Department of Education

James O'Donovan

DPhil Student

College Affiliation: St Edmund Hall

James works with Professor Niall Winters, Dr. Chris Paton, and the Learning and New Technologies group.

His research interests focus on the use of mobile technologies to train health workers in low- and middle-income countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. He is particularly interested in the role of mobile technologies (mHealth) for the supportive supervision of Community Health Workers (CHWs).

His thesis will focus on the design, delivery and evaluation of a mobile based supervision platform for CHWs in rural Uganda.

Prior to commencing the DPhil, James was a medical doctor based in Cambridge, with a specific interest in Global Health. He has previously spent time working in Uganda and Kenya with various NGOs and was Kennedy Scholar at Harvard University working with Dr. Thomas Burke at the Massachusetts General Hospital Division of Global Health and Human Rights, as well as a Visiting Scholar at Stanford University Center for Health Education.

He has been recognised for his work in the field of mHealth with awards and grants from The Royal Society of Medicine, The Velji Foundation, The Oxford Centre for Comparative and International Education and The British Medical Association.

He is always happy to connect with others working in the field and has active collaborations with University of Cambridge, New York University, Makerere University, Columbia University, and The World Health Organization.”

  • O’Donovan J et al.  “We are the people whose opinions don’t matter”. A photovoice study exploring challenges faced by community health workers in Uganda. Global Public Health. 2019.
  • Winters, N., Langer, L., Nduku, P., Robson, J., O’Donovan, J., Maulik, P., … & Nagraj, S. Using mobile technologies to support the training of community health workers in low-income and middle-income countries: mapping the evidence. BMJ Global Health. 2019.
  • O’Donovan J, Nagraj S, O’Donovan C et al. The role of community health workers in cervical cancer screening in low-income and middle-income countries: a systematic scoping review of the literature. BMJ Global Health. 2019.
  • O’Donovan J, Verkerk M, Winters N et al. “The Role of Community Health Workers in Addressing the Global Burden of Ear Disease and Hearing Loss: A Systematic Scoping Review of the Literature”. BMJ Global Health. 2019.
  • O’Donovan J, Kabali K, Taylor C et al. “The use of low-cost Android tablets to train Community Health Workers in Mukono, Uganda, in the recognition, treatment and prevention of pneumonia in children under five: a pilot randomized-controlled trial”. BMC Human Resources for Health. 2018.
  • O’Donovan J, Thompson A, Olyinofor C, et al. “The use of Participatory Visual Methods with Community Health Workers: A systematic scoping review of the literature”. Global Public Health. 2018.
  • O’Donovan J, et al. “The potential challenges of implementing the Community Health Extension Worker Programme in Uganda.” BMJ Global Health. 2018.
  • O’Donovan J, O’Donovan C, Sachs S, et al. “The on-going training of Community Health Workers in low- and middle-income countries: A systematic scoping review of the literature”. BMJ Open. 2018.
  • Winters N, O’Donovan J, Geniets A. “A new era for community health in low- and middle-income countries?” The Lancet Global Health. 2018.
  • O’Donovan C, O’Donovan J. “Why do women request an elective cesarean delivery for non- medical reasons? A systematic review of the qualitative literature.” Birth. 2017.
  • O’Donovan J, Bersin A. “Controlling Ebola through mHealth strategies”. Lancet Global Health. 2015.
  • O’Donovan J, Bersin A, O’Donovan C. “The Effectiveness of Mobile Health (mHealth) Technologies to Train Healthcare Professionals in Developing Countries: A Review of the Literature.” BMJ Innovations. 2015.
Academic prizes
  • Oxford University Scholarship in Comparative and International Education 2018


Designing an mHealth based programme to facilitate the supportive supervision of Community Health Workers in rural Uganda

Funded Research Projects:

  • Development and evaluation of a WHO training programme in Ear and Hearing Care for Community Health Workers (CHWs) in rural Uganda.

  • May 2018-May 2019

    British Medical Assosciation Charitable Arm

  • The role of Photovoice to explore challenges faced by Community Health Workers in Mukono Uganda

  • Peter Hansell Scholarship from The Royal Photographic Society