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Prof Tim Rapley


Department: Social Work, Education and Community Wellbeing

Tim is a medical sociologist with an interest in social studies of medical and social care work, research and practice. He is Deputy Theme Lead, Enabling Methodologies, North East & North Cumbria Applied Research Collaboration

Tim undertakes detailed empirical studies that seek to understand the everyday, taken-for-granted, aspects of medical, health and social care work.  A focus on what people actually do, as opposed to only what they think they do, or they tell you they do, can offer unique, practical and tailored solutions  His work focuses on three substantive areas: the implementation of care, the organisation of care and social studies of qualitative research.

Tim Rapley

Campus Address

Room B118 Coach Lane Campus West
Northumbria University
Newcastle upon Tyne

Tim is a Professor of Applied Health Care Research in the Department of Social Work, Education and Community Wellbeing. He is a medical sociologist with an interest in social studies of medical work, research and practice, as well as, more recently, social care.  He undertakes detailed empirical studies that seek to understand the everyday, taken-for-granted, aspects of health and social care work.  A focus on what people actually do, as opposed to only what they think they do, or they tell you they do, can offer unique, practical and tailored solutions


His work focuses on three substantive areas:

The implementation of care: His work on the implementation of care covers a range of phases, from initiation, scoping and development of novel ideas, to process evaluations of feasibility studies, pilot and full trials. It takes place in a range of settings, including community, primary, secondary and tertiary health care as well as dental and (local authority based) social care.  Theoretically, this work is often driven by his interest in Normalization Process Theory (NPT).  See for an introduction to Normalization Process Theory, that offers an interactive toolkit and structured instrument to help people think through implementation issues.


The organisation of care: His work on the organisation of care seeks to identify, describe and understand the experience of care in paediatric, adolescent and adult contexts.  This work engages with a broad range of stakeholders, from patients, servcie users, carers and the general public to the diverse group of health and social care professionals and managers. It seeks to use the findings of the studies to develop practical, tailored solutions to the problems that are identified as well as exploring how to embed organisational policy initiatives. See for an example of an output from this work.  This a site for all clinicians whom may encounter children with serious musculoskeletal problems. It aims to raise awareness, knowledge and skills to facilitate early diagnosis and referral to specialist care.


Social studies of qualitative research: When not conducting research on medical work, research and practice, he’s interested in thinking, talking, and teaching about the practical, taken-for-granted, ways that qualitative research gets done.  He’s written about the (extra)ordinary work we undertake in relation to qualitative interviews and analysis.  He has also written a book, Analysing Conversations, Discourse and Documents (Sage).     


