Dr Kate Gillies

Dr Kate Gillies
Director, Health Care Assessment Programme

Senior Research Fellow

I am currently accepting PhDs in Applied Health Sciences.

Dr Kate Gillies
Dr Kate Gillies

Contact Details


I am Director of the Health Care Assessment Programme and Senior Research Fellow working in Methodological Research related to participant centred trials.

On completion of my PhD (Biochemistry) I moved to applied research and joined HSRU in 2007 taking up the post of Trial Manager for the CATHETER Trial.  Whilst working as a Trial Manager I gained an MSc in Health Services and Public Health Research from the University of Aberdeen, which supported my transition to Research Fellow supported by independent fellowship (CSO then MRC). My research interests focus on the design and delivery of participant centred trials: from point of initial contact through to feeding back results to individuals.   I  lead research in the application of behavioural science to trials methodology. For example, framing problems of recruitment and retention as behaviours and exploring the opportunities to improve these aspects through the design of participant centred, theoretically informed, interventions. This work is multi-disciplinary and multi-stakeholder and involves using mixed methods approaches to develop, evaluate and implement interventions to support decision making in this context. To find out more about specific project please click on the 'Research' tab at the top of the page. My research has been supported by various funders.


I also lead the  mixed-methods process evaluations in many of our trials to improve both the experience for potential participants and the overall efficiency of the trial.  Work in this area is ongoing across the portfolio of CHaRT trials.


Visual abstract of our recently completed STEER project which used behavioural approaches to develop interventions to address trial retention. Full paper here.



MSc, Public Health and Health Services Research University of Aberdeen 2009
PhD, Biochemistry University of Dundee 2007
BSc (Hons), Biomedical Science Glasgow Caledonian University 2001

Latest Publications

  • Identification and categorisation of relevant outcomes for symptomatic uncomplicated gallstone disease: in depth analysis to inform the development of a core outcome set

    Cruickshank, M., Newlands, R., Blazeby, J. M., Ahmed, I., Bekheit, M., Croal, B. L., Innes, K., Ramsay, C., Gillies, K.

  • Providing trial results to participants in Phase III pragmatic effectiveness RCTs: a scoping review

    Bruhn, H., Cowan, E., Campbell, M., Constable, L., Cotton, S., Entwistle, V., Humphreys, R., Innes, K., Jayacodi, S., Jayacodi, S., Knapp, P., South, A., Gillies, K.

  • Randomised controlled trials in pre-hospital trauma: a systematic mapping review

    Björklund, M. K., Cruickshank, M., Lendrum, R. A., Gillies, K.

  • Thematic analysis of Twitter communication of the UK public on dental health and care during a COVID lockdown: "My kingdom for a dentist"

    Rzewuska, M., Lamont, T. J., Banister, K., Gillies, K., Goulao, B., Locock, L., Nevin, G., Clarkson, J. E., Ramsay, C.

  • Using a behavioural approach to explore the factors that affect questionnaire return within a clinical trial: a qualitative study based on the Theoretical Domains Framework

    Lawrie, L., Duncan, E., Dunsmore, J., Newlands, R., Gillies, K.

View all Publications

Prizes and Awards

MRC Strategic Skills Methodology Research Fellowship 2014-2019. Medical Research Council.

CSO Postdoctoral Research Training Fellowship 2009-2012. Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government.



Research Areas


  • Applied Science
  • Healthcare Science

Our research specialisms are based on the Higher Education Classification of Subjects (HECoS) which is HESA open data, published under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International

Research Overview

Trials methodology; behavioural science; behaviour change; participant experience; process evaluations; mixed-methods.


Current Research

Methodological research related to RCTs

Behavioural approaches to trials methods

I lead several projects (or work packages within projects) that have applied behavioural science to understand key trial problems such as recruitment and retention. These include:

What are the key challenges and opportunities for mounting a trial of prehospital REBOA? A behavioural diagnosis to inform a definitive evaluation (PPRO_Behave)

Systematic Techniques to Enhance Retention in RCTs: The STEER Project

Behavioural approaches to explore factors that affect questionnaire return in the CGALL trial. The figure below illustrates the overarching themes related to questionnaire return with the relevant TDF domains mapped against each theme. 

