Dr Alexis Foster

BA, MSc, PhD

School of Health and Related Research

Research Fellow/Research Design Service Advisor

+44 114 222 6129

Full contact details

Dr Alexis Foster
School of Health and Related Research
3012, Regent Court
Regent Court (ScHARR)
30 Regent Street
S1 4DA

I started working as a research assistant at ScHARR in January 2011 in the Mental Health Group. I was involved in a number of projects including statistical analysis, reviews, qualitative research and stakeholder consultation. During this time I completed my Masters in Public Health gaining a distinction. This included a dissertation exploring whether client-associated variables are related to deterioration in psychological therapies (published).

Between February 2012 and 2015 I worked in the Medical Care Research Unit. I worked as a research associate, project managing the Northern sites of the Healthlines Randomised Controlled Trial, which tested the effectiveness of telehealth for long-term condition management. As part of this role I was involved in interviewing trial participants and health professionals about their experience of the intervention. I was awarded a grant to run a qualitative study alongside the trial, where I conducted interviews with patients regarding the acceptability of telehealth in their future healthcare

Between 2015 and 2017 I worked as a trial manager at the Sheffield Clinical Trials Research Unit. I managed the Journeying through Dementia Randomised Controlled Trial, which is explored the effectiveness of group support for people in the early stages of dementia.

Between 2017 and 2020 I was a NIHR Doctoral Research Fellow. My research was a mixed methods study using a community based participatory approach to explore the facilitators and barriers to implementing outcome measures in third sector wellbeing organisations. This cumulated in a toolkit on implementing PROMs, available from: https://issuu.com/niftyfoxcreative/docs/proms_booklet_final

Since 2020, I have worked on a number of projects linked to wellbeing, the social determinants of health and supporting people with accessing health services. Current projects include: 

  • Stakeholder lead on a NIHR funded systematic review exploring which interventions can support people to increase their health literacy to reduce use of urgent services for minor problems.
  • Evaluating the delivery and impact of a housing support service delivered by a housing association for people being discharged from hospital. 
  • A scoping review of interventions to improve the mental health of Mental Health Nurses.
  • Working with third sector organisations to help them develop capacity and capability in respect of evaluation.

Alongside undertaking research, I am an advisor at the Research Design Service, supporting researchers and clinicians with developing research ideas and applying for grants. This includes working for the PHRADA- a national service to support people interested in applying to the NHR Public Health Research funding stream.

Before joining ScHARR I worked in a number of health related roles including:

  • Health Promotion Trainee- NHS Sheffield
  • Development Officer- Sheffield Local Involvement Network
  • Team Leader and Carer Support Officer- Rethink

These roles enabled me to develop my skills and knowledge of project management, health improvement initiatives, service evaluation, health inequalities and patient and public involvement.


BA Politics and Social Studies (1st Class Honours), Masters in Public Health (Distinction), PhD in Health Services Research (University of Sheffield).

Research interests

My key area of interest is how to improve the evidence base of wellbeing interventions, such as implementing routine measurement and improving the quantity and scale of research on wellbeing interventions.

Alongside this, I am interested in researching interventions which address the social determinants of health including housing and welfare advice services.

I have experience of a range of research methods including qualitative, randomised controlled trials, participatory research and secondary analysis. I am passionate about using mixed methods and I am interested in how research is implemented into health services.

Current projects

I am currently working on a number of studies related to improving wellbeing.


Journal articles


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

NIHR Doctoral Research Fellowship (PI)- Exploring the facilitators and barriers to implementing the routine use of outcome measures in third sector wellbeing organisations.

NHS Solent (PI)- Developing and leading a research project exploring patients’ views on the acceptability of telehealth.

Yorkshire and Humber Research Design Service (PI) - Involving patients and the public in developing a research proposal exploring the use of outcome measures in third sector wellbeing activities.

Alongside grants, I have been a co-applicant and PI on a number of knowledge exchange projects including with the British Red Cross (>£200,000) and Cruse bereavement services (>£30,000).

Teaching interests

I am involved in delivering various aspects of Master level programs at ScHARR including:

  • Deputy module lead- Knowledge mobilisation in healthcare
  • Delivering teaching on the dissertation module for the Masters in Public Health students
  • Supervising and marking dissertations on the Masters in Public Health, Masters in Health Services Research and Masters in Clinical Research.
  • 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

I am a member of ScHARR’s Athena SWAN Committee.

I set up and currently lead the Wellbeing Intervention Network. This is a cross departmental network which shares knowledge and develops collaborations amongst people interested in wellbeing interventions.

I am on the Executive for the Centre for Wellbeing in Public Policy.

Conferences and seminars

2019- Involvement of Patients and the Public in implementing PROMs- National PROMs conference

2019- Implementing PROMs in social prescribing- a qualitative study- International Social Prescribing Service

2018- National Patient Reported Outcome Measures conference- Identifying the facilators and barriers to implementing Patient Reported Outcome Measures: A systematic review of reviews.

2018- Knowledge Mobilization Conference- Taking a collaborative measurement approach.

2018- South West Prescribing Conference- What do we know about the impact of social prescribing- Keynote speaker

2015 - Health Services Research Network Annual Conference - The effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of telehealth for depression.

2014- National Conference of the Society of Academic Primary Care-What can we do for patients we don't know how to help?-Could social prescribing be the answer?

2013- Regional Conference of the Society of Academic Primary Care-Healthlines: Exploring the effectiveness of telehealth support for longer-term conditions

2012 and 2013- Sheffield Health and Social Care Trust-Doing collaborative research for patient benefit: The IQuESTs Study-Improving quality and effectiveness of services, treatments and self-management

2013- ScHARR Seminar- Are certain clients more likely have an unplanned ending or experience reliable deterioration when engaging in psychological therapy?