My work uses sociological ideas and methods to understand health and illness and tackle problems in the delivery of high-quality healthcare. Originally trained in sociology departments, I am committed to applied research and the practical impact of social science learning within healthcare and healthcare improvement. To date I have been awarded ~£23m of external research funding, including grants and direct commissions from various NIHR programmes, the Health Foundation, and NHS England.
I have worked across a range of healthcare contexts, but have long-standing interests in women’s and children’s health and preventative healthcare. I have a particular interest in population-based screening. In 2012 I co-edited a special issue of the journal Sociology of Health and Illness “The Sociology of Medical Screening: Critical Perspectives, New Directions”. In 2020, I co-edited a further special issue on “Understanding and Managing Uncertainty in Healthcare: Revisiting and Advancing Sociological Contributions”.
In 2017, I was awarded a Health Foundation Improvement Science Fellowship, in which I applied social science theory to the topic of overdiagnosis, by investigating the potential for system change to mitigate overdiagnosis and overtreatment within the UK health system, and how this can be balanced with interventions to prevent under-treatment.
Zubair M, Bown MJ, Armstrong N. (accepted, available online) Introducing multi-component cardiovascular health screening into existing Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) screening programmes in the UK: A qualitative study of programme staff views. BMC Health Services Research
Martin G, Armstrong N. (in press, available online) Speaking up in resource-constrained settings: how to secure safe surgical care in the moment and in the future? BMJ Quality & Safety
Hoare S, Powell A, Modi R, Armstrong N, Griffin S, Mant J, Burt J. (in press, available online) Why do people take part in atrial fibrillation screening? Qualitative interview study in English primary care. BMJ Open
Harrad-Hyde F, Armstrong N, Williams C. (in press, available online) Using advance and emergency care plans during transfer decisions: a grounded theory interview study with care home staff. Palliative Medicine
Chew S, Armstrong N, Martin GP. (2022) Understanding knowledge brokerage and its transformative potential: a Bourdieusian perspective. Evidence & Policy 18(1): 25-42
Doe G, Clanchy J, Wathall S, Chantrell S, Edwards S, Baxter N, Jackson D, Armstrong N, Steiner M, Evans RA. (2021) A protocol for a feasibility study of a multi-centre cluster randomised control trial to investigate whether a structured diagnostic pathway in primary care is clinically and cost effective for adults presenting with chronic breathlessness. BMJ Open 11:e057362
Cupit C, Armstrong N. (2021) A win-win scenario? Restrictive policies from alternative standpoints. Journal of Health Organization & Management 35(9): 378-384
Brown KJ, Armstrong N, Potdar N. (in press, available online) Fertility preservation discussions in young women with breast cancer: a qualitative study of health care professionals' views and experiences. Human Fertility
Doe G, Chantrell S, Williams M, Steiner MC, Armstrong N, Hutchinson A, Evans RA. (2021) Breathless and awaiting diagnosis in UK lockdown for COVID-19…We’re stuck. npj Primary Care Respiratory Medicine 31, 21
Cupit C, Rankin J, Armstrong N. (2021) Taking sides with patients using institutional ethnography. Journal of Organizational Ethnography 10(1): 21-35
Armstrong N. (2021) Overdiagnosis and overtreatment: A sociological perspective on tackling a contemporary healthcare issue. Sociology of Health & Illness 43(1): 58-64
Paton A, Armstrong N, Smith LK, Lotto R. (2020) Parents' decision-making following diagnosis of a severe congenital anomaly in pregnancy: practical, theoretical and ethical tensions. Social Science & Medicine 266: 113362
Mackintosh N, Armstrong N. (2020) Understanding and managing uncertainty in healthcare: revisiting and advancing sociological contributions. Sociology of Health & Illness 42(S1): 1-20
Hinton L, Armstrong N. (2020) "They don't know themselves, so how can they tell us?": Parents navigating uncertainty at the frontiers of neonatal surgery. Sociology of Health & Illness 42(S1): 51-68
Cupit C, Rankin J, Armstrong N, Martin G. (2020) Overruling uncertainty about preventative medications: the social organisation of healthcare professionals’ knowledge and practices. Sociology of Health & Illness 42(S1): 114-129
Armstrong N. (2019) Navigating the uncertainties of screening: the contribution of social theory. Social Theory & Health 17(2): 158-171
Armstrong N. (2018) Overdiagnosis and overtreatment as a quality problem: insights from healthcare improvement research. BMJ Quality & Safety 27: 571-574
Lotto RR, Smith LK, Armstrong N. (2018) Diagnosis of a severe congenital anomaly: a qualitative analysis of parental decision-making and the implications for healthcare encounters. Health Expectations 21:678-684
Armstrong N, Brewster L, Tarrant C, Dixon R, Willars J, Power M, Dixon-Woods M. (2018) Taking the heat or taking the temperature? A qualitative study of a large-scale exercise in seeking to measure for improvement, not blame. Social Science & Medicine 198: 157-164
Brewster L, Tarrant C, Willars J, Armstrong N. (2018) Measurement of harms in community care: a qualitative study of use of the NHS Safety Thermometer. BMJ Quality & Safety 27: 625-632