  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Bathing Adaptations in the Homes of Older Adults (BATH-OUT-2): study protocol for a randomised controlled trial, economic evaluation and process evaluation, Whitehead, P., Belshaw, S., Brady, S., Coleman, E., Dean, A., Doherty, L., Fairhurst, C., Francis-Farrell, S., Golding-Day, M., Gray, J., Martland, M., McAnuff, J., McCarthy, A., McMeekin, P., Mitchell, N., Narayanasamy, M., Newman, C., Parker, A., Rapley, T., Rodgers, S., Rooney, L., Russell, R., Sheard, L., Torgerson, D. 22 Jan 2024, In: Trials
  • A review of leg ulcerations coverage in the United Kingdom print media: A growing problem for the vulnerable adult, Pagnamenta, F., Lhussier, M., Rapley, T. 1 Jun 2023, In: Journal of Vascular Nursing
  • Can wrist-worn devices and a smartphone application influence arm activity in children with unilateral cerebral palsy? A proof-of-concept study, Turner, A., Jackson, D., Officer, E., Boyne-Nelson, C., Zielinska, Z., Dinraj, D., Blickwedel, J., Nappey, T., Rapley, T., Turpin, H., Cadwgan, J., Pearse, J., Basu, A. 30 Jan 2023, In: Frontiers in rehabilitation sciences
  • Cultural Influences on African Migrant Pregnant and Postnatal Women’s Dietary Behaviours and Nutrition Support Needs in the UK, Ngongalah, L., Rapley, T., Rankin, J., Heslehurst, N. 25 Sep 2023, In: Nutrients
  • Early Years Physical Activity and Motor Skills Intervention—A Feasibility Study to Evaluate an Existing Training Programme for Early Years Educators, Basterfield, L., Machaira, T., Jones, D., Rapley, T., Araujo-Soares, V., Cameron, N., Azevedo, L. 11 Jan 2023, In: Children
  • Editorial: Tailoring in implementation science, Albers, B., Rapley, T., Nilsen, P., Clack, L. 14 Jun 2023, In: Frontiers in Health Services
  • Effectiveness of Self-guided Tailored Implementation Strategies in Integrating and Embedding Internet-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in Routine Mental Health Care: Results of a Multicenter Stepped-Wedge Cluster Randomized Trial, Vis, C., Schuurmans, J., Aouizerate, B., Atipei Craggs, M., Batterham, P., Bührmann, L., Calear, A., Cerga Pashoja, A., Christensen, H., Dozeman, E., Duedal Pedersen, C., Ebert, D., Etzelmueller, A., Fanaj, N., Finch, T., Hanssen, D., Hegerl, U., Hoogendoorn, A., Mathiasen, K., May, C., Meksi, A., Mustafa, S., O'Dea, B., Oehler, C., Piera-Jiménez, J., Potthoff, S., Qirjako, G., Rapley, T., Rosmalen, J., Sacco, Y., Samalin, L., Skjoth, M., Tarp, K., Titzler, I., Van der Eycken, E., van Genugten, C., Whitton, A., Zanalda, E., Smit, J., Riper, H. 3 Feb 2023, In: Journal of Medical Internet Research
  • Implementing early rehabilitation and mobilisation for children in UK paediatric intensive care units: the PERMIT feasibility study, Scholefield, B., Menzies, J., McAnuff, J., Thompson, J., Manning, J., Feltbower, R., Geary, M., Lockley, S., Morris, K., Moore, D., Pathan, N., Kirkham, F., Forsyth, R., Rapley, T. 1 Nov 2023, In: Health technology assessment (Winchester, England)
  • "My gut feeling is…": An ethnographic study exploring interprofessional communication about children and adolescents with chronic musculoskeletal pain in paediatric rheumatology, Lee, R., McDonagh, J., Rapley, T., Farre, A., Connelly, M., Palermo, T., Toupin-April, K., Wakefield, E., Peters, S., Cordingley, L. 1 Dec 2023, In: Journal of Pain
  • Normative puzzles for local government: Managing the introduction of single‐handed care in England, Rooney, L., Rapley, T., Whitehead, P. 1 May 2023, In: Sociology of Health & Illness

  • Mitchell Hogg ‘I never realised that I don’t breathe correctly’: Understanding Experiences of Postural Tachycardia Syndrome and the Challenges of Altered Breathing for Intervention Development Start Date: 01/10/2018 End Date: 27/01/2023
  • Craig Newman Positive risk-taking in intermediate care: a study of risk-related decision making in occupational therapy Start Date: 01/07/2021 End Date: 23/12/2022

Tim is an experienced supervisor of PhD and MD students and postdoctoral fellows. He has supervised fourteen PhD/MD students to a timely successful completion in a broad range of topics in applied health research.

Current postgraduate supervision:

Adam Webb - Developing the role of non-representational theory in evaluations in North East and North Cumbria.  NENC ARC

Amy Allen - What is the impact of the Academic Health Sciences Network North East and North Cumbria in the North of England. AHSN

Angela Long - The role of commuinty pharmacy in the management of age-related musculoskeletal conditions. ESRC 0.5 + 3 Postgraduate Studentship

Sam Armitage - Enabling self-care in children with developmental disabilities

Leah Burhmann - Implenmentation Science 

Mitchell Hogg - Developing a Specialised Breathing Intervention for Treating Autonomic Dysfunction in POTS Northumbria RDF Studentship

Jess Baggaley - Development and validation of a parent-completed screening checklist for early movement abnormalities indicating a high risk of development of cerebral palsy.  ESRC 1+3 Postgraduate Studentship

Helen Cartner - Altered Eating and Primary Sjögren's Syndrome. Northumbria RDF Studentship

Nataly Birbeck     - Self Harmony: Advocating for Positive Mental Health through the Use of Technology.  EPSRC DTC Digital Civics

  • BA (Hons)
  • MA (Hons)
  • PhD

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