Professor Shaun Treweek

Professor Shaun Treweek
PhD, BSc (Hons)

Chair in Health Services Research

Professor Shaun Treweek
Professor Shaun Treweek

Contact Details


Shaun is a professor and joined the Unit in 2013 via a meandering path to health services research.  He trained as a physicist and then did a bioengineering PhD involving lasers, blood and bits of skin.  Then came health informatics, amputee rehabilitation and a move to Oslo, followed by eight years at the University of Dundee, three of which as Assistant Director of the Tayside Clinical Trials Unit. 

Shaun is active in the field of efficient trial design, particularly pragmatic trial design, improved recruitment and retention interventions for trials, the design of complex interventions and the effective presentation of research evidence.  He is leading an initiative called Trial Forge ( that aims to be more systematic about how we generate and use research evidence in making trial design, conduct, analysis and reporting decisions.  

He is, or has been, involved in a range of trials, including an EC FP7 trial of treatments for a rare neuromuscular condition, a trial of a lifestyle intervention for women after pregnancy, a lifestyle change trial run through football clubs and the Scottish Premier League, a trial of nerve stilumation to improve continence among residents in care homes, a lifestyle change trial run through the Scottish breast screening program and a lung cancer screening trial.  Finally, he coordinated DECIDE, a 5-year, EC-funded project that aimed to improve the way guideline information is communicated to health professionals, patients and the public, policymakers and others.


PhD, Bioengineering University of Strathclyde 1994
BSc, Applied Physics Brunel University 1990

Latest Publications

  • Predictors of recruitment and retention in randomised controlled trials of behavioural smoking cessation interventions: a systematic review and meta-regression analysis

    Bricca, A., Swithenbank, Z., Scott, N., Treweek, S., Johnston, M., Black, N., Hartmann-Boyce, J., West, R., Michie, S., de Bruin, M.

  • Decision aids linked to evidence summaries and clinical practice guidelines: results from user-testing in clinical encounters

    Heen, A. F., Vandvik, P. O., Brandt, L., Achille, F., Guyatt, G. H., Akl, E. A., Treweek, S., Agoritsas, T.

  • Letter on “Sharing trial results directly with trial participants and other stakeholders after the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic hit the UK – experience from the ActWELL trial”

    Bruhn, H., Anderson, A. S., Hickman, A., Macaskill, E. J., Treweek, S.

  • Tibial nerve stimulation compared with sham to reduce incontinence in care home residents: ELECTRIC RCT

    Booth, J., Aucott, L., Cotton, S., Davis, B., Fenocchi, L., Goodman, C., Hagen, S., Harari, D., Lawrence, M., Lowndes, A., Macaulay, L., MacLennan, G., Mason, H., McClurg, D., Norrie, J., Norton, C., O'Dolan, C., Skelton, D., Surr, C., Treweek, S.

  • Prioritising key motivators and challenges influencing informal carers’ decisions for participating in randomised trials: An embedded Study Within A before and after Trial (SWAT 55)

    Smith, V., Corry, M., Devane, D., Treweek, S., Hunter, A., Grylka-Baeschlin, S., Hannon, K.

View all Publications

Memberships and Affiliations

  • Lead of impact case study collation for REF 2021 for the Institute of Applied Health Sciences.

Committees/editorial board 

  • Chair, Health Improvement, Protection and Services Committee, Chief Scientist Office, 2017 (member since 2012) - present.
  • Co-lead, MRC-NIHR Trial Methodology Research Partnership Inclusivity Subgroup, 2020 - present.
  • Member, Clinical Guidelines Methodology Subgroup of Ireland’s National Clinical Effectiveness Committee, 2016 - present.
  • Member, Cross-border Healthcare Intervention Trials in Ireland Network (CHITIN) Evaluation Panel, 2018.
  • Editor in Chief for Trials
  • Chair, Steering Committee for NIHR funded study ‘Snacktivity’ to promote physical activity and reduce future risk of disease in the population (2019 – present).
  • Chair, Trial Steering Committee for MRC-NPRI funded trial ‘Development and stage 2 RCT with internal pilot of a weight loss maintenance intervention for initially obese adults after clinically significant weight loss’
  • Chair, Data Monitoring Committee for NIHR trial ‘Determining the Impact of Smoking Point of Sale Legislation Among Youth (DISPLAY) Study.
  • Chair, External Advisory Group for the Pragmatic Clinical Trials Unit, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry.
  • Member, Data & Digital Working Group SubGroup, Strategic Restart Advisory Group, Chief Scientist Office (2021 – present).
  • Member, European Research and Preparedness Network for Pandemics and Emerging Infectious Diseases (EU-RESPONSE) Independent Scientific and Ethics Advisory Board.
  • Member, NIHR Applied Research Collaboration North East North Cumbria Scientific Advisory Committee.
  • Member, Wessex Institute Research on Research Registry and Hub Scientific Advisory Committee.
  • Member, Trial Steering Committee, HALT (Hernia Active Living Trial): protocol for a feasibility study of a randomised controlled trial of a physical activity intervention to improve quality of life in people with bowel stoma with a bulge/ parastomal hernia.
  • Content Editor, Cochrane Collaboration Incontinence Review Group


