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Sonali Shah

Associate Professor in Disability and Life Course Research, Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences


Research Summary

Sonali leads the Althea project, funded by NIHR RfPB. The purpose of this mixed method interdisciplinary study is improve understanding of the effects of ageing for men and women with cerebral palsy… read more

Recent Publications

  • SONALI SHAH, ASHWINI DESHMUKH and CAROLINE BRADBURY-JONES, 2021. Domestic Violence and Disability in India Explored in Relation to the Sustainable Development Goals. In: Routledge International Handbook of Domestic Violence and Abuse Routledge. 311-324
  • SONALI SHAH, CAROLINE BRADBURY-JONES and JULIE TAYLOR, 2021. Utilisation and Access to Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare for Women with Cerebral Palsy - A Scoping Review. Disability and Society. (In Press.)
  • SONALI SHAH, CAROLINE BRADBURY-JONES and JULIE TAYLOR, 2021. Enabling the authentic voice: generating ethnographies of women with cerebral palsy using Facebook and email. Scandinavian Journal of Disability Research. (In Press.)

Dr Sonali Shah joined the School of Medicine at the University of Nottingham in summer 2021. She is a Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Ageing and Rehabilitation where she leads a NIHR RfPB project called ALTHEA: Living Healthy Lives: Exploring the effects of growing older with cerebral palsy and use of healthcare services across the life course. Before that she worked at University of Birmingham leading the Eternal project, which uncovered the experiences of sexual and reproductive healthcare for girls and women with cerebral palsy. In 2013-17 she held a Lord Kelvin Adams Smith fellow with the University of Glasgow.

Sonali has a background in Social Science, specialising in Disability Studies. She has developed various projects on disability and the life course, funded by different research grants and fellowships. She uses exciting approaches including theatre and life histories, to engage her work with a diversity of stakeholders and to bring an awareness of disability and social change to non-academic and young audiences, and to provide a platform for disabled people to have a voice in the development of practices and policies that impact their lives. She has taught on postgraduate and undergraduate courses about disability across the life course.

Sonali is an internationally recognised author with 15+ articles and 4 books published in relation to disability and different topics including healthcare, domestic violence, education careers and use of theatre for disabled people across the life course. She co-ordinates the international Facebook group Women Ageing with Cerebral Palsy. She is on the editorial boards of Scandinavian Journal of Disability Research and Disability in the Global South. She is co-editor of a special issue of The History of the Family (on disability, partnership and family formation)



Shah, S., Bradbury-Jones, C. (eds)(2018). Global Perspectives of Disability, Gender and Violence: Life Course and Human Rights Approaches. Routledge Publishers.

Shah S., Priestley M. (2014) Disability and Social Change: Private Lives and Public Policies. Korean translation. Greenbee Publishing Co.

Shah S., Priestley M. (2011) Disability and Social Change: Private Lives and Public Policies, Bristol, Policy Press.

Shah S. (2008) Young Disabled People: Aspirations, Choices and Constraints, Surrey, Ashgate Publishers.

Shah S (2005); Career Success of Disabled High-Flyers; London: Jessica Kingsley

Journal Papers

Shah, S. Bradbury-Jones, C., Taylor, J. ( 2020). Using Facebook to tell stories of premature ageing and sexual and reproductive healthcare across the life course for women with cerebral palsy in the UK and US BMJ Open.

Shah, S., & Greer, S. (2017). Polio monologues: translating ethnographic text into verbatim theatre. Qualitative Research, DOI: 1468794117696141.

Shah, S., 2017, September. "Disabled People Are sexual citizens too": supporting sexual identity, Well-being, and safety for Disabled Young People. In Frontiers in Education (Vol. 2, p. 46). Frontiers.

Shah, S., Tsitsou, L., Woodin, S. (2016). 'I can't forget': Experiences of Childhood Violence and Violence in the Lives of Disabled Women. Childhood: A global journal of child research. 1-16.

Shah, S., Woodin, S. and Tsitou, L. (2016) Hidden Voices: Disabled Women's Experiences of Violence and Support over the Lifecourse. Violence Against Women. 1-22. DOI: 1177/1077801215622577 .

