Mary Dixon-Woods

BA, DipStat, MSc, DPhil, FASS

Professor of Medical Sociology


Professor Mary Dixon-Woods



Department of Health Sciences
University of Leicester
22-28 Princess Road West
Leicester, LE1 6TP

Tel: 00 44 116 229 7262


Mary Dixon-Woods is Professor of Medical Sociology and director of the SAPPHIRE group, Department of Health Sciences, University of Leicester, UK, and Deputy Editor-in-Chief of BMJ Quality and Safety.  She leads a programme of research focused on patient safety and healthcare improvement, healthcare ethics, and methodological innovation in studying healthcare. She is a fellow of the UK’s Academy of Social Science, and holds honorary positions as an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine at Johns Hopkins University, a visiting professor at Imperial College’s Centre for Infection Prevention and Management, and a visiting associate professor at Dartmouth College. She was, in 2012, one of the first recipients of a Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator Award. She served on the National Advisory Group on the Safety of Patients in England, which produced the Berwick report in 2012. She was recently a member of the Patient Safety Forum at the World Innovation Summit for Health and is currently serving as an expert panel member the US National Patient Safety Foundation’s review of patient safety.

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Research Interests

Research Projects

Professional Activities

Postgraduate Supervision and Teaching

Selected Publications



My research focuses on:

  • Patient safety and quality of care
  • Research and evaluation methods
  • Regulation and bioethics


  • Senior Investigator award
    Dixon-Woods M
    Wellcome Trust
  • Evaluation of the Health Foundation’s Safer Clinical Systems Programme Phase 2
    Dixon-Woods M, Martin G, Tarrant C, Bion J, Goeschel C (Armstrong Institute)
    Health Foundation
  • Previous Research Projects

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Editorial Roles


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I welcome applications to undertake doctoral work in areas related to my research interests.

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Dixon-Woods M, Young B, Heney D. (2005) Rethinking experiences of childhood cancer: a multidisciplinary approach Milton Keynes: Open University Press

Peer Reviewed Publications


  1. Brewster L, Aveling EL, Martin P, Tarrant C, Dixon-Woods M and the Safer Clinical Systems Core Group Writing and Evaluation Committee. (2015) What to expect when you’re evaluating healthcare improvement: a concordat approach to managing collaboration and uncomfortable realities. BMJ Quality and Safety (accepted March 2015)
  2. Aveling EL, Kayonga Y, Nega A, Dixon-Woods M. (2015) Why is patient safety so hard in low-income countries? A qualitative study of health workers’ views in two African countries. Globalization and Health. 11:6
  3. Portela M, Pronovost P, Woodcock T, Carter P, Dixon-Woods M.  How to study improvement interventions: a brief overview of possible study types. BMJ Quality and Safety.  (accepted February 2015) 
  4. Martin G, Armstrong N, Dixon-Woods M, Herbert G, Aveling E. (accepted) Professionalism Redundant, Reshaped, or Reinvigorated? Realizing the ‘Third Logic’ in Contemporary Healthcare. Journal of Health and Social Behaviour
  5. Carter P, Laurie G T, Dixon-Woods M. The social licence for research: why ran into trouble. J Med Ethics.
  6. Davidoff F, Dixon-Woods M, Leviton L, Michie S. Demystifying theory and its use in improvement. BMJ Qual Saf.


