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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
  • Normative puzzles for local government: Managing the introduction of single‐handed care in England, Rooney, L., Rapley, T., Whitehead, P. 28 Jan 2023, In: Sociology of Health & Illness
  • Advancing cluster randomised trials in children’s therapy: a survey of the acceptability of trial behaviours to therapists and parents, Armitage, S., Rapley, T., Pennington, L., McAnuff, J., McColl, E., Duff, C., Brooks, R., Kolehmainen, N. 26 Nov 2022, In: Trials
  • A Mixed Method Study: Defining the Core Learning Needs of Nurses Delivering Care to Children and Young People with Rheumatic Disease to Inform Paediatric Musculoskeletal Matters, a Free Online Educational Resource, Smith, N., English, C., Davies, B., Wyllie, R., Foster, H., Rapley, T. 7 Jun 2022, In: Children
  • Changing healthcare professionals' non-reflective processes to improve the quality of care, Potthoff, S., Kwascinska, D., Avery, L., Finch, T., Gardner, B., Hankonen, N., Johnston, D., Johnston, M., Kok, G., Lally, P., Maniatopoulos, G., Marques, M., McCleary, N., Presseau, J., Rapley, T., Sanders, T., ten Hoor, G., Vale, L., Verplanken, B., Grimshaw, J. 1 Apr 2022, In: Social Science and Medicine
  • Data protection, information governance and the potential erosion of ethnographic methods in health care?, Lee, R., McDonagh, J., Farre, A., Peters, S., Cordingley, L., Rapley, T. 1 Jan 2022, In: Sociology of Health & Illness
  • Early mobilisation and rehabilitation in the PICU: a UK survey, Thompson, J., Menzies, J., Manning, J., McAnuff, J., Brush, E., Ryde, F., Rapley, T., Pathan, N., Brett, S., Moore, D., Geary, M., Colville, G., Morris, K., Parslow, R., Feltbower, R., Lockley, S., Kirkham, F., Forsyth, R., Scholefield, B. 1 Jun 2022, In: BMJ Paediatrics Open
  • Grappling with uncertainty – Experiences of parents of infants following perinatal stroke, Khan, U., Watson, R., Pearse, J., Irwin, L., Rapley, T., Basu, A. 1 May 2022, In: Research in Developmental Disabilities
  • Implementing Internet-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in Routine Care: Healthcare Practitioners’ Attitude and Perceived Level of Normalization After a Single Information Event, Netter, A., Etzelmueller, A., Kircher, T., Rapley, T., Ebert, D., Brakemeier, E. 1 Mar 2022, In: Journal of Technology in Behavioral Science
  • Photobiomodulation in the management of oral mucositis for adult head and neck cancer patients receiving irradiation: the LiTEFORM RCT, Nugent, M., Bryant, V., Butcher, C., Fisher, H., Gill, S., Goranova, R., Hiu, S., Lindley, L., O’Hara, J., Oluboyede, Y., Patterson, J., Rapley, T., Robinson, T., Rousseau, N., Ryan, V., Shanmugasundaram, R., Sharp, L., Smith Whelan, R., Stocken, D., Ternent, L., Wilson, J., Walker, J. 1 Dec 2022, In: Health Technology Assessment
  • ‘Single‐handed care’ initiatives and reviews of double‐handed homecare packages: A survey of practices in English local authorities with adult social care responsibilities, Whitehead, P., Rooney, L., Adams‐Thomas, J., Bailey, C., Greenup, M., Southall, C., Raffle, A., Rapley, T., Whittington, S. 1 Nov 2022, In: Health & Social Care in the Community

  • 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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