Prizes and Awards

Trial Forge won the 2019 Cochrane-REWARD Prize for reducing research waste (


Research Overview

Randomised trials; Trial methodology; Trial efficiency; Inclusion in trials; Recruitment; Retention; Communicating research


Current Research

Some of the projects I’m involved with include:

  • Trial Forge (  A systematic approach to improving trial efficiency.
  • ActWELL: a lifestyle change trial involving women attending routine breast screening in Scotland (
  • STEER: Systematic Techniques to Enhance Retention in RCTs.  Developing theory-informed ways to reduce loss-to-follow-up in trials.
  • Making clinical trials more efficient: consolidating, communicating and improving knowledge of patient recruitment interventions.
  • The DECIDE project (  Improving the way guidelines are presented to users.
  • Making clinical trials more relevant: improving and validating the PRECIS tool for matching trial design decisions to trial purpose - see PRECIS-2 elaboration paper and protocol.
  • OPTIMISTIC - Observational Prolonged Trial In Myotonic dystrophy type 1 to Improve Stamina, a Target Identification Collaboration (
  • EuroFIT - improving men's health through healthy living programs delivered through football clubs (
  • The ECLS trial ( a trial evaluating the EarlyCDT-Lung blood test, which is designed to pick up lung cancer earlier, as part of a potential lung cancer screening program.
  • The use of cardiac rehabilitation services to aid the recovery of colorectal cancer patients: A pilot randomised controlled trial (RCT) with embedded feasibility study - see protocol.
  • Improving the normalisation of complex interventions: Developing quantitative measures for users based on Normalisation Process Theory (
  • Systematic Techniques for Assessing Recruitment to Trials (START): a programme to test recruitment interventions (
  • A web-based platform to support the development-evaluation-implementation process of the 2008 MRC framework for developing and evaluating complex interventions(see protocol)
  • Supporting the Use of Research Evidence (SURE) for Policy in African Health Systems (
  • Football Fans in Training (FFIT): a randomized controlled trial of a gender-sensitive weight loss and healthy living programme delivered to men aged 35-60 by Scottish Premier League (SPL) football clubs (


I've supervised six students through their PhDs, mostly in trial methodology work, as well as six MSc students. I currently have one PhD student:

  • Defining, measuring, and facilitating research impact: Implications for the health sciences beyond the Research Excellence Framework (REF).

..two MD students:

  • Use of BIS-targeted sedation in patients with severe Traumatic Brain Injury.
  • Evaluating colon capsule endoscopy use in Scotland and the implications for patients and the NHS.

..and two MSc students:

  • What influences a successful funding application for Randomised Controlled Trials; a review of applications submitted by a UKCRC registered Clinical Trials Unit 2014 - 2019.
  • Do eligibility criteria in clinical research exclude the most at risk individuals? A systematic review exploring participation of ethnic minority groups in pregnancy hypertension research.

I do have ideas for other PhD projects, mainly about improving recruitment of under-served populations, but currently don't have funding to support a student.


Research Funding and Grants

Selected grants

May 2017 (1/1/2018 - 31/12/2021)

€350,000 awarded by the Irish Health Research Board to Devane D, Smith V, Galvin S, Treweek S, Gamble C. for a project called ‘Education and Training FOr Recruiters to randomised Trials: the EFORT  trial.’ 

January 2017 (1/7/2017 – 30/6/2020)

£1,164,581 awarded by NIHR HTA to Booth J, Norton C, McClurg D, Goodman C, Mason H, Harari D, Edwards P, Hagen S, Norrie J, Treweek S. for a project called ‘ELECtric Tibial nerve stimulation to Reduce Incontinence in Care homes: ELECTRIC.’

