Dr Tracey Smythe

Associate Professor

United Kingdom

As a pediatric physiotherapist and epidemiologist, my work is established in the fields of disability and implementation science to inform quality improvement in health service delivery. I have clinical experience developing, co-ordinating and delivering rehabilitation interventions and health worker training interventions in Australia, Brazil, countries in sub-Saharan Africa and the UK. I specialised in paediatric care, and my main clinical work is with children with neurodevelopmental disorders and their families.

I am an Associate Professor with the International Centre for Evidence in Disability at LSHTM. I have a particular interest in fostering research capacity in clinical settings in lower resourced settings. I am dedicated to elevating my team and nurturing knowledge production. Skilled at programme and research design and evaluation, I currently lead the development of a health worker training intervention on disability, part of a wider NIHR grant that aims to improve healthcare access for people with disabilities in Uganda.

My physiotherapy degree is from the University of Queensland, Australia and my MPH and PhD are from LSHTM. My doctoral research provided evidence to improve services for clubfoot in Africa with Zimbabwe as a case study.

I was co-lead of the MARCH Centre C-theme (child theme) from 2019 - 2021 and held an honorary physiotherapist position with University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust from 2020 - 2022. I am an Associate Professor at Stellenbosch University, South Africa.


Department of Population Health
Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health


Centre for Evaluation
Centre for Maternal Adolescent Reproductive & Child Health


I co-organise the Practical Epidemiology module on the MSc Epidemiology by Distance Learning (EPM103), with a focus on identifying programme development needs. I lead the curriculum review and revision of teaching material in light of developments in research and module evaluation – including acting on student feedback and suggestions from other teaching staff.

I teach on the MSc Study Unit on "Global Disability and Health". I also lecture on Disability on the Diploma of Tropical Nursing and the Diploma in Tropical Medicine & Hygiene.

I contribute to the Public Health in Development MSc course as a personal tutor. I supervise MSc students who undertake their summer projects in topics of disability and global health.


My work generates knowledge to bridge the gap between academia and the practice of health service delivery. My focus on implementation science and participatory research advances knowledge to improve health of people with disabilities. My research is grounded in 20 years experience as a physiotherapist working in underserved communities in Africa, enabling me to identify the most relevant research questions, design and test evidence-based interventions, and implement them successfully. I have led research in over 15 low and middle income countries and my mixed-methods (quantitative and qualitative) research portfolio advances knowledge on developing and testing interventions to improve the health and wellbeing of people with disabilities.

I am involved in assessing the impact of physical impairment on the quality of life of children and their carers, in addition to the development of scalable interventions. I lead the child development component within ICED and further information about our projects can be found at

Previous work includes a pilot and feasibility study of a parent group intervention for children with congenital zika syndrome in Brazil and Colombia, supporting an early intervention programme in Rwanda, and building partnership, capability and stakeholder engagement with Stellenbosch University to strengthen health systems in South Africa to achieve universal health coverage for people with stroke.

I support partners through the Global Clubfoot Initiative and am actively involved with the RCUK GCRF group.

Research Area
Behaviour change
Child health
Health services
Health services research
Health systems
Health workers
Public health
Implementation science
Mixed methods research
Disease and Health Conditions
Mental health
Neurological diseases
South Africa
Latin America & Caribbean (all income levels)
Sub-Saharan Africa (all income levels)

Selected Publications

Congenital Zika Syndrome-Assessing the Need for a Family Support Programme in Brazil.
DUTTINE, A; SMYTHE, T; Ribiero Calheiro de Sá, M; Ferrite, S; ZUURMOND, M; Moreira, ME; Collins, A; Milner, K; KUPER, H;
International journal of environmental research and public health
Remote monitoring of clubfoot treatment with digital photographs in low resource settings: Is it accurate?
SMYTHE, T; Nogaro, M-C; Clifton, LJ; Mudariki, D; Theologis, T; Lavy, C;
PloS one
The feasibility of a training course for clubfoot treatment in Africa: A mixed methods study.
SMYTHE, T; Owen, R; Le, G; Uwizeye, E; Hansen, L; Lavy, C;
PloS one
The development of a training course for clubfoot treatment in Africa: learning points for course development.
SMYTHE, T; Le, G; Owen, R; Ayana, B; Hansen, L; Lavy, C;
BMC medical education
Assessment of success of the Ponseti method of clubfoot management in sub-Saharan Africa: a systematic review.
SMYTHE, T; Mudariki, D; KUPER, H; Lavy, C; FOSTER, A;
BMC musculoskeletal disorders
Co-development of a training programme on disability for healthcare workers in Uganda.
SMYTHE, T; Ssemata, AS; Slivesteri, S; MBAZZI, FB; Kuper, H;
BMC health services research
Strengthening implementation of integrated care for small and nutritionally at-risk infants under six months: pre-trial feasibility study
MCGRATH, M; Girma, S; Berhane, M; Abera, M; Hailu, E; Bathorp, H; Grijalva-Eternod, C; Woldie, M; Abdissa, A; Girma, T; Kerac, M; SMYTHE, T;
Disability Research in Zambia: A Scoping Review
SCHERER, N; Banda-Chalwe, M; Chansa-Kabali, T; Nseibo, K; Seketi, QE; McKenzie, J; SMYTHE, T;
Scandinavian Journal of Disability Research
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