Dr Emma Frew PhD, MSc, BA (Hons)

Dr Emma Frew

Institute of Applied Health Research
Reader in Health Economics
Honorary Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Health Economics, Manchester University

Contact details

Health Economics
Institute of Applied Health Research
IOEM Building
University of Birmingham
Birmingham, B15 2TT

Emma Frew is a Senior Lecturer in Health Economics.   Emma holds a NIHR Career Development Fellowship working closely with Birmingham Local Authority to refine health economics methods to facilitate public health decision-making and on managing services to tackle childhood obesity. 

Her research interests are in the economics of obesity and complex public health interventions.   Emma is also interested and actively researching economic outcome measurement in children.   Emma has published widely in scientific journals in the field of contingent valuation in health care and has a particular interest in the application of cost-benefit analysis for the evaluation of interventions that have benefits that go beyond the health care sector.  


  • PhD in Health Economics, University of Nottingham, 2003
  • MSc in Health Economics, University of York, 1998
  • BA (Hons) Economics and Marketing, University of Strathclyde, 1997


Emma Frew qualified with a BA (Hons) in Economics and Marketing from the University of Strathclyde in 1997.   She then went on to study a MSc in Health Economics before joining the Economics Department, University of Nottingham in 1998.   Emma spent 4 years working at Nottingham, before joining the Health Economics Unit at the University of Birmingham in 2002.   Emma has continued to work at Birmingham on a number of projects since then.

Emma was awarded a PhD in 2003 that focused on the methodological properties of the contingent valuation approach to value colorectal cancer screening.   It is the application of cost-benefit analysis tools that has been a significant theme in Emma's research with the development of research projects using these methods that span obesity-prevention, drug addiction, and mental health.   She also has an interest in the use of utility-based instruments to measure outcome in children and is actively working on a to measure wider wellbeing in children for public health evaluation.

Emma holds a NIHR-fellowship to work closely with  Birmingham City Council Public Health team managing services to help tackle childhood obesity.    She is actively working on refining health economics methods to better meet the needs of Public Health decision makers

 In 2013, Emma was recognised as a Senior Fellow of The Higher Education Academy.


Postgraduate supervision

  • Lead supervisor for PhD measuring cost-effectiveness of strategies to reduce population Vitamin D deficiency (2014-2017)
  • Co-supervisor for PhD looking at cross-cultural comparisons of determinants of childhood obesity (2016-2019)

Emma is interested in supervising doctoral research students in the following areas:

  • Application of cost-benefit analysis for the evaluation of complex interventions.
  • Economics of obesity
  • Health-related quality of life in a paediatric population.

If you are interesting in studying any of these subject areas or are interested in studying at the Health Economics Unit more generally please contact Emma using the contact details above.


Emma’s programme of research is in three interlinked areas:

  1. Childhood Obesity

Emma has a strong research interest in childhood obesity and more specifically methods to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of obesity-prevention interventions.  This work is funded by a NIHR Career Development Fellowship working closely with Birmingham City Council to tackle childhood obesity.  Emma is also a co-applicant leading the health economics contribution on 5 NIHR-funded Randomised-Controlled Trials all focused on childhood obesity.

2. Childhood Economic Outcomes

Complementing her childhood obesity work, much of Emma’s methodological work is on assessing measures of childhood outcomes for economic evaluation.   Emma has recently gained a collaboration travel grant to support a visit to University of British Columbia (UBC), Vancouver.   This is an exciting opportunity for cross-disciplinary international collaboration exploring methods to measure the benefits of childhood obesity services using ‘wellbeing’ measures.

  1. Cost-Benefit Analysis

Much of Emma’s methodological work has focused on the application of cost-benefit analysis (CBA).   A key feature of Emma’s research is to progress methods within health economics, in particular to focus on methods for outcome measurement, a main component of all economic evaluations.   This motivation is driven by the increasing need for health economists to evaluate complex interventions that have costs and benefits that fall outside the health sector.  This is often the case within public health.

 Research Groups and Centres

Emma is an honorary member of the Manchester Centre for Health Economics based at the University of Manchester: http://www.population-health.manchester.ac.uk/healtheconomics/

Other activities

  • NIHR Doctoral Research Fellowship Panel Member
  • Health Research Board (HRB) in Ireland, Health Research Awards - Definitive Intervention review panel
  • Clinical Trial Steering Group Member: TRAVEL TO WORK (2014-2017) The effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of an employer-led intervention to increase walking during the daily commute: the Travel to Work randomised controlled trial.     
  • Higher Education Academy Senior Fellow
  • Chair of Scientific Committee for International Society for Priorities in Health conference, to be held in Birmingham, September 2016.
  • International Health Economics Association (iHEA) Scientific Committee member
  • American Society for Health Economics (AshEcon) Scientific Committee member
  • Member of the International Health Economics Association (iHEA)
  • Member of the American Society for Health Economics (AshEcon)
  • Member of the Health Economics Study Group (HESG)


Stephen C, Hamira S, Frew E.  2013 Telecare service for people with dementia: a cost-benefit analysis.  Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare, in press.

Canaway A and Frew E.  2013. Measuring preference based quality of life in children aged 6-7 years:  A comparison of the performance of CHU-9D and EQ-5D-Y.  The WAVES pilot study.  Quality of Life Research, 22 (1), pp.173-182.

Gait C, Frew E, Martin T, Jowett S, Irving R. 2013 Conservative management, surgery, and radiosurgery for treatment of vestibular schwannomas: cost-effectiveness analysis.  Clinical Otolaryngology, in press.

Canaway A and Frew E.  2013. Utility based health related quality of life in children aged 6-7 years: is it affected by Body Mass Index (BMI)?: The WAVES pilot study.  International Journal of Obesity, in press.

Sanghera S, Frew E, Kai J, Gupta J, Roberts T. 2013. An Assessment of Economic Measures used in Menorrhagia: A Systematic Review.  Social Science & Medicine, 98, pp. 162-168.

Goodwin E and Frew E.  2013. How useful is programme budgeting and marginal analysis (PBMA)?:  A reflection from an English Primary Care Trust (PCT).  Social Science & Medicine, 98, pp. 149-153.

Mistry H, Oppong R and Frew E. 2013. Health Economics website (HEe): a tool to enhance health economics teaching in the United Kingdom.  Journal of Economics Education, in press.

Oppong R, Mistry H and Frew E. 2013. Health economics education in undergraduate medical training: introducing the health economics education (HEe) website.  Medical Education, 13; pp. 126.

Edward Day, Copello Alex, Jennifer L Seddon, Marilyn Christie, Deborah Bamber, Charlotte Powell, Sanju George, Andrew Ball, Emma Frew and Nicholas Freemantle. 2013. Pilot Study of A Social Network Intervention For Heroin Users In Opiate Substitution Treatment: Study Protocol. Trials, 14: pp. 264

Kaambwa, B., Frew, E., 2013. Health economics in the UK: Capacity, constraints and comparisons to US health economists. International Review of Economics Education, 12, pp. 1-13.