giving.

A second and major theme in her research portfolio has focused on international migration and maternity, including parenting issues, early parenthood and postnatal depression in different ethnic minority groups, and experiences of diverse ethno-cultural groups during access to and navigation of maternal healthcare services.

Methodological expertise includes qualitative and mixed-methodology research genres and systematic reviews using a narrative synthesis approach. Prof Higginbottom is a trainer for ATLAS.ti ( qualitative data analysis software package..

Teaching Summary

Gina holds a professional teaching qualification and her teaching embraces both her clinical background ground and academic interests of ethnicity and health, primary health care/community nursing,… read more

Research Summary

Principal Investigator:

2017-2018 Interventions that improve maternity care and access for immigrant women in England: a narrative synthesis systematic review, with Morgan M (Co-I, King's College), Evans C (Co-I, University of Nottingham), Bharj K (Co-I, University of Leeds) National Institute for Health Research [NIHR].

2012-2017 Optimizing food choices and practices in the perinatal period for immigrant women, with Etowa J (U of Ottawa), Vallianatos H (Co-I), and Shankar J (Co-I, U of Calgary). (Canadian Institute for Health Research [CIHR] Operating Grant, $288,000).

2013-2016 Immigrant women's experience of postpartum depression in Canada: a narrative synthesis, with Morgan M (King's College, London, UK), O'Mahony J (University of Calgary), Chiu Y (Multicultural Health Brokers Co-operative, Edmonton), Alexandre M (Citizenship and Immigration Canada), Kocay D (Public Health Agency of Canada), Young M and Forgeron J (Alberta Health Services), CIHR Knowledge Synthesis grant, $96,594.


2017-2018 Improving Care for Women and Girls who have undergone Female Genital Mutilation (FGM): Qualitative Evidence Synthesis with Dr C Evans PI Funders: NIHR


2015-2018 External advisor: eMERGE - developing meta-ethnography reporting guidelines. Prof Jane Noyes et al (National Institute for Health Research)

Selected Publications

Gina holds a professional teaching qualification and her teaching embraces both her clinical background ground and academic interests of ethnicity and health, primary health care/community nursing, midwifery and health promotion. Prof Higginbottom has taught on a wide range of undergraduate and post-graduate courses and welcomes inquiries from potential PhD students.

Currently she is Course Director for the ESRC accredited Mixed Methods Course and Co-Director of Foundations in Qualitative Research, both offered by the Doctoral Training Centre at the University of Nottingham.

Past Research

2011-2014 Principal Investigator. Immigrant women's experiences of maternity care services in Canada: A narrative synthesis, with co-applicants Morgan M and Dassanayake J, and Knowledge Users Forgeron J (Alberta Health Services), Chiu Y (Multicultural Health Brokers Coop), Eyford H (Alberta Health Services), Alexandre M (Citizenship and Immigration Canada) and Deb Kocay (Public Health Agency of Canada). (CIHR Knowledge Synthesis Grant Oct 2011-Sept 2014, $99,079)

2009-2014 Principal Investigator/Team Lead. Maternity, migration and minorities: Optimizing hospital and community based maternity care for immigrant and newcomer women in Alberta, with O'Brien B, Mumtaz Z, Ortiz L, Chiu Y, Okeke P, Yohani S, Ahmadi E, Paton P. (Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry [University of Alberta], Alberta Health Services, and Women and Children's Health Research Institute, Emerging Team Grant, December 2009-July 2014, $300,000)

2013-2014 Co-investigator. Addressing barriers to improving the oral health of children of recent newcomer families, with Sharifzadeh-Amin M, Azarpazhooh A, Keenan L, Schroth R, Compton S, Harrison R, Wolfe R. (CIHR Planning grant, $21,831)

2012-2013 Principal Investigator. An international symposium on maternity and immigration: future research and innovation, contemporary perspectives from Canada, England, the United States and Australia, with collaborators Bharj K (University of Leeds, UK), Curtis P (University of Sheffield, UK), Davidson P (University of Technology Sydney, Australia), Boughton M (University of Sydney), and De Leon Siantz, M (University of California Davis). (Worldwide Universities Network (WUN) Research Development Fund 2012, February 2012-June 1 2013, $28,900). ( )

2011-2013 Principal Investigator. Immigrant women's food choices and practices in pregnancy, with Vallianatos H, Forgeron J, Gibbons D, Malhi R, Mamede F . (Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation Nursing Research Fund, July 2011-Dec 2013, $34,172)