Shah, S., Wallis, M., Conor, F. Kiszley, P (2015). Bringing disability history alive in schools: Promoting a new understanding of disability through performance methods. Research Papers in Education. DOI: 10.1080/02671522.2014.891255. Vol. 30. Iss.3.

Shah S and Priestley M (2009); Home and Away: the impact of educational policies on disabled children's experiences of family and friendship; Research Papers in Education. Vol. 25. No. 2.

Shah S (2010) ; The role of the family on the career aspirations of young disabled people, International Journal of Disability Studies. Vol. 4. No. 1 & 2. Pp100-125.

Shah S (2007); Special or Mainstream? - The Views of Disabled Students; Research Papers in Education; Vol. 22(4); pp.425-442 Routledge.

Shah S (2006) Sharing the same world: The Researcher and the Researched; Qualitative Research; Vol. 6(2); pp.207-220; London: Sage.

Current Research

Sonali leads the Althea project, funded by NIHR RfPB. The purpose of this mixed method interdisciplinary study is improve understanding of the effects of ageing for men and women with cerebral palsy (CP), and their changing healthcare needs and access to services across the life course. These insights will help health and rehabilitation professionals to identify and meet the needs of this growing patient group.

Team members of the Althea project are:

Professor Pip Logan, Professor Tony Avery, Professor Neil Coulson, Dr Brian Bell and Professor Janice McLaughlin

Project partner: Scope UK , represented by Mr Richard Luke

PPI facebook group:

5 adults who have knowledge and experience of cerebral palsy and ageing. They are instrumental to the development and success of the project.

Past Research

Burdett Foundation for Nursing (Research Fellow - Shah). Eternal: Access to sexual and reproductive healthcare for girls and women with cerebral palsy across the life course. PI: Prof Julie Taylor. March 2019-February 2021. £200,000

Adams Smith Research Foundation (Principal Investigator - Shah) 'A socio-cultural exploration at the lives of polio survivors through the interdisciplinary lens of narrative and performance - a pilot', CI: Professor Malcolm Nicholson. January 2015 - July 2015. £3570

Glasgow Knowledge Exchange Fund (Principal Investigator - Shah) 'Hidden Voices: Experiences of Violence for Disabled Women over the life course'. Collaborators: Rape Crisis Scotland, Shakti Womens Aid, Engender, Inclusion Scotland. October-December 2014. £3550

Foundation for the Sociology of Health and Illness (Principal Investigator - Shah ), 'Disabilities, Technologies, Medicine & Childhood', CI: Mclaughlin (Newcastle), Till(Leeds Beckett), and Patterson (Glasgow). June - September 2014. 67074/1. £5898.


Daphne Stream, European Commission, (Lead UK Partner - Shah), 'Access to specialised victim support services for women with disabilities who have experienced violence', (Austria, UK, Germany, Iceland), February 2013 - January 2015, Eur 916,255.98 /£760761

ESRC Follow-On Fund (Principal Investigator - Shah). 'Performing Social Research: Bringing Disability History to 21st Century Audiences'. CI: Professor Mick Wallis, Dr Phillip Kiszley. October 2011 - October 2012. RG.SLSP.481503. £84934.28

AHRC Beyond Text Programme. £12,423 ( Principal Investigator - Shah). The Performance of Disability Histories: Remembrance and Transmission: CI: Prof Mark Priestley. October 2009 - October 2010. AH/G000638/1.

Nuffield Foundation New Career Development Fellowship (Research Fellow - Shah). 'Including a New Generation: Using Qualitative Methods to Understand Disabled People's Lives in the 21st Century'. CI/Mentor: Professor Mark Priestley. January 2006 - February 2010. NCF/32361. £149k.

Future Research

NIHR RfPB (Stage 2). RICH: RIghts and CHoices for women with cerebral palsy - A qualitative study to understand what works in the provision of their maternity care. £150,000

Lead PI: Dr Sonali Shah. Co-PI: Dr Nia Jones (School of Medicine, University of Nottingham). Co-I's: Prof Karl Atkin (University of York); Prof Jenny Kurinczuk ( National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit, University of Oxford).

School of Medicine

University of Nottingham
Medical School
Nottingham, NG7 2UH

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