December 2016 (1/8/2017 - 31/5/2019)

£199,858 awarded by CSO to K. Gillies, S. Treweek, J. Francis, B. Young,  P. Bower, M. Wells, M. Witham for a project called ‘Developing theory based behaviour change interventions to minimise drop-out in randomised trials.’

September 2016 (1/1/2017 - 31/12/19)

£965,265 awarded by the Scottish Government to A. Anderson, S. Treweek, N. Mutrie, A. Craigie, R. O’Carroll, M. Stead, J. Macaskill, A. Neilson, C. McAdam, N. Sataar for a project called ‘A randomised control trial to assess the impact of a lifestyle intervention (ActWELL) in women attending NHS breast screening clinics.’

March 2016 (1/7/2016 - 31/1/2018)

£26,322 awarded by CSO to S. Treweek, H, Gardner and K. Gillies for a project called ‘Putting research methodology into practice: producing useful evidence about trial recruitment strategies for trial designers and recruiters.’

June 2015 (1/7/2015 - 30/6/2018)

£57,630 awarded by The Development Trust to S. Treweek to fund a PhD scholarship in trial methodology.

April 2014 (1/4/2013 - 31/3/2016)

£178,791 awarded by NHS Education for Scotland to Ramsay C, Treweek S, McKee L for a project called Additional funding for TRiaDS study’.

January 2014 (1/5/2014 - 31/10/2015)

£188,690 awarded by CSO to France E, Hoskins G, Williams B, McGhee J, Treweek S, Hagen S, Dhouieb EMO, Cunningham S, Glasscoe C, Main E, Allan JM, Rowland C. for a project called ‘Development of an intervention to increase physiotherapy adherence among young children with cystic fibrosis: A Medical Research Council complex intervention framework development and feasibility study.’

January 2014 (1/5/2014 - 30/4/2016  TBC)

£206,323 awarded by CSO to Farquharson B, Williams B, Smith K, Dougall N, Dombrowski S, McGhee J, Treweek S, Jones C. for a project called ‘Development of Interventions to reduce patient delay with symptoms of Acute Coronary Syndrome: identifying optimal content and mode of delivery.’

January 2014 (1/5/2014 - 30/4/2018)

£201,957 awarded by the MRC to Gillies K (supervisors - Entwistle V, Treweek S, Campbell M) for a Fellowship Award for K. Gillies called ‘Decision aids for supporting decisions to consent to clinical trials.’

December 2013 (1/1/2014 - 31/12/2014)

£6,080 awarded by the MRC Methodology Hubs Network to Treweek S, Clarke M, Lane A, Williamson P, Lang T, Campbell M, Norrie J. for a project called ‘Trial Forge: a systematic approach to organising, sharing and extending trial methodology research.’

December 2013 (1/1/2014 - 31/12/2014)

£3,000 awarded by the University of Aberdeen Principal’s Fund to Treweek S, Cai J, Rae R, Heywood I, Williams R. for a project called ‘Making clinical trials more efficient: learning from current trends in business model innovation’

September 2013 (01/04/2014 to: 31/03/2017)

£900,642 from NIHR HTA to McCLurg D, Hagen S, Harris F, Emmanuel A, Norton C, Coggrave C, Treweek S, Norrie J, Donnan P, Smith P, Mason H. for a project called ‘Abdominal massage for neurogenic bowel dysfunction in people with multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury (AMBER Abdominal Massage for Bowel Dysfunction Effectiveness Research)’

April 2013 (1/11/2013 - 31/10/2018)

€5,957158 by the EC FP7 program to Wyke S, Gray C, Maxwell D, Verhagen E, Sørensen M, van Mechelen, Hunt K, Mutrie N, Treweek S, Andersen A, van der Ploeg, Nijhuis R. Social innovation to improve physical activity and sedentary behaviour through elite European football clubs: European Fans in Training. 

October 2012 (1/6/2013 - 28/2/2015) 

£219, 525 by NIHR HSR to Hubbard G, Campbell A, Watson A, Leslie SJ, Goodwin J, Donaldson C, Kidd L, Thow MK, Mutrie N, Lane C, Campbell S, Taylor C, Haw S, Treweek S.  The use of cardiac rehabilitation services to aid the recovery of colorectal cancer patients: A pilot randomised controlled trial (RCT) with embedded feasibility study.

