At age 15, Emee started her degree in Psychology at the University of the Philippines, Diliman. She graduated magna cum laude and migrated to the UK to pursue her MSc and PhD in Health Psychology at City University London. As a student, she also worked as a research assistant for various health promotion projects; as a charity fundraiser for Oxfam, the Association for International Cancer Research, and the Royal Horticultural Society; as a volunteer for CRIBS Philippines and Save the Children UK; as a visiting lecturer and dissertation supervisor for postgraduate students; and as editorial assistant for the Journal of Health Psychology. She also collaborated with the Popular Education for People’s Empowerment on an action research project with the indigenous Ayta community in the Philippines. At age 24, Emee completed her PhD and then worked as health promotion fellow at the Institute for Health and Human Development where she project managed various NHS-funded community needs assessments and evaluation of health improvement programmes. In 2009, Emee was appointed lecturer at Keele University. She is a Chartered Member of the British Psychological Society, a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and seminar lead of Health Literacy UK.

Research and scholarship

Emee is a health psychologist who specialises in health promotion and community development.  She considers herself as a scholar-activist and engages in campaigns for the protection of children’s rights, gender equality, widening participation, and health literacy.  As part of her PhD, she explored the impact of material deprivation and social exclusion on health and well-being. As part of this project, she facilitated a participatory action research with the indigenous Ayta community to develop an alternative learning system (ALS) to enhance literacy and community capabilities and thereby improve health. The project involved collaboration with NGOs, local and national government units. In the process, a community literacy centre was built, a pool of Ayta leaders was organised and a multi-purpose cooperative programme was established. In 2008, Emee also became actively involved in a campaign against racist humour in the media.
She is also the co-founding chair of the Keele Action Resarch Network (with Prof Sue Read) and the Seminar Lead for Health Literacy UK.  

Recently completed projects:

On-going projects:

  • Front of pack nutrition information: an eye tracking study (with Dr Donna Berry and Louise Darlington)

PhD supervision:

MPhil/PhD students:

  • Bushra Bibi (lead supervisor, in progress): Health literacy and diabetes management among South Asians in the UK (2nd supervisor: Clare Holdsworth)
  • Rebecca Laycock (2nd supervisor, in progress): Cultivating sustainable outcomes in Student led Food Growing Initiatives with transient participants: an action research approach (lead supervisor: Zoe Robinson)
  • Kara Holloway (2nd supervisor, in progress): An institutional approach to managing student alcohol consumption in a UK university (lead supervisor: Richard Stephens)
  • Christopher Williamson (2nd supervisor, in progress): Health literacy and chronic disease management among older adults (lead supervisor: Jo Protheroe)



Year 1:

  • PSY-10015: Research Methods 1 (module leader)
  • PSY-10017: Biological and Cognitive Psychology
  • PSY-10018: Individuals in Society 1

Year 2:

  • PSY-20021: Community Psychology: Theory (module leader)

Year 3:

  • PSY-30077: Health Psychology (module leader)
  • PSY-30061: Final Year Project


  • PSY-40044: Advanced Study on the Psychology of Health and Wellbeing(module leader)
  • PSY-40033: Research Apprenticeship for MSc
  • PSY-40015: Dissertation


  • Communicating nutrition information (Nutrition and Energy Balance)
  • Designing programmes and teaching for a diverse student body (PGCert Teaching and Learning in Higher Education)

Further information

External affiliations

  • Special Section on Health Literacy and Engagement, Journal of Health Psychology (Guest Editor)
  • Combating Child Labour, Sage Open (Guest Article Editor)

  • Health Literacy UK Annual Conference 2013 (Scientific/organising committee member)
  • Stoke-on-Trent Healthy Public Policy Advisory Group (Member)
  • Institute for Health and Human Development (Honorary fellow in health promotion)
  • Popular Education for People’s Empowerment (Honorary fellow)
  • International Society for Critical Health Psychology (Member)
  • Association for Heterodox Economics (Member)
  • MSc Health Psychology, Derby University (External Examiner)
  • BBC Radio Stoke, Pinoy Radio UK, ABS-CBN Europe (Guest speaker/commentator)

Peer reviewed for the Lancet, Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, British Journal of Health Psychology, Qualitative Health Research, Research Evaluation Review, NIHR Public Health Research, NIHR Research for Patient Benefit, Journal of Behavioural Medicine, Journal of Physical Therapy and Health Promotion, Online Readings in Psychology, Transcultural Psychiatry, British Journal of Learning Disabilities, and Child Abuse and Neglect.


