Dr. Alison McFadden

Senior Research Fellow


School of Nursing & Health Sciences
11 Airlie Place,

Email Address:



Alison qualified as a midwife in 1981 and worked in clinical midwifery in England and Malawi. She qualified as a midwifery tutor in 1989, awarded the Robert Peer’s Prize for Adult Education by the University of Nottingham, and spent 17 years lecturing in midwifery and women’s health at the University of Teesside. She was awarded a Masters in Applied Educational Studies by the University of York in 1993.  In 2005 she joined the Mother and Infant Research Unit at the University of York and gained a NIHR Researcher Development Award to undertake a PhD which was completed in 2010 at the University of York. She joined the University of Dundee as a research fellow in January 2013.


Research interests

Maternal and infant health and nutrition

Reducing health inequalities

Ethnicity and diversity, migration including culturally appropriate health care and services

Women’s views and experiences of maternity services

Engaging vulnerable’ and marginalised groups in research,

Qualitative methods and evidence synthesis

Co-lead for the inequalities and methods research themes within the School of Nursing and Midwifery

Wider professional activities

Member of National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) Healthy Start Expert Reference Group

Member of National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) Expert Panel  for Women and Child Nutrition

Member of International Confederation of Midwives Research Advisory Network (RAN)

Peer reviewer for Maternal and Child Nutrition, Midwifery, Women and Health, International Journal of Nursing Studies, BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, Child: Care, Health and Development, Journal of the Royal Society of Health, Health and Social Care in the Community

Peer reviewer for NIHR Research for Patient Benefit Programme and NIHR Programme Grants for Applied Research.

Associate editor for BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth

University of Dundee representative on the executive group of the Alliance for Self-Care Research (ASCR)

Current funding

Policy Research Programme - Enhancing Gypsy/Travellers’ trust: using maternity and early years’ health services and dental health services as exemplars of mainstream service provision, Dept. of Health, England £409,082,June 2015 - November 2017 (principal investigator)

Evaluating the role of global organisations in supporting governments and communities to improve infant feeding, Save the Children, £31865, July 2014 – February 2015 (principal investigator)

Healthy Start: understanding the use of vouchers and vitamins, Department of Health Policy Research Programme, £249,996, January 2011 – January 2013 (co-investigator)

Lancet Series on Midwifery, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, $357,457, April 2012 – April 2014 (co-investigator)


Peer reviewed publications

Gavine A, MacGillivray S, Renfrew MJ, Siebelt L, Haggi H, McFadden A. (2017) Education and training of healthcare staff in the knowledge, attitudes and skills needed to work effectively with breastfeeding women: a systematic review. International Breastfeeding Journal, 12(1): 6.

Symon A, Pringle J, Downe S, Hundley, V, Lee E, Lynn F, McFadden A, McNeill J, Renfrew MJ, Ross-Davie M, van Teijlingen E, Whitford, H, Alderdice F (2017)  Antenatal care trial interventions: a systematic scoping review and taxonomy development of care models BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 17: 8.

McFadden A, Atkin K, Bell K, Innes N, Jackson C, Jones H, MacGillivray S, Siebelt L. (2016) Community engagement to enhance trust between Gypsy/Travellers, and maternity, early years’ and child dental health services: protocol for a multi-method exploratory study. International Journal for Equity in Health 15(1): 183.

Balogun OO, O'Sullivan EJ, McFadden A, Ota E, Gavine A, Garner CD, Renfrew M, MacGillivray S. Interventions for promoting the initiation of breastfeeding. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2016, Issue 11. Art. No.: CD001688. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD001688.pub3

Kennedy H, Yoshida  S, Costello A, Declercq E, Dias M, Duff E, Gherissi A, Kaufman K, McConville F, McFadden A, Michel-Schuldt M, Moyo NT, Schuiling K, Speciale AM, Renfrew MJ. (2016) Asking different questions: research priorities to improve the quality of care for every woman, every child. Lancet Global Health. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2214-109X(16)30183-8

Symon A, Pringle J, Cheyne H, Downe S, Hundley V, Lee E, Lynn F, McFadden A, McNeill J, Renfrew MJ, Ross-Davie M, van Teijlingen E, Whitford H, Alderdice F. (2016) Midwifery-led antenatal care models: mapping a systematic review to an evidence-based quality framework to identify key components and characteristics of care. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 16, 1-15.

