Professor Carl May


of Medical Sociology


15-17 Tavistock Place
United Kingdom

0207 958 8292

I am a medical sociologist and implementation scientist with a wide range of research interests across the sociology of health technologies and of human relations In the healthcare systems of the advanced economies. This work has ranged from very applied evaluation studies in health services research (especially in qualitative studies nested within randomised controlled trials) through studies of the social construction of professional-patient relations and different disease entities, to fundamental social science research on the dynamics of human agency under conditions of constraint. 

Supervision of MSc/MPhil, PhD/MD and Post-Doctoral Fellows is a central part of my role and one which I enjoy enormously. I have supervised 24 doctoral students to successful completion. Seven of these are now full professors.

I do not normally consider supervision of dissertations and thesis that are outside of my core research interests, but feel free to contact me to discuss your interests if they appear to fit with mine. It's best to send me a clear outline of your research question and proposed study.

I welcome enquiries about PhD/MD supervision and about mentoring competitive Post-Doctoral Fellowships.I am a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in the UK, and a former ESRC Research Fellow and NIHR Senior Investigator. I was elected an Honorary Fellow of the Roya College of general Practitioners in 2020.



Faculty of Public Health and Policy
Department of Health Services Research and Policy


Centre for Global Chronic Conditions


I contribute widely to modules in the School's MSc and DrPH Programmes.



I research and publish across the whole range of topics in medical sociology and implementation science. I have a particular interest in understanding the dynamics of human relations and socio-technical transformations in healthcare systems. My work focuses on two key applied research questions.

(a) How do professionals and patients interact, and how are these interactions shaped by clinical knowledge, technique, and technology in practice?

(b) How are new knowledge, techniques, and technologies made workable and implemented in health care organizations?

These questions inform my research practice, which involves empirical work using qualitative methods (discourse and content analysis, and ethnographic techniques) and mixed methods studies that link qualitative work to the development of structured research instruments. I regard explanation as a centrally important part of the sociologist's craft, and my empirical research has been closely linked to the development of rigorous theoretical models that are amenable to both qualitative and quantitative investigation.

An important part of my work over the past two decades has been the development of middle-range theoretical models that identify , characterise and explain the mechanisms that motivate and shape implementation processes (Normalisation Process Theory). Building on this, I have developed theoretical models of the ways that socio-technical transformations and policy restructuring in healthcare systems affect patients and caregivers (Burden of Treatment Theory). I have collaborated widely with colleagues in the UK and internationally to develop this work. 

Research Area
Complex interventions
Health services research
Behaviour change
Health services
Mixed methods
Implementation research
Qualitative methods
Social Sciences
Disease and Health Conditions
Cardiovascular disease
Chronic disease
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Hospital acquired infection
Non-communicable diseases
East Asia & Pacific (all income levels)
Europe & Central Asia (all income levels)
North America

Selected Publications

The Potential Added Value of Novel Hearing Therapeutics: An Early Health Economic Model for Hearing Loss.
Mandavia R; Horstink YM; Grutters JPC; Landry E; May C; Rovers M; Schilder AGM; Scholte M
Otology & neurotology : official publication of the American Otological Society, American Neurotology Society [and] European Academy of Otology and Neurotology
See more Publications