Skip to main content

University of Exeter Medical School

Dr Bethan Treadgold

Dr Bethan Treadgold

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

 Smeall building 


Smeall Building, University of Exeter, St Luke's Campus, Heavitree Road, Exeter, EX1 2LU, UK


Bethan Treadgold is a Chartered Psychologist and Postdoctoral Research Fellow within the Primary Care Research Group, University of Exeter Medical School.

Bethan is currently conducting a postdoctoral fellowship funded by the NIHR School for Primary Care Research (SPCR). Alongside her fellowship, Bethan is also working as a qualitative advisor for the NIHR Research Design Service South West.

Bethan joined the University of Exeter in 2021, while finalising her PhD research at the Univeristy of Southampton. Bethan's research interests are interdisciplinary, with a focus on health services research, digital health, online support communities/forumspatient experiences, and employing qualitative research methods.


  • BSc Psychology, University of Southampton (2016)
  • MSc Health Psychology, University of Southampton (2018)
  • PhD Primary Care Research, Univeristy of Southampton (2022)
  • Chartered Psychologist, British Psychological Society (2022)


Back to top


Research interests

Bethan's research interests are interdisciplinary, with a focus on:
  • Health services research
  • Digital health
  • Online support communties/forums
  • Parents and carers' experiences
  • Qualitative research methods

Bethan began carrying out health services research while undertaking a MSc in Health Psychology at the University of Southampton (2016-2017), where she conducted a mixed-methods national service evaluation of rehabilitation services for children after treatment for a brain tumour (Treadgold et al. 2019). Alongside her studies, Bethan worked as a qualitative research assistant at the Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, in maternal health (Lawrence et al. 2020). Bethan went on to secure funding from the NIHR School for Primary Care Research, and later Research Capability Funding from Solent NHS Trust, to undertake a PhD studentship at the Primary Care Research Centre, University of Southampton (2017-2021). 

For her PhD (title: Parents and carers’ views and experiences of eczema in the online world: a mixed-methods exploration, Bethan carried out a mixed-methods (though primarily qualitative) exploration into the online health resources used by parents and carers of children with eczema, the nature of advice exchanged in online communities, how parents and carers made sense of and acted upon online advice and support, and the quality of advice exchanged in online communities. (Treadgold et al., 2020Treadgold et al., 2023). Bethan has since provided guidance for a charity to improve their online support services for families of children with eczema.

Since joining the Primary Care Research Group at the University of Exeter Medical School in 2021, Bethan has worked as a qualitative research fellow on three collaborative National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) funded projects:

1. Digital Facilitation in Primary Care (DI-FACTO): investigated the benefits and challenges associated with different models of digital facilitation currently in use in general practice across England.

2. Investigating Clinical Excellence Awards (INCEA): developed a revised scoring scheme for the assessment of National Clinical Excellence Awards for doctors and dentists in England and Wales (Treadgold et al., 2023).

3. Understanding the measurement of postural hypotension in primary care (UMPH): explored how postural hypotension testing was currently organised in primary care in England. 

NIHR SPCR postdoctoral fellowship (May 2023 - present)

Title: Accessibility, acceptability, and accuracy of online support groups for primary care conditions 

Supervisors: Dr Emma PitchforthProfessor John CampbellProfessor Neil CoulsonDr Jeff Lambert

Building on her PhD research, Bethan is currently exploring provision for developing a quality approval system overseen by primary healthcare professionals, for information shared in online support groups. 

The aims of the fellowship are: 1) To explore the usefulness of developing a quality approval system overseen by primary healthcare professionals, for information shared in online support groups; 2) To explore how a quality approval system of information in online support groups, overseen by primary healthcare professionals, could be operationalised in practice. 

Phase 1 Phase 2 Phase 3 Phase 4
Scoping review of the literature concerning the quality of information and advice in online support groups. Quality appraisal of information and adivce in online support groups about three common primary care conditions (eczema, hypertension, and pelvic floor disorders). Qualitative interviews with primary healthcare professionals and the public. Preparation of funding proposal aimed at developing a quality approval system. 

Research grants

  • 2023 National Institute for Health Research School for Primary Care Research
    Accessibility, Acceptability and Accuracy of Online Support Groups for Primary Care Conditions.
  • 2017 NIHR School for Primary Care Research
    Parents and carers’ views and experiences of eczema in the online world: a mixed-methods exploration (PhD)

Back to top


Journal articles

Abel G, Froud R, Pitchforth E, Treadgold B, Hocking L, Sussex J, Elliott M, Campbell J (2024). Informing the development of a scoring system for National Health Service Clinical Impact Awards; a Delphi process and simulated scoring exercise. JRSM Open, 15(1). Abstract.  Author URL.
Treadgold BM, Campbell JL, Abel GA, Sussex J, Froud R, Hocking L, Pitchforth E (2023). Investigating Clinical Excellence and Impact Awards (INCEA): a qualitative study into how current assessors and other key stakeholders define and score excellence. BMJ Open, 13(6), e068602-e068602. Abstract.
Miani C, Batram-Zantvoort S, Pitchforth E, Treadgold B, Johnson K, Rozee V, MacDougall C, Schantz C, van Teijlingen E (2023). Out-of-hospital births: a small but growing phenomenon in high income countries: a viewpoint. Journal of Asian Midwives
Treadgold BM, Muller I, Teasdale E, Coulson N, Roberts A, Santer M (2023). Parental experiences of eczema advice in online parenting forums: a qualitative interview study. BJGP Open, 7(2), BJGPO.2022.0155-BJGPO.2022.0155. Abstract.
Lawrence W, Vogel C, Strommer S, Morris T, Treadgold B, Watson D, Hart K, McGill K, Hammond J, Harvey NC, et al (2020). How can we best use opportunities provided by routine maternity care to engage women in improving their diets and health?. MATERNAL AND CHILD NUTRITION, 16(1). Author URL.
Treadgold BM, Teasdale E, Muller I, Roberts A, Coulson N, Santer M (2020). Parents and carers' experiences of seeking health information and support online for long-term physical childhood conditions: a systematic review and thematic synthesis of qualitative research. BMJ OPEN, 10(12). Author URL.
Treadgold B, Kennedy C, Spoudeas H, Sugden E, Walker D, Bull K (2019). Paediatric neuro-oncology rehabilitation in the UK: carer and provider perspectives. BMJ Paediatr Open, 3(1). Abstract.  Author URL.

Back to top

External Engagement and Impact

External positions

Qualitative advisor for NIHR Research Design Service South West

Whilst working as a postdoctoral research fellow within the Primary Care Group at the University of Exeter, Bethan also works as a specialist qualitative advisor for the Exeter hub of the NIHR Research Design Service South West. This involves supporting researchers in developing qualitative research and funding applications of benefit to the general public and people who use NHS and social care services.

Back to top


Bethan has provided support on the following undergraduate and postgraduate programmes: 

  • BSc Psychology, Year 3, Psychology Applied to Health: Critical appraisal and behaviour change
  • BMBS Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery, Year 1, Making Sense of Evidence: Qualitative research critical appraisal
  • BSc Medical Sciences, Year 3, Final Year Research Project
  • MSc Clinical Education, Introduction to Literature Reviews: Appraisal of Qualitative Studies

Back to top

Supervision / Group


  • Clodagh Smith Supervision of Final Year Research Project: A systematic review of effectiveness of conservative interventions for pelvic floor dysfunction in women living in low- and lower-middle income countries

Back to top

Edit Profile