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sdowne

Professor Soo Downe

Professor of Midwifery Studies, co-Director, THRIVE Centre
School of Community Health and Midwifery
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Soo is a midwife with a particular research focus on the nature of, and cultures around, normal birth. Soo has undertaken research using a wide range of qualitative and quantitative methods, from phenomenology and ethnography to surveys, RCTs, and epidemiological analysis of large data sets. As well as undertaking research, she teaches on both undergraduate and postgraduate research programmes, and she regularly works with the World Health Organisation and with other research, practice, and public health leaders in maternity care around the world.

Soo leads the Research in Childbirth and Health team in the School of Community Studies and Midwifery, and she co-Directs the THRIVE Centre, that has a focus on the first 1000 days of life. Her research role includes masters and PhD supervision, and running studies that operate at local, national, and international level. Between 2010 and 2018 she was PI and Chair of two EU H2020 COST research networks, including 33 countries and over 120 scientists, rated ‘world leading’ by EU COST. She directs the Babies Born Better survey, currently including over 80,000 respondents in 23 languages from 60 countries. She set up the international Normal Birth Research Conference Series, which has run alternately in the UK and overseas every year since 2001.

Soo worked as a clinical and research midwife for 15 years before joining UCLan in 2001. Her main research focus is the nature of, and cultures around, normal birth. She has published over 140 peer reviewed papers (h-index 29). She has been lead or co-PI on funded projects with a total income of over £5 million. Between 2010 and 2018 she was PI and Chair of two EU H2020 COST research networks, including 33 countries and over 120 scientists, rated ‘world leading’ by EU COST. She directs the Babies Born Better survey, currently including over 80,000 respondents in 23 languages from 60 countries. She is a Cochrane EPOC editor, and author of three Cochrane reviews. She was a co-author on three Lancet Series: Midwifery (2014), Stillbirth (2016), and Reducing Unnecessary Caesarean Section (2018).

She has been a member of the Technical Working Group of the recent WHO antenatal, intrapartum, uterotonic, and optimising caesarean section guidelines, and has contributed new developments and insights in metasynthesis of quality studies as a result. Three methodological papers on Qualitative Evidence Synthesis have recently been published with UCLan, EPOC and WHO colleagues (2019). The findings from the metasynthesis studies framed the subsequent WHO guidelines, and are used in dissemination and implementation currently being undertaken by WHO to get the guidelines into practice in low income settings. Soo has undertaken research using a wide range of qualitative and quantitative methods, from phenomenology and ethnography to surveys, RCTs, and epidemiological analysis of large data sets.

  • PhD in midwifery, University of Derby, 1999
  • MSc in research methods, University of Derby 1994/ BA(Hons) in literature and linguistics, University of York, 1981
  • Registered Midwife, 1985
  • OBE for Services to Midwifery, 2011

Modules Taught

  • MW4052 - Normal Birth: Evidence and Debate
  • Maternity care
  • All methodological approaches/new methods of data synthesis (qualitative)
  • Member of the Royal College of Midwives
  • NMC Registered Midwife
  • NHS England Better Births Stakeholder Group: invited member, from July 2016-date
  • Visiting professorship, VuM University, Amsterdam, from 2020
  • Adjunct professorship, University of Western Sydney, From Jan 2019
  • Visiting Professor University of Dublin from 2016
  • Inaugural Elaine Carty Visiting Scholar, University of British Columbia, Canada, 2015
  • Honorary Professorship, University of Ulster, from January 2012
  • Honorary Professorship, University of Hang Zhou, China, from October 2012