Dr Clare Relton FSHom, BA(Hons), MSc, PhD

Honorary Senior Research Fellow

A photograph of Clare ReltonThe University of Sheffield
University of Sheffield
Regent Court
30 Regent Street
S1 4DA

email: c.relton@sheffield.ac.uk

ORCiD: 0000-0001-8530-5011


I am a health researcher with a background in Philosophy and homeopathic medicine. In 2003 I obtained a Department of Health Training Fellowship and joined ScHARR where I obtained my MSc in Health Services Research and PhD (pragmatic trial design). I also work part time as a senior lecturer at the pragmatic clinical trials unit based at Queen Mary’s University London.

Research Interests

I am interested in the design of practical/pragmatic randomised controlled trials with maximum efficiency and utility and identifying and testing all types of  innovations to improve population health regardless of whether or not they are in fashion.

Current Projects

I lead the NOSH (NOurishing Start for Health) project. This MRC/NPRI funded study is exploring the potential of offering women financial incentives (shopping/supermarket vouchers) to breastfeed, with the aim of increasing breastfeeding in areas where breastfeeding rates are well below the national average. This cluster RCT with 10,010 mother and infant dyads is now complete and the result can be read here. Our findings regarding the experiences and views of mothers and healthcare providers who took part in the financial incentive scheme will be published soon.

I also lead the FRESH Street project. This is an MRC (PHIND) funded project aims to develop and feasibility test an area (street) based cash transfer scheme for locally supplied (non supermarket) fresh fruit and vegetables in areas with low consumption and high morbidity.

I also lead the Yorkshire Health Study a combined population-based research platform and longitudinal observational study. This NIHR CLAHRC Yorkshire & Humber study has over 52,000 respondents and so far has helped efficiently identify and recruit members of the public to more than 20 health research studies. This  study utilises the 'cohort multiple randomised controlled trial' design, an innovative approach to the design and conduct of pragmatic randomised controlled trials. This approach (now known as ‘Trials within Cohorts – TwiCs) is being used by more than 30 studies worldwide.

Following on from the 1st symposium on the ‘Trials within Cohorts’ approach to trial design, the 2nd symposium on the ethics of the Trials within Cohorts approach was held in November 2016 supported by the Wellcome Trust.

Teaching Interests

I teach on the Master of Public HealthMaster of Clinical Research, and undergraduate medical MBChB degrees.

PhD and MSc opportunities

I welcome PhD applications at any time. You are welcome to email me to discuss an idea before making an application through the ScHARR online system

Key Publications

Randomised controlled trial design

Relton C, O'Cathain A, Nicholl J, Torgerson D. Rethinking pragmatic randomised controlled trials: Introducing the "cohort multiple randomised controlled trial" design. BMJ 2010 340(7753):963-967

Relton, Clare; Strong, Mark; Renfrew, Mary J; et al; Cluster randomised controlled trial of a financial
incentive for mothers to improve breast feeding in areas with low breastfeeding rates: the NOSH study protocol.
BMJ Open, 6, 4, e010158, 2016.

Zakrzewska, Joanna M; Relton, Clare. Future Directions for Surgical Trial Designs in Trigeminal. Neuralgia. Neurosurgery Clinics of North America, 27, 3, 353-363, 2016

Relton, C. Implications of the 'placebo effect' for CAM research. Complementary Therapies in Medicine 21(2):121-124 Apr 2013

Green, Mark A; Li, Jessica; Relton, Clare; et al. Cohort profile: The Yorkshire health study. International Journal of Epidemiology, dyu121, 2014.

Relton C, Bissell P, Smith C, Blackburn J, Tod A, Copeland R, Young T, Cooper CL, Nichol J, Loban A, et al. South Yorkshire Cohort: a 'cohort trials facility' study of health and weight - protocol for the recruitment phase. BMC Public Health 11:640 2011

Innovations to improve population health

Whelan B, Van Cleemput P, Strong M, Relton C. Views on the acceptability of financial incentives for breastfeeding: a qualitative study. Lancet, Volume 382, page S103, 29 November 2013

Relton C, O'Cathain A, Nicholl J, Strong M, Holdsworth M. Plastic food packaging encourages obesity. BMJ (Clinical research ed.) 344:3824, 2012

Relton C, Strong M, Li J. The 'Pounds for Pounds' weight loss financial incentive scheme: an evaluation of a pilot in NHS Eastern and Coastal Kent. Journal of Public Health 34(4):536-542 Dec 2011

Homeopathic medicine

Viksveen P, Relton C. Nicholl JN. Depressed patients treated by homeopaths: a randomised controlled trial using the "cohort multiple randomised controlled trial" (cmRCT) design. Trials 2017, 18, 299. DOI 10.1186/s13063-017-2040-2

Relton C, Young TA, Smith C, Raw J, Walters C, Adebajo AO, Thomas KJ. Healthcare provided by a homeopath as an adjunct to usual care for Fibromyalgia (FMS): results of a pilot Randomised Controlled Trial. Homeopathy 98(2):77-82 April 2009

Relton C, O'Cathain A, Thomas KJ. 'Homeopathy': untangling the debate. Homeopathy 97(3):152-155 July 2008

My page on Google Scholar

My page on Research Gate