Professor Sheila Greenfield BSc, MA, PhD

Professor Sheila Greenfield

Institute of Applied Health Research
Professor of Medical Sociology

Contact details

Institute of Applied Health Research
College of Medical and Dental Sciences
Murray Learning Centre
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Sheila Greenfield is Professor of Medical Sociology in the Institute of Applied Health Research.  

Sheila teaches medical sociology on the MBChB course. 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 with a particular interest in their use of complementary and alternative medicine.


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 and teaching medical sociology within the MBChB programme of the College of Medical and Dental Sciences and qualitative methods education and applied research within the Institute of Applied Health Research.

Sheila has published extensively in her area of particular interest, patient self-management, with a particular focus on the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) by patients with chronic conditions as part of their self-management. She has been an invited speaker on CAM at both national (Foundation for Integrated Medicine, Blackie Foundation, Research Council for Complementary Medicine) and local level (Birmingham Science Museum’s Birmingham Cafe Scientifique) and reviews articles on CAM 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.


Research themes

Lay health beliefs; the use 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 focussing on hypertension, diabetes, vasculitis and atrial fibrillation.

Lay health beliefs and behaviours

Sheila's work 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.

Current studies 

  • Optimising the monitoring and management of raised blood pressure during and after pregnancy (NIHR)
  • Improving medication adherence: a qualitative study of the effect of using urine assays on consultations about antihypertensive medications (RfPB)
  • NIHR Global Health Research Group on Atrial Fibrillation (NIHR)
  • 'Snacktivity' to promote physical activity and reduce future risk of disease in the population (NIHR)
  • Yoga programme for type-2 diabetes prevention (YOGA-DP) among high-risk people in India: intervention development and feasibility study (MRC NIHR DfID Wellcome Trust Global Health Trials)


Litchfield I, Bentham L, Hill A, McManus RJ, Lilford R, Greenfield SThe impact of status and social context on health service co-design: an example from a collaborative improvement initiative in UK primary care. BMC Med Res Methodol. 2018 Nov 16;18(1):136. doi: 10.1186/s12874-018-0608-5.

Humphries, C., Jaganathan, S., Panniyammakal, J., Singh, S., Goenka, S., Dorairaj, P., Gill, P., Greenfield, S., Lilford, R. & Manaseki-Holland,  S.Investigating clinical handover and healthcare communication for outpatients with chronic disease in India: A mixed-methods study 5 Dec 2018 PLoS ONE. 13, 12, e0207511

Litchfield I, Andrews RC, Narendran P, Greenfield SPatient and Healthcare Professionals Perspectives on the Delivery of Exercise Education for Patients With Type 1 Diabetes. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2019 Feb 19;10:76:210

McArdle PD, Greenfield SM, Rilstone SK, Narendran P, Haque MS, Gill PS. Carbohydrate restriction for glycaemic control in Type 2 diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Diabet Med. 2019 Mar;36(3):335-348. doi: 10.1111/dme.13862. Epub 2019 Jan 3. Review. PMID: 30426553

Monahan M, Jowett S, Nickless A, Franssen M, Grant S, Greenfield S, Hobbs FDR, Hodgkinson J, Mant J, McManus RJ. Cost-effectiveness of telemonitoring and self-monitoring of blood pressure for antihypertensive titration in primary care (TASMINH4). Hypertension 2019 Jun;73(6):1231-1239.

Cadge C, Connor C, Greenfield S. University students’ understanding and perceptions of schizophrenia in the UK: a qualitative study BMJ Open 2019 Apr 4 (9) e0125183.

Corrigan M, Hirschfield G, Greenfield S, Parry J. Barriers to implementation of stratified care in primary biliary cholangitis: a scoping exercise. BMJ Open Gastroenterol. 2019 Jun 17;6(1):

Grant, S.Hodgkinson, J., Schwartz, C. L., Bradburn, P., Franssen, M., Hobbs, F. D. R., Jowett, S., McManus, R. J. ,Greenfield S.Using mHealth for the management of hypertension in UK primary care: an embedded qualitative study of the TASMINH4 randomised controlled trial.  Br J Gen Pract. 2019 Aug 29;69(686):e612-e620.

Lambe T, Adab P, Jordan RE, Sitch A, Enocson A, Jolly K, Marsh J, Riley R, Miller M, Cooper BG, Turner AM, Ayres JG, Stockley R, Greenfield S, Siebert S, Daley A, Cheng KK, Fitzmaurice D, Jowett S. Model-based eval ation of the long-term cost-effectiveness of systematic case-finding for COPD in primary care. Thorax. 2019 Aug;74(8):730-739.

Krouwel M, Jolly K, Greenfield S. How do people with refractory irritable bowel syndrome perceive Hypnotherapy? : Qualitative study.  Complement Ther Med. 2019 Aug;45:65-70

View all publications in research portal


Complementary and alternative medicine

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