Professor Shaun Treweek

Professor Shaun Treweek
Professor Shaun Treweek
Professor Shaun Treweek

PhD, BSc (Hons)

Chair in Health Services Research

Email Address
Telephone Number
+44 (0)1224 438145
Office Address

Health Services Research Unit University of Aberdeen Health Sciences Building Foresterhill Aberdeen AB25 2ZD UK

School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition


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.

Best email for contact is


  • PhD Bioengineering 
    1994 - University of Strathclyde 
  • BSc Applied Physics 
    1990 - Brunel University 

Memberships and Affiliations

Internal Memberships
  • Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Lead for the Institute of Applied Health Sciences.
  • Member, Institute for Applied Health Sciences Executive Group.
External Memberships

Committees/editorial board 

  • Chair, Health Improvement, Protection and Services Committee, Chief Scientist Office, 2017 (member since 2012) - 2021
  • Co-lead, MRC-NIHR Trial Methodology Research Partnership Inclusivity Subgroup, 2020 - 2022.
  • 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.
  • 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


Latest Publications

View My Publications

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


Research Areas

Applied Health Sciences


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 (


My current supervision areas are: Applied Health Sciences.

Current PhDs:

  • ‘Making it easier for trial teams to design inclusive trials'– Primary supervisor.
  • ‘Evaluating colon capsule endoscopy use in Scotland and the implications for patients and the NHS’ – Second supervisor.

Current MDs:

  • ‘Use of BIS-targeted sedation in patients with severe Traumatic Brain Injury’ – Co-primary supervisor.

I have seen seven PhD students through to completion and have been an external examiner for seven PhDs and one MPhil, and internal examiner for one PhD and a convener for another.  I have supervised eight MSc students through to completion.



Funding and Grants

Selected grants

July 2022 (1/10/2022 - 30/9/2025)

531,674 CAD awarded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to Weijer, C, Taljaard M, Althabe F,  Binik A, Brehaut J, Eldridge S, Ferrand R, Gillies K, Giraudeau B, Goldstein C, Grimshaw J, Hemkens L, Hemming K, Johri, Kim S, Largent E, Leese J, London A, Magwood O, Marlin S, Mbuagbaw L, Mitchell S, Nicholls S, Petkovic J, Treweek S, Tugwell P, Welch V, van der Graaf R. for a project called ‘Ethical issues in cluster randomized trials: using stakeholder and patient engagement to generate guidance for the ethical design and conduct of trials evaluating clinical, health policy, health systems, and public health interventions.’ 

July 2022 (1/4/2023 - 31/3/27)

€370,000 awarded by Health Research Board to Shiely F, Loudon K, Nichol A, Taljaard M, Treweek S, Zwarenstein M for a study called ‘Development, validation and dissemination of the PRECIS-3 tool to support the design of pragmatic randomised controlled trials: Towards making clinical trials part of routine clinical care.’

April 2022 

£11,985 awarded by the NHS Grampian Endowment Fund to Gardner H, Treweek S, Wilson P, Thompson L, Rodgers, N, Murray C. for a study called ‘A qualitative interview study with adults living in remote and rural areas of Grampian to explore barriers and facilitators to participation in clinical trials.’

March 2022 

£1,625,150 awarded by NIHR to Parker A, Treweek S, Clarke M, Grimshaw J, Torgerson D for a project called ‘Using implementation science and Studies Within A Trial (IMPLEMENT SWATs) to improve evidence-based participant recruitment and retention in randomised controlled trials.’

January 2022 

AUS$149,402 awarded by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council to Brijnath B, Gardner H, Ghersi D, Treweek S, Chan A-W, Orkin A, Welch V,     Owusu-Addo E, Nkrumah K. for a study called ‘Proposal for guidelines to improve the planning and reporting of variables related to ethnic diversity in RCTs, as an extension of the Standard Protocol Items: Recommendations for Interventional Trials.’ 