  1. Martin GP, Dixon-Woods M. After Mid Staffordshire: from acknowledgement, through learning, to improvement. BMJ
  2. Jones EL, Lees N, Martin GP and Dixon-Woods M.(2014) Describing methods and interventions: a protocol for the systematic analysis of the perioperative quality improvement literature. Systematic Reviews
  3. Dixon-Woods M, Minion J, McKee L, Willars J, Martin G. The friends and family test: a qualitative study of concerns that influence the willingness of English National Health Service staff to recommend their organisation. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine
  4. Power M, Tyrrell, P.J. Rudd, A.G. Tully, M.P. Dalton, D. Marshall, M. Chappell, I. Corgié, D. Goldmann, D.Webb, D. Dixon-Woods, M. Parry, G. Did a quality improvement collaborative make stroke care better? A cluster randomized trial. Improvement Science
  5. Bion J, Dixon-Woods M. Keystone, Matching Michigan, and Bacteremia Zero [Letter] Critical Care Medicine Volume 42 - Issue 5
  6. Dixon-Woods M. The problem of context in quality improvement. The Health Foundation
  7. Martin GP, Ozieranski P, Willars J, McKee L, Charles K, Minion JT, Dixon-Woods M. Walkrounds in practice: corrupting or enhancing a quality improvement intervention? A qualitative study. The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety
  8. Hoffmann T, Glasziou P, Boutron I, Milne R, Perera R, Moher D, Altman DG, Barbour V, McDonald H, Johnson M, Lamb SE, Dixon-Woods M, McCulloch P, Wyatt JC, Chan A. Better reporting of interventions: the Template for Intervention Description and Replication (TIDieR) checklist and guide. BMJ
  9. Carter P, Ozieranski P, McNicol S, Power M, Dixon-Woods M. How collaborative are quality improvement collaboratives? A qualitative study in stroke care. Implementation Science


  1. Martin G, Leslie M, Minion J, Willars J, Dixon-Woods M. Between surveillance and subjectification: professionals and the governance of quality and patient safety in English hospitals. Social Science and Medicine
  2. Martin GP, Sutton E, Willars J, Dixon-Woods M. Frameworks for change in healthcare organisations: a formative evaluation of the NHS Change Model. Health Services Management Research
  3. Ozieranski P, Dixon-Woods M, Robins R, Minion J, Willars J, Wright J, Martin G. Running a hospital patient safety campaign: a qualitative study. Journal of Health Organization and Management  (accepted October 2013)
  4. Aveling E, McCulloch, Dixon-Woods MA qualitative study comparing experiences of the surgical safety checklist in hospitals in high- and low-income countries. BMJ
  5. Baker R, Willars J, McNicol S, Dixon-Woods M, McKee L. Primary care quality and safety systems in the English NHS: a case study of a new type of primary care provider. Journal of Health Services Research and Policy
  6. Dixon-Woods M, Baker M, Charles J, Dawson J, Jerzembek G, Martin G, McCarthy I, McKee L, Minion J, Ozieranski P, Willars J, Wilkie P, West M. Culture and behaviour in the English National Health Services: overview of lessons from a large multi-method study. BMJ Quality and Safety 
  7. Shojania KG, Dixon-Woods M. 'Bad apples': time to redefine as a type of systems problem? BMJ Quality & Safety
  8. Dixon-Woods M, Perencevich E. When counting central line infections counts. Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology
  9. Dixon-Woods M, Redwood S, Leslie M, Minion J, Martin G, Coleman J. Improving quality and safety of care using “technovigilance”: an ethnographic case study of secondary use of data from an electronic prescribing and decision support system. Milbank Quarterly
  10. Dixon-Woods M, Leslie M, Tarrant C, Bion J. Explaining Matching Michigan: an ethnographic study of a patient safety program. Implementation Science
  11. Kazimierczak KA, Skea ZC, Dixon-Woods M, Entwistle VA, Feldman-Stewart D, N'Dow JMO, MacLennan SJ. Provision of cancer information as a "support for navigating the knowledge landscape": Findings from a critical interpretive literature synthesis. European Journal of Oncology Nursing 
  12. McKee L, K Charles, J Willars, M. Dixon-Woods, G. Martin.  ‘New’ and distributed leadership in quality and safety in healthcare, or ‘old’ and hierarchical? An interview study with strategic stakeholders. Journal of Health Services Research & Policy
  13. Armstrong N, Herbert G, Aveling EL, Dixon-Woods M, Martin G. Optimizing patient involvement in quality improvement. Health Expectations
  14. Armstrong N, Jackson C, McNicol S, Dixon-Woods M, Kenyon S, Tarrant C. Unblinding following trial participation: qualitative study of participants’ perspectives. Clinical Trials
  15. Marshall M, Pronovost P, Dixon-Woods M. Promotion of improvement as a science. The Lancet

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Earlier publications

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