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

Professor of Health Services Research

Address:Alicia O'Cathain
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 the Medical Care Research Unit which focuses on the development and evaluation of complex interventions for chronic conditions (telehealth for depression and CVD risk, adherence to nebuliser treatment for adults with cystic fibrosis). I also lead projects in emergency and urgent care (variation in avoidable emergency admissions, variation in ambulance non-conveyance). I have written extensively on methodology (how best to undertake mixed methods research, focusing more recently on qualitative methods with randomised controlled trials). I am currently studying how researchers develop interventions.

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-ongoing
Deputy Chair of MRC Population Health Science Fellowships Panel 2010-2014
Associate Editor of Journal of Mixed Methods Research 2007-2012

Current projects

  • ACtiF (Adherence in adults with Cystic Fibrosis)
  • INDEX Identifying and critiquing approaches to intervention development
  • VAN (Variation in Ambulance Non-conveyance)
  • 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)
  • EDARA An Evaluation of Alcohol Treatment Centres

Key publications

  1. O'Cathain A, Drabble SJ, Foster A, Horspool K, Edwards L, Thomas C, Salisbury C. Being Human: A Qualitative Interview Study Exploring Why a Telehealth Intervention for Management of Chronic Conditions Had a Modest Effect. J Med Internet Res 2016;18(6):e163.
  2. Salisbury C, O’Cathain A, Thomas C, Edwards L, Gaunt D, Hollinghurst S, Nicholl J, Large S, Yardley L, Lewis G, Foster A, Garner K, Horspool K, Man MS, Rogers A, Pope C, Montgomery AA. Telehealth for patients at high risk of cardiovascular disease: pragmatic randomised controlled trial. BMJ 2016;353:i2647.
  3. Salisbury C, O’Cathain A, et al. Effectiveness of an integrated telehealth service for patients with depression: a pragmatic randomised controlled trial of a complex intervention. Lancet Psychiatry 2016;3(6):515–525.
  4. Raine R, Fitzpatrick R, [...] O'Cathain A, Or Z, Papoutsi C, Prady S, Rycroft-Malone J, Sekhon J, Turner S, Watson SI, Zwarenstein M. Challenges, solutions and future directions in the evaluation of service innovations in health care and public health. Health Serv Deliv Res 2016;4(16).
  5. O’Cathain A, Knowles E, Turner J, Hirst E, Goodacre S, Nicholl J. Variation in avoidable emergency admissions: multiple case studies of emergency and urgent care systems. Journal of Health Services Research and Policy 2016;21(1):5-14.
  6. O’Cathain, A Hoddinott, P Lewin S Thomas, KJ Young B Adamson J Jansen YJFM Mills N Moore G Donovan JL Maximising the impact of qualitative research in feasibility studies for randomised controlled trials: guidance for researchers. Feasibility and Pilot Studies 2015;1:32.
  7. 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.
  8. 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).


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