You are here

  1. Home
  2. Dr Carrie Purcell

Dr Carrie Purcell

Profile summary

Web links

Professional biography

I am a Research Fellow in the Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies at the Open University in Scotland. My background is in medical sociology and qualitative methods. I lead the Reproduction, Sexualities and Sexual Health Research Group 

Research Interests 

My main research interests are around sexual and reproductive health (SRH), stigma, pain, self-management, reproductive justice, and access to healthcare. I currently lead the Gender Pain Gap study (part of the OU Open Societal Challenges programme), and the Sexual and Reproductive Justice Scotland knowledge exchange project.  

I have contributed to numerous studies on abortion and contraception in Scotland, the UK, and internationally. From 2018-21, I was PI on the Wellcome Trust-funded Sexuality and Abortion Stigma Study (SASS). SASS took a ‘big qual’ qualitative secondary analysis approach to analysing UK datasets on abortion spanning 10+ years, to inform understanding of abortion stigma and normalisation. I am a collaborator on the award-winning Open University engagement project My Body, My Life and was a co-investigator on the Abortion During COVID-19 study.  

In previous roles, I worked on a variety of mixed-method projects relating to health and wellbeing, ranging from process evaluations, to qualitative secondary analysis, to feasibility and implementation studies. As a result, I have a broad range of topical, methodological, and practical research expertise 

My PhD research (2011) took a phenomenological-narrative inquiry approach to understanding the practice of holistic massage, focusing on embodiment, the senses, and alternative ways of knowing.  

Within the OU, I co-lead the WELS Researcher Group, a faculty-wide initiative to support and develop the careers of staff on research-only contracts. I also sit on the Open University’s Research Concordat Steering Group, which oversees the OU’s adherence to the principles of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers.   

I contribute to the wider research community in a number of ways. I am a member (and former co-chair) of the steering group for the Interdisciplinary Research in Sexual Health Network Scotland (IRESH) . I am also Associate Director of the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships , and an Honorary Research Fellow in the School for Health and Wellbeing, University of Glasgow. I sit on the editorial board for BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, and am a regular reviewer for numerous clinical and social scientific journals. I also contribute to a number of governmental and other advisory groups relating to my research interests.  

PhD supervision 

I am currently interested in supervising in the following areas: 

  • sexual and reproductive health
  • reproductive justice
  • abortion
  • contraception
  • gendered dimensions of pain
  • embodiment

Professional Profiles 

ResearchGate: Carrie Purcell

Career history 

  • Research Fellow (Scotland) - Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Langauge Studies, Open University (2022 - present) 
  • Research Fellow - MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow (2018 - 2022) 
  • Research Associate - MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow (2015 - 2018)
  • Research Fellow - Usher Institute, University of Edinburgh (2013 - 2015) 
  • Investigator Scientist - MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow (2012 - 2013) 


  • PhD in Sociology - University of Edinburgh (2011) 
  • MSc by Research in Sociology - University of Edinburgh (2007) 
  • MA SocSci in Sociology - University of Glasgow (2002) 


Foregrounding pain in self-managed early medication abortion: A qualitative study (2024-03)
Purcell, Carrie; Newton, Victoria Louise; Bloomer, Fiona and Hoggart, Lesley
BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health ((Early Access))

Seeking support for abortion online: A qualitative study of women’s experiences (2024)
Wilson-Lowe, Rachel; Purcell, Carrie; Lewis, Ruth and McDaid, Lisa
BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health ((Early access))

Home-based cardiac rehabilitation for people with heart failure and their caregivers: a mixed-methods analysis of the roll out an evidence-based programme in Scotland (SCOT:REACH-HF study) (2023-11)
Purcell, Carrie; Purvis, Anthony; Cleland, John G F; Cowie, Aynsley; Dalal, Hasnain M; Ibbotson, Tracy; Murphy, Clare and Taylor, Rod S
European Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing, 22(8) (pp. 804-8013)

Social network interventions to support cardiac rehabilitation and secondary prevention in the management of people with heart disease (2023-06-28)
Purcell, Carrie; Dibben, Grace; Hilton Boon, Michele; Matthews, Lynsay; Palmer, Victoria J.; Thomson, Meigan; Smillie, Susie; Simpson, Sharon A. and Taylor, Rod S.
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2023, Article CD013820(6)

