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John Powell


Digital Health Research

  • Associate Professor, University of Oxford
  • Visiting Professor, Kings College London
  • Honorary Professor, University of Manchester
  • Research Associate, Oxford Internet Institute
  • Consultant Clinical Adviser, NICE

Background and current work

Recent interview about my research with Andrew Marr on Radio 4 Start The Week:

John Powell is an academic public health physician and health services researcher who has been working in the area of digital health for 20 years (since working on the electronic public health development project in Oxford in 1997). He combines an academic career at the University of Oxford with a role as Consultant Clinical Adviser in the Centre for Health Technology Evaluation at NICE, where he is currently working on the new NICE approach to health apps with the Medical Technology Evaluation Programme. He was formerly Professor of Public Health at the University of Warwick where he led an Ehealth Research Group for 7 years and helped establish the Institute for Digital Healthcare. He has previously been the Clinical Director for NHS Choices ( the NHS website), and the Senior Medical Adviser to during its launch phase in the UK. He has been a member of the NIHR Health Technology Assessment Editorial Board since 2005. He is a Research Associate at the Oxford Internet Institute, an Honorary Professor at the University of Manchester and Visiting Professor at Kings College London. He is the co-Editor-in-Chief of the SAGE journal DIGITAL HEALTH.

Professor Powell's work sits on the interface between research, policy and practice. His projects are usually interdisciplinary and collaborative, and are in three main areas: (1) Evaluating the effectiveness of ehealth (digital health) tools - for example: a randomised trial of an internet-based intervention on the NHS website to promote mental wellbeing in the general population; a randomised trial of an internet intervention for cardiac rehabilitation; the development of a serious game intervention for childhood obesity and the development and piloting of a virtual reality tool for the treatment of social phobia. (2) Investigating how a connected health world is changing how patients and the public interact with services and manage their own health - for example: a programme of work investigating online reviews and ratings by patients about their health care; studies examining the sharing of online health experiences in social media; and studies examining how young people with mental health problems, and with chronic physical illness, are engaging with health care in new ways. (3) Investigating how the health service makes decisions - for example a study of how NHS commissioning decisions are made; and an ethnographic study of how NHS Chief Executives make decisions – both with Warwick Business School.

Key publications

Recent publications