Maternal Health and Wellbeing
  • Print

Lead researchers

Professor Helen Spiby, Professor of Midwifery

Helen is a midwife and internationally recognised health services researcher with longstanding research interests in preparation for and care during labour


Helen is committed to involving users of maternity services at all stages of the research process and, with colleagues, has established a local service user group for maternity research. Another of Helen’s key interests is to build research capacity in midwifery, including supporting midwives with early career research awards right through to Masters and doctoral supervision.  

Helen has experience of working across agencies including the NHS, third sector, Sure Start and children’s centres in research and evidence-based practice initiatives, as well as working with groups representing childbearing women. She previously served as a member of the NICE Guidelines Advisory Committee on its inception in 2000 and as chair for the NICE Guideline Review Panel for maternal and infant guidelines. She is also currently a member of the NCT Research Advisory Group.  

Helen is a member of the International Confederation of Midwives Research Advisory Group and holds honorary appointments as Senior Midwife in Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust and an Honorary Chair at the University of Queensland.


View Helen's full profile.


Professor Gina Higginbottom MBE, Mary Seacole Professor of Ethnicity and Community Health 

Gina is an alumna of the Nottingham School of Nursing and completed her PhD at the University of Sheffield. Her clinical career as a nurse, midwife and health visitor spans 22 years and she is the recipient of a number of prestigious awards.


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

A second and major theme in her research portfolio is international migration and maternity, including parenting issues, early parenthood and postnatal depression in different ethnic minority groups, and experiences of diverse ethnocultural groups during access to maternal healthcare services.

Gina’s most recent book, co-edited with Pranee Liamputtong, is Participatory Qualitative Research Methodologies in Health


View Gina's full profile.


Other researchers in the group 


Dr Julie McGarry, Associate Professor and Academic Lead for Adult Community Team

Julie is an established academic researcher with expertise and professional background in the field of safeguarding (adults and children), gender based violence and intimate partner violence/domestic violence and abuse with a focus towards survivors’ experiences and the development of effective multi-agency (health/social care/criminal justice) responses.


Julie has led on a number of externally funded research initiatives, working with international, national and local agencies in the UK in the development of safeguarding and domestic violence services for children and families and survivors of abuse. Julie also has a well-established background in participant led research exploring effective approaches to domestic violence identification and management through co-production of arts based narrative projects with survivors of female genital mutilation (FGM) and domestic violence and abuse.

Julie has been commissioned to lead a number of domestic violence project evaluations both locally and nationally and has also acted in an advisory capacity for local and national agencies in domestic violence service/education development. Julie’s work synthesizes research, education and practice and predominantly utilizes a qualitative approach to enquiry including personal narrative and ethnography - recent and current work includes older women and personal accounts of DVA survivorship and narrative accounts of FGM survivors. Current research includes healthcare responses to sexual violence in South Africa - funded through Global Challenge Funds. Julie is also leading a two year research study to develop a model for embedding sexual safety within acute mental health care contexts.

Julie has initiated multi-agency collaborative scholarly partnerships on both international and national levels through leading the successful inception of the Integrated Domestic Violence and Abuse Research Group and Seminar Series within the Social Futures Centre of Excellence, Institute of Mental Health. Julie has held a number of internal and external leadership roles and is currently a mentor for the HEE/NIHR /ICA Mentorship and Outreach programme (ICAM). Julie has led on the development of a number of teaching innovations and is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA). She contributes to both undergraduate and postgraduate taught and research education programmes. Julie is an experienced PhD supervisor and examiner in the UK and internationally in her area of subject expertise. Julie has published widely and disseminated her work through national and international conferences and invited keynote speaker presentations.

Related publications


ALI P and MCGARRY J, 2018. Responding to intimate partner violence in health care settings Nursing Standard. 32(24), 54-62 ALSHAMMARI, K, MCGARRY, J and HIGGINBOTTOM, GMA, 2018. Nurse education and understanding related to domestic violence and abuse against women: an integrative review of the literature Nursing Open.

MCGARRY J and ALI P, 2018. Responding to domestic violence and abuse: Considerations for health visitors. Journal of Health Visiting. 6(2), 95–98 MCGARRY J, 2018. 'Hiding in plain sight': Exploring the complexity of sexual safety within an acute mental health setting. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing.

MCGARRY J and CARR J, 2018. Spotting signs of domestic abuse Nursing in Practice. 104, 44


MCGARRY J, HINSLIFF-SMITH K, WATTS K, EVANS C and MCCLOSKEY P, 2017. The experiences and impact of mistreatment and obstetric violence for women during childbearing: Protocol for a systematic review of qualitative evidence Protocol for a systematic review of qualitative evidence, JBI Database of Systematic Reviews and Implementation Reports. 15(3), 620-627

RECCHIA N and MCGARRY J, 2017. 'Don’t Judge Me’: Narratives of living with FGM International Journal of Human Rights in Healthcare. 10(1), 4-13 HINSLIFF-SMITH K and MCGARRY J, 2017. Understanding management and support for Domestic Violence and Abuse (DVA) within Emergency Departments: A systematic literature review from 2000 to 2015 Journal of Clinical Nursing.

