Skip to main content

Lindsay Prior

Photo of Lindsay Prior

B.Sc. (Sociology) (London); B.Sc. (Mathematics) (Open University); MA (Philosophy of the Social Sciences) (Reading); PhD (Aberdeen)
Professor of Sociology
Room 2.24, 6 College Park 
Ext: 3236; Email:

Lindsay Prior is a Professor of Sociology in the School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work, and a Principal Investigator and member of the management committee of the Centre of Excellence for Public Health at QUB (

His latest publication is, Using Documents and Records in Social Research (2011) – which presents a 4 Volume overview of the ways in which documents can enter into the ‘field’ of social scientific research. During recent years he has also published a number of shorter contributions on the subject of researching documents. The contributions have appeared in various Encyclopedias and Handbooks including; The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Methods in Health Research (2010), The Handbook of Emergent Methods (2010), The Sage Handbook of Social Research Methods (2008), The Sage Encyclopedia of Qualitative Research Methods (2008), Blackwell’s Encyclopedia of Sociology (2006), and Qualitative Research Practice (2004), the Handbook of Qualitative Research in Education (2012); and (forthcoming) Oxford Handbook of Qualitative Research (Oxford Library of Psychology Series).

As well as an interest in the role of documents in social research, he is equally concerned with developing novel methods for analyzing and displaying interview and other forms of qualitative data. Some of his most recent papers have deployed the new techniques on both interview data and policy documents. (See, ‘Talking about colds and flu: The lay diagnosis of two common illnesses among older British people’,  in a special issue of Social Science and Medicine, August 2011, and ‘The Discursive Turn in Policy Analysis and the Validation of Policy Stories’, in the Journal of Social Policy, 2012, 14:2:271-289). He is currently planning a book on the nature and use of the methods for the analysis and display of data across a wide range of problems.  A list of selected publications from the past 5-6 years is provided below.

Current research projects include a study of the ways in which an environmental intervention can and might impact on levels of physical activity in an area of deprivation (; a study of the ways in which the concept of ‘wellbeing’ has emerged in current health policy – in conjunction with the Institute for Public Health in Ireland; a focus on the ways in which health policy in the two jurisdictions of Ireland connect to different forms of health practice, and how people in high-risk categories might be encouraged to adopt a Mediterranean diet. These projects are variously funded under the auspices of the MRC, the ESRC and the CRC. A recent (SDO funded) contribution was to an investigation of the construction and implementation of patient choice policies across the UK (

As well as researching and writing, Lindsay Prior teaches courses in Research Methods on the School’s BA and M.Res degrees and on the Masters in Public Health (MPH) which is based in the medical school. Current PhD students are researching into a wide range of topics including policies on physical activity in Ireland, ‘Health in All’ policy and its influence in Northern Ireland, the concept of wellbeing in health policy, services for people with mental illness in the criminal justice system, and services for patients and relatives in intensive care units. A list of past and current posgraduate students is provided below.

Lindsay Prior is a regular reviewer of papers submitted to Sociology of Health and Illness, and Social Science and Medicine (for which he serves as an Advisory Editor -, and an occasional reviewer for many other sociology, social scientific, and medical journals. During the past 12 months (2010-2011) he has also served as a reviewer of research applications submitted to the ESRC, the European Science Foundation, US-Israel Binational Science Foundation, and Royal Society of New Zealand. He is currently a Trustee and Treasurer of the Foundation for the Sociology of Health and Illness ( – a charity that funds fellowships, studentships and other assorted activities aimed at promoting research, education and scholarship in the field of the sociology of health and illness.


Selected Journal Papers Since 2005:

  1. Prior, L., Hughes, D. and Peckham, S. (2012), The Discursive Turn in Policy Analysis and the Validation of Policy Stories, Journal of Social Policy, 41:2:271-289.
  2. Peckham, S., Mays, N. Hughes, D. Sanderson, M, Allen, P. Prior, L. et al (2012) Devolution and Patient Choice: Policy Rhetoric versus Experience in Practice, Social Policy & Administration, 46, 2, 199-218.
  3. Prior, L., Wilson, J. Donnelly, M. et alia (2012) Translating policy into practice: A case study in the secondary prevention of coronary heart disease. Health Expectations, (DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9515.2011.00831.x).
  4. Prior, L., Evans, M. & Prout, H. (2011), Talking about colds and flu: The lay diagnosis of two common illnesses among older British people, Social Science and Medicine. Special Issue on the Sociology of Diagnosis, 73,922-928. 10.1016/j.socscimed.2010.09.054
  5. Price, J., Jordan, J., Prior, L and Parkes, J (2011) Living through the death of a child: A qualitative study of bereaved parents’ experiences. International Journal of Nursing Studies (2011), doi:10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2011.05.006.
  6. McAneney, H. Kee, F, Prior, L. & Wild, J. (2010) Translating evidence into practice: a shared priority in public health?  Social Science and Medicine, 70: 1492-1500.
  7. Prior, L. (2009) Commentary: ‘From sick men and women, to patients, and thence to clients and consumers: the structuring of the ‘patient’ in the modern world’. International Journal of Epidemiology. 38:3:637-639.
  8. Prior, L. (2008) Repositioning Documents in Social Research. Sociology. Special Issue on Research Methods. 42:821-836. Also reprinted in J. Vogt (Ed) Data Collection; Sage, 2011.
  9. Greenland, K., Scourfield, J., Maxwell, N., Prior, L. & Scourfield J, (2009) Theoretical Antecedents of Distress Disclosure in a Community Sample of Young People, Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 39:9: 2045-2068.
  10. Prior, L. (2007) Talking about the gene for cancer. A Study of Lay and Professional Knowledge of Cancer Genetics. Sociology. Vol. 41: 6:985-1001.
  11. Evans, M., Prout, H., Prior, L., Tapper-Jones, L, Butler, C. (2007) A qualitative Study of Lay Beliefs About Influenza. British Journal of General Practice, 57:352-8.
  12. Deb, S., Hare, M., Prior, L., Bhaumik, S. (2007) Dementia Screening Questionnaire for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities (DSQIID), British Journal of Psychiatry, 190, 440-444.
  13. Hawthorne, K., Pill, R. Chowdhury, J, and Prior, L. (2007) Understanding family, social and health experience patterns in British Bangladeshi families: are people as diverse as they seem? Primary Health Care Research and Development, 8:333-34.
  14. Deb, S., Hare, M., Prior, L. (2007) Symptoms of dementia among adults with Down's syndrome: A qualitative study. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 51; 9; 726-39.
  15. Deb. S, Bryant, E., Morris, P.G., Prior, L. Lewis, G., and Haque,S. (2007) Development and Psychometric Properties of the Carer-Head Injury Neurobehavioral Assessment Scale (C-HINAS_ and the Carer-Head Injury Participation Scale (C-Hips) Patient and Family Determined Outcome Scales. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment. 3:3:
  16. Scourfield, J., Jacob, N. Smalley, N. Prior, L., and Greenland K. (2007) Young people's gendered interpretations of suicide and attempted suicide. Child and Family Social Work, 12:248-57.
  17. Prior, L. (2006) Depression and practical, everyday reasoning – a sociological perspective. Journal of Affective Disorders, 91:S1:22-3.
  18. Morris, P.G., Prior, L., Deb, S., Lewis, G., et al (2005) Patients’ views on outcome following head injury: a qualitative study. BMC Family Practice, 6:30.
  19. Edwards A, Elwyn G, Atwell C, Wood F, Prior L, Houston H. (2005) Doing shared decision making and risk communication in practice: qualitative study of general practitioners' experiences in an explanatory trial. British Journal of General Practice, 55, (510), 6-13.
  20. Prior, L., Scott, S., Wood, F., and Gray, J. (2005) Re-Positioning the Patient. The Implications of Being-at-Risk. Social Science and Medicine. 60:1869-1879

Selected Contributions in Edited Collections since 2006:

  1. Prior, L. (2013) ‘Content Analysis’. In, P.Leavey (Ed) Oxford Handbook of Qualitative Research, NY: Oxford University Press. (forthcoming).
  2. Prior, L. (2012) ‘Analyzing Documents’. In S. Delamont, (Ed). Handbook of Qualitative Research in Education. Edward Elgar.
  3. Prior, L. (2011) ‘Using Documents in Social Research’. In D. Silverman (Ed) Qualitative Analysis. Issues of Theory & Method. 3rd ed. London: Sage.
  4. Prior, L. (2010) ‘Documents in Health Research’, In Bourgeault, I., Dingwall, R., DeVries, R. & Hammil, A, (Eds.) Handbook of Qualitative Methods in Health Research. London: Sage. Pp.417-432.
  5. Prior, L. (2010) Repositioning Documents in Social Research. In, W. P. Vogt (Ed.) Data Collection. London: Sage.
  6. Prior, L.  (2008) Researching Documents. Emergent Methods. In, P. Leavy, & S. Hesse-Biber, (Eds.) Handbook of Emergent Methods.  NY: Guilford.  Pp.111-126
  7. Prior, L.  (2008) ‘Document Analysis’. In, L. M. Given (Ed) The Sage Encyclopaedia of Qualitative Research Methods. London: Sage.
  8. Prior, L. (2007) ‘Documents and Action’. In Alasuutari, P., Bickman, L. & Brannen, J. (Eds.) Sage Handbook of Social Research Methods: London: Sage. Pp.479-492
  9. Prior, L. (2006) ‘Documentary Research’ in Blackwell’s Encyclopaedia of Sociology. Ed. George Ritzer. Blackwell.


