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Robbie Foy

2006-07 Harkness Fellow General Practitioner Clinical Senior Lecturer in Primary Care University of Newcastle upon Tyne

Harkness Project Title: Mapping Quality Improvement: A Comparative Study of Health Care Organizations

Mentors: Brian Mittman, Ph.D., and Lisa Rubenstein, M.D.

Placement: VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare Systems, and RAND Corporation

Biography at time of Harkness Fellowship: Robbie Foy, a 2006–07 Harkness/Health Foundation Fellow in Health Care Policy, is a general practitioner and clinical senior lecturer in primary care at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. After completing training in general practice and public health medicine (MRCGP, MFPHM), he undertook a Medical Research Council/Scottish Executive Health Department training fellowship in health services research while linked to the Scottish Program for Clinical Effectiveness in Reproductive Health. His research focuses on understanding and closing the gap between best evidence and routine practice. He is associate editor of the BioMed Central journal Implementation Science, chair of the scientific committee of the U.K. Society for Behavioral Medicine and has been a visiting fellow at the Norwegian Health Services Research Centre. Foy obtained his medical degree and Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh and his master's in public health and epidemiology from the University of Manchester.


Project: Foy’s overall objective was to develop a multi-level framework for health care quality improvement – coordinated across all levels of the health system – and also to document the extent and intensity of quality improvement efforts in the U.S. and U.K.  He studied two U.S. health systems (Veteran’s Health Administration and HealthPartners of Minnesota), where he conducted interviews with a range of stakeholders, supplemented by a literature review and document analysis.  He particularly focused on efforts to improve care for clinical depression. 



Career Activity Since Fellowship


  • Professor of Primary Care, Leeds University, 2008


Current Position: Professor of Primary Care, Leeds University (Updated 1/2014)

E-mail: [email protected]

Selected Publications

Taylor N; Lawton R; Slater B; Foy R. The demonstration of a theory-based approach to the design of localized patient safety interventions. Implementation Science. 2013.

Foy R, Locock L, Purdy S, O’Donnell C, Gray N, Doran T, Davies H. “Research shapes policy: but the dynamics are subtle.” Public Money and Management Journal. 2013.

Grant A; Treweek S; Guthrie B; Dreischulte T; Foy R. Process evaluations for cluster-randomised trials of complex interventions: A proposed framework for design and reporting. Trials. 2013; 14 (1):-.

Flemming K; Closs SJ; Foy R; Bennett MI. Education in advanced disease. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management. 2012; 43 (5):885-901.

Alderson SL; Foy R; Glidewell L; McLintock K; House A. How patients understand depression associated with chronic physical disease--a systematic review.. BMC Fam Pract. 2012; 13 ():41-.

Eccles MP; Foy R; Sales A; Wensing M; Mittman B. Implementation Science six years on--our evolving scope and common reasons for rejection without review.. Implement Sci. 2012; 7 ():71-.

Shekelle PG, Pronovost PJ, Wachter RM, Taylor SL, Dy SM, Foy R, Hempel S, McDonald KM, Ovretveit J, Rubenstein LV, Adams AS, Angood PB, Bates DW, Bickman L, Carayon P, Donaldson L, Duan N, Farley DO, Greenhalgh T, Haughom J, Lake ET, Lilford R, Lohr KN, Meyer GS, Miller MR, Neuhauser DV, Ryan G, Saint S, Shojania KG, Shortell SM, Stevens DP, Walshe K. “Advancing the science of patient safety.” Ann Intern Med. 2011 May 7;154(10):693-6.

Foy R, Ovretveit J, Shekelle PG, Pronovost PJ, Taylor SL, Dy S, Hempel S, McDonald KM, Rubenstein LV, Wachter RM. “The role of theory in research to develop and evaluate the implementation of patient safety practices.” BMJ Qual Saf. 2011 May;20(5):453-9.

Hempel S, Rubenstein LV, Shanman RM, Foy R, Golder S, Danz M, Shekelle PG. “Identifying quality improvement intervention publications--a comparison of electronic search strategies.” Implement Sci. 2011 Aug 1;6:85.

 Khodyakov D, Hempel S, Rubenstein L, Shekelle P, Foy R, Salem-Schatz S, O'Neill S, Danz M, Dalal S. “Conducting online expert panels: a feasibility and experimental replicability study.” BMC Med Res Methodol. 2011 Dec 23;11:174.

O'Neill SM, Hempel S, Lim YW, Danz MS, Foy R, Suttorp MJ, Shekelle PG, Rubenstein LV. “Identifying continuous quality improvement publications: what makes an improvement intervention 'CQI'?” BMJ Qual Saf. 2011 Dec;20(12):1011-9.

 Dy SM, Taylor SL, Carr LH, Foy R, Pronovost PJ, Ovretveit J, Wachter RM, Rubenstein LV, Hempel S, McDonald KM, Shekelle PG. “A framework for classifying patient safety practices: results from an expert consensus process.” BMJ Qual Saf. 2011 Jul;20(7):618-24.

Taylor SL, Dy S, Foy R, Hempel S, McDonald KM, Ovretveit