Dr Alexis Foster
BA, MSc, PhD
School of Health and Related Research
Research Design Service Advisor
+44 114 222 6129
Full contact details
School of Health and Related Research
3012, Regent Court
Regent Court (ScHARR)
30 Regent Street
I am a mixed methods researcher specialising in third sector organisations including charities and community groups. I use participatory research approaches to ensure that my research involves stakeholders and influences practice. I have worked as a researcher since 2011, mainly based in the Health and Care Research Unit. Before then, I worked in and with the third sector. I am still actively involved in the third sector including as a charity trustee.
Recent/current projects include:
NIHR Research Fellow (2021-2022)- I am a NIHR Research Fellow exploring different methods of evaluation within the third sector. This develops my NIHR Doctoral Research Fellow work, where I conducted a mixed methods study working with a variety of stakeholders to explore the implementation of outcomes measures including supporting organisations with using them. Outputs included a toolkit: https://issuu.com/niftyfoxcreative/docs/proms_booklet_final
Evaluation of the national Green Social Prescribing Project- Funded by DEFRA and NHS England, I am part of a multi-university team evaluating green social prescribing within England. I am leading a work package focused on developing the collection and use of process and outcome data within social prescribing projects and green activities.
Evaluations of wellbeing interventions- I regularly undertake Knowledge Exchange projects where I evaluate wellbeing services on behalf of the NHS and charities. For example, evaluating the British Red Cross Community Connector programme and a Primary Care Network’s mental health provision.
Supporting the workforce- I led a review identifying interventions that were used to support mental health nurses manage workplace stress. I am currently developing research focused on the third sector workforce.
Stakeholder Involvement- I am passionate about ensuring stakeholders are actively involved in research studies especially patients and members of the public. I am currently the stakeholder lead for a health literacy and for a study exploring the use of pre-alerts for ambulance staff.
Research Design Service- I work as an advisor for the Research Design Service. I support researchers and practitioners with developing their study ideas. I specialise in social care and public health research. For example, leading the RDS support for the NIHR call on Extending Working Lives.
Journal articles- I have published over 20 articles on a variety of topics including 6 as lead author. The articles report on a range of methods, especially mixed methods and reviews. They have been published in a number of journals including the BMJ. Selected publications from the last 5 years include:
• Foster A, Clowes M & Wood E (2021) Identifying the evidence base of interventions supporting mental health nurses to cope with stressful working environments: a scoping review. Journal of Nursing Management.
• Foster A, Thompson J, Holding E, Ariss S, Mukuria C, Jacques R, Akparido R & Haywood A (2020) Impact of social prescribing to address loneliness: a mixed methods evaluation of a national social prescribing programme. Health & Social Care in the Community.
• Foster A, OCathain A & Harris J (2020) How do third sector organisations or charities providing health and wellbeing services in England implement patient reported outcome measures (PROMs)?: A qualitative interview study. BMJ Open, 10.
Foster A, Croot L, Brazier J, Harris J & O'Cathain A (2018) The facilitators and barriers to implementing patient reported outcome measures in organisations delivering health related services: a systematic review of reviews. Journal of Patient-Reported Outcomes.
BA (Politics and Social Studies), 1st Class Hons- University of Sheffield
MPH- Distinction- University of Sheffield
PhD- Health Services Research, University of Sheffield
- Research interests
My key area of interest is the third sector. I evaluate third sector delivered interventions and explore sector-wide issues including workforce development needs and impact measurement.
I have experience of a range of research methods including qualitative, randomised controlled trials, secondary analysis and reviews. I am passionate about using mixed-methods which draw upon participatory approaches.
- Service users’ perspectives of a national social prescribing programme to address loneliness and social isolation: a qualitative study. Health and Social Care in the Community, 2023.
- Health literacy interventions for reducing the use of primary and emergency services for minor health problems: a systematic review. Health and Social Care Delivery Research, 10(38), 1-222.
- Learning from the challenges of undertaking an evaluation of a multi-partner housing support initiative delivered within a hospital setting. Public Health in Practice, 4, 100333-100333.
- Using co-production to implement patient reported outcome measures in third sector organisations: a mixed methods study. Journal of Patient-Reported Outcomes, 6(1).
- An intervention to promote self-management, independence and self-efficacy in people with early-stage dementia: the Journeying through Dementia RCT.. Health Technol Assess, 26(24), 1-152.
- Using knowledge brokering to produce community-generated evidence. Evidence & Policy: A Journal of Research, Debate and Practice. View this article in WRRO
- Identifying the evidence base of interventions supporting mental health nurses to cope with stressful working enviroments: a scoping review. Journal of Nursing Management.
- Impact of social prescribing to address loneliness: a mixed methods evaluation of a national social prescribing programme. Health & Social Care in the Community.
