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Dr Tom Sanders

Associate Professor

Department: Social Work, Education and Community Wellbeing

I am a medical sociologist with interests in applied health research. My research has focused on the development, implementation and testing of healthcare interventions using a range of qualitative methods. I joined Northumbria in September 2018 as Associate Professor (Reader) of Applied Health Research. Prior to this I worked as a Senior Research Fellow in the Public Health Section of ScHARR at the University of Sheffield and in the Translating Knowledge to Action theme (CLAHRC Yorkshire and Humber). Prior to joining the University of Sheffield I was a Senior Research Fellow (Qualitative) at the ARUK Primary Care Centre, Keele University (2010-14) where I conducted studies investigating the implementation of new musculoskeletal care interventions, largely within large trials in primary care (STarT Back Tool). Between 2005 and 2010 I was a Lecturer in Medical Sociology at Manchester Medical School. Prior to this I held a NHS Executive Post-Doctoral Research Training Fellowship in Health Services Research (2002-5) under the supervision of Professor Stephen Harrison at the University of Manchester on a qualitative study investigating the use of evidence in the management of heart failure. This work examined how guidelines shape clinical decisions, building on Professor Harrison’s influential ‘Scientific Bureaucratic Medicine’ Theory (2000). Previous posts included a number of research contracts at the Universities of Bristol and Cardiff (1998-2002). Studies included an exploration of hereditary risk among first degree relatives of people diagnosed with cancer, utilising theory from ‘lay epidemiology’; and a population case series of non-accidental head injuries in young children. Prior to this I held a MRC funded PhD studentship (1995-1998) to conduct observations of interactions in oncology consultations. My first job in research came in 1994 where I joined a team at the Department of Social Medicine (University of Bristol), straight after completing an MSc in Medical Sociology, to investigate variations in the regional management of cancer services in South West England.

I am the head of the Childhood and Early Years Studies subject area and honorary senior research fellow at the School of Health and Related Research, University of Sheffield.

Tom Sanders

Key Publications

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Acceptability of a vocational advice service for patients consulting in primary care with musculoskeletal pain, Sanders, T., Wynne-Jones, G., Ong, B., Artus, M., Foster, N. 1 Feb 2019, In: Scandinavian Journal of Public Health
  • A systematic scoping review of asset-based approaches to promote health in communities, Cassetti, V., Powell, K., Barnes, A., Sanders, T. 18 Jul 2019, In: Global Health Promotion
  • Challenges of eye health care in children and strategies to improve treatment uptake, Cassetti, V., Sanders, T., Bruce, A. 15 Apr 2019, In: British and Irish Orthoptic Journal
  • Disruptive illness contexts and liminality in the accounts of young people with Type 1 diabetes, Sanders, T., Elliott, J., Norman, P., Johnson, B., Heller, S. 21 Sep 2019, In: Sociology of Health & Illness
  • Living with multimorbidity? The lived experience of multiple chronic conditions in later life, Porter, T., Ong, B., Sanders, T. 21 Mar 2019, In: Health (United Kingdom)
  • Working with Insulin, Carbohydrates, Ketones and Exercise to Manage Diabetes (WICKED), Johnson, B., Norman, P., Sanders, T., Elliott, J., Whitehead, V., Campbell, F., Hammond, P., Ajjan, R., Heller, S. 4 Aug 2019, In: Diabetic Medicine
  • A qualitative exploration of evidence-based decision-making in public health practice and policy, Grove, A., Sanders, T., Salway, S., Goyder, E., Hampshaw, S. 2 May 2018, In: Evidence and Policy
  • Experiences of self-management among young adults with type 1 diabetes in the context of a structured education programme: a qualitative study, Sanders, T., Elliott, J., Norman, P., Johnson, B., Heller, S. 22 Oct 2018, In: Diabetic Medicine
  • Non-disclosure of symptoms in primary care: an observational study, Paskins, Z., Sanders, T., Croft, P., Green, J., McKinley, R., Hassell, A. 7 Apr 2018, In: Family Practice
  • Qualitative study investigating the perceptions of parents of children who failed vision screening at the age of 4–5 years, Bruce, A., Sanders, T., Sheldon, T. 14 Sep 2018, In: BMJ Paediatrics Open


  • Health and Social Research PhD February 01 2000
  • Sociology MSc September 01 1993
  • July 01 1992
  • Sociology BA (Hons) July 01 1992

Research Themes and Scholarly Interests

Medical Sociology

Understanding standardised tools and interventions and their adoption in healthcare

Normalisation Process Theory

Experiences of chronic illness (heart failure, type 1 diabetes, musculoskeletal pain, persistent and medically unexplained symptoms)

Healthcare communication in the consultation (heart failure, primary care, physiotherapy)

PGR Supervision

Claire Leader Start: 01/03/2020


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