Dr Anna Lavis MA, MSc, MRes, PhD

Dr Anna Lavis

Institute of Applied Health Research
Lecturer in Medical Sociology and Qualitative Methods

Contact details

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

An anthropologist by background, Anna Lavis is a Lecturer in Medical Sociology and Qualitative Methods in the Social Studies in Medicine (SSiM) Team in the Institute of Applied Health Research. 

Her work explores individuals’ and informal caregivers’ experiences and subjectivities of mental illness and distress across a range of social and cultural contexts, both offline and on social media.

Her research to date has particularly focused on eating disorders, psychosis and self-harm, with theoretical emphases on gender, bodies and embodiment, concepts and ethics of care, and the intersections of mental health and material culture.

She has presented and published across the social and medical sciences and is involved in a number of interdisciplinary research collaborations both at Birmingham and externally. 

Anna teaches on various programmes, covering topics in qualitative methods and medical sociology, as well as undertaking doctoral supervision both at Birmingham and externally. She is also the SSiM postgraduate lead. Anna accepts invitations for teaching and examining in the UK and abroad.

She is a core member of the newly-founded Birmingham Institute for Mental Health and holds an honorary research position in the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Oxford.


  • PhD Medical Anthropology: Goldsmiths, University of London, 2011.
  • MRes Medical Anthropology and Research Methods: Goldsmiths, University of London, 2006.
  • MSc Social Anthropology: University College London, 2003.
  • BA European and Middle Eastern Languages: University of Oxford, 2002 (MA, 2013)


Postgraduate supervision

Dr Lavis is interested in supervising doctoral research in:

Individuals’ experiences of illness and/or treatment interventions
Women’s illness experiences
Qualitative (especially ethnographic) research into any area related to mental health
Anorexia and/or other eating disorders
Psychosis and/or treatment interventions

Other activities

  • Series Editor (2016-), with Alison Summers, International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis (ISPS) Book Series, Routledge.
  • Honorary Associate, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Oxford.
  • Guest Lecturer, Division of Psychiatry, University College London.
  • Co-founder, with Karin Eli, of the ‘Body and Being Network.’
  • This is a public engagement network that seeks to develop dialogues about the body among social and medical scientists and performance artists. http://bodyandbeingnetwork.org Twitter: @bodyandbeingnet 


'Anorexia, care and comfort’

‘Dangerous engagements? Exploring pro-anorexia websites and in the media'


Recent publications


Lavis, A & Winter, R 2020, '#Online harms or benefits? An ethnographic analysis of the positives and negatives of peer‐support around self‐harm on social media', Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcpp.13245

Winter, R & Lavis, A 2019, 'Looking, but not listening? Theorizing the practice and ethics of online ethnography', Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics. https://doi.org/10.1177/1556264619857529

Winter, R & Lavis, A 2019, 'Narrative matters: two decades of support: a brief history of online self-harm content', Journal of Child and Adolescent Mental Health. https://doi.org/10.1111/camh.12356

Channa, S, Lavis, A, Connor, C, Palmer, C, Leung, N & Birchwood, M 2019, 'Overlaps and disjunctures: a cultural case study of a British Indian young woman's experiences of bulimia nervosa', Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, vol. 43, no. 3, pp. 361-386. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11013-019-09625-w

Tucker, I & Lavis, A 2019, 'Temporalities of mental distress: digital immediacy and the meaning of 'crisis' in online support', Sociology of Health and Illness, vol. 41, no. S1, pp. 132-146. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9566.12943

Radhakrishnan, M, McCrone, P, Lafortune, L, Everard, L, Fowler, D, Amos, T, Freemantle, N, Singh, SP, Marshall, M, Sharma, V, Lavis, A, Jones, PB & Birchwood, M 2018, 'Cost-effectiveness of early intervention services for psychosis and fidelity to national policy implementation guidance', Early Intervention in Psychiatry, vol. 12, no. 4, pp. 747-756. https://doi.org/10.1111/eip.12481

Gee, B, Hodgekins, J, Lavis, A, Notley, C, Birchwood, M, Everard, L, Freemantle, N, Jones, PB, Singh, SP, Amos, T, Marshall, M, Sharma, V, Smith, J & Fowler, D 2018, 'Lived Experiences of Negative Symptoms in First-Episode Psychosis: A Qualitative Secondary Analysis ', Early Intervention in Psychiatry. https://doi.org/10.1111/eip.12558

Lavis, A 2018, 'Not eating or tasting other ways to live: a qualitative analysis of ‘living through’ and desiring to maintain anorexia', Transcultural Psychiatry, vol. 55, no. 4, pp. 454-474. https://doi.org/10.1177/1363461518785796

Fowler, D, Hodgekins, J, French, P, Marshall, M, Freemantle, N, McCrone, P, Everard, L, Lavis, A, Jones, PB, Amos, T, Singh, S, Sharma, V & Birchwood, M 2018, 'Social recovery therapy in combination with early intervention services for enhancement of social recovery in patients with first-episode psychosis (SUPEREDEN3): a single-blind, randomised controlled trial', The Lancet Psychiatry, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 41-50. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2215-0366(17)30476-5

Palmer, C, Connor, C, Channa, S, Lavis, A, Leung, N, Parsons, N & Birchwood, M 2018, 'The development of first episode direct self-injurious behaviour and association with difficulties in emotional regulation in adolescence', Suicide and Life-Threatening Behaviour. https://doi.org/10.1111/sltb.12512

Eli, K & Lavis, A 2016, 'Becoming fit to be a mother: class, learning, and redemption in Supersize vs Superskinny', Journal of Gender Studies. https://doi.org/10.1080/09589236.2016.1178630

Lavis, A 2016, 'Food, bodies, and the “stuff” of (not) eating in anorexia', Gastronomica, vol. 16, no. 3. <http://www.gastronomica.org/food-bodies-stuff-not-eating-anorexia/>

Lavis, A 2016, 'Social Media and Anorexia: A Qualitative Analysis of #ProAna', Education and Health, vol. 34, no. 2, pp. 57-62. <http://sheu.org.uk/x/eh342al.pdf>


Lavis, A & Eli, K 2016, 'Corporeal: Exploring the Material Dynamics of Embodiment', M/C: A Journal of Media and Culture, vol. 19, no. 1. <http://journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjournal/article/view/1088>

Special issue

Lavis, A (Guest ed.) & Eli, K (Guest ed.) 2016, ''Corporeal'', M/C: A Journal of Media and Culture, vol. 19, no. 1.

View all publications in research portal