BadRaP: Using behavioural science to understand and improve participation in clinical trials

I also supervise PhD candidates in this area as lead academic supervisor or lead methods expert:

Behavioural interventions to improve clinical trial recruitment and retention

Recruiter experience of recruiting pregnant women to clinical trials (The ENCOUNTER Study)


Other recently completed or ongoing trials methods projects that I lead

 Development of a core outcome set for the EvaLuation of Interventions for informed Consent for randomIsed controlled Trials: The ELICIT Study. ELICIT, the first methodological core outcome set, was developed to identify what outcomes should be considered in evaluations of interventions that aim to improve decisions about participation in a clinical trial.  The photo above was taken at the final consensus meeting which was held in Aberdeen in February 2020and brought together a range of stakeholders to help build agreement on the most important outcomes. Full paper here.

PRioRITY II: Prioritising Retention in Randomised Trials – I led a multi-stakeholder James Lind Alliance Priority Setting Partnership to identify the Top 10 unanswered questions for methods research on trial retention. Full paper here.



Strategies to improve retention in randomised trials. I led the recent collaborative update of this Cochrane review.


RECAP: Feedback matters: How should trial results be reported back to participants? The RECAP project has generated participant-centred, evidence-based recommendations for trialists to implement the dissemination of results to trial participants. The findings from RECAP are informing the Health Research Authority’s update to dissemination of trial results guidance.


Process evaluations within ongoing RCTs

C-GALL - A randomised controlled trial comparing the clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of laparoscopic cholecystectomy compared with observation/conservative management for preventing recurrent symptoms and complications in adults with uncomplicated symptomatic gallstones. Methodological research projects that I lead linked to this trial include:

·         Development of core outcome set for symptomatic uncomplicated gallstone disease

·         A mixed-methods study exploring discussions of retention in clinical trial consultations


UK REBOA: A randomised controlled trial of the effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness, of Resuscitative Endovascular Balloon Occlusion of the Aorta (REBOA) for trauma. Process evaluation applying a behavioural approach to improve recruitment to the trial through identification of barriers and implementation of behavioural solutions.


REGAL: Recurrence of Endometriosis: A randomised controlled trial of clinical and cost-effectiveness of Gonadotrophin Releasing Hormone Analogues with add-back hormone replacement therapy. Starts recruitment in 2021.

DIAMOND: Deep infiltrating endometriosis: management by medical treatment versus early surgery. Starts recruitment in 2021.



Other applied Health Services Research Projects

I-TRAC - In-home Tracking of glaucoma: Reliability, Acceptability, and Cost: the I-TRAC Study

REINFORCE - Real-World Evaluation of Robot-Assisted Surgical Services (REINFORCE): Work Package 1 - Optimisation of RAS implementation and scale up  (WP1)

RoboCOS: What outcomes are important for evaluating robotic assisted surgery as a service-level change? An outcome mapping exercise to inform core outcome set development 

TestES Consortium: Testosterone Effects and Safety in Men with Low Testosterone levels



I actively collaborate with other methodologists and trial teams both nationally and internationally on a range of trials methodology projects, highlights include:




My current supervision areas are: Applied Health Sciences.

I supervise a range of clinical and non-clinical PhD candidates, recent examples include:

Behavioural interventions to improve clinical trial recruitment and retention - Taylor Coffey

Towards improvement in care delivery in Huntington's disease (HD) - Daniela Rae

Recruiting women during pregnancy and childbirth to clinical trials - Vivienne Hanrahan (National University of Ireland, Galway)

Developing a mouth self-exam intervention for early detection of oral cancer - Niall McGoldrick (University of Dundee)


Recently completed

What is the best way to avoid recruitment and retention problems in trials? - Adel El Feky

Making clinical trials more efficient: consolidating, communicating and improving knowledge of patient recruitment interventions - Heidi Gardner


Research Funding and Grants

I have been involved as a co-applicant and work package lead on a portfolio of national and international grants generating in excess of £11 million, with almost £2 million as Chief Investigator, predominantly over the past 5 years. These awards include a range of funders, methodological and applied research, but all are relevant for national or international healthcare. Select awards over past 5 years include:

  • Gillies K (CI), Duncan E, MacLennan G, LeBrec V, Lendrum R. What are the key challenges and opportunities for mounting a trial of prehospital REBOA? A behavioural diagnosis to inform a definitive evaluation. ISSF@Aberdeen. 09/21-02/22. £19001.

