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Nicola Boydell

Dr Nicola Boydell

Area of study
Patient experience
Fellowship level
Year awarded
Host university
Usher Institute
University of Edinburgh
Nicola is a social scientist with a background in medical sociology and public health research. She has undertaken a range of qualitative research studies exploring social and cultural dimensions of sexual and reproductive health. Her research interests and areas of expertise include: qualitative methods and analysis; participatory research methods; health service evaluation; and collaborative work with health and community practitioners.
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Using and extending participatory approaches in service improvement within sexual and reproductive health services for young people


Involving young people in the design of health services is vitally important because it can support improvements to both service delivery, and young people’s experiences of services. Sexual and reproductive healthcare is one area in which there is a need to involve young people because they frequently experience poor sexual health, as well as barriers to accessing and using services. Involving young people in service improvements can help remove these barriers and improve their experiences of healthcare.

Compounding this issue, sexual and reproductive health (SRH) service providers often lack the tools and resources to carry out involvement work.

This project will study this problem in more depth to: identify if, and how, participatory and co-design approaches for involving young people in health service improvement have been applied in the context of SRH services; examine how SRH service providers articulate young people’s involvement in improvement efforts; and explore young people experiences of involvement in SRH service improvement projects.


This 3.5 year collaborative project is informed by participatory approaches to healthcare improvement research. The project will explore how sexual and reproductive healthcare design and improvement is currently practiced, as well as fostering collaborations with young people (aged 13-18) and service providers to enable the co-design of practical resources that can be used to support the involvement of other young people in work to improve sexual and reproductive health services. Young people will be involved through all stages of the project, including as co-researchers in the qualitative phase of the project.

Over the course of the project, existing research evidence will be reviewed to develop a better understanding of what methods and approaches other people have used in healthcare improvement work with young people. The project will involve the use of a range of qualitative research methods – including document analysis, observations, interviews and group discussions with young people and service providers – to understand how improvement work is done in practice. The project also aims to bring together young people and people who plan and deliver SRH services, to co-design resources that will support young people’s participation in improvement work across other SRH services.

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