EVANS, C, TWEHEYO, R, MCGARRY, J, ELDRIDGE, J, MCCORMICK, C, NKOYO, V and HIGGINBOTTOM, G, 2017. What are the experiences of seeking, receiving and providing FGM-related healthcare? Perspectives of health professionals and women/girls who have undergone FGM: Protocol for a systematic review of qualitative evidence, BMJ Open. 7, MCGARRY J, 2017. Narrative and arts-based approaches to explore experiences of Gender-Based Violence Journal of Advanced Nursing Special Feature.


View Julie's full profile.


Dr Pippa Hemingway, Assistant Professor in Nursing Children and Young People

Pippa’s research interests focus on parental emergency department attendance for common childhood illnesses. Her expertise lies in predictive work with parents of emergency department attenders and an equitable group using primary and/or urgent care services. 


Currently, Pippa's work surrounds parental decision making to predict parents seeking care at emergency departments. The findings of her work have informed national policy and guidance and has helped develop parent-centred services within the emergency care environment.


View Pippa's full profile.


Dr Alison Edgley, Associate Professor of Social Sciences in Health 

Alison’s background is in social and political theory. Her current research is a qualitative study exploring the meanings and experiences of working mothers. Alongside this, she has an interest in mental health and ‘recovery’. 


Alison has completed a number of collaborations involving teaching sociology and philosophy to nurses, Sure Start, air quality, quality of life with cancer and neonate nursing and medicine administration.


View Alison's full profile.


Dr Catrin Evans, Associate Professor/Director of Internationalisation 

Catrin is a registered nurse with a background in social anthropology and public health. She spent 1993-2003 working as a researcher and public health consultant in South and South East Asia before joining the School of Health Sciences at the University of Nottingham.


Catrin’s research expertise lies primarily in qualitative research, particularly community-led participatory methodologies. Catrin has a strong interest in maternal health, sexual/reproductive health (including HIV), migration and women’s rights. She is joint Director of the Centre for Evidence Based Healthcare – a Centre of Excellence within the global Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI) network. 


View Catrin’s full profile.


Dr Julie Roberts, Senior Research Fellow in Maternity Care

Julie is a sociologist with research interests in the experience and representation of pregnancy and birth. 


Julie's key research interest has been in public representations of obstetric ultrasound and ultrasound images, and women's experiences of ultrasound in pregnancy. She is currently leading a Wellcome Seed Award ‘Televising Childbirth: Understanding impacts on perceptions of risk, women’s choices and health’.


View Julie's full profile.


Dr Phoebe Pallotti, Associate Professor 

Phoebe is a midwife and a medical anthropologist with experience in national and international maternity and public health research. 


Dr Sara Borrelli

Sara is a registered midwife (since 2008), with experience in clinical practice, research and teaching. 


Sara worked as a community midwife in Italy until December 2011, when she received a European Research Excellence Scholarship to do a full time PhD at The University of Nottingham (School of Health Sciences), which she completed in December 2015.

Her doctoral research explored childbearing women's expectations and experiences of a good midwife in the context of different planned places of birth in England, using a Grounded Theory methodology. She is a member of the European research group of COST Action ‘Building Intrapartum Research Through Health’ and collaborate with the University of Milano Bicocca research team. Her research interests include the topics of early pushing urge; early labour; student midwives' experiences of clinical placements; spontaneous rupture of membranes. 


View Sara's full profile.


Dr Kerry Evans

Kerry is a midwife, with experience in clinical practice and research.


Kerry works as a labour suite midwife in Nottingham. Her PhD was funded by a Wellbeing of Women and Royal College of Midwives Doctoral Training award. Her doctoral research focused on developing and testing a midwife-facilitated intervention to support pregnant women with anxiety. Following the submission of her PhD, Kerry has taken a post as a research assistant working on the RCM guidance initiative. 



Gina Sands

Gina has a background in human factors/ergonomics and experience of a wide variety of health services research methodologies. Following a BSc in Ergonomics/Human Factors, Gina completed a PhD in healthcare ergonomics and patient safety, focusing on the environmental factors associated with falls in hospitalised older people. 


Gina held research posts at Coventry University, the University of East Anglia, and CLAHRC-EM at the University of Nottingham before joining the Division of Midwifery as a Senior Research Fellow in 2017.

Gina is currently progressing research interests relating to patient safety, birth environments for high risk women, and using human factors methodologies to investigate the maternity care system. She is also working on projects looking at using video-calling in maternity care and developing new guidance for the Royal College of Midwives (RCM).



Maternal Health and Wellbeing Research Group

The University of Nottingham
School of Health Sciences
Queen's Medical Centre
Nottingham, NG7 2HA

telephone: +44 (0)115 823 0820