A peer-led, school-based social network intervention for young people in the UK, promoting sexual health via social media and conversations with friends: intervention development and optimisation of STASH (2023)
Purcell, Carrie; McDaid, Lisa; Forsyth, Ross; Simpson, Sharon A.; Elliott, Lawrie; Bailey, Julia V.; Moore, Laurence and Mitchell, Kirstin R.
BMC Public Health, 23(1) (p 675)

Home-based cardiac rehabilitation and health-related quality of life in people with heart failure: the SCOT:REACH-HF study (2023)
Taylor, Rod S and Purcell, Carrie
British Journal of Cardiac Nursing, 18(5) (pp. 1-3)

Social connectedness and supported self-management of early medication abortion in the UK: experiences from the COVID-19 pandemic and learning for the future (2023)
Hoggart, Lesley; Purcell, Carrie; Bloomer, Fiona; Newton, Victoria and Oluseye, Ayomide
Culture, Health & Sexuality ((Early access))

Feasibility study of peer-led and school-based social network Intervention (STASH) to promote adolescent sexual health (2021-06-14)
Mitchell, Kirstin R.; Purcell, Carrie; Simpson, Sharon A.; Broccatelli, Chiara; Bailey, Julia V.; Barry, Sarah J. E.; Elliott, Lawrie; Forsyth, Ross; Hunter, Rachael; McCann, Mark; McDaid, Lisa; Wetherall, Kirsty and Moore, Laurence
Pilot and Feasibility Studies, 7, Article 125

Effectiveness of social network interventions to support cardiac rehabilitation and secondary prevention in the management of people with heart disease (2021-01-05)
Purcell, Carrie; Smillie, Susie; Hilton Boon, Michele; Simpson, Sharon A and Taylor, Rod S
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Article CD013820

Peer-to-Peer Sharing of Social Media Messages on Sexual Health in a School-Based Intervention: Opportunities and Challenges Identified in the STASH Feasibility Trial (2021)
Hirvonen, Maija; Purcell, Carrie; Elliott, Lawrie; Bailey, Julia V; Simpson, Sharon Anne; McDaid, Lisa; Moore, Laurence; Mitchell, Kirstin Rebecca and The STASH Study Team,
Journal of Medical Internet Research, 23(2) (e20898)

Toward normalising abortion: Findings from a qualitative secondary analysis study (2020)
Purcell, Carrie; Maxwell, Karen; Bloomer, Fiona; Rowlands, Sam and Hoggart, Lesley
Culture, Health and Sexuality, 22(12) (pp. 1349-1364)

Normalising abortion: what role can health professionals play? (2020)
Maxwell, Karen J.; Hoggart, Lesley; Bloomer, Fiona; Rowlands, Sam and Purcell, Carrie
BMJ Sexual and Reproductive Health, 47(1) (pp. 32-36)

Protocol for an implementation study of an evidence-based home cardiac rehabilitation programme for people with heart failure and their caregivers in Scotland (SCOT:REACH-HF) (2020)
Purcell, Carrie; Daw, Paulina; Kerr, Claire; Cleland, J; Cowie, Aynsley; Dalal, Hasnain M; Ibbotson, Tracy; Murphy, Clare and Taylor, Rod
BMJ Open, 10, Article e040771(12)

A peer-led intervention to promote sexual health in secondary schools: the STASH feasibility study (2020)
Mitchell, Kirstin R; Purcell, Carrie; Forsyth, Ross; Barry, Sarah; Hunter, Rachael; Simpson, Sharon A; McDaid, Lisa; Elliot, Lawrie; McCann, Mark; Wetherall, Kirsty; Broccatelli, Chiara; Bailey, Julia V and Moore, Laurence
Public Health Research, 8(15) (pp. 1-152)

Conducting sexualities research: an outline of emergent issues and case studies from ten Wellcome-funded projects (2019)
Kneale, Dylan; French, Robert; Spandler, Helen; Young, Ingrid; Purcell, Carrie; Boden, Zoë; Brown, Steve D.; Callwood, Dan; Carr, Sarah; Dymock, Alex; Eastham, Rachael; Gabb, Jacqui; Henley, Josie; Jones, Charlotte; McDermott, Elizabeth; Mkhwanazi, Nolwazi; Ravenhill, James; Reavey, Paula; Scott, Rachel; Smith, Clarissa; Smith, Matthew; Thomas, James and Tingay, Karen
Wellcome Open Research, 4, Article 137

