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Laura Sheard
Senior Research Fellow (Associate Professor)



Laura joined York Trials Unit as an Associate Professor in January 2020. Laura is a qualitative methodologist, health sociologist and applied health services/public health researcher. Her skills are mainly around qualitative methods, qualitative analysis, theory, process evaluations and trial management. 

She enjoys researching a range of topics but is most passionate about improving prison healthcare through research, being PI on two grants: an NIHR HS&DR grant about improving the quality of primary care in prison (2019-2022) and an ESRC grant about the impact of Covid-19 on delivery of prison healthcare (2021-2022). 

Laura likes to tweet about the following: academia, qualitative methods/analysis, the peer review process, cats, the NHS, cycling infrastructure. @laurainbradford

She was previously a Principal Research Fellow at Bradford Institute for Health Research (2012-2019). She worked predominantly on patient safety and patient experience studies in the Yorkshire Quality & Safety Research team and public health studies in the Born in Bradford team. 

Laura's doctoral research was undertaken at the University of Leeds and she was awarded her PhD (Sociology) in 2010. Between 2003 and 2009, she worked for the NHS in Leeds as a researcher focusing on prison health, substance use and homelessness.


  • PhD Sociology, University of Leeds (2010)
  • MA Social Research, University of Leeds (2006)
  • BSc Sociology/ Social Psychology, University of Bradford (2002)




Laura's research interests are:

  • Applied health services research
  • Health sociology
  • Innovative qualitative analysis
  • Process evaluation methodologies
  • Conceptual framework generation
  • Implementation science 
  • Prisoner health
  • Public health
  • Complex systems thinking
  • Patient experience
  • Patient safety


  • ActEarly: Improving health and opportunities for children living in two areas of high levels of deprivation (Bradford and Tower Hamlets), Qualitative evaluation lead. 
  • Bath Out 2: An RCT of the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of bathing adaptations in the homes of older adults on health, safety and quality of life, economic evaluation and process evaluation (2020-2023), YTU senior management
  • BioDriveAFS :an RCT investigating the impact of a biomarker-driven Antifungal Stewardship strategy on antifungal drug use and health-related quality of life for patients with acute leukaemia, Process evaluation lead.
  • CONVALESCENCE: Characterisation, determinants, mechanisms and consequences of the long-term effects of COVID-19: providing the evidence base for health care services (2021-2024), Qualitative co-lead.
  • Impact-PH: The impact of Covid-19 on the delivery and receipt of prison healthcare in England: a mixed methods study (2021-2022), Principal Investigator.
  • PACT: Developing & testing an intervention to improve the quality and experience of transitions for older people, Qualitative Lead.
  • PFI-SII: Developing and testing guidance for involving patients and families in serious incident investigations, Qualitative Lead.
  • Qual-P: Understanding and improving the quality of primary care for people in prison: a mixed methods study (2019-2022), Principal Investigator.



Research group(s)


Current PhD students:

  • Penny Birmpili - Addressing delays to treatment for patients with Chronic Limb- Threatening Ischaemia
  • Debbie Clark – The dark side of standardisation in healthcare – when is it safer to work around a protocol?
  • Darci Tillbrook - Uncovering the invisible labour that patients and families undertake to support the safety and quality of cancer care.

Former PhD students:

  • Siobhan McHugh - Evaluating video-reflexive ethnography as a tool for improving teamwork and communication in acute maternity handover (2020)
  • Lauren Ramsey - How do staff use and respond to patient feedback to inform improvements to the quality and safety of care in a hospital setting? (2020)


Full publications list



  • Guest lecturer (ethnography, process evaluations) on MSc Applied Health Research, University of York (2016 – 2018, 2022)
  • Guest lecturer (process evaluations) on MSc in Patient Safety, Imperial College London (2020)
  • MPH examiner, University of York (2020 onwards)


External activities


Membership of funding panels:

  • Yorkshire and North East NIHR Research for Patient Benefit Advisory Committee, Sept 2016 – Sept 2020.
  • MRC Better Methods, Better Research, Guest panel member (qualitative methods), November 2021
  • RfPB Mental Health in the North, Guest panel member, August 2021.
  • Small Business Research Initiative Healthcare call, Guest panel member (implementation science), October 2022
  • Writing Resident for four weeks at Brocher Foundation, Geneva, Switzerland (Feb 2019)

Editorial duties

  • Associate Editor for Implementation Science (Sept 2021 to present)
  • Associate Editor for the journal Trials (2017 - 2021 )

  • Reviewer for journals including: BMJ Quality & Safety, Social Science & Medicine, Health Expectations, BMC Health Services Research, Health, Qualitative Health Research, BMJ Open. 

Invited talks and conferences

Laura has delivered nearly 50 conference presentations to date. She has been fortunate enough to present at the ISQua patient safety conference in both Rio (2014) and Tokyo (2016). Laura presents most years at the Health Services Research UK and BSA Medical Sociology annual conferences.  

Invited talks/events

  • June 2019: Patient safety expert workshop at National University of Ireland, Galway
  • November 2018: Always Events workshop, London – Invited speaker
  • January 2018: Care Opinion symposium, Manchester – Invited speaker
  • May 2017: Bristol, Avon & Somerset Patient Safety conference, Bristol – Invited speaker



Laura Sheard

Contact details

Dr Laura Sheard
Senior Research Fellow (Associate Professor)

Tel: 01904 32(6523)