December 2021 (1/6/2022 - 31/5/2023)

€10,000 awarded by the Health Research Board Trial Methodology Research Network to Shiely F, Treweek S, Torgerson D, Dahly D, Crowley R, Clarke M, Murphy E, Briel M, Parker A, Gillies K, Weijer C for a project called ‘Trial Forge Guidance 3: Ethical issues in SWATs (Studies within a Trial).’ 

August 2021 (1/10/2021 - 30/9/2022)

£78,718 awarded by NIHR to Cooper C, Biggs K, Hancock H, Maier R, Shepherd V, Lane A, Torgerson D, Adamson J, Treweek S, Gardner H, Willis A, Isaacs T, Shiely F. for a study called ‘A collaborative study between CTUs and other researchers to identify the activities needed to improve representation of under-served groups in trials and understand their implementation.’

July 2021 (1/10/2021 - 30/9/2022)

£79,820 awarded by NIHR to Eldridge S, Lancaster G, Lawton S, Hopewell S, Treweek S, Gardner H, Jack A, Mohammed A, Jackson T for a study called ‘Promoting INCLUsivity through improving the practice anD utility of Ethnicity Data collection in trials (INCLUDED)’.

June 2021 (1/1/2022 - 31/5/2023)

£188,146 awarded by CSO to Treweek S, Gardner H, Gillies K, Witham M, Devane D, Khunti K, Bower P, Parker A, Oshisanya P, Soulsby I. for a study called ‘Improving ethnic diversity in trials: helping trial teams recruit and retain the ethnic groups essential for results with community-wide relevance and applicability.’

May 2021 (1/10/2021 - 30/9/2026)

€2,999,979 awarded by the Health Research Board to Devane D, Smith V, Dolan P, Shiely F, Toomey E, Treweek S. for a study called ‘HRB-TMRN Phase III Renewal 2021 – 2026’.

April 2021 (17/5/2021 - 16/9/2021

)£79,844 awarded by ESRC UKRI emergency COVID-19 funding to Treweek S, Brazzelli M, Isaacs T, Jack A, Kwaku-Odoi C, Bobat M, Durham C, Forde D, Mistry K, Rishi A. for a study called ‘Working with community groups to understand and reduce COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy among ethnic minority groups in the UK’

February 2021 (1/5/2021 - 30/4/2022)

£9,937 awarded by the MRC-NIHR Trial Methodology Research Partnership to Isaacs T, Treweek S, Finucane E, Gillies K, Noor N, Sydes M, Durand MA, Khunti K, Demjén Z, Burnett E, for a study called ‘Beyond "must speak English": In search of a fairer way to operationalise patient screening for language proficiency in trial recruitment.’

February 2021 (17/5/2021 - 31/10/2021)

£9,967 awarded by the MRC-NIHR Trial Methodology Research Partnership to Gardner H, Treweek S, Gillies K, Biesty L, Sohanpal R, Coffey T, Kearney A, Headlam I, Sopasay V, Antunes Batista da Silva F, Chaprana A, for a study called ‘Minority ExpeRiences In Trials (MERIT): Understanding why ethnic minority groups are under-represented in trials through a rapid qualitative evidence synthesis, and mapping evidence to find solutions.’

December 2020 (1/4/2021 - 30/11/2022)

£312,832 awarded by the MRC to Howick J, Hood K, Edwards A, Gillies K, Treweek S, Bower P.  for a study called ‘Developing and Testing Participant Information Leaflets (PILs) that Inform and do not Cause Harm (PrinciPILs)’

November 2020

€9,997 awarded to Shiely F, Isaacs T, Finucane E, Treweek S, Gillies K, O’Sullivan L for a study called ‘Understanding the language and complexity of informed consent in clinical trials and identifying participant preferences and understanding of key trial processes - randomisation.’ 



Page 1 of 22 Results 1 to 10 of 215

Show 10 | 25 | 50 | 100 results per page


Books and Reports

Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings

Contributions to Journals

Contributions to Specialist Publications