Dr Jonathan Mathers

Institute of Applied Health Research
Senior Lecturer
Qualitative and Mixed Methods Applied Health Research

Contact details

Public Health, Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Institute of Applied Health Research
College of Medical and Dental Sciences
University of Birmingham
Birmingham, B15 2TT

Jonathan is a Senior Lecturer in the Institute of Applied Health Research.  He has broad based expertise in the application of qualitative and mixed methods research approaches for applied health and policy research.  He is currently leading the qualitative research components for a number of clinical trial feasibility studies funded by the NIHR Health Technology Assessment and Research for Patient Benefit programmes.  These studies will focus on a core set of themes which are key to the successful design and delivery of pragmatic clinical trials.  These include;

  • understanding the acceptability of trial questions to key stakeholders, including patients and clinical staff
  • understanding the factors that are likely to influence trial recruitment and participation
  • selecting outcome measures that are important to the range of key stakeholders, including patients and clinicians, and that are transferable across trials (e.g. via the construction of core outcome sets)
  • understanding patient experience of trial treatment regimes, and trial processes in order to optimise design and delivery


  • PhD (by publication), University of Birmingham, 2011
  • MPH, University of Birmingham, 2003
  • MSc, University of Hull, 1994
  • BSc, University of Derby, 1993


Jonathan contributes to teaching on a number of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes at the University of Birmingham.  He is also Module Lead for the Year 3 MBChB Public Health Project Module.

Teaching Programmes

Postgraduate supervision

Jonathan is interested in supervising doctoral students in areas which are coherent with his current research interests, predominantly related to the application of qualitative and mixed methods approaches within the context of clinical trials and clinical trial feasibility work.


Research themes 

Application of qualitative and mixed methods approaches in clinical trial and applied health research.

Currents project include feasibility studies of pressure garment therapy to prevent or reduce abnormal scarring following serious burn injury (the PEGASUS study); complex, simple or absent wound dressings in elective surgery (the Bluebelle study) and of undertaking appendicectomy to impact upon the clinical course of ulcerative colitis (the ACCURE study). 

He has previously conducted evaluations of complex policy interventions, including projects that have examined the expansion of undergraduate medical education across England, the New Deal for Communities regeneration programme and the English Health Trainers initiative.  This work has been supported by research funders including the National Institute for Health Research (Policy Research Programme) and the Higher Education Funding Council for England.   

Jonathan is interested in the role that qualitative and mixed-methods approaches have in providing insights that are relevant to our understanding of important medical and social phenomena, and their interaction with health and social policy.  He is a senior member of the qualitative methods research group in the School of Health & Population Sciences, and Lead for the Birmingham Hub of the West Midlands Research Design Service. 

Jonathan has published in a number of areas including research focusing on the expansion of undergraduate medical education, widening access to medicine policy, the impact of and public involvement in regeneration policy, and healthcare professionals’ reactions to health policy interventions.

Other activities

Jonathan is the Birmingham Hub Lead for the NIHR West Midlands Research Design Service, whilst also acting as an adviser for the service.


Recent Publications:

Mathers JM, Sitch, A, Marsh J, Parry J.  Widening access to medical education for under-represented socioeconomic groups: population based cross sectional analysis of UK data, 2002-2006.  British Medical Journal  2011; 341: d918

Taylor R., Atfield T., Mathers JM, Parry J.M.  How will the ‘Big Society’ impact on health improvement activities delivered by lay people? Journal of Public Health 2011; 33: 5-10

Mathers JM, Parry J.  Older mature students’ experience of applying to study medicine in England: an interview study.  Medical Education 2010;  44(11); 1084-1094

Mathers JM, Greenfield S, Metcallfe 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 (574); 358-364

Mathers JM, Parry J.  Why are there so few working class applicants to medical schools?  Learning from the success stories.  Medical Education 2009.  43. pp 219-228

Parry J, Mathers JM, Stevens A, Lilford R, Spurgeon P, Thomas H.  An assessment of the impact of the national expansion of medical schools in England on universities and their academic staff.  Medical Education 2008.  42; pp 1155-1165

Cotterill S, Parry J, Richardson M, Mathers JM.  Quasi-experimental evaluation of the health impacts of the new deal for communities urban regeneration scheme.  Critical Public Health  2008.  18 (3); pp. 311-322

Mathers JM, Parry J, Jones S.  Exploring resident (non) participation in the UK New Deal for Communities regeneration programme.  Urban Studies. 2008.  45 (3); pp. 591-606.

Wright, JSF, Parry, J, Mathers JM. What to do about political context? Evidence synthesis, the New Deal for Communities and the possibilities for evidence-based policy. Evidence and Policy 2007;3;2;253-269