Peer-led intervention to prevent and reduce STI transmission and improve sexual health in secondary schools (STASH): protocol for a feasibility study (2018)
Forsyth, Ross; Purcell, Carrie; Barry, Sarah; Simpson, Sharon; Hunter, Rachael; McDaid, Lisa; Elliot, Lawrie; Bailey, Julia; Wetherall, Kirsty; McCann, Mark; Broccatelli, Chiara; Moore, Laurence and Mitchell, Kirstin
Pilot and Feasibility Studies, 4, Article 180(1)

Self-management of first trimester medical termination of pregnancy: a qualitative study of women's experiences (2017-12)
Purcell, C.; Cameron, S.; Lawton, J.; Glasier, A. and Harden, J.
BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, 124(13) (pp. 2001-2008)

Women's experiences of more than one termination of pregnancy within two years: a mixed-methods study (2017-12)
Purcell, C; Riddell, J; Brown, A; Cameron, ST; Melville, C; Flett, G; Bhushan, Y and McDaid, L
BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, 124(13) (pp. 1983-1992)

Women’s embodied experiences of second trimester medical abortion (2017)
Purcell, Carrie; Brown, Audrey; Melville, Catriona and McDaid, Lisa M
Feminism & Psychology, 27(2) (pp. 163-185)

The changing body work of abortion: a qualitative study of the experiences of health professionals (2017)
Purcell, Carrie; Cameron, Sharon; Lawton, Julia; Glasier, Anna and Harden, Jeni
Sociology of Health & Illness, 39(1) (pp. 78-94)

Barriers to accessing termination of pregnancy in a remote and rural setting: a qualitative study (2016)
Heller, R.; Purcell, C.; Mackay, L.; Caird, L. and Cameron, S. T.
BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, 123(10) (pp. 1684-1691)

Contraceptive care at the time of medical abortion: experiences of women and health professionals in a hospital or community sexual and reproductive health context (2016)
Purcell, Carrie; Cameron, Sharon; Lawton, Julia; Glasier, Anna and Harden, Jeni
Contraception, 93(2) (pp. 170-177)

The Sociology of Women's Abortion Experiences: Recent Research and Future Directions (2015)
Purcell, Carrie
Sociology Compass, 9(7) (pp. 585-596)

Access to later termination of pregnancy in Scotland: the impact of travel (2015)
Melville, C.; Brown, A.; Cameron, S.; Caird, L.; Flett, G; Laird, G.; McDaid, L. and Purcell, C.
BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, 122 (pp. 11-12)

Access to and Experience of Later Abortion: Accounts from Women in Scotland (2014)
Purcell, Carrie; Cameron, Sharon; Caird, Lucy; Flett, Gillian; Laird, George; Melville, Catriona and McDaid, Lisa M.
Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 46(2) (pp. 101-108)

The stigmatisation of abortion: a qualitative analysis of print media in Great Britain in 2010 (2014)
Purcell, Carrie; Hilton, Shona and McDaid, Lisa
Culture, Health & Sexuality, 16(9) (pp. 1141-1155)

Case Study 4.4: QSA in the Sexuality and Abortion Stigma Study (2023)
Purcell, Carrie and Maxwell, Karen
In: Weller, Susie; Davidson, Emma; Edwards, Rosalind and Jamieson, Lynn eds. Big Qual: A Guide to Breadth-and-Depth Analysis (pp. 95-96)
Publisher : Palgrave Macmillan

Phenomenology (2014)
Purcell, C.
In: Cockerham, W. C.; Dingwall, R. and Quah, S. eds. The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Health, Illness, Behavior, and Society (pp. 1825-1829)

Touch in holistic massage: ambiguities and boundaries (2013)
Purcell, Carrie
In: Wolkowitz, Carol; Lara Cohen, Rachel and Sanders, Teela eds. Body/Sex/Work: Intimate, embodied and sexualised labour (pp. 175-190)
ISBN : 9781137021908 | Publisher : Bloomsbury