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Dr Basiro Davey

Profile summary

  • Visiting Informal Academic
  • Honorary Associate
  • Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics
  • School of Life, Health & Chemical Sciences
  • basiro.davey

Professional biography

Basiro is an expert in distance learning pedagogy and public health, recognised by an OU Teaching Award in 2010 and an MBE in the Queen's New Year Honours announced on 31 December 2011. Since joining the OU in 1976 with a PhD in Tumour Immunology, she has produced hundreds of multi-media educational materials for OU modules in many areas of public health, including immunology, epidemiology, communicable diseases, sexually transmitted infections and cancers. She led the production of the award-winning modules U205 Health and Disease and SDK125 Introduction to Health Sciences, and was Health Sciences Awards Director for several years until 2009, leading the development of the OU’s undergraduate and postgraduate awards in this interdisciplinary area. From 2009-2011, she was seconded to the OU’s Health Education and Training (HEAT) programme for Africa, as its Deputy Director (Ethiopia), leading intensive curriculum design and writing workshops in Ethiopia with over 60 Ethiopian health experts and OU colleagues, jointly developing 13 training modules on key areas of health promotion and disease prevention. The modules include training in antenatal care, labour and delivery, newborn and childhood illness, environmental health, family planning and sexual health, nutrition, immunization and communicable and non-communicable diseases. Over 4,000 rural community health workers in Ethiopia are studying the HEAT modules in 2012, with a further 6,000 expected to join by 2014. In 2011 Basiro also worked on upgrading the World Health Organization's online course on ‘Vaccine Safety’ and travelled to Nigeria to assist in the development of distance learning programmes in Nigerian Universities. Her African experience is informing her contribution of new teaching material to SK320 Infectious disease and public health, launched globally online in 2012. Until recently Basiro was an External Peer for King’s College London’s School of Biomedical and Health Sciences and an External Assessor for Manchester University’s Masters in Public Health.

Research interests

I have been observing and recording communication between medical and nursing staff in general hospital wards (particularly surgical wards) at intervals over a number of years, and conducting semi-structured interviews with staff members to explore the issues that affect inter-professional communication and the possible impacts on patient care. A particular interest has been in the communication surrounding the making of 'do-no-attempt resuscitation' decisions.  Publications in this area include:

Davey, B. (2001) Do-not-resuscitate decisions: too many, too few, too late? Mortality, 6 (3), pp. 247-264.
Davey, B. (2000) The 'blue-spotted' patient: do-not-resuscitate decisions in the acute surgical wards of an English district general hospital, in Dickenson, D., Johnson, M. and Katz, J. S. (eds) Death, Dying and Bereavement, 2nd edn., London: Sage Publications; Ch. 41 (pp. 250-262). ISBN 0 7619 6857 1
Davey, B. (1996) The nurses’ dilemma: truth-telling or big white lies? in Dickenson, D. and Johnson, M. (eds) Death, Dying and Bereavement, 1st edn., London: Sage Publications; Ch.25 (pp. 116-123). ISBN 08039 8797 8

I  am a co-investigator for an exciting research programme funded by the charity Autism Speaks, commencing in 2012 (see ).This collaborative research involving experts from the OU and Addis Ababa University will investigate current knowledge of mental health issues in general and autism in particular among rural Ethiopian health workers and evaluate the effectiveness of the HEAT mental health training materials. The Principle Investigator is Dr Rosa Hoekstra, OU Science Faculty.

Teaching interests

Throughout my OU career most of my teaching has been in multi-disciplinary (often inter-Faculty) modules relevant to students with an interest in health sciences and/or public health, many contributions leading to externally published textbooks (see selected publications below). In the 1980s and 90s I produced material on various aspects of immunology for OU modules, including SD206, SK227, U205 and S204. I was a core team member for the orginal version of U205 'Health & Disease'  - a unique inter-Faculty course launched in 1985 - and I chaired two subsequent complete rewrites in 1992/3 and 2001/2. Along the way, I was part of the planning and production team for S320 'Infectious Disease' and contributed chapters on public health issues. From 2005 I chaired the production of a new level-1 module SDK125 'Introducing Health Sciences - a case study approach', with an academic team from five Faculties and six disciplines. In 2008 we were awarded an Open University Teaching and Learning Award for innovation in teaching methods and (best of all) student feedback has been great and nunbers have grown steadily each year to well over 1,000 annual registrations. Working across boundaries and learning the language, concepts and pedagogy associated with academic disciplines different from my own is what enthuses me about teaching at the OU, and in recent times, also in Ethiopia (see Profile).

Authored book

Davey, B. (1990, reprinted 1992, 1993, 1995; US edition 1991, German edition 1991) Immunology: A Foundation Text, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.

Edited books

Halliday, T. and Davey, B. (eds) (2007) Water and Health in an Overcrowded World, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Davey, B. and Seale, C. (eds) (2002) Experiencing and Explaining Disease, 3rd edn., Open University Press, Buckingham.

Davey, B. (ed) (2001) Birth to Old Age: Health in Transition, 3rd edn., Open University Press, Buckingham.

Davey, B., Halliday, T. and Hirst, M. (eds) (2001) Human Biology and Health: An Evolutionary Approach, 3rd edn., Open University Press, Buckingham.

Davey, B., Gray, A. and Seale, C. (eds) 2nd edn. 1995; 3rd edn. 2001) Health and Disease: A Reader,  Open University Press, Buckingham.

Heller, T., Davey, B. and Bailey, L. (eds) (1989) Reducing the Risk of Cancers, Hodder and Stoughton


Ethiopian community health workers' beliefs and attitudes towards children with autism: Impact of a brief training intervention (2019-01-01)
Tilahun, Dejene; Fekadu, Abebaw; Tekola, Bethlehem; Araya, Mesfin; Roth, Ilona; Davey, Basiro; Hanlon, Charlotte and Hoekstra, Rosa A.
Autism, 23(1) (pp. 39-49)
New horizons and old challenges for distance learning: bridging the access gap in African universities (2013-11-11)
Davey, Basiro
In: Bilham, Tim ed. For the Love of Learning: Innovations from Oustanding University Teachers. Palgrave Teaching and Learning (pp. 149-155)
ISBN : 978-1-137-33429-9 | Publisher : Palgrave Macmillan
Studying Health and Disease (colour-enhanced second edition) (2001-03-01)
McConway, Kevin and Davey, Basiro eds.
ISBN : 9780335208357 | Publisher : Open University Press/McGraw Hill Education | Published : Buckingham, UK