McFadden A, Mason F,  Baker J, Begin F, Dykes F, Grummer-Strawn L, Kenney-Muir N, Whitford H, Zehner E, Renfrew MJ  (2016) Spotlight on infant formula: coordinated global action needed. The Lancet 387(10017): 413-415.

McFadden A, Muir N, Mason F, Whitford H, Renfrew MJ. (2015) How do global organisations work best to influence political commitment at country level to protect and promote breastfeeding and support women to breastfeed? Maternal and Child Nutrition, 11(S2), 1-129.

Renfrew MJ, McFadden A, Bastos MH, Campbell J, Channon AA, Cheung NF, Delage Silva DRA, Downe S, Kennedy HP, Malata A, McCormick F, Wick L, Declercq E. (2014) Midwifery and quality care: findings from a new evidence informed framework for maternal and newborn care. The Lancet,  doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(14)60789-3

Ten Hoope-Bender P, de Bernis L  Campbell J, Downe S, Fauveau V, Fogstad H, Homer CS, Kennedy HP, Matthews Z, McFadden A, Renfrew MJ, Van Lerberghe W. (2014) Improvement of maternal and newborn health through midwifery. The Lancet, doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(14)60930-2

McFadden A., Green JM., Williams V., McLeish J., McCormick F., Fox-Rushby J. & Renfrew MJ (2015)  Healthy Start Vitamins - a missed opportunity: findings of a multi-method study.  BMH Open5: 1 

McFadden A., Green JM., Williams V., McLeish J., McCormick F., Fox-Rushby J. & Renfrew MJ (2014)  Can food vouchers improve nutrition and reduce health inequalities in low-income mothers and young children?: a multi-method evaluation of the experiences of beneficiaries and practitioners of the Healthy Start programme in England?  BMC Public Health. 14: 148

McFadden A, Atkin K, Renfrew, M (2013) The impact of transnational migration on intergenerational transmission of knowledge and practice related to breastfeeding. Midwifery doi: 10.1016/j.midw.2013.04.012.

McFadden A, Renfrew MJ, Atkin K (2012) Does cultural context make a difference to women’s experiences of maternity care?  A qualitative study comparing the perspectives of breastfeeding women of Bangladeshi origin and health practitioners. Health Expectations doi: 10.1111/j.1369-7625.2012.00770.x

McFadden A, Renfrew MJ, Atkin A (2012) Using qualitative research findings to analyse how breastfeeding public health recommendations can be tailored to meet the needs of women of Bangladeshi origin living in England. Journal of Research in Nursing 17(2) p159-178  

Dyson L, Renfrew MJ, McFadden A, McCormick F, Herbert G, Thomas J (2010) Policy and public health recommendations to promote the initiation and duration of breast-feeding in developed country settings. Public Health Nutrition 13, 137-144

Renfrew MJ, Dyson L, Herbert G, McFadden A, McCormick F, Thomas J, Spiby H (2008) Developing evidence-based recommendations in public health --incorporating the views of practitioners, service users and user representatives. Health Expectations 11: 3-15.

Renfrew MJ, McLoughlin M, McFadden A (2008) Cleaning and sterilisation of infant feeding equipment: a systematic review. Public Health Nutrition; 11, 1188-1199

McFadden A, Toole G (2006) Exploring women’s views of breastfeeding: a focus group study within an area with high levels of socio-economic deprivation. Maternal and Child Nutrition 2, 156 - 168

McFadden A, Renfrew MJ, Dykes F, Burt S (2006) Assessing learning needs for breastfeeding: Setting the scene. Maternal and Child Nutrition 2, 196 - 203.

