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Prof Tim Rapley


Department: Social Work, Education and Community Wellbeing

Tim is a medical sociologist with an interest in social studies of medical work, research and practice. He is Co-Director of Research and Innovation, Department of Social Work, Education and Community Wellbeing

Tim undertakes detailed empirical studies that seek to understand the everyday, taken-for-granted, aspects of medical work.  A focus on what people actually do, as opposed to only what they think they do, or they tell you they do, can offer unique, practical and tailored solutions  His work focuses on three substantive areas: the implementation of care, the organisation of care and social studies of qualitative research.

Campus Address

Room B118 Coach Lane Campus West
Northumbria University
Newcastle upon Tyne

Key Publications

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Developing oral health risk assessment as routine practice during early stages of clinical careers, Cook, C., Finch, T., Sharma, S., Girling, M., Rapley, T., Vernazza, C. Feb 2020, In: European Journal of Dental Education
  • Can we normalise developmentally appropriate health care for young people in UK hospital settings? An ethnographic study, Rapley, T., Farre, A., Parr, J., Wood, V., Reape, D., Dovey-Pearce, G., McDonagh, J. 9 Sep 2019, In: BMJ Open
  • Harnessing new models of care for chronic disease, Birrell, F., Goff, I., Coulson, L., Jones, T., Baqir, W., O'Brien, N., Rapley, T., Gray, K., Flood, B., Russell-Westhead, M. Mar 2019, In: Future Healthcare Journal
  • Modelling logical intervention pathways through a stakeholder authored concept map to design complex interventions aimed at improving participation for people with Sjögren’s syndrome, Hackett, K., Kolehmainen, N., Deary, V., Deane, K., Newton, J., McCallum, C., Campbell, M., Ng, W., Rapley, T. 12 Apr 2019
  • The burden of proof, Dovey-Pearce, G., Walker, S., Fairgrieve, S., Parker, M., Rapley, T. 1 Jun 2019, In: Health Expectations
  • The Year of Care approach, Roberts, S., Eaton, S., Finch, T., Lewis-Barned, N., Lhussier, M., Oliver, L., Rapley, T., Temple-Scott, D. 8 Nov 2019, In: BMC Family Practice
  • Toward an Objective Assessment of Implementation Processes for Innovations in Health Care, Vis, C., Ruwaard, J., Finch, T., Rapley, T., de Beurs, D., van Stel, H., van Lettow, B., Mol, M., Kleiboer, A., Riper, H., Smit, J. 20 Feb 2019, In: Journal of Medical Internet Research
  • Uptake of best practice recommendations in the management of patients with diabetes and periodontitis: a cross-sectional survey of dental clinicians, Bissett, S., Presseau, J., Rapley, T., Preshaw, P. 25 Jan 2019, In: British Dental Journal
  • Determinants of parent-delivered therapy interventions in children with cerebral palsy, Lord, C., Rapley, T., Marcroft, C., Pearse, J., Basu, A. 1 Sep 2018, In: Child: Care, Health and Development
  • Dietary and Physical Activity Behaviours in African Migrant Women Living in High Income Countries: A Systematic Review and Framework Synthesis, Ngongalah, L., Rankin, J., Rapley, T., Odeniyi, A., Akhter, Z., Heslehurst, N. 3 Aug 2018, In: Nutrients

PGR Supervision

Mitchell Hogg Start: 01/10/2018

Further Information

Tim is an experienced supervisor of PhD and MD students and postdoctoral fellows. He has supervised eleven PhD/MD students to a timely successful completion in a broad range of topics in applied health research.

Current postgraduate supervision:

Mitchell Hogg - Developing a Specialised Breathing Intervention for Treating Autonomic Dysfunction in POTS Northumbria RDF Studentship

Sam Armitage - Enabling self-care in children with developmental disabilities

Jess Baggaley - Development and validation of a parent-completed screening checklist for early movement abnormalities indicating a high risk of development of cerebral palsy.  ESRC 1+3 Postgraduate Studentship

Helen Cartner - Altered Eating and Primary Sjögren's Syndrome. Northumbria RDF Studentship

Nataly Birbeck     - Self Harmony: Advocating for Positive Mental Health through the Use of Technology.  EPSRC DTC Digital Civics

Jen McAnuff - Improving health in children with disabilities: an intervention-development study to support participation in leisure in 8-12 year-olds with communication and mobility limitations. NIHR Clinical Doctoral Fellow

Lem Ngongalah - Knowledge, beliefs and perceptions on maternal obesity, child obesity and infant feeding amongst African immigrant women in the UK

Claire Sullivan - Explore the relationship or association between alcohol consumption and sexual risk taking in adults


  • BA (Hons)
  • MA (Hons)
  • PhD

Research Themes and Scholarly Interests

Tim is a Professor of Applied Health Care Research in the Department of Social Work, Education and Community Wellbeing. He is a medical sociologist with an interest in social studies of medical work, research and practice.  He undertakes detailed empirical studies that seek to understand the everyday, taken-for-granted, aspects of medical work.  A focus on what people actually do, as opposed to only what they think they do, or they tell you they do, can offer unique, practical and tailored solutions


His work focuses on three substantive areas:

The implementation of care: His work on the implementation of care covers a range of phases, from initiation, scoping and development of novel ideas, to process evaluations of feasibility studies, pilot and full trials. It takes place in a range of settings, including community, primary, secondary and tertiary health care as well as dental care.  Theoretically, this work is often driven by his interest in Normalization Process Theory (NPT).  See for an introduction to Normalization Process Theory, that offers an interactive toolkit and structured instrument to help people think through implementation issues.


The organisation of care: His work on the organisation of care seeks to identify, describe and understand the experience of care in paediatric, adolescent and adult contexts.  This work engages with a broad range of stakeholders, from patients, carers and the general public to the diverse group of health professionals and managers. It seeks to use the findings of the studies to develop practical, tailored solutions to the problems that are identified as well as exploring how to embed organisational policy initiatives. See for an example of an output from this work.  This a site for all clinicians whom may encounter children with serious musculoskeletal problems. It aims to raise awareness, knowledge and skills to facilitate early diagnosis and referral to specialist care.


Social studies of qualitative research: When not conducting research on medical work, research and practice, he’s interested in thinking, talking, and teaching about the practical, taken-for-granted, ways that qualitative research gets done.  He’s written about the (extra)ordinary work we undertake in relation to qualitative interviews and analysis.  He has also written a book, Analysing Conversations, Discourse and Documents (Sage).     

He has an honorary appointment at Newcastle University.


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