Petra Mäkelä

Assistant Professor, Department of Health Services Research and Policy, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine


I am a researcher interested in exploring what makes evidence useful, for whom, and how research evidence can effectively influence policy and practice.

Stimulated by many years of practical experience as a clinician in the NHS, I have deep-rooted interests in the complex relationships between research, policy-making and implementation. My previous research has addressed new models of practice associated with policy restructuring in health and care systems. I have also developed, implemented and evaluated complex interventions in multi-site contexts across the UK. I have particular interests in initiatives crossing organisational and disciplinary boundaries, which seek to facilitate inter-disciplinary and inter-organisational communication, relationships and collaboration.

Perspectives and methodologies

I am interested in the application of sociological theories and methods to the organisation, implementation, experience, evaluation and iterative development of complex interventions. I value qualitative methodological approaches, taking time to explore and understand (often competing) priorities, stories and sense-making. I seek understandings of ‘why’, ‘for whom’, and ‘how’ interventions might work or not, within social contexts where varied drivers, needs and expectations co-exist.

Supporting effective and ethical academic-policy engagement

I am working on an evaluation of ‘Capabilities in Academic Policy Engagement’ (CAPE), with Annette Boaz and Kathryn Oliver (2021-2024). CAPE aims to strengthen academic-policy engagement across geographical and policy contexts in England, by bringing together a network of universities, policy organisations and think tanks. We are evaluating a range of CAPE activities, to understand which are the most promising approaches and why in different contexts, and to identify insights into what is happening and how, in the building and sustaining of relationships.

Don’t miss out!

Join our online community to receive news on latest thinking, research, events, trainings, and our regular newsletter.