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The University of Southampton
Health Sciences

Professor Catherine Pope BA (Hons), PhD

Professor of Medical Sociology

Professor Catherine Pope's photo

Catherine Pope is Professor of Medical Sociology within Health Sciences, University of Southampton where she leads the Emergency and Urgent Care (EmU) research group. Her research examines health care work and the organisation and delivery of health services and this has entailed recent work on NHS 111 urgent care services, the role of evidence in GP commissioning and studies of ambulance services. She has contributed to major national evaluations of NHS treatment centres, Walk-in Centres and Access to General Practice, and was an invited methodological expert to the Chantler independent review of plain paper packaging of tobacco. Catherine has played a leading role in developing qualitative methods and evidence synthesis in health services research and is co-author of significant books and journal papers on these methods.

I like to get inside the NHS - talk to people, watch their work, and use social theory to find answers that will improve healthcare.

Her teaching includes postgraduate supervision and contributions to undergraduate education across health and social sciences programmes. She also crosses disciplinary boundaries, working closely with the Southampton Web Science Centre for Doctoral Training. She is also a licenced Springboard Women’s Development trainer and delivers this award winning programme for staff in the University.

Catherine serves on the editorial boards of Sociology of Health and Illness, Digital Health, and the Journal of Health Services Research and Policy and is a past editor of Sociology. She is a member of the Health Foundation founding cohort of the Q quality improvement initiative and an elected member of the Academy of Social Sciences Council, Health Services Research UK, and the Society for the Studies in Organising Healthcare.

Memberships and distinctions

NHS Confederation Health Services Research Network Board 2008 -
Co-Editor, Sociology 2006-2009
Co-Director, Work Futures Research Centre
Co-Director, Digital Economy University Strategic Research Group


Research interests

  • Strong focus on health care work and clinical and non-clinical workers including decision-making, communication and organizational boundaries
  • Investigating how technologies (notably computer and web-based) are – or are not – brought into successful use in a range of different health care settings
  • Research on policy change, re-organisation and new ways of delivering healthcare - workforce configuration, new roles and service innovation
  • Key contributor to developing meta-ethnography (a novel method for integrating research findings) and new methods for qualitative evidence synthesis
  • Exploring the contribution of theory – notably normalisation process theory - to understanding innovation and implementation in health care

Research group

Health Work

Research project(s)

The HealthLines Study: expanding the role of NHS Direct in the management of long-term conditions

Exploring the potential of ‘telehealth’ (internet and the telephone) to improve care for people with long term conditions.

Behaviour Around Rules During Invasive Procedures (BARDIP) Project

Same technology, different settings

A multidisciplinary case study of computer decision support and workforce redesign. A unique contribution to the understanding of how health technologies are deployed in the NHS.

Improving the quality of ambulance crew hand-overs

A collaboration with colleagues in local NHS Trusts to provide the first ethnographic study of communication and information transfer during ambulance journeys.

The work, workforce, technology and organisational implications of 111

Examining the everyday work and practice, the experience and skills of the workforce, the technologies brought into use, and organizational environment, required to deliver the national ‘111’ single point of access service.

Knowledge exchange in healthcare commissioning

This project will examine three distinct models of commissioning expertise, namely private sector (i.e. external providers), Primary Care Trust (PCT) commissioning and GP consortia commissioning and. explore how commissioners access, assimilate, integrate and utilize different kinds of managerial and clinical knowledge in  the commissioning process.

A study of sense-making strategies and help-seeking behaviours associated with the use and provision of urgent care services

Urgent care reform has led to the development of multiple services (e.g. out-of-hours, walk-in centres, NHS 111) designed to improve access and manage rising service demand. Policy has sought to influence patient behaviour and choice of service in this complex urgent care landscape. Guiding patients to ‘get the right advice in the right place, first time', reducing unnecessary emergency department attendances by providing more responsive urgent care services, and providing better support for people to self-care has increasingly been the focus of national and local health policy. However, effective service provision requires a much deeper understanding of the factors that influence patients’ help-seeking and choices.


This is a European collaboration towards faster and more effective implementation of eHealth interventions. The project’s raison d’être is founded on the notion that implementation of new services and technologies is time-consuming and costly – and often fails completely – not least in the healthcare domain. Solidly based in research, and in a collaboration spanning from all corners of Europe to Australia, the project will construct its answer to this widespread problem.

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Book Chapters





Successful integration of up to date research into postgraduate education for healthcare professionals and researchers

Supporting research excellence through highly evaluated teaching of social science and research methodology

Sustained contribution to the knowledge base for health education through publications used in education programmes across the world

Deputy Director of the pioneering University of Southampton RCUK Doctoral Training Centre in Web Science

Professor Catherine Pope
University of Southampton Health Sciences Building 67 Highfield Southampton SO17 1BJ
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