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Emma Berry

Area of study
Patient experience
Fellowship level
Year awarded
Host university
Health Services Research Unit
University of Aberdeen
Emma has a BSc in physiology (Hons), an MSc in health services and public health research, and an MSc in human nutrition. Before starting her PhD, Emma worked in NHS Scotland. Her previous roles included public involvement officer for health services, research engagement and communication, clinical research feasibility, and study support coordinator.
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‘Soft’ intelligence and online patient feedback: Using care opinion for NHS quality improvement in Scotland (Project complete)


Care Opinion is a website that gives patients and carers the opportunity to feedback on the care they receive. Though it is one of many feedback methods used within the NHS, it is the only one with the Scottish Government contract for online feedback.

Care Opinion and other online feedback posts provide rich sources of data. But like other forms of “soft intelligence”, this type of data can be difficult to process and use for improvement. Staff may struggle with how to respond to posts, how to make changes from posts, and how to combine this feedback data with other methods used within their organisation.

This project will examine how the feedback collected from Care Opinion is used for quality improvement in the NHS in Scotland, and explore staff perspectives on how to increase its impact.


This project is undertaken as a three-year PhD, starting in October 2019. The exact study design is still being decided at this time, but may include:

  • A national survey of patient experience leads in Scotland
  • Interviews
  • Embedded ethnographic observation with Care Opinion
  • Case studies with a range of NHS bBoards, looking at
    variations in engagement with Care Opinion

The study design will be agreed with a key stakeholder group including patients and staff, who will be involved throughout the duration of the project.

Watch Emma’s HSR UK 2023 presentation, ‘Care Opinion and NHS Scotland: NHS Staff findings from a case study research project on using online patient feedback’

Watch Emma participate in Research chat 13: Understanding the work of feedback moderation: a case study of Care Opinion Scotland

Read a feature on Emma’s PhD research in the Annual Review of stories told about NHS Scotland services in 2021/22 – Care Opinion Scotland

Research articles

Berry, E. et al. (2022) ‘Using humanity to change systems’ – understanding the work of online feedback moderation: A case study of Care Opinion Scotland. DIGITAL HEALTH.

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