Dr Steven Blackburn Ph.D.

Profile picture of Dr Steven Blackburn

Institute of Applied Health Research
Associate Professor

Contact details

Room 235, Murray Learning Centre
Institute of Applied Health Research
College of Medical and Dental Sciences
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 2TT

Steven is an Associate Professor in the Institute of Applied Health Research, University of Birmingham. An applied health researcher, with specific expertise in Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement. Steven is the lead for public involvement in NIHR Research Design Service (RDS) West Midlands. Current Chair of the national RDS Public Involvement Community and Public Involvement Lead for the RDS National Office, responsible for the delivery of a national RDS Public Involvement Strategy. He has contributed to several NIHR initiatives to improve the quality of public involvement and engagement in research.


  • PhD in Biomedical Engineering, University of Strathclyde, 2013
  • MSc in Bioengineering, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, 2000
  • BSc (Hons) in Sport Sciences, University of Sunderland, 1998


Steven has a growing reputation as leader for PPIE locally, nationally and internationally, with specific expertise in the role of PPIE in shaping and co-producing research. Currently, Steven is regional lead for public involvement in NIHR Research Design Service (RDS) West Midlands and academic lead for Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement (PPIE) in Research at the Institute of Applied Health Research, Birmingham University.

In his RDS role, Steven has regional and national roles, including Chair of the national RDS Public Involvement Community and Public Involvement Lead for the RDS National Office.

Throughout his academic career Steven has embraced public partnerships in research activities, including:

  • embedding patients and the public through research studies
  • co-designing and evaluating assistive and digital health technologies with end users
  • developing public involvement and engagement in global health research
  • co-developing patient reported outcome measures with patients for clinical trials in the pharmaceutical industry.

Steven has contributed to several NIHR initiatives to improve the quality of PPIE. Steven successfully led a pilot site for the new UK Standards for Public Involvement, from which he is now developing a national Quality Recognition and Awards Programme. He has also contributed to NIHR guidance for PPIE in the Standard Application Form and Trial Steering Committees.

As part of a European implementation project on osteoarthritis care, Steven convened an international patient panel as part of the project’s successful Community of Practice. With the Institute for Research and Development in Colombo, Steven is helping to introduce and develop PPIE in Sri Lankan research, holding workshops and seminars with different institutions and research communities. During the COVID pandemic, Steven supported research institutions to adapt processes  to continue PPIE virtually and co-authored NIHR’s Shared Commitments statement to encourage others to maintain their activity.

Steven has have successfully obtained funding for PPIE-related projects and published numerous articles describing the role and impact of PPIE in research.



Development of a national quality recognition and awards programme for public involvement in research

 Qualitative narrative review of public involvement quality reported in annual reports of NIHR infrastructure organisations.

 Strengthening regional infrastructure and collaboration for public involvement in research

 Multi-centre randomised open-label assessor-blinded two arm parallel group trial of subcutaneous versus oral methotrexate for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), with feasibility assessment, economic evaluation and qualitative study. (Public Involvement Lead)

 JIGSAW-A: Joint implementation of guidelines for osteoarthritis in West Africa

 Causal mechanisms behind intergenerational transmission of nutritional choices and their association with metabolic risk indicators in Sri Lanka


Implementing the New Standards for Public Involvement in Research Environments (INSPIRE)

 Engaging underserved ethnic communities to improve the diversity of Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement and support the collaborative transformation of evidence-based primary care services

 Co-design and evaluation of the MSK-Tracker platform to implement the MSK-HQ patient questionnaire to empower patients and improve services

 'Student-Link': development of a new pathway to engage ethnic minority populations in patient and public involvement and engagement in research

 Understanding the experience, costs and consequences of patient and public involvement (PPI) in Primary Care Research

 Getting sustainable, person-centred musculoskeletal health intelligence from primary care electronic health record linkage and modelling: the PRELIM initiative

 Optimisation of adrenal incidentaloma patient management pathway using a novel IT Management System

 Back pain prevention in multiple myeloma using an external spinal brace - a feasibility study

 Co-development and evaluation of a Post-stroke Checklist with stroke survivors, later endorsed by the World Stroke Organization

Research Groups and Centres

NIHR Research Design Service West Midlands

Other activities

Vice Chair of Woore Primary School Governors


Recent publications


Masood, Y, Alvarez Nishio, A, Starling, B, Dawson, S, Salsberg, J, Blackburn, S, van Vliet, E & Pittens, CACM 2024, 'Series: Public engagement with research. Part 2: GPs and primary care researchers working inclusively with minoritised communities in health research to help address inequalities', The European Journal of General Practice , vol. 30, no. 1, 2322996. https://doi.org/10.1080/13814788.2024.2322996

Blackburn, S, Cinch, M, de Wit, M, Primdahl, J & van Vliet, E 2023, 'Series: Public engagement with research. Part 1: The fundamentals of Public Engagement with Research', The European Journal of General Practice , vol. 29, no. 1, 2232111. https://doi.org/10.1080/13814788.2023.2232111

Swaithes, L, Campbell, L, Anthierens, S, Skrybant, M, Schiphof, D, French, H, de Wit, M, Blackburn, S & Dziedzic, K 2023, 'Series: Public engagement with research. Part 4: Maximising the benefits of involving the public in research implementation', The European Journal of General Practice , vol. 29, no. 1, 2243037. https://doi.org/10.1080/13814788.2023.2243037

