Dr Sally Brown

Senior Lecturer

  • School of Health in Social Science

Contact details



Doorway 6
Old Medical School
Teviot Place

Post code


I joined the School of Health in Social Sciences as Senior Lecturer in August 2020. Prior to this, I was Lecturer in Social Science at Edinburgh Napier University (2015-2020), and Research Fellow/Deputy Director of the Evaluation, Research and Development Unit, School of Medicine, Pharmacy and Health, Durham University (2009-2015).

My academic background is in the sociology of health and illness, and in health services research. The main focus of my recent research has been in sexual health,  particularly around decision making and risk with regard to contraceptive use and attitudes to screening, teenage pregnancy and parenting, and young men's health. I have also undertaken projects on a range of service-oriented topics including attitudes to cancer symptoms, alcohol use and contraception, and quality assurance in clinical care. Prior to moving into Higher Education, I worked in the NHS for several years, mainly as a service planner, but also with a short secondment as Research Governance Manager, which gave me an insight into governance and ethics procedures which has proved very valuable in my academic research.

I have an interest in ethics in research and in clinical care, having served on research ethics committees at Edinburgh Napier University and Durham University, and as lay member of the clinical ethics committee at James Cook Hospital, Middlesbrough.

My research interests feed into my teaching, which incorporates insights and experience from both academic research and health services work. I am also interested in using games in teaching and learning, and have recently developed board games as an approach to teaching research methods.



PhD Public Health, University of Hull, 2000

MA, Health Service Studies, University of Leeds, 1992

LLB, Law, University of Sheffield, 1983

Responsibilities & affiliations

Co-chair, Interdisciplinary Research in Sexual Health (IReSH) Network, Scotland.

External examiner, Applied Social Sciences, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen.

Undergraduate teaching

I am Course Organiser for the undergraduate Honours course 'Postive Health in the Community'; this course uses a blended learning approach including lectures, small group discussions, online teaching, and practical elements such as museum visits, walks, and games.

I also contribute to 'Contemporary Issues in Health and Wellbeing', and 'Understanding and Investigation: Methods for Health Research', as well as supervising dissertation students.

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Areas of interest for supervision

My research interests focus on young people's health and wellbeing, particularly mental health and sexual health, and the sociology of diagnosis and screening.  In addition, I have supervised students across a range of topics including how patients react to and understand symptoms of cancer, how men think about their health, and how doctors react to medical errors.

My methodological approaches are primarily qualitative, and I have previously undertaken and supervised grounded theory studies. 


Current PhD students supervised

Romy Goossens: The role and impact of power dynamics during COVID-19 decision making.

Gillian Fitzsimmons: Exploring transmen’s gender identity during the perinatal period.

Lucie Wollenstein: An Evaluation of Homelessness Prevention for Single Adults in Scotland using Predictive Modelling on Administrative Data Sets.

Anita Rampat:  What is the phenomenon of counselling in prison?

Past PhD students supervised

Christina Dobson, PhD Durham University, completed 2016; Help seeking among people with symptoms of lung or colorectal cancer: experience and social context.

Edmund Derbyshire, MD Durham University, completed 2016; Minimising risk and improving the management of colonoscopic adverse events.

Deeni Rudita Idris, PhD Durham University, completed 2017; Health help seeking behaviour and health care service utilisation of Bruneian men: a grounded theory study.

Claire Sullivan, PhD Newcastle University, completed 2019; Guilty Pleasures – exploring the relationship between alcohol use, sexual risk and sexual decision-making in adults aged 25+ years.

Victoria Jones, MRes, Edinburgh Napier University, completed 2020; Conversations Surrounding “Consent”: Do those working within sexual health services feel equipped to facilitate discussions around sexual consent?

Research summary

As a specialist in the Sociology of Health and Illness, my research interests focus on young people's health and wellbeing, particularly sexual health and mental health. I have been awarded grants by the British Academy, the Foundation for the Sociology of Health and Illness and the Scottish Government's Chief Scientist Office, amongst others, to pursue research projects in these areas. I apply an interdisciplinary approach, aiming to bring sociological theories and health services research into play in understanding why people do the things they do with regard to their health. My research interests feed into my teaching, particularly in the sharing of real life research experiences with research methods and medical sociology students. 

View all 19 publications on Research Explorer