Personal profile

Research interests

Research interests: 

  • Sociology of health and illness;
  • Sociology of reproduction and women's health
  • Recovery from major illness and injury
  • Qualitative research methods  
  • Mixed methods


Research Student Supervision

  • Associate Director, Doctoral College, University of Hertfordshire (2018-19)
  • Programme Director, Professional Doctorate in Health Research (DHRes) (2006 – 2015)
  • Postgraduate Research Director, Department of Sociology, University of Surrey (2002-05)


Current research students:

 PhD programme

  • Recovery following intensive care discharge


Doctorate in Health Research (DHRes) programme

  • Patient accounts of pressure ulcer prevention following fractured hip


Successful research student supervision:

 PhD awards (University of Hertfordshire)

  • An exploration of the nature of patient participation within the context of the acute surgical setting: a grounded theory study. Awarded 2013

DHRes awards, University of Hertfordshire

  •  Advance care planning and living with dying: the views of hospice patients. Awarded 2016
  •  Women's experience of induction of labour: a qualitative study. Awarded 2016
  •  Patients and their use of medicines: a discourse analysis of encounters with nurse prescribers. Awarded 2016
  •  Help-seeking behaviours of Black Africans and Black Caribbeans to diagnose HIV/AIDS. Awarded 2014
  •  Women’s views on partnership working with midwives during pregnancy and childbirth. Awarded 2013
  •  The work of Phase I Research Ethics Committees: expert and lay membership. Awarded 2013


PhDs Awarded (University of Surrey)

  • Midwifery work, family life and wellbeing: a study of occupational change. Awarded 1998.
  • Identities and communities: the stories of lesbian and bisexual women.   Awarded 1999.
  • Medical conditions and dietary advice: a gendered process.  Awarded 2000.
  • Sexual behaviour of Greek women and the relationship with employment status.  Awarded 2003.
  • The role of men in contraceptive use and fertility attitudes and behaviour in Kenya.  Awarded 2003.
  • Social capital and ‘community’: a rural and urban comparison.  Awarded 2005.
  • Attrition in rape convictions. Collaborative with Home Office. Awarded 2006.
  • Parenting the stillborn: gender, identity and bereavement.  Awarded 2008

Additional supervision (University of Surrey)

  • Family relationships and chronic illness in Saudi Arabia. Awarded 2008.
  • Cultural negotiations in health and illness: the interface of biomedicine and lay beliefs in a South Asian community. Awarded 2008.
  • Why midlife nurses in the NHS and care homes stay in nursing: a comparative study.  Awarded 2009.

External supervision (University of London)

  • Identity work, moral accountability and good mothering practices in narratives of black teenaged mothers.  Awarded 2010



Hilary Thomas is Emeritus Professor in the Centre for Research in Public Health and Community Care, School of Health and Social Work.  Her research interests include: sociology of health and illness; sociology of reproduction and women’s women’s health; and patients' experiences of recovery from illness and injury.  She was formerly an Associate Director of the Doctoral College, University of Hertfordshire, Hilary has held a number of external postions including Trustee of the Foundation for the Sociology of Health and Illness, Chair of the Editorial Board of Sciology of Health and Illness, Convenor of the BSA Medical Sociology Group and President of the European Society for Health and Medical Sociology.

External positions

Honorary Senior Visiting Fellow, Institute of Public Health (IPH), University of Cambridge

Jan 2007 → …


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