  1. Prior, L. (Ed.) (2011) Using Documents and Records in Social Research. London, Thousand Oaks; CA. New Delhi. Sage; 4 Volumes,  with a 15, 000 word introduction by the editor.
  2. Prior, L. Using Documents in Social Research.  London. Thousand Oaks; CA. New Delhi. Sage Publications, 2003. 195pp. hbk and pbk.
  3. Annadale, E., Elston, M.A., and Prior, L. (Eds).(2005) Medical Work and Health Care. A Reader. Oxford: Blackwell.
  4. Prior, L. The social organization of mental illness. London and Newbury Park; CA: 1993. 225pp. hbk & pbk. Recipient of Choice Magazine's (American Library Association) 1994 Outstanding Academic Book Award.
  5. Prior, L. The social organization of death. Medical discourse and social practices in Belfast.  London. Macmillan Press Ltd. 1989. New York. St Martin's Press 1989. 230pp.hbk & pbk.

Ph.D and other postgraduate theses supervised:

  1. David Ross, Northern Ireland's political elite: leaders and led in an ethnic alliance 1885-1988. New University of Ulster. D.Phil. 1989. 
  2. Ronnie Moore, Social effects of unemployment on men in a Protestant community. New University of Ulster. D.Phil. 1991.
  3. David Evans, The psychic shadows of HIV/AIDS. University of Wales, Cardiff. M.Phil. 1997.
  4. Kraisorn Chairokanjana, Development and provision of patient medication records (PMRs) in community pharmacy in Thailand. University of Wales, Cardiff Ph.D. 1998. 
  5. Jon Banks, The social and political dimensions of chronic fatigue syndrome and myalgic encephalomyelitis: a clinic based study. University of Wales, Cardiff. Ph.D. 2001. 
  6. Adrian Edwards, The development and evaluation of an intervention to enhance risk communication in UK general practice. University of Wales, College of Medicine, Ph.D. 2002. 
  7. Janet Johnson, Lay views of Counseling in Primary Care. Cardiff University, PhD. 2003.
  8. Paul Brown, Complementary medicine in oncology: the struggle for power, Supervised until 2005 only, Cardiff University, Ph.D. 2007.
  9. Denis Muhangi, Local government – non-profit sector partnerships in HIV/AIDS response: policy narratives and local practices in Uganda. Queen's University , Belfast, Ph.D. 2009. 
  10. Eugene Donoghue. Professional self-regulation and the public. Queen's University Belfast, D.Gov. 2010.
  11. Jayne Price, Parents’ experiences of palliative and terminal care for children (PATCH): a qualitative study. Queen's University Belfast, Ph.D. 2010. 
  12. Nathan Emmerich, ‘Taking Education Seriously: Developing Bourdieuan Social Theory in the Context of Teaching and Learning Medical Ethics in the UK Undergraduate Medical Degree’, Queen’s University Belfast, Ph.D., 2011.
  13. Kate O’Neill, The stories they tell. Narratives of combatants in the Northern Ireland Conflict. Queen’s University Belfast, Ph.D. 2012.
  14. Emma Hamenoo, Child Trafficking on Lake Volta. Queen’s University Belfast, Ph.D. 2012.

Current postgraduate students:

  1. Fionntan McCarry, Narratives & Networks of Health Policy for Children in Ireland.
  2. Anne-Marie Doherty, Health in All Policies; their nature and significance.
  3. Joanne Wilson, Conceptualizations of ‘wellbeing’ and their implications for health policy.
  4. Audrey Roulston, Exploring end-of-life care decision-making by patients with advanced lung cancer and palliative care professionals.
  5. Stephanie Smith, A Network Analysis of community leaders in North Belfast.
  6. Wendy Scott, Promoting physical activity in an area of urban regeneration.
  7. Una St Ledger, Moral distress and end-of-life decision making in the ICU.
  8. Ruari McBride, Health policy for people with psychiatric problems in the criminal justice system.

NSS 2016 Footer Content