Dr Kate Gillies
Dr Kate Gillies

Dr Kate Gillies

Director, Health Care Assessment Programme


Accepting PhDs


Health Services Research Unit

University of Aberdeen
3rd Floor, Health Sciences Building
AB25 2ZD


I am Director of the Health Care Assessment Programme and Reader 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 fellowships (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  
    2009 - University of Aberdeen 
  • PhD Biochemistry 
    2007 - University of Dundee 
  • BSc (Hons) Biomedical Science 
    2001 - Glasgow Caledonian University 

Latest Publications

View My 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 Overview

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


Research Areas

Accepting PhDs

I am currently accepting PhDs in Applied Health Sciences.

Please get in touch if you would like to discuss your research ideas further.

Applied Health Sciences

Accepting PhDs

Research Specialisms

  • Healthcare Science
  • Applied 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 licence.

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:

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

Other recently completed or ongoing trials methods projects that I lead





Process evaluations within ongoing RCTs

  • 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 (Chief Investigator)

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

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  (Methodological lead)

TestES Consortium: Testosterone Effects and Safety in Men with Low Testosterone levels  (Methodological lead)



My current supervision areas are: Applied Health Sciences.

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


Recently completed

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 £17.4 million, with almost £1.5 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:

  • Goulao B, Morris T, Gamble C, Blazeby J, Ramsay C, Totton N, Laidlaw L, Soulsby I, Stewart D, Gillies K. INITIAL: Involving patients and the public In sTatistIcal Analysis pLans. MRC-NIHR Trials Methodology Research Partnership. 2021-22. £9,492.
  • Soomro N, Gillies K, Breckons M, Challacombe B, MacLennan G, Vale L, Narahari K, Sheerin N, Stewart G, Nicol D, di Mambro D, Heer R. The PARTIAL study – a randomised trial of the clinical and cost effectiveness of PARTIAL vs radical nephrectomy for clinically localised renal cell carcinoma. NIHR HTA. 02/22-01/27. £1876106
  • 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. 10/21-03/22
  • Treweek S, Gardner H, Gillies K, Witham M, Devane D, Khunti, Bower P, Parker A, Oshisanya A, Soulsby I. . Improving ethnic diversity in trials: helping trial teams recruit and retain the ethnic groups essential for results with community-wide relevance and applicability. Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government’s Health & Social Care Directorate. 11/21-03/23 £188146.
  • Williamson P, Yap C, Eldridge S, Gillies K, Hughes D, Gates S, Jaki T, Taylor R, Walwyn R, Tudur-Smith C, Vale C,  Wason J, Hosking J. Doctoral Training Programme 2021 – Trials Methods Research . Medical Research Council. 09/22-09/26. £2,518,806
  • Beard D, Matthew C, Harji D, McGaughey F, Torkington J, McGrath J, Gillies K, Davies L, Vale L, MacLennan G, Soomro N, Bhattarai N, Bach S, Shaikh S, Campbell MK. A Real-World, In-Situ, Evaluation Of The Introduction And Scale-Up Of Robot-Assisted Surgical Services In The NHS: Evaluating Its Impact On Clinical And Service Delivery, Effectiveness And Cost. NIHR HSDR 01/22-03/25. £1359238
  • 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 Research, 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
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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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