  • Howick J, Gillies K, Treweek S, Bower S, Edwards A, Bostock J, Hood K. PrinciPIL: Developing and Testing PILs that do not Cause Harm. MRC Better methods, better research Programme.  MRC Better Reseaech, Better Methods Programme.   £312,832 01/21 - 08/22

  • Shiely F, Issacs T, Finucane E, Treweek S, Gillies K, O’Sullivan L. Understanding the language and complexity of informed consent in clinical trials and identifying participant preferences and understanding of key trial processes - randomisation. Health Research Board Trials Methodology Research Network.  01/21- 10/21. £9997. 

  • Houghton C, Biesty L, Gillies K, Rousseau N, Wade J, Gamble C. Qualitative data sharing practices in clinical trials in the UK and Ireland: Towards the production of good practice guidance. Health Research Board Trials Methodology Research Network.  01/21- 10/21. £9514.

  • Cooper K, Clark J, Gillies K, Maclennan G, Scotland G, Bhattacharya S, Cox E, Horne A, Byrne D, Smith P, Amer S, Gamaleldin I, Vashisht A, Murchie P. Deep Infiltrating Endometriosis: Management by Medical Treatment or Early Surgery (DIAMOND). NIHR HTA Programme. 02/21. £1,528,925

  • Brehaut J, Presseau J, Gillies K, Grimshaw J, Ramsay C, Duncan E, Fergusson D, Marlin S, Graham I, Spencer H, Weijer C, Taljard M, Gordon J, Richards D, Rodger M.  Using behavioural science to understand and improve participation in clinical trials. CIHR. 02/21-02/26

  • Kaye C, Gillies K, Laidlaw L, Treweek S. Delivering Inhaled Corticosteroids for Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome: a feasibility study to inform a randomised trial. NHS Grampian Endowments awards. 10/20-01/21.

  • Shaikh S, Campbell MK, Gillies K. RoboCOS: Development of a core outcome set for robotic assisted surgery. NHS Grampian Endowments awards. 10/20-01/21. 

  • Beard D, Campbell MK, Gillies K. A Real-World, In Situ, Evaluation of the introduction and scale up of Robot Assisted Surgical Services Across England: Evaluating its impact on clinical and service delivery, effectiveness and cost. Intuitive Surgical Sarl. October 2020-October 2021. £146575 

  • Gillies K (CI), Azuara-Blanco A, Hernandex R, Forrest M, Maclennan G. Digital technologies for home monitoring glaucoma: a feasibility study. NIHR HTA Programme. January 2020. £289,313 

  • Gillies K (CI) & Clarke M. Strategies to improve retention to randomised trials. NIHR Incentive Scheme. £8833. January 2020.

  • Saraswat L, Gillies K, Maclennan G, Scotland G, Cooper K, Bhattacharya S, Cox E, Jones G.  REGAL: Recurrence of endometriosis: GnRH anlogues versus Laparoscopic surgery. NIHR HTA Programme. 08/19. £1,660, 142

  • Williamson PR, Emsley R, Sydes M, Land T, Brown J, Lalloo D, Mabey D, Hood K, Devane D, Farrell B, Allen E, Kirkham J, Gillies K, Yap C, Blazeby J, Avery K, Weir C, Jaki T, Wason J, Hughes D, Farron A, Morris T, Landray M, Wordsworth S, Villar Moreschi S. Trials Methodology Research Partnership, Medical Research Council. 06/19. £458,665

  • Treweek S, Gillies K, Gardner H, Pickles D, El Feky A, Dawson A.  A Good Use Of Time And Money? Providing Evidence For How Effort Is Invested In Primary And Secondary Outcome Data Collection In Trials. Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government’s Health & Social Care Directorate. 03/19-02/21. £224,213

  • Gillies K (CI), Knapp P. Hunn A, Humphreys R, Entwistle V, Campbell M. Feed back matters: how should trial results be fed back to trial participants? Academy of Medical Sciences. 11/17-10/19. £99,964. 23.

  • Gillies K (CI), Treweek S, Bower P, Young B, Witham M, Wells M, Francis J. Developing theory based interventions to minimise drop-out in randomised trials. Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government’s Health & Social Care Directorate. 08/17 – 09/19. £249,649


Teaching Responsibilities

I teach on the Qualitative Methods module for the Masters in Public Health. I supervise Masters students across the MPH and other in-person adn online Masters courses. I contribute to the Real World RCTs and PPI in trials modules that HSRU has developed.



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