Professor Sheila Greenfield BSc, MA, PhD

Institute of Applied Health Research
Senior Lecturer

Contact details

Primary Care Clinical Sciences
Institute of Applied Health Research
College of Medical and Dental Sciences
University of Birmingham
Birmingham, B15 2TT

Sheila Greenfield is Professor of Medical Sociology in the Institute of Applied Health Research.  She teaches medical sociology on the MBChB 4 and 5 year programmes and  leads a Complementary Medicine experience morning for MBChB Year 1 students.  She is a qualitative methodologist  and her research is focussed on two main areas; the design and implementation of qualitative methodology as a component of mixed methods research; the methods people use to self-manage their health either for health promotion and prevention or for the management of diagnosed medical conditions.


Sheila Greenfield qualified with a BSc (Hons) in French and Sociology from the University of Aston in 1978. She went on to study for an MA (Birmingham) and PhD (Aston) in comparative sociology before joining the Department of General Practice at the University of Birmingham in 1983. Sheila has continued to work in Birmingham leading the introduction and development of Medicine in Society teaching within the MBChB programme of the College of Medical and Dental Sciences and qualitative methods education and applied research within the School of Health Population Sciences.

Sheila has published extensively in her area of particular interest, complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) with a focus on its role as a part of medical education and its use by patients with chronic conditions. She is an invited speaker on CAM at both national (Foundation for Integrated Medicine, Blackie Foundation) and local level (Birmingham Science Museum’s Birmingham Cafe Scientifique) and reviews articles on complementary and alternative medicine for a wide range of journals.


Teaching Programmes

Postgraduate supervision

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

  • Lay health beliefs
  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Beliefs and behaviours related to medicine taking
  • Research using qualitative methodology

If you are interesting in studying any of these subject areas please contact Sheila on the contact details above.



Lay health beliefs; theuse of self-management for prevention, health maintenance and the management of chronic disease; complementary and alternative medicine, medicine taking; qualitative methodology


Mixed methods Research on chronic disease

Sheila currently leads the qualitative component of large mixed methods studies on cardiovascular (DVT, hypertension, stroke), cancer (colorectal) and respiratory (COPD) disease. She is qualitative lead across the 9 themes of the 5 year Birmingham and Black Country CLAHRC which explores 9 areas core to population health and service provision in the West Midlands.

Lay health beliefs and behaviours

The main emphasis of her work over the last 12 years has focussed on lay understanding of symptoms and the methods people use to self-manage their health. Areas studied have included use of complementary and alternative medicine in particular homeopathy, hypnosis and herbal medicine, home self-testing kits, attitudes to prescribed and over-the-counter medicines and how people integrate orthodox treatment and self-care.

Complementary and alternative medicine and medical education

Her research has explored medical student attitudes to CAM, in particular the role of gender and further development of tools for assessing student attitudes.


Mathers J, Greenfield S, Metcalfe A, Cole T, Flanagan S, Wilson S. Family history in primary care:understanding general practitioners’ resistance to clinical genetics:qualitative study. British Journal of General Practice  2010, 60:358-364

Ryan A, Wilson S, Greenfield S. Prevalence of the use of self-tests by adults in the United Kingdom: a questionnaire survey. Journal of Public Health 2009 doi;10.10903/pubmed/fdq018

Ryan A, Ives J, Wilson S, Greenfield S. Why members of the public self-test: an interview study. Family Practice  2010, 27:570–581

McManus R J , Mant J, Bray EP, Holder R, Jones MI, Greenfield S, Kaambwa B, Banting M, Bryan S, Little P, Williams B, Hobbs FDR. A Randomised Controlled Trial Of Telemonitoring And Self-Management In The Control Of Hypertension: Telemonitoring And Self-Management In Hypertension (TASMINH2) Lancet 2010; 376; 163-172 

Fletcher K, Mant J, McManus R, Campbell S, J Betts J, aylor C, Virdee S, Jowett S, Martin U, Greenfield S, Ford G, Freemantle N, Hobbs FDR. Protocol for Past BP: a randomised controlled trial of different blood pressure targets for people with a history of stroke of transient ischaemic attack (TIA) in primary care. BMC Cardiovascular Disorders 2010, 10:37

Flanagan SM, Wilson S, Luesley D, Damery SL,Greenfield SM.Adverse outcomes after colposcopy. BMC Women's Health 2011, 11:2doi:10.1186/1472-6874-11-2

Damery S, Gratus C, Grieve R, Warmington S, Jones J, Routledge P, Greenfield S, Dowswell G, Sherrif J, Wilson S. The use of herbal medicines by people with cancer: a cross-sectional survey British Journal of Cancer 2011, 104(6): 927-933

Neilson S, Kai J, MacArthur C, Greenfield S Caring for children dying from cancer at home: A qualitative study of the experience of primary care practitioners. (in press Family Practice)


Complementary and alternative medicine

Alternative contact number available for this expert: contact the press office