Heather Trickey

Research Associate

School of Social Sciences

+44 (0)29 2087 9609
1-3 Museum Place

My research focuses on public health policy intervention and parenthood. Current and recent research projects have looked at infant feeding policy, public health message communication and peer support intervention. I tend to explore policy questions - Why do some policies or interventions, in some places, appear to ‘work’ whilst others fail? Where and how could intervention be improved?

I'm interested in the human experience of public health policy and in understanding how policy can be improved by elevating and enfolding this experience. For example, for NCT charity I led a participative policy-research review of infant feeding policy, leading to changes in services and messaging. I'm working with Public Health Wales to develop a community-focused approach to improving infant feeding outcomes. And I'm working with BPAS as the research lead for a Wellcome Funded engagment project that looks at risk communication in pregnancy.

I have an academic background in geography, epidemiology and in social policy and I am an experienced qualitative researcher. Alongside my research work for DECIPHer, I am studying for a PhD in public health; my thesis considers the implications for intervention design of conceptualising breastfeeding peer support as intervention inserted in a complex ecological system of wider influences in feeding decisions. I also work part-time as a Senior Researcher for NCT charity, and I am an NCT breastfeeding counsellor.  

Potted employment history

Health and social policy evaluation has the consistent theme throughout working life. I’ve hopped the fence between academic research departments and research commissioning organisations, having worked for research centres, the civil service and in the third sector.

  • DECIPHer, Cardiff University, Research Associate (2016-present);
  • NCT Senior Researcher (2010-present);
  • Career break (2006-9);
  • NCT Senior Policy Research Officer (2004-5);
  • Senior Research Officer: Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (2002-4);
  • Senior Research Officer: Inland Revenue (2002-4);
  • Research Associate: Centre for Research In Social Policy, Loughbourgh University (1997-2000);
  • Research Assistant, Dept. Social Medicine, Bristol University (1995-97);
  • Research Assistant: Health Promotion Wales (1993-94).


Academic Research Lead and Co-applicant: WRISK - Engaging women to improve risk communication on pregnancy. Wellcome Trust. Engagment Award £100,000 awarded. Commenced June 2018.

Principal Applicant: Community based breastfeeding intervention: Scoping review and systems scan to develop and refine a theory for a community-based breastfeeding intervention to be delivered in low income welsh communities. Public Health Wales. £27,505 awarded. Commenced November 2017.

Co-applicant: Devising and communicating public health guidance on alcohol in pregnancy. Alcohol Concern Wales. £6,000 Commenced May 2017

Co-applicant: Assets-based feeding help Before and After birth (ABA): feasibility study for improving breastfeeding initiation and continuation. NIHR, Public Health Research Programme £320,163 awarded. Commenced November 2016

Co-applicant: Nain, Mam and Me: infant feeding in Wales, social history and modern practices. Wellcome Trust, Humanities Collaborative Awards. £18 419 awarded. Commenced July 2015


Title: Theorising breastfeeding peer support as intervention in a complex ecological system; lessons for implementation and evaluation in a Welsh context

Summary: My thesis aims to explore and articulate theories of breastfeeding peer support and to consider their potential in a Welsh infant feeding context – a context that is characterised by low breastfeeding rates overall, by high rates of ‘breastfeeding disappointment’ and by marked social and geographical polarisation in feeding decisions.

Funding: MRC / NCT Charity

Supervisors: Professor Simon Murphy, Professor Julia Sanders

Related policy work

  • Public Health Wales - Advisor to Welsh Becoming Breastfeeding Friendly project 2018 -
  • Welsh Government - Infant feeding strategy group 2017-present
  • UNICEF Baby Friendly UK - Designation Committee Member 2014 - present
  • NCT Charity - Research Advisory Committee 2008 - present