Latest news from the Department of Health Sciences

Decision-making at the beginning and end of life - seminar 11th February 2020

Posted by es213 at Dec 06, 2019 02:15 PM |

Examining whether and how advance planning documents facilitate improved patient-centred, autonomous decision-making in maternity and palliative care settings. FREE SEMINAR - bursaries available for early career academics/clinicians and students

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Sapphire News Aug/Sept/Oct 2019

Posted by es213 at Nov 01, 2019 10:55 AM |

We say goodbye to some valued colleagues and hello to new team members - find out what has been happening in Sapphire recently!

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Sapphire News June/July 2019

Posted by es213 at Aug 29, 2019 12:05 PM |

Find out what the Sapphire team has been up to - promotions, presentations, publications...

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Ethnography for Healthcare Improvement Summer School 11th & 12th July 2019

Posted by es213 at Aug 21, 2019 03:55 PM |

SAPPHIRE ran the first Ethnography for Healthcare Improvement Summer School. This was a two-day event held in a very sunny College Court in Leicester. One of the attendees, Daniel Darbyshire from Lancaster Medical School, has written a blog combining his experience with testimonials from other attendees.

Hello, my name is Dan, I am a PhD student at Lancaster University and an emergency medicine doctor in the North West of England. My research is trying to understand staff retention in emergency medicine – what allows people to have sustainable careers in a clinical specialty that has a real problem with exodus. My research methods involve observation in the workplace – ethnography, and one-to-one interviews. I am a reasonably experienced qualitative interviewer, but this will be my first ethnographic study. And while I have attended courses at my university on ethnographic research methods these were not focused on the particular challenges of the healthcare environment. It is with this in mind that I applied to participate in the SAPPHIRE Summer School.

Delegates and faculty 2019

The attendees came from a variety of backgrounds, from established qualitative and health service researchers to a number of PhD students across a range of disciplines. Some of the reasons for attending mirrored mine in terms of building on a qualitative research background or specifically focusing on a PhD project.

For example, Ruth Baxter, a Senior Research Fellow, from the Yorkshire Quality and Safety Research Group, Bradford Institute for Health Research noted ‘I’m a Health Services Researcher whose qualitative experience has predominantly centred around interviews and focus groups. I am increasingly conducting more and more qualitative research and have been intrigued by ethnographic methods for a while. However, prior to the start of the course, I felt that I didn’t really have a full grasp on how ethnography could be used for healthcare improvement, and so wanted to find out more.’

Each day consisted of two discussions in the morning, where researchers from SAPPHIRE built on the focused pre-course reading, drawing on their own experience to engage the attendees in discussion about key topics. In the afternoon we worked in small groups to apply the concepts discussed to our research. The lecturers managed to keep the discussions relevant for both novice ethnographers like me and those with more experience.

Ethnography summer school workshop

The course structure enabled us as attendees to develop our own research ideas. Joanne Goldman, from the Centre for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety, University of Toronto, Canada, shared her experiences; ‘It is now two weeks since returning home from The SAPPHIRE ethnography for healthcare improvement course, and the content and ideas from the excellent presentations, readings and discussions are still whirling around in my head as I enthusiastically contemplate how I can apply insights gained from the course to future research plans. I have prior training and experience in ethnography in healthcare, and this course was an incredible opportunity to learn from leading experts in the field whose work I have followed for numerous years’

Alison Drewett, PhD Researcher, University of Leicester, Department of Media, Communication and Sociology & Speech and Language Therapist, Leicestershire Partnership Trust also added; ‘I had wondered what two days out to focus on a methodology would add to my PhD. The value feels unquantifiable and how apt for a qualitative research workshop. It gave me a greater understanding of the topic but more than that it provided inspiration and excitement to engage with the ideas and move forward with my own PhD research.’

As well as learning from the faculty I can certainly say that I learned a lot from my fellow participants. We shared experiences, challenges and solutions, success and failures, and developed the groundwork for a community of practice. My experiences were echoed by Alison Drewett; ‘there was much to be gained from peer learning from shared narratives of experiences in the field, and individuals’ own career trajectories’.

Ethnography summer school flip chart

Ethnography bottling gold

There were too many engaging and challenging discussions to recount with a satisfactory level of depth in a blog post, but some recurring themes were what ethnography looks like -  is there a clear distinction between what is and what is not ethnography or is it more complicated than that? And how context and audience shapes research and how the way we conduct our research both informs, and is influenced by, us as researchers. I found having the space and a framework to think critically about ethnography really helped develop my methodology.