Abbott S, Renfrew MJ, McFadden A (2006) ‘Informal’ learning to support breastfeeding: mapping local problems and opportunities. Maternal and Child Nutrition 2, 232 - 238.

Renfrew MJ, McFadden A, Dykes F, Wallace L, Abbott S, Burt S, Kosmala-Anderson J (2006) Addressing the learning deficit in breastfeeding: strategies for change. Maternal and Child Nutrition 2, 239 - 244.

Renfrew MJ, Herbert G, Wallace L, Spiby H, McFadden A (2006) Developing practice in breastfeeding. Maternal and Child Nutrition 2, 245 - 261. 


Massage for promoting growth and development of preterm and low birth-weight infants, RICH-MAINN Conference, Falun, Sweden. August 2016

Strategies to influence political commitment to breastfeeding: six country case studies, Nutrition and Nurture in Infancy and Childhood: Bio-cultural Perspectives Conference, Grange-over-Sands, UK. June 2015

Accessibility of Healthy Start to women and young children in low income families: findings of a multi-method evaluation,  Health Services Research Network Symposium, 19-20 June 2014, Nottingham.

Women’s perceptions of insufficient milk, International Confederation of Midwives Triennial Congress, 1-4 June 2014, Prague

Understanding the use of vouchers and vitamins: an evaluation of women’s and health practitioners’ views and experiences of Healthy Start in England (), Poster Presentation, Community Practitioner and Health Visitor Association Annual Conference, 22-23 October 2013, York. Awarded 1st prize for best research poster

The impact of migration on the intergenerational transmission of breastfeeding knowledge and practices. BSA Human Reproduction Study Group, 2012 Annual Conference, Lancaster, 21 June 2012

Exploring breastfeeding support for women of Bangladeshi origin in the UK. International Confederation of Midwives Triennial Congress, Durban, S. Africa, June 2011.

Breastfeeding support for women of Bangladeshi origin in the UK. Maternal and Infant Nutrition and Nurture Conference, University of Central Lancashire, Grange over Sands. 2009

You have to keep your breast hidden: How women of Bangladeshi origin navigated breastfeeding and maintaining modesty in the context of religious, ethnic and gender identities. The Mother War: Current trends and critical discourses conference, University of Surrey 2009

Assessing practitioners learning needs in breastfeeding. Evidence-based Midwifery Network 3rd International Conference, Leicester 2008

Assessing learning needs for breastfeeding (poster presentation) RCM Annual Conference and Exhibition, Torquay 2006

Invited keynote speaker

Unlocking the potential of the Lancet Framework for Quality Maternal and Newborn Care for midwifery research, education and practice, Better birth – a new perspective, 4th Winterthurer Symposium of Midwifery, Zurich University of Applied Sciences, Winterthur, Switzerland. January 2017

Research with socially excluded people (facilitated workshop with E Rogers, S Ainine, E Such) National conference on socially inclusive dentistry, Nottingham, England. November 2016.

From evidence to policy and everyday practice: Implications for midwifery. WHO South East Asia Regional Meeting on Strengthening midwifery to improve maternal and newborn health, New Delhi, India, August 2015

The Lancet Series on Midwifery: a new approach to quality maternity care and inter-professional collaboration, After Work Lecture, Zurich University of Applied Sciences, Switzerland, July 2015

The Lancet Series on Midwifery, Icelandic Midwives Association, Reykjavik, May 2015

Realising the right of every woman and baby to the best possible maternal and newborn care, Human Rights in Childbirth Conference, Zagreb, Croatia, April 2015

The role of trust in promoting health. Health on the margins – commissioning to tackle health inequalities in Gypsy and Traveller communities, Birmingham, February 2015

Cultural competence: Promoting breastfeeding in Bangladeshi mothers, 2nd National Child Health Conference, Telford, April 2012

Breastfeeding support for Bangladeshi women UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative Conference, Bournemouth, November, 2009

Breastfeeding in BME Communities West Midlands Ethnic Minority Liaison Committee Reducing Perinatal and Infant Mortality Conference, December, Walsall 2008.