Ms Katelyn Smalley

Ms Katelyn Smalley

Research Fellow

Peninsula Medical School (Faculty of Health)

Ms Katelyn Smalley can be contacted through arrangement with our Press Office, to speak to the media on these areas of expertise.
  • Health inequalities
  • Health services
  • Health policy
  • Chronic disease management
  • Self-management
  • Healthcare quality
  • Content analysis
  • Correlation study
  • Cross-sectional studies
  • Delphi method
  • Framework analysis
  • Longitudinal research


Dr. Smalley is a health policy researcher interested in the design and evaluation of patient-centered healthcare policies. With a background in Political Economy, she recently completed her PhD in Health Services Research at Imperial College London.

Her current research focuses on developing measurement and evaluation frameworks to increase health equity and access to services for minoritised groups. She is also interested in using data routinely collected for other purposes (e.g. electronic health records) to explore differences in care patterns, access, and quality.

As an American living in the UK, she also has a special interest in comparative health policy. She was previously on staff at the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, and the Greater New York Hospital Association.


PhD, Health Services Research, Institute of Global Health Innovation, Imperial College London (2021)

MSc, International Health Policy, London School of Economics and Political Science (2017)

BA(Hons), Political Economy, Tulane University (2012)

Professional membership


International Behavioural Public Policy Association

American Political Science Association (Health Policy and Politics Subgroup)

MedSoc (British Sociological Association)

NIHR Academy



Teaching interests

Health Economics

Policy Design & Analysis

Comparative Health Policy

Behavioural Economics

Evidence Synthesis & Systematic Review



Research interests

I am a policy researcher specializing in health policy. My work has three main streams: empirical/practical, theoretical/abstract, and methodological/improving research practices.

My empirical work focuses on measuring, evaluating, and improving healthcare access and quality. I work with practitioners in the NHS, local government, and voluntary sector to help them to:

  1. Identify the outcomes that matter most to them,
  2. Develop strategies for evaluating their programmes on those metrics,
  3. Use data they are already collecting to avoid duplicating effort, and
  4. Communicate their impact to funders, regulators, and the wider public.

More broadly, I am interested in collective action problems, especially in the context of asymmetries of information and power. I consider the ways in which policy realities deviate from political rhetoric, the possible reasons for this, and how to achieve alignment between stated goals and implementation plans. This line of research examines the limitations of earlier approaches to understanding policy, politics, and economics, and works toward a new framework for social policy by drawing on thinkers from across the social sciences, and especially by engaging with the insights of historically-marginalised scholars.

I am also very interested in the philosophy of social science, and how we can improve people's lives through improved policy research methods. I am a strong believer in mixed-methods research, and especially triangulating findings from multiple data sources. I often work in interdisciplinary teams, which has shown me how important it is to clarify underlying assumptions and mental models. In the empirical work mentioned above, I take a broadly critical realist approach to evaluation.

Other research

Current Research

I am currently engaged on three main projects at Plymouth:

  • Quantitative evaluation of the East London Foundation Trust's Community Mental Health Transformation programme. In this project, we use the Trust's electronic health record data - and especially their flagship patient-reported outcome and experience measure, Dialog - to understand the changes being made in the context of the Transformation programme, and how those affect patients with different characteristics (demographics, clinical profile, care team, etc.).

  • Evaluation framework for the Fair Shares initiatives to reduce health inequalities in Plymouth. In this project, I have been working with organisations across Plymouth (including healthcare providers, voluntary sector, and local authority) to build evaluation strategies for each of the Fair Shares initiatives, grounded in theories of change for each programme. This project is aligned with the Devon ICS's turn toward a population health management approach to evaluating services.

  • Developing a systems-based approach to measuring and monitoring mental health care quality. This project entails a paradigm shift in terms of conceptualising the processes and outcomes of high-quality mental healthcare. With an interdisciplinary team, I am working to understand local mental healthcare systems as systems, so we can help them to make better operational and planning decisions to improve care at a population-level.

Grants & contracts


Personal Award: Enhancing Research Culture Bridging Award. University of Plymouth (£18,394.65).


Project: Quantitative evaluation of Community Mental Health Transformation. Funder: East London Foundation Trust (£49,999).

Research Lead: Katelyn Smalley. PI: Richard Byng. Co-Investigators: Stuart Spicer (Plymouth) and Scott Weich (Sheffield).

Project: Develop pragmatic, mixed-methods evaluation framework for ‘Fair Shares’ investments (£5 million annually) to reduce health disparities in Plymouth. 

Research Lead: Katelyn Smalley. Funders: PenARC and Devon CCG.

Project: Identifying the key determinants of GP attitudes toward providing health checks for autistic people. Funder: Autistica – the UK's national autism research charity (£15,873).

Co-PIs: Katelyn Smalley and Anna Remington (University College London). Co-Investigators: Laura Crane (UCL) and Carole Buckley (Royal College of General Practitioners).


Project: Improving the safety of clinically vulnerable people in North West London through co-designed face masks and community awareness campaign.

Funder: National Community Lottery Fund for COVID-19 (£9,125). Research Lead: Katelyn Smalley (Imperial College London). Charity Partner: Open Age UK.