The feel in the room at the end of the summer school was certainly positive, and while I think everyone got different things from the experience I think I am on safe ground stating that the participants all found the summer school worthwhile. This feedback from one of my colleagues summarises the general feeling from the attendees. ‘The ethnography expertise of the SAPPHIRE group is second to none. I was very impressed with this summer school as it allowed participants to be inspired by and learn from the SAPPHIRE researchers for 2 days. It was also wonderful to meet other aspiring ethnographers and to discuss the potential of ethnography for healthcare improvement in the context of our own research topics. I would recommend the course to anyone thinking of using ethnography in their own healthcare research.’ Dr Niamh Humphries, Reader in Health Systems Research, Royal College of Physicians of Ireland

Sapphire News April/May 2019

Posted by es213 at Jun 10, 2019 05:10 PM |


Christine Amedor @ChristineAmedor and Freddie Mercer @mercerfrederick have joined Sapphire for 3 weeks under the ‘Accelerate Your Career: Life After Graduation’ scheme. Christine and Freddie will be working with Emma Richardson on the PASS project which aims to inform the development of interventions to strengthen antimicrobial stewardship

Find out more about the graduation scheme here:


Pam Carter is pleased to report that one of her Sage Research Methods case studies, ‘Picturing Policy Implementation: An Ethnography of a Local Network’ is reproduced in full as an appendix in Qualitative Longitudinal Methods: researching implementation and change by Mary Lynne Derrington.

Shona Agarwal has had a paper accepted for publication: Carey M.E, Agarwal S, Horne R, Davies M, Slevin M, Coates V. Exploring organizational support for the provision of structured self-management education for people with Type 2 diabetes: findings from a qualitative study. Diabetic Medicine

Damian Roland has been working a systematic review as part of a large NIHR grant he is co-chief investigator on has been published. This study highlights individual early warning scores in children are poorly validated an actually not that effective. Validity and effectiveness of paediatric early warning systems and track and trigger tools for identifying and reducing clinical deterioration in hospitalised children: a systematic review BMJ Open

As part of a research network study between emergency departments in the UK and Canada Damian and colleagues demonstrated significant variation in the proportion who would be likely/very likely to perform an a specific investigation (a lumbar puncture) (Canada 62.1% versus UK 8.8%) in a young infant with a likely respiratory infection. Canadian and UK/Ireland practice patterns in lumbar puncture performance in febrile neonates with bronchiolitis BMJ Emergency Medicine Journal

Carolyn Tarrant is a co-author on two papers reporting findings from a think tank on preventing AMR and HCAIs:

The following paper reports on a systematic review involving Carolyn & Liz Sutton, on the HiSLAC study:

Carolyn & Eva  Krockow co-authored this opinion piece in BMJ Quality & Safety:

Fitzpatrick F, Tarrant C, Hamilton V, Kiernan F, Jenkins DR, Krockow EM. Sepsis and Antimicrobial Stewardship – Two Sides of the Same Coin. BMJ Quality & Safety 2019


Damian presented the early phase of the work he is leading on to introduce a National Paediatric Early Warning Score System in England at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health Annual Meeting in Birmingham (May 13-15th)

Carolyn presented at ECCMID 2019 (Amsterdam, April 2019) ‘Symptom burden and cost of HCAI and AMR: What are we measuring, and is it making patients safer?’

Carolyn was part of the team running the EUCIC Advanced Module on Implementation in Infection Prevention and Control, Geneva, Switzerland, 16 – 17 May 2019.

Sapphire News for February and March 2019

Sapphire News for February and March 2019

Posted by es213 at Apr 08, 2019 11:05 AM |

New starters, 'returners', new publications and other items of interest from the Sapphire team.

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Ethnography  for Healthcare Improvement 11th & 12th July 2019

Ethnography for Healthcare Improvement 11th & 12th July 2019

Posted by es213 at Mar 21, 2019 03:21 PM |

Announcing a new short course for 2019 designed for researchers and doctoral students to critically engage with the theory and practice of ethnography in healthcare settings

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SPACE - Space and People, how the Atmosphere is Created by the Environment in paediatric ED

Posted by es213 at Mar 06, 2019 11:55 AM |

There is increasing evidence that the physical environment and feel of a place in healthcare settings have an effect on emotion and behaviour, as well as on well-being and recovery. A recent All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) highlighted significant opportunities for the creative industries to humanise care, enable patients to take a more active role in decision making, enhance the quality of the built environment, and improve staff and patient wellbeing, particularly in areas such as mental health, dementia and elderly care. Less work has focused on the urgent assessment space i.e. the process of arriving in a hospital setting seeking medical review, and how place and space influence the experience of care as well as the process of diagnosis and decision making in acute illness.

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Red flags and symptom checkers for self-diagnosis in maternity

Red flags and symptom checkers for self-diagnosis in maternity

Posted by es213 at Mar 06, 2019 10:25 AM |

Perinatal morbidity and mortality are significant global public health issues. Traditionally, health communication methods to inform women about ‘red flags’ and early warning signs of perinatal complications and appropriate help seeking in pregnancy included face-to-face education, pamphlets, audio-visual training and mass media campaigns. Increasingly, there is recognition of the important role of online pregnancy resources. Websites and pregnancy apps are an integral source of information for many pregnant women, particularly in high-income countries. However, we know little about who uses these resources, and differences in types of resource used and how these digital resources ‘work’ to help women distinguish between normal pregnancy-related changes and what could be a sign of a complication.

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Expert opinions cover pubs, who to believe and symptoms of kidney disease

Expert opinions cover pubs, who to believe and symptoms of kidney disease

Posted by ap507 at Sep 04, 2018 02:29 PM |

The Conversation and Think: Leicester talking points: a range of topical issues recently tackled by academics 1 - 30 September

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