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Abigail Stevely

PhD student

Changing behaviour at the population level theme

University of Sheffield

Research Interests

Abigail is interested in using theories of practice to develop alcohol epidemiology and policy analysis. She is also keen to build on this work to study trends in alcohol and other health-related behaviours and engaging with policy stakeholders.

Abigail's PhD reflections

My SPHR studentship award gave me the opportunity to start a career in public health research. Across the three years, my skills and confidence as a researcher have dramatically improved. I have been able to publish four papers based on my PhD research, and work in a friendly and dynamic research group at the University of Sheffield.

It has been great to be part of a wider research community including other PhD students, and I have benefited from a range of training opportunities. For example, I attended the NIHR Infrastructure Doctoral Research Training Camp on Attracting Further Research Funding in 2019. This was a great event and I learnt a lot about the process of writing funding applications.


Abigail's Q&A

  • What has been your career journey so far?

    I began my studies at the University of Sheffield in 2013 and graduated with a BSc in Medical Science. I then joined the Master of Public Health course, from which I graduated with Distinction and was awarded the Hutchinson Prize in Public Health. I am currently a PhD student in the Sheffield Alcohol Research Group.

  • Why did you choose to do a PhD in public health research?

    I enjoyed my Masters in Public Health, particularly working in the Sheffield Alcohol Research Group on my dissertation project. I wanted to build on this experience and was interested in a career in public health research.

  • What is your research focused on?

    My PhD work is focused on exploring the relationships between drinking contexts (such as drinking with friends or in a pub), alcohol consumption, and alcohol-related harms.

  • Why is it important?

    Studying these relationships can help public health researchers to understand how and why interventions affect alcohol consumption and harm outcomes. This can support the development of more effective and targeted interventions.

  • What do you like about being a part of the NIHR School for Public Health Research?

    It’s nice to be part of a wider research community including other PhD students. Last year, I was a member of the ResNet committee, and I enjoyed working together to develop training opportunities for researchers.

  • What skills have you learnt and/or are hoping to learn as part of your PhD?

    I have conducted four studies and developed skills in literature reviewing and advanced quantitative methods. Through this process I have improved my project management skills and collaborated with colleagues. I have also developed my writing skills through writing reports and papers with experienced co-authors.

  • What do you hope to do after completing your PhD?

    I will be working as a Research Associate in the Sheffield Alcohol Research Group. I will be working on two large projects exploring changes in British drinking culture over the last 16 years and investigating why young people are drinking less alcohol.


Stevely, A., Holmes, J., & Meier, P. (2021). Combinations of drinking occasion characteristics associated with units of alcohol consumed among British adults: an event‐level decision tree modeling study. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 45(3), 630-637.

Stevely, A. K., Vocht, F., Neves Lic, R. B., Holmes, J., & Meier, P. S. (2021). Evaluating the effects of the Licensing Act 2003 on the characteristics of drinking occasions in England & Wales: A theory of change‐guided evaluation of a natural experiment. Addiction, 116(9), 2348-2359.

Holmes, J., Beard, E., Brown, J., Brennan, A., Meier, P. S., Michie, S., . . . Buykx, P. F. (2020). Effects on alcohol consumption of announcing and implementing revised UK low-risk drinking guidelines : findings from an interrupted time series analysis. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 74(11), 942-949.

Stevely, A. K., Holmes, J., McNamara, S., & Meier, P. S. (2020). Drinking contexts and their association with acute alcohol‐related harm : a systematic review of event‐level studies on adults’ drinking occasions. Drug and Alcohol Review, 39(4), 309-320.

McNamara, S., Holmes, J., Stevely, A., & Tsuchiya, A. (2020). How averse are the UK general-public to inequalities in health between socioeconomic groups? A systematic review. The European Journal of Health Economics, 21(2), 275-285.

Stevely, A. K., Holmes, J., & Meier, P. S. (2020). Contextual characteristics of adults’ drinking occasions and their association with levels of alcohol consumption and acute alcohol‐related harm : a mapping review. Addiction, 115(2), 218-229.

Holmes, J., Beard, E., Brown, J., Brennan, A., Kersbergen, I., Meier, P. S., . . . Buykx, P. (2020). The impact of promoting revised UK low-risk drinking guidelines on alcohol consumption: interrupted time series analysis. Public Health Research, 8(14).


Holmes J, Beard E, Brennan A, Brown J, Gillespie D, Meier PS, Michie S, Stevely AK, Webster L, Buykx P. Effects on alcohol consumption of announcing revised UK low-risk drinking guidelines: findings from a monthly cross-sectional survey. Lancet. 2019; 394: S54.

Awards and Recognitions

2019: NIHR School for Public Health Research Annual Scientific Meeting Poster Prize (£75)

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