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🔦Spotlight on Karen Hodgson🔦

Karen Hodgson (she/her)

Population Health Insights Programme Lead Public Health Wales

What does my job actually entail?

I work in the Research and Evaluation Division at Public Health Wales, as the Population Health Insights Programme Lead. In reality, this means I spend a reasonable part of my day in meetings, either with members of the team, collaborators or stakeholders (such as academics, third sector organisations or other parts of the NHS).

The researchers in the team are using a range of methods to fill in the evidence gaps about how we can best support the health of the Welsh population. Some of the team are working with the excellent linked data resources available in Wales (for example the SAIL databank) to look at topics such as healthcare use among the clinically extremely vulnerable to COVID-19, while others are using survey data to explore topics like the health impacts of home-working.

When not in meetings, I might be working on research funding bids we are putting together, inputting into the reports and academic papers that showcase the team’s research, or getting up to speed on the research literature. All while drinking far too much coffee.

When not at work I can be found…

Going for a early morning dip in the sea to watch the sunrise, volunteering at the local parkrun or slowly getting back into running myself by plodding slowly around Cardiff bay.


Why did you join the DSxHE community?

To get involved with conversations on health equity with people from across different parts of the health sector, and to challenge my (sometimes overly cynical) thinking.

What’s a topic in data science/health equity that you know/care a lot about - why is it important/interesting, tell us about it!

I’m particularly interested in how we can tackle the biases and limitations in our current dataset, to better support action on health inequities.

How can we make sure that we are measuring what matters the most, and actively addressing the gaps in our data – whether that be through more inclusive and equitable approaches to data collection, data science methods or valuing other forms of evidence?

What’s a skills/expertise you have in data science/health equity – How did you learn/develop it and how might others do so?

I think a key skill is learning how to get to know a new data source; not only in terms of the patterns and nuances of each variable, but also thinking about how that data source was created and what those variable really represent. This is necessary not only to make sure any analysis is robust from a statistical perspective, but also helps to identify the limitations of the data you are working with, and what it might not be able to reveal.


What non-existent job do you wish existed?

Almond croissant reviewer. I chose my current home based almost solely on its proximity to 4 excellent bakeries.

What is your favourite thing to do in the summertime?

Make the most of the long sunny evenings with swim in the sea after work – followed by a beer on the beach.

What is your favourite board game?

Not a big fan of board games, unless I am winning.


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