July 2012

£20k by MRC Hub Networks to Blazeby J, Cook J, Nichol J, Sharples L, Morton D, Treweek S, Metcalf C, Blencowe N, Brown J. for a workshop called ‘Designing surgical trials: developing guidance that recognises the complexity of evaluating surgical interventions in RCT’

June 2012 (1/12/2012 - 30/4/2014)

£224,982 by CSO to Anderson A, Dobson H, Mutrie N, O’Carrol R, Thompson A, Treweek S, Wyke S for a project called Working together to support active living and well being (ActWell) in the health promoting health service - feasibility trial to reduce breast cancer risk factors.

1/10/2012 - 30/4/2014

£36,934 to Treweek S, Zwarenstein M, Loudon K, Sullivan F, Donnan PT.  from CSO for a project called ‘Making clinical trials more relevant: improving and validating the PRECIS tool for matching trial design decisions to trial purpose.’

June 2012 (1/10/2012 - 30/6/2013)

£13,623 awarded to Treweek S, Harrow A, McCowan C.  from Dundee Cancer Centre Development Fund for a project called ‘A comparison of the community-based breast cancer patient population in Tayside with eligibility/ineligibility criteria of breast cancer trials which have influenced clinical practice.’

April 2012 (1/11/2012 - 31/10/2016)

€3 million awarded  by EC FP7 to van Engelen B, Trenell M, Schoser B, Bassez G, Monckton D, Treweek S, Morgan A, Girard F, Catt M, Schwalber A. for a project called Observational Prolonged Trial In Myotonic dystrophy type 1 to Improve Stamina, a Target Identification Collaboration. 

March 2012 (31/10/2012 - 31/3/2015)

£487,999 from NIHR to Guthrie B, Payne K, McCowan C, Wilson M, Stokes T, Sutton MA, Alderson P, Treweek S. for a project called Better guidelines for better care: accounting for multimorbidity in clinical guidelines.

1/3/2012 - 20/9/2015

£436,419.61 awarded by ESRC to Tracy Finch, Carl May, Tim Rapley, Frances Mair, Elizabeth Murray, Shaun Treweek, Ian Nicholas Steen, Elaine McColl for a project called Improving the normalisation of complex interventions: Developing quantitative measures for users based on Normalisation Process Theory.

June 2011 (1/12/2011 - 30/9/2013)


1/1/2012 - 28/2/2015

£551,007 awarded by MRC by Bower P, Graffy J,...Treweek S et al.  for a project called Systematic Techniques for Assessing Recruitment to Trials (START): a programme to test recruitment interventions.

1/6/2011 - 31/12/2013

£807,231 awarded by NIHR by Wyke S, Anderson A, Donnan P, Dunlop M, Gray C,  Hunt K, Mutrie N, Fenwick E, Treweek S, White A, Leishman J, for a project called ‘Football Fans in Training (FFIT): a randomized controlled trial of a gender-sensitive weight loss and healthy living programme delivered to men aged 35-60 by Scottish Premier League (SPL) football clubs.’

1/8/2011 – 31/7/14

£224,512 to Guthrie B, Bennie M, Petrie D, Robertson C, Ritchie L, Treweek S.  from CSO for a project called ‘Effective Feedback to Improve Primary Care Prescribing Safety (EFIPPS): a randomised controlled trial using ePrescribing data’ 

August 2010 (6 months)

£49076 awarded by CSO to Sullivan F, McKinstry B, Hanley J, Skeik A, Treweek S, Grant A.  for a project called ‘A pilot study on the feasibility of creating and using a Scottish Population Health Research Register.’

1/11/2010 - 30/9/2011

£49,862 awarded by CSO to Wyke S, Hunt K, Gray C, Anderson A, Dunlop M, Leishman J, Mutrie N, Treweek S.  for a project called ‘Can a gender-sensitised weight management programme delivered by Scottish Premier League football clubs help men lose weight? A feasibility study for a randomised controlled trial.’

1/1/2011 - 31/12/2015

2,992,312 by the European Commission 7th Framework Programme to Treweek S, Oxman A, Alonso P et al. for a project called ‘Developing and Evaluating Communication strategies to support Informed Decisions and practice based on Evidence’



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