Estacio, E.V. (2014). Qualitative research and social impact: what can we learn from action research? Daring to make an impact: Dynamic Qualitative Research Conference (22-23 March 2014).  Keele University, UK.

Here are webcast versions of Emee's presentation on 'Qualitative research and social impact: What can we learn from action research':

  • Part 1 looks into the skills qualitative researchers already possess and the importance of generating evidence to support advocacy. It draws upon Emee's experience of facilitating action research on internationalisation in higher education.
  • Part 2 highlights the importance of participant engagement. This section draws upon Emee's research with 1) migrant nurses in the UK and 2) the indigenous Ayta community in the Philippines.
  • Part 3 highlights the importance of developing partnerships and disseminating our work widely. It draws upon Emee's advocacy work on health literacy, child labour and racist humour in the media.
  • Part 4 discusses the importance of sustainability, reflexivity and social support for action researchers.

Emee talking about her work on health literacy

Meet the Keele Action Research Network members.  For more details see the Action research website

Research case

Life as a Migrant Nurse in the UK

Principal Investigator: Dr Emee Vida Estacio

Funded by Richard Benjamin Trust

Nursing recruitment and retention is an ongoing challenge for the NHS.  This challenge is expected to increase with the ageing of the UK population leading to growing demands for healthcare. While there is evidence of an increasing trend in the inflow of internationally recruited nurses in the earlier years of this decade, overseas recruitment has fallen dramatically in recent years.  There is a need to clarify the reasons for this decline considering factors such as changing workload, overall job satisfaction and the everyday working and living experiences of migrant nurses.

This research aims to explore the experiences of migrant nurses working in the UK to identify emerging issues and to inform potential action plans. Twelve migrant nurses were recruited from University Hospital North Staffordshire and Stafford Hospital.  They were asked to keep a diary over a period of six weeks and then were later invited to a World Cafe session to discuss their diary entries.  Some of the themes raised were as follows:




My first steps in the UK  

This theme highlights the nurses’ first impressions of being in the UK. Many experienced homesickness and were shocked with the weather.  There were also mixed comments about the adaptation course – some found it useful while others felt that it was unnecessary.  However most felt excited and rather fortunate for being able to work in the UK.  For them, it was a place where they can earn money to help their families, gain new experiences and progress professionally as a nurse.


Feelings, nothing more than feelings  

Reflecting upon their experiences, all participants felt that living and working in the UK has its ups and downs.  While some felt fulfilled, lucky, accepted and appreciated for being in the UK, there were times when they also felt scared, inferior, doubtful, tired and helpless. 


Working in the NHS  

Participants voiced some of their frustrations of working in the NHS.  This included having to deal with too much paperwork, under-staffing and other structural issues which impinge upon their ability to provide good quality care to their patients.


Colleagues, its a mixed bag  

Participants also reflected on their working relationship with their colleagues. On the one hand, participants felt that some may have a welcoming and supportive attitude towards migrant nurses; while others tend to segregate themselves and could behave unprofessionally towards them. 


The R word  

Although most accounts relating to racism were either based on previous experiences from other employers in the UK or from the experiences of their fellow migrant nurses, institutional racism has surprisingly been a major issue reflected in both diaries and the World Café.  These accounts stemmed from acts of bullying, unfair treatment and having their competencies downgraded simply on the basis of their migrant status. Barriers to professional progression were also reported where participants felt that they weren’t given the same opportunities as others for further training or promotion.  Furthermore, racist accounts from patients were also reported.  Most participants, however, felt that they simply had to cope with these issues and try to defy racism as they arise. 


Whos in charge here  

Management issues were also raised by the participants.  Participants said that there were times when they felt that they are being let down by management because of the lack of organization in some wards.  However, there were participants who praised some of their managers who showed appreciation and concern for other nurses.  They felt that managers need to listen more and act upon issues raised by frontline staff.


Lost in translation  

Language was another theme that emerged from the analysis.  Although nurses who come to work in the UK need to be proficient in English, some may grapple with differences in terminologies used, accents, slang words and British humour.


Its a balancing act  

Participants felt that working in the UK is a balancing act.  Work-life balance is something that they felt they struggle with, especially for those with very young children.  Having a strong social support network (e.g. friends and family) and treating the UK as their ‘second home’ helps them to cope with these stresses.  Positive thinking and religion also help them to keep a positive outlook in life.

The participating nurses from this research felt that establishing a good social support network between migrant nurses can help them to cope better with the challenges of living and working in a foreign land.  A small migrant nurses support group is currently being organised by the participants using the remaining funds for this project.

For more information, please contact:

Dr Emee Vida Estacio
Research Institute for Social Sciences
Keele University