Building Sustainable Societies



Please note: This website is no longer active. The Building Sustainable Societies project was completed in 2015.

In this section:


The Healthcare Hub’s aim was to connect social scientists with NHS decision makers to drive best practice within the NHS.

Our goal was to bring academics from different disciplines and NHS stakeholders together to undertake research that will bring about sustainable improvement in HNS services. Much of our work to date is underpinned by methodologies that seek to explore not just whether interventions work, but also how and why. Going by the name of ‘realist evaluation’ and ‘realist synthesis’, these methodologies provide a framework for explaining how health and social care interventions work, for whom and in what circumstances.  They can help NHS stakeholders tailor interventions to local circumstances.

This work now continues through the Realism@Leeds initiative.


Research Highlights

The Healthcare strand led or contributed to four successful NIHR grants within the past three years. These included co-applicants from two or three faculties from across the University of Leeds, NHS managers, NHS clinicians, members of the public and collaborators from other universities.

Greenhalgh J, Pawson R, Wright R, Meads D, Black N, Valderas JM, Gibbons E, Wood, C, Wood L, Mills C Functionality and Feedback: A realist synthesis of the collation, interpretation and utilisation of proms data to improve patient care, NIHR HS&DR 12/136/31 (£210k) (March 2014 – August, 2015)

Astin F, Conway D, Dransfield D, Greenhalgh J, Holt J, Johnson A-M, Marshall K, Morton A. A mixed methods study to optimise informed consent for percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) in clinical practice, NIHR, RfPB, (£250k)

Randell R, Greenhalgh J, Hindmarsh J, Dowding D, Jayne D, Pearman A, Gardner P, Croft J Kotze A, A realist process evaluation of robotic surgery: integration into routine practice and impacts on communication, collaboration and decision making, NIHR HS&DR 12/5005/04 (£532k) (September 2013 – March 2016)

Pawson R, Greenhalgh J, Glidewell L, Longo R, Wood L Maginnis L, Sturgess H, Motivations, mandates and accountability: A realist synthesis of demand management for planned care, NIHR HS&DR 11/1022/04 (£162k) (September 2012 – March 2014)

In addition to this the Healthcare strand undertook consultancy work to support service evaluation with Bradford District Care Trust and Harrogate NHS Trust. Dr Ana Manzano, a member of the Healthcare strand was awarded FIRC and HEIF grants and has developed an international network of clinicians and academics interested to compare UK and Spanish models of organ donation.


National & International Presence

The Healthcare strand had an international reputation for realist methods, which has led to the Realism@Leeds initative. This has been maintained and raised via speaking at conferences such as the European Evaluation Conference and journal publications. In 2014, the Healthcare strand colleagues taught a 3 day course in realist methods at The Fall Institute in Health Policy and Management which was jointly sponsored by the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Public Health Agency in Barcelona, one of the major public health research agencies in Europe.

Professor Ray Pawson, in collaboration with Trish Greenhalgh, Geoff Wong and Gill Westhorpe led the way in developing reporting guidelines for Realist Synthesis via the RAMESES project, funded by NIHR. Dr Joanne Greenhalgh was part of an international working group, under the auspices of the International Society for Quality of Life Research, to develop minimum standards for the application of patient reported outcomes in patient-centered outcomes and comparative effectiveness research (funded by PICORI) and to develop guidelines for the application of patient reported outcome measures in clinical practice

Impact on the wider community

The Healthcare strand interacted heavily with the wider community through a variety of different avenues. NHS managers and clinicians have been involved in a variety of grants which the Healthcare strand have secured. We have also engaged with patients to develop grants and carry out research projects. Throughout the project, the Healthcare strand colleagues hosted a number of dissemination activities and have been active on twitter. Consultancy with NHS Mental Health Foundation Trust (Bradford) also took place.


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