Dr Daisy Payling

Research Fellow


15-17 Tavistock Place
United Kingdom

After completing a PhD at the University of Birmingham, I started work on Alex Mold’s Placing the Public in Public Health project in October 2015 as part of a three year fellowship.  My research focuses on health surveys; on the growth of the survey as a tool to both measure population health and to gather information on public opinion of health challenges and services. I am looking at the ways in which the public was constituted through surveys and also how the public spoke back to public health.


Department of Social and Environmental Health Research
Faculty of Public Health and Policy


History in Public Health


Principles of Social Research


My PhD research focussed on left-wing projects of renewal in the 1970s and 1980s. My current work explores the growth of the survey as a tool to both measure population health and to garner information about popular opinion of public health challenges and services. I am looking at how the public were constituted through the survey and the ways in which it ‘spoke back’ to public health through such media.  I will also assess the changing importance ascribed to public opinion within public health.

My research uses the health sections of the Government Social Survey as a starting point. I'm looking into the reasons for and the conversations behind the Wartime Survey of Sickness and surveys into public attitudes towards diphtheria immunisation and campaigns around venereal disease, among others. By examining the survey processes and findings and how they were reported in the press, I aim to shed light on who the public were, how they were considered  by public health, and how public opinion emerged and developed as a useful concept in health. As the project continues, my work will broaden out to look at surveys such as the National Survey of Health and Development, the Whitehall studies, and the National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles. 

Research Area
Public health
Public health history
Public understanding
Qualitative methods
United Kingdom