Blackburn, S, Hine, R, Fairbanks, S, Parkes, P, Murinas, D, Meakin, A, Taylor, R, Parton, L, Jones, M, Tunmore, J, Lench, J, Evans, N, Lewney, K, O’Mara, L & Fryer, AA 2023, 'The INSIGHT project: reflections on the co-production of a quality recognition programme to showcase excellence in public involvement in health and care research', Research Involvement and Engagement, vol. 9, no. 1, 99. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40900-023-00508-4

Burton, C, Rathod-Mistry, T, Blackburn, S, Blagojevic-Bucknall, M, Chesterton, LS, Davenport, G, Dziedzic, K, Higginbottom , A, Jowett, S, Myers, H, Oppong, R, van der Windt, D, Hay, E & Roddy, E 2023, 'The effectiveness of corticosteroid injection versus night splints for carpal tunnel syndrome: 24-month follow-up of a randomised trial', Rheumatology, vol. 62, no. 2, keac219. https://doi.org/10.1093/rheumatology/keac219

Moult, A, Baker, D, Aries, A, Bailey, P, Blackburn, S, Kingstone, T, Lwembe, S & Paskins, Z 2023, 'Using the UK standards for public involvement to evaluate the public involvement sections of annual reports from NIHR managed research centres', Research Involvement and Engagement, vol. 9, no. 1, 109. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40900-023-00517-3

Yu, D, Peat, G, Jordan, KP, Bailey, J, Prieto-Alhambra, D, Robinson, DE, Strauss, VY, Walker-Bone, K, Silman, A, Mamas, M, Blackburn, S, Dent, S, Dunn, K, Judge, A, Protheroe, J & Wilkie, R 2021, 'Estimating the population health burden of musculoskeletal conditions using primary care electronic health records', Rheumatology (Oxford, England), vol. 60, no. 10, pp. 4832-4843. https://doi.org/10.1093/rheumatology/keab109

Østerås, N, Blaker, IB, Hjortland, T, Cottrell, E, Quicke, JG, Dziedzic, KS, Blackburn, S & Paulsen, A 2021, 'Improving osteoarthritis management in primary healthcare: results from a quasi-experimental study', BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, vol. 22, no. 1, 79. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12891-021-03959-6

Read, S, Aries, AM, Ashby, SM, Bambrick, V, Blackburn, SJ, Clifford, H, Rhodes, C, Thirlwall, S & Watkins, CA 2020, 'Facilitating personal development for public involvement in health-care education and research: A co-produced pilot study in one UK higher education institute', Health Expectations, vol. 23, no. 5, pp. 1191-1201. https://doi.org/10.1111/hex.13097

Hawarden, A, Jinks, C, Mahmood, W, Bullock, L, Blackburn, S, Gwilym, S & Paskins, Z 2020, 'Public priorities for osteoporosis and fracture research: results from a focus group study', Archives of Osteoporosis, vol. 15, no. 1, pp. 89. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11657-020-00766-9

Paskins, Z, Torres Roldan, VD, Hawarden, AW, Bullock, L, Meritxell Urtecho, S, Torres, GF, Morera, L, Espinoza Suarez, NR, Worrall, A, Blackburn, S, Chapman, S, Jinks, C & Brito, JP 2020, 'Quality and effectiveness of osteoporosis treatment decision aids: a systematic review and environmental scan', Osteoporosis International, vol. 31, no. 10, pp. 1837-1851. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00198-020-05479-w

Quicke, JG, Cottrell, E, Duffy, H, Somerville, S, Oxtoby, J, Wallbanks, A, Campbell, L, Blackburn, S, Stevenson, K, Cooper, V, Finney, A, Wathall, S, Edwards, JJ, Evans, N & Dziedzic, K 2019, 'Implementing and evaluating a pilot physiotherapist-led osteoarthritis clinic in general practice', Physiotherapy, vol. 105, pp. e33-e34. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.physio.2018.11.278

We would like to acknowledge the other members of the SEARCH Group & Blackburn, S 2019, 'Protocol for establishing a child and adolescent twin register for mental health research and capacity building in Sri Lanka and other low and middle-income countries in South Asia', BMJ open, vol. 9, no. 10, pp. e029332. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2019-029332


Babatunde, OO, Adetunji, OA, Alonge, I, Owoyemi, T, Taiwo, P, Ogunbanjo, A, Blackburn, S, White, S, Adebajo, A & Mallen, C 2024, '785 - Co-contextualising and Implementing evidence-based care model for osteoarthritis: Nigerian case study in the Joint Implementation of Guidelines for OSteoArthritis in West-Africa (JIGSAW-A)', Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, vol. 32, no. Supplement 1, pp. S537-S538. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.joca.2024.02.799

Review article

Drinkwater, J, Farr, M, Hickey, G, Van Vliet, E, Söderholm Werkö, S, Klingmann, I & Blackburn, S 2024, 'Series: Public engagement with research. Part 3: Sharing power and building trust through partnering with communities in primary care research', European Journal of General Practice, vol. 30, no. 1, 2328707. https://doi.org/10.1080/13814788.2024.2328707

View all publications in research portal