Dr Lesley Roberts PhD

Primary Care Clinical Sciences
Senior Lecturer and Course Director BMedSc Population Sciences and Humanities

Contact details

Primary Care Clinical Sciences
School of Health and Population Sciences
College of Medical and Dental Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Lesley Roberts is a Senior Lecturer and Director of the Intercalated suite of BMedSc programmes in Population Sciences and Humanities. She is also a Year Tutor for the MBChB programme currently supporting students in the first year of the programme. She retains an active research portfolio in the areas of chronic disease management in primary care with special interests in Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Mental Health and Thyroid Dysfunction.


  • Post Graduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education 2010
  • PhD Primary Care Epidemiology 2003
  • BSc (Hons) Psychology 1992


Lesley qualified with a BSc (Hons) in Psychology from the University of Leicester in 1992. She then spent three years providing rehabilitation and support services for people with enduring mental illness in Sandwell before moving to the University of Birmingham initially to work on an MRC funded study exploring methods to increase uptake for breast screening. During this project Lesley was successful in securing a New Blood Fellowship enabling her to commence her PhD entitled ‘A retrospective case controlled study to compare primary care recording of physical health parameters in patients with and without schizophrenic illness’. Lesley has secured funding and undertaken research exploring the efficacy of various complementary therapies for Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Inflammatory Bowel Disease and has done work to better understand the patient experience of such illness. Primary care screening and management of thyroid dysfunction (especially sub clinical dysfunction) has also featured heavily in Lesley’s research. 

In 2004 moving into a Lecturer role Lesley took over the management of the Population Sciences and Humanities suite of intercalated programmes run by the College. Over recent years this suite of programmes has been remodelled and new programmes launched. The programme now offers degrees in Health Care Ethics and Law, History of Medicine, International Health, Psychological Medicine and Public Health and Population Sciences and has over 100 applications per annum. Lesley teaches on the International Health, Psychological Medicine and Public Health and Population Sciences programmes and is heavily involved in research supervision. She is highly encouraging of students wishing to publish quality research and has co-authored several papers with students in areas as diverse as access to health care in rural Zambia, the relationship between brand recognition and unhealthy diet in children, public understanding of appropriate 999 call use and medical students attitudes towards psychiatric illness. She was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2007. 

Lesley is also engaged with the MBChB programme within the College and has been a year tutor since 2008, currently with responsibility for year 1 students. She is also a personal mentor, delivers small group teaching within years 1 and 2 and is a dedicated elective supervisor.



  • BMedSc (Population Sciences and Humanities) – Course Director and Admissions Tutor. Programme Lead for Public Health and Population Sciences BMedSc.

  • MBChB – Year Tutor

Postgraduate supervision

Lesley primarily supervises research within undergraduate programmes but has supervised at masters and PhD level and may consider supervision of work which falls within her areas of interest.



Management of IBS and IBD with Complementary and Alternative Therapy, Screening and Management of Thyroid Dysfunction in Primary Care.


1. IBS and IBD

Lesley is currently the trials lead on a Big Lottery funded randomised trial of healing therapy for patients with IBS or IBD which is being run by Freshwinds. She has previously undertaken trials to explore the efficacy of probiotics and hypnotherapy in IBS as well as epidemiological and qualitative work around IBS to better understand prevalence, symptom burden and patient experience.

2. Thyroid Dysfunction

Lesley was the study manager on the initial Birmingham Elderly Thyroid Study which explored the prevalence of subclinical thyroid dysfunction and its association with cognitive dysfunction and atrial fibrillation in a large elderly community dwelling cohort. Lesley subsequently led on an application to the NIHR National School of Primary Care to follow up this cohort to explore stability of thyroid function over time and consider other factors needed for the development of useful primary care guidelines relating to screening and treatment of subclinical dysfunction in the elderly. She is currently supervising a PhD which adds to this body of work by exploring the symptom profile of elderly individuals with mild dysfunction.

Other activities


Undergraduate programme management and development.


Kirkby HM and Roberts LM*. Inappropriate 999 calls: an online pilot survey. Emergency Medicine Journal 2011. Published online Feb 22 2011 doi: 10.1136/emj.2010.092346 in advance of the print journal.

Chatt C and Roberts LM*. Barriers to Healthcare Access in Rural Zambia paper. African Journal of Health Sciences 2010; 17 (3-4): 15-25

Parle J, Roberts L, Franklyn J, Hobbs R, Pattison H, Heath C, Sheppard M, Wilson S, Haque S. A randomized double blind placebo controlled trial of the effects on cognitive function of thyroxine replacement in community-living elderly subjects with sub-clinical hypothyroidism: The Birmingham Elderly Thyroid Study. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 2010; 95 (8): 3623-3632

Farndale R and Roberts L*. Long-term impact of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): A qualitative study. Primary Health Care Research and Development 2010; Published online by Cambridge University Press doi:10.1017/S1463423610000095

Harris LR, Roberts L*.  Treatments for Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Patients' Attitudes and Acceptability. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2008; 8:65 (19 December 2008)

Roberts LM, Wiskin C, Roalfe A. Effects of exposure to mental illness in role-play on undergraduate student attitudes. Family Medicine 2008; 40, 477-483

Roalfe AK, Roberts LM, Wilson S. Evaluation of the Birmingham IBS symptom questionnaire. BMC Gastroenterology 2008; 8:30

Daley AJ, Grimmett C, Roberts L, Wilson S, Fatek M, Roalfe A, Singh S. The Effects of Exercise upon Symptoms and Quality of Life in Patients Diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome : A Randomised Controlled Trial. International Journal of Sports Medicine 2008; 10.1055