Dr Rachel Thomson
- Clinical Research Fellow (MRC/CSO Social & Public Health Sciences Unit)
I graduated from the University of Glasgow in 2014 with an undergraduate medical degree (MBChB) and an intercalated BSc (Hons) in Psychological Medicine, before becoming a Specialty Registrar in Public Health Medicine in 2016. I subsequently obtained a Master of Public Health (MPH) with Distinction from the University of Glasgow, with my dissertation investigating the impact of the Great Recession and subsequent austerity measures on population mental health.
My clinical public health work has spanned a range of topics including public health advocacy, the health needs of the working-age population, public mental health and a national needs assessment of Scottish gender identity services. I am currently pausing my NHS training to complete a PhD focused on developing a microsimulation model that predicts the likely impact of changes to social security policies on mental health inequalities, and testing this using Universal Basic Income.
I am based within the Inequalities programme of the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, and supervised by Dr Vittal Katikireddi, Dr Anna Pearce and Professor Alastair Leyland. I am funded by a Wellcome Trust Fellowship, and am very grateful for their support of my research.
In my current Wellcome-funded project, I aim to create a computer-based policy model which can predict how new welfare or tax policies are likely to affect mental health in the UK. Models such as this, based on real-world data, are increasingly being used to predict health outcomes before introducing policies in other policy areas, but this approach has not yet been applied to the social determinants of mental health.
The first stage of the project involves a systematic review and meta-analysis of the literature on income changes and mental health (protocol registered here), and the use of causally-informed statistical methods and UK cohort data to investigate the same relationship. I will then create a virtual UK population which integrates this information on how changes in income and employment can affect mental health, and combine this with an existing model (EUROMOD) that calculates how much new welfare policies will change incomes for individuals and households. I will use the combined model to test the likely outcome of introducing a novel policy of universal basic income on the country’s overall mental health and for different groups.
Results will be fed back to policy makers, helping them choose policy options most likely to benefit mental health.
Grants and Awards listed are those received whilst working with the University of Glasgow.
- Predicting the impacts of universal basic income on mental health inequalities in the UK population: a microsimulation model
2019 - 2022
Professional activities & recognition
Prizes, awards & distinctions
- 2018: Littlejohn Gairdner Prize for outstanding contribution to public health in Scotland (Faculty of Public Health)
- 2017: Mackinlay Prize for MPH home student with highest average score (University of Glasgow)
- 2017: Best Project Prize for MPH (University of Glasgow)
- 2019 - 2023: Wellcome Trust Research Award for Health Professionals