Professor Alicia O'Cathain BSc, MSc, MA, PhD

Professor of Health Services ResearchAlicia O'Cathain profile picture

Medical Care Research Unit
Health Services Research
School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR)
University of Sheffield
Regent Court, 30 Regent Street
Sheffield S1 4DA

Tel: (+44) (0)114 22 20770
Fax: (+44) (0)114 22 20749

Room: 3015


I am Director of Health Services Research, an academic unit of 75 staff in ScHARR. I am Deputy Director of the Medical Care Research Unit, a group of 15 researchers. I lead research programmes in emergency and urgent care (e.g. variation in avoidable emergency admissions, variation in ambulance non-conveyance) and the development and evaluation of complex interventions for long term conditions (telehealth for long-term conditions, adherence to nebuliser treatment for adults with cystic fibrosis). I have written extensively on how best to undertake mixed methods research, focusing more recently on qualitative methods with randomised controlled trials.

Research interests

Mixed methods, evaluation of new health services, patient views of health care, urgent care.

Teaching Interests

I run mixed methods workshops and clinics for PhD candidates and teach qualitative research with RCTs.  I was Chair of the ScHARR Postgraduate Research Committee 2008-2012.

Professional Activities

Panel Member of NIHR Applied Research Programme Grants 2007-2016
Deputy Chair of MRC Population Health Science Fellowships Panel 2010-2014
Associate Editor of Journal of Mixed Methods Research 2007-2012

Current projects

  • VAN (Variation in Ambulance Non-conveyance)
  • ACtiF (Adherence in adults with Cystic Fibrosis)
  • WILD (Modifying a weight loss programme for people with intellectual disability)
  • ConDuCT-II Hub (COllaboration and iNnovation in DiffiUlt and Complex randomised controlled Trials In Invasive procedures)
  • Healthlines Study (Telehealth for long-term conditions)
  • PhOEBE (Outcomes and processes valued by 999 ambulance users)
  • IMPEDE (NIHR Doctoral Fellowship on pain management in emergency departments)
  • Trauma Outcomes in Older People (TARN Doctoral Fellowship)

Key publications

  1. Foster A, Horspool K, Salisbury C; Montgomery A, Thomas C, Edwards L, O’Cathain A. Why do patients decline to participate in telehealth trials? A cross-sectional analysis of decliners to the Healthlines Study. Trials 2015;16:258.
  2. Vassilev I, Rowsell A, pope C, Kennedy A, O’Cathain A, Salisbury C, Rogers A. Assessing the implementability of telehealth interventions for self-management support: a realist review. Implementation Science 2015, 10:59 doi:10.1186/s13012-015-0238-9.
  3. Moore G, Audrey S, Barker M, Bond L, Bonell C, Cooper C, Hardeman W, Moore L, O’Cathain A, Tannaze T, Wight D, Baird J Process evaluation of complex interventions: a summary of Medical Research Council guidance. In Complex Interventions in Health. An Overview of Research Methods. Edited by David A Richards and Ingalill Rahm Hallberg. p222-231. Routledge: London, 2015.
  4. Drabble, S.J. & O’Cathain, A. (2015). Moving from randomised controlled trials to mixed methods intervention evaluations. In: S. Hesse-Biber & B. Johnson (Eds.). The Oxford handbook of multimethod and mixed methods research inquiry. Oxford University Press.
  5. Moore G, Audrey S, Barker M, Bond L, Bonell C, Cooper C, Hardeman W, Moore L, O’Cathain A, Tannaze T, Wight D, Baird J. Process evaluation of complex interventions. Medical Research Council guidance. BMJ 2015 350:h1258.
  6. O’Cathain A, Knowles E, Turner J, Maheswaran R, Goodacre S, Hirst E, Nicholl J. Explaining variation in emergency admissions: a mixed methods study of emergency and urgent care systems. Health Research and Services Delivery 2014;2(48).
  7. O’Cathain A, Thomas KJ, Drabble SJ, Rudolph A, Goode J, Hewison J. Maximising the value of combining qualitative research and randomised controlled trials in health research: the QUAlitative Research in Trials (QUART) study – a mixed methods study. Health Technol Assess 2014;18(38).
  8. O’Cathain A, Thomas KJ, Rudolph A, Drabble SJ, Hewison J. What can qualitative research do for randomised controlled trials? A systematic mapping review. BMJ Open 2013;3:e002889.


Alicia O'Cathain is based in the Medical Care Research Unit in Health Services Research