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Health & Wellbeing Research

Research in health and wellbeing is one of the University’s priorities. It is strategically important within all of the University’s Faculties and Units. Open University researchers conduct research in health and wellbeing across various disciplines and areas including healthcare management, ageing studies, reproductive and sexual rights, assistive technologies, patient data management, mental health and biological health sciences. The scope of University expertise ranges from the science underpinning health and disease through to the medical humanities. The Open University is committed to working towards social justice specialising in participative and inclusive research methods with marginalised and vulnerable communities. In the latest UK research assessment exercise (Research Excellence Framework, 2014), nearly three quarters (72%) of the OU’s research was assessed as world-leading or internationally excellent.

The Open University (OU) is the largest academic institution in the UK and a world leader in flexible distance and e-learning solutions. Since its establishment in 1969, the OU has taught more than 1.8 million students and has almost 180,000 current students, including more than 15,000 overseas.

The Health and Wellbeing Strategic Research Area has a YouTube Channel which includes seminar recordings of invited presentations focusing on various topics and disciplines aligned to this Pan-University initiative.

A message from the director

The Open University Health & Wellbeing strategic research area brings together an impressive multi-disciplinary team of colleagues from across the OU with external collaborators from the wider academy, industry, government, policy and practice in a bid to work together to address local, national and international health challenges. If you are interested in knowing more about this strategic research area or are interested in working with us, please contact us.

Dr Sarah Earle has worked in several UK Universities and joined the Open University in 2005. She has held a number of senior roles and is currently Director of the University’s strategic research area in Health & Wellbeing. Dr Earle is a sociologist by background with specialist expertise in reproduction, sex and health. She is a member of the Special Interest Group in Sexualities & Reproduction and has published over 100 academic papers, books and book sections in this field. Dr Earle has investigated a number of areas including fertility and contraception, pregnancy and childbirth, infant feeding and facilitated and paid-for-sex. Her most recent projects have focused on pre-conception care for women with diabetes (funded by NIHR HTA), contraceptive choices for women with learning disabilities (funded by Open Societies Foundation) and the development of standards and guidance for supporting the sexual rights of people with life-limiting conditions (funded by HEIF with the Sexuality Alliance).

COVID-19 pandemic

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic we have a designated COVID-19 web page where you will find all work related research by colleagues of the Health and Wellbeing Strategic Research Area (H&W SRA).


  • Although not an exhaustive list, OU’s Health and Wellbeing research areas are:
  • Biomedical Sciences
  • Health Services Research
  • Human Computer Interaction
  • Digital Health
  • Personal Informatics and Wearable Technologies
  • Psychology and Counselling
  • Health Economics
  • Medical Statistics
  • Health Communication
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health and Health Promotion
  • Social Marketing
  • Sport and Fitness
  • Medical Humanities
  • Health Law and Ethics
  • Videogames and Gamification
  • Mobile (Health) Apps
  • Gerontology, Gerontechnology, Rural Ageing

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