- How do third sector organisations or charities providing health and wellbeing services in England implement patient reported outcome measures (PROMs)?: A qualitative interview study. BMJ Open, 10. View this article in WRRO
- Connecting communities: A qualitative investigation of the challenges in delivering a national social prescribing service to reduce loneliness. Health & Social Care in the Community. View this article in WRRO
- Study protocol for a randomised controlled trial assessing the clinical and cost-effectiveness of the Journeying through Dementia (JtD) intervention compared to usual care. BMJ Open, 9(9). View this article in WRRO
- The facilitators and barriers to implementing patient reported outcome measures in organisations delivering health related services: a systematic review of reviews. Journal of Patient-Reported Outcomes. View this article in WRRO
- An evidence-based approach to the use of telehealth in long-term health conditions: development of an intervention and evaluation through pragmatic randomised controlled trials in patients with depression or raised cardiovascular risk. Programme Grants for Applied Research, 5(1). View this article in WRRO
- Cost-effectiveness modelling of telehealth for patients with raised cardiovascular disease risk: evidence from a cohort simulation conducted alongside the Healthlines randomised controlled trial. BMJ Open, 6(9). View this article in WRRO
- Cost-effectiveness of telehealth for patients with raised cardiovascular disease risk: evidence from the Healthlines randomised controlled trial. BMJ Open, 6(8), e012352-e012352. View this article in WRRO
- Cost-effectiveness of telehealth for patients with depression: evidence from the Healthlines randomised controlled trial. British Journal of Psychiatry Open, 2(4), 262-269. View this article in WRRO
- The Contribution of Therapist Effects to Patient Dropout and Deterioration in the Psychological Therapies. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy. View this article in WRRO
- Being Human: A Qualitative Interview Study Exploring Why a Telehealth Intervention for Management of Chronic Conditions Had a Modest Effect. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 18(6). View this article in WRRO
- Telehealth for patients at high risk of cardiovascular disease: pragmatic randomised controlled trial. BMJ, 353. View this article in WRRO
- Effectiveness of an integrated telehealth service for patients with depression: a pragmatic randomised controlled trial of a complex intervention. The Lancet Psychiatry, 3(6), 515-525. View this article in WRRO
- Increasing follow-up questionnaire response rates in a randomized controlled trial of telehealth for depression: three embedded controlled studies. Trials, 17. View this article in WRRO
- Who does not participate in telehealth trials and why? A cross-sectional survey. Trials, 16(1). View this article in WRRO
- The self-management of longer-term depression: learning from the patient, a qualitative study. BMC Psychiatry, 15(1). View this article in WRRO
- Exploring the components and impact of social prescribing. Journal of Public Mental Health, 14(3), 127-134. View this article in WRRO
- Innovation in Health Economic Modelling of Service Improvements for Longer-Term Depression: Demonstration in a Local Health Community. JOURNAL OF MENTAL HEALTH POLICY AND ECONOMICS, 16, S34-S35.
- Innovation in health economic modelling of service improvements for longer-term depression: demonstration in a local health community.. BMC Health Serv Res, 13, 150. View this article in WRRO
Conference proceedings papers
- Facilitating hospital discharge through housing support : a mixed-methods evaluation of a housing association support service in two UK hospitals. The Lancet, Vol. 398(Supplement 2) (pp S53-S53). Virtual conference, 25 November 2021 - 25 November 2021. View this article in WRRO
- Research group
Medical Care Research Unit, ScHARR
I have been successful at securing two NIHR fellowships including a Doctoral Fellowship exploring the implementing of outcomes measures in third sector organisations (2017-2020).
I have secured funding both as a Principal Investigator and Co-Applicant to evaluate wellbeing services delivered by third sector organisations. This includes for DEFRA, Cruse bereavement and the British Red Cross.
I have been a co-applicant on a number of research projects where I am responsible for leading stakeholder engagement and the co-production elements of the study. For example: NIHR HS&DR Project (Co-app) - Identifying health literacy interventions that reduce the use of primary care and emergency services for minor problems: a systematic review (2020-2021).
- Teaching interests
I am involved in the teaching on the Master's in Public Health especially in relation to knowledge mobilisation and third sector related dissertations.
- Teaching activities
I am involved in delivering various aspects of Master level programs in ScHARR including:
• Deputy module lead- Knowledge mobilisation in healthcare
• Delivering teaching, supervising and marking dissertations for the Masters in Public Health/Masters in Clinical Research students.
• Personal tutor to Master’s level students.
• Providing research attachments for undergraduate medical students.
• Leading a peer network for supervisors of qualitative post-graduate dissertations.
Much of my teaching involves taking a collaborative approach with community organisations, providing opportunities for students to get hands on experience of addressing health and wellbeing through taking a holistic wellbeing approach. For example, organising dissertation placements at local charities
- Professional activities and memberships
I am a member of ScHARR’s Athena SWAN Committee.
I sit on the Executive for the Centre for Wellbeing in Public Policy.
I review funding applications for the NIHR and review articles for a variety of journals.
I mentor early career researchers and clinicians/ public health workers.