2010-2011 Principal Investigator. Providing culturally competent healthcare: A self-directed workbook and digital resource, with Caine V, Salway S, Richer S, Ogilvie L, Bourque-Bearskin, Mogale S, Bell A, Barnawi N. (Vice Provost for Teaching, University of Alberta, Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund, July 2010-December 2011, $48,980)

2010-2012 Principal Investigator. Optimizing health literacy and community engagement in relation to active living with Edmonton's newcomer young people and their families, with Richter S (Co-PI), Yohani S, Vallianatos H, Lajli M (Policy maker), Bardy K (Policy maker), Mah A (Policy maker). (Alberta Centre for Child, Family and Community Research, Topic-Directed Research, $99,284, Grant # 090415TOP)

2009-2010 Principal Investigator. Does the FAMCHAT tool enhance the ethno-cultural dimensions of nursing assessment at the Royal Alexandra Hospital (RAH)?, with Richter S, Ortiz L, Young S, Forgeron J, Callendar S, Boyce M. (Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation Nursing Research Fund and Canadian Nurses Foundation, $26,000)

2009-2010 Principal Investigator. Access to Canadian primary health care: The experience of new and established immigrants. (University of Alberta, Killam Research Fund - Pilot Study, $7,000)

2009-2010 Principal Investigator. The experience and transitioning of internationally educated nurses into the Canadian health care system in Alberta. (Prairie Metropolis Centre [SSHRC] $20,000)

2008-2009 Co-investigator and Country Lead. Migrant, minorities and maternity: A three country international comparison, with Salway S, Reime B, Rothgang H, Gerrish K, Friedrich J, Kentenich H, O'Brien B, Bharj K, Chowbey P, Mumtaz Z. (VolkswagenStifund (Germany) Preliminary Studies Grant, EU 19,933 (Approx $31, 410)

2007-2010 Co-investigator. Ethnic diversity in UK social science and public policy research: A consultation and development exercise to produce guidelines for sound scientific and ethnical practice, with Salway S, Barley R, Allmark P, Gerrish K, Ellison G. (Joseph Rowntree Foundation, England, $151,164)

2006-2007 Co-researcher. Narratives of first generation South Asian GPs in Bradford: Capturing experiences and developing cultural competence training and resource materials, with Salway S. (Bradford Primary Care Trust, $24,200)

2006-2007 Co-Investigator. Socio-cultural expectations of Tuberculosis within the Somali community in Sheffield, with Gerrish K, Salway S. (Sheffield Health and Social Research Consortium, $77,000)

2006-2007 Principal Investigator. 'Race', ethnicity and health: A literature review, with Redman J, Massey M. (University of Sheffield Departmental Grant, $4,400

2006-2007 Co-researcher. Evaluation of the 'How are you feeling?' booklets (RESPoND), with Mathers N, Gerrish K, Campbell M. (Sheffield Health and Social Research Consortium and Camden & Islington PCT, $44,987)

2004-2005 Co-researcher. Expectations of growing older with the African Caribbean Community in Sheffield, with Gerrish K, Nolan M, Ryan T, Concern A. (University of Sheffield, Research Stimulation funding, $20,000)

2004-2006 Principal Investigator. An exploration of the needs of Somali blind people in Sheffield , with the Horn of Africa Blind Society, Joan McFarlane, Fatima Musa & Catherine Beverley Storey (Sheffield Health and Social Research Consortium, $77,332)

2002- 2004 Principal Investigator. An exploration of the teenage parenting experiences of young people of black and minority ethnic origin in England, with Mathers N, Marsh P, Kirkham M, Owen J. (The UK Department of Health/Teenage Pregnancy Unit, $387,200)

2002-2003 Principal Investigator. The meaning and consequences of hypertension for individuals of African and Caribbean origin: perception of primary health care services. (NHS Executive, National Primary Care Researcher Developer Award/Fellowship, Part salary award, part research/operating grant, $407,000).

1998- 1999 Principal Investigator. Heart Health Beliefs and Behaviours of Children of African and Caribbean descent in two UK cites. (Mary Seacole Leadership Award, $55,000)

1996-1997 Principal Investigator. Black Women and Breast Feeding: An Investigation into the breast-feeding experiences of women of African descent in Sheffield. (Nursing Research Scholar of the Smith and Nephew Foundation, $12,320)

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