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Dr Catherine Jane Woods BA, MA, PhD

Research Fellow

Dr Catherine Jane Woods

Dr Catherine J. Woods is a Research Fellow within the School of Primary Care, Population Sciences and Medical Education, Faculty of Medicine at the University of Southampton.

Catherine recently completed her doctoral research (supervisory team: Dr. Geraldine M. Leydon & Prof. Paul Drew which was a qualitative examination of how callers to a leading cancer helpline in the UK requested assistance about their various practical, emotional and medical problems; and how call-handlers managed these requests – focussing specifically on the challenging aspects associated with providing healthcare over the telephone. Dr. Woods primarily utilises qualitative methods to understand various aspects of health and illness. She has received specialist training in Conversation Analysis (CA) from the University of York and University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and many of her research projects focus on understanding and improving communication for both patients and healthcare practitioners using this methodology. 

NIHR SPCR PhD, Primary Medical Care Research, the University of Southampton, 2016

MA, Social Research Methods, The University of York (2011)

BA, Sociology, The University of York (2010)


Research interests

Dr. Woods is currently involved in three main research projects.

ANCAP - Antibiotic Negotiations: Conversation Analytic Pilot, [August 2016 – present]

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is an increasing and serious threat to public health. 80% of prescriptions for antibiotics occur in primary care (TARGET study) and many are being inappropriately prescribed to treat viral infections that often improve with self-care (such as fluids, rest & mild pain relief) rather than prescribed medication. Current health guidelines and evidence-based research advocate the need for ‘open’ / ‘clear’ communication between patients and practitioners in order to promote prudent antibiotic prescribing practices; however, there is currently a lack of empirical evidence about what open/clear communication looks like and how it might be achieved in practice. ANCAP is a qualitative, in-depth examination of video-recorded consultations as GPs and patients discuss/negotiate the need for antibiotics. The overall aim is to identify the communicative behaviours that promote prudent antibiotic prescribing practices and to turn these findings into a training resource practitioners can use in primary care.

ARTIC-PC - Antibiotics for Lower Respiratory Tract Infections in Children Presenting in Primary Care (December 2016 – present)

ARTIC-PC is a placebo-controlled randomised control trial that is exploring whether antibiotics are effective in treating children with lower respiratory tract infections (for more details, see chief investigator Prof. Paul Little). This research includes a nested qualitative component to explore the views and experiences of parents who participated in the trial. This is important and could help optimize study procedures and RCTs in the future.

POSCAN - A video based analysis of UK GP consultations to explore how GP’s and their patients communicate about direct access tests and referral for investigation of possible cancer (March 2017 – present)

In order to improve early diagnosis of cancer, the threshold for urgent investigation (tests) has been lowered in UK national guidelines. This may mean that more patients will be referred to specialists or offered tests.  Although most people who have tests will not have cancer, being offered investigation may cause patients concern. POSCAN is a secondary analysis of three existing datasets of GP-patient video-recorded consultations to explore how referral, direct access tests or safety netting in response to potential cancer symptoms is raised by the GP and responded to by the patient. This research is a collaboration between researchers in PCPs and health sciences (Dr. Lucy Brindle).


Alongside her doctoral research, Dr. Woods was a senior research assistant on the following study:

SOCS - The Southampton Communication Study (SoCS) (2015 - 2016)

Whilst patients often attend General Practice (GP) consultations in the UK with multiple concerns, they may not feel able to raise all of these during the consultation and, when they do, some concerns may remain unaddressed. Unaddressed concerns can have harmful consequences for patients and their GP including worsening symptoms, poor health outcomes and can result in repeated consultations. This research explored the communicative practices that ‘worked’ to either enhance or inhibit the full disclosure and discussion of patient concerns. 


Affiliate Research Groups

Dr. Woods is a member of several research groups within Primary Care and Population Sciences at Southampton and collaborative groups with researchers in other institutions. The latter groups primarily focus on using conversation analysis to understand healthcare communication and to promote its application in various medical settings, including primary care.

- Primary Care & Population Sciences

- PCPS Qualitative Group

- Primary Care Research Group

- Communication about Health & Medicine (CALM) Research Group

- Conversation Analysis SPCR Working Group

- Health Interaction Research Network (HIRN)


Research group

Primary Care, Population Sciences and Medical Education

Affiliate research group

Research project(s)

ANCAP - Antibiotic Negotiations Conversation Analytic Project

Many patients in primary care are being prescribed antibiotics to treat mild infections such as colds, earaches and sore throats. Many of these are viral rather than bacterial infections that get better on their own and which can be treated with self-care (such as rest, fluids and mild pain killers).  

OPEN: Out of Hours Prescribing: Enhancing Communication

The overuse and misuse of antibiotics in primary care is an increasing national and global concern due to the increasing risk of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) (when bacteria becomes resistant to treatments leading to increased risks of illness lasting longer, increased symptom severity and even death).

The REMOTION Study - Remote discussion of emotional symptoms in telephone versus face-to-face primary care consultations: A pilot study

Chair of the REACH group.

Organise and contribute to QualMED activities.

For the past three years, Dr. Woods has coordinated a series of lectures to introduce BM5 medical students to the principles and underlying assumptions of qualitative research. Lectures cover the theory behind qualitative research, methods of data collection and analysis, and how to critically appraise qualitative research papers.

Module: Researching Health & Medicine.


January 2015
PCPS PhD day, our yearly event where students present and receive feedback. Some of those students are funded by the SPCR, story here.

Dr Catherine Jane Woods
Primary Care and Population Sciences
Faculty of Medicine
University of Southampton
Aldermoor Health Centre
Aldermoor Close
SO16 5ST
023 8059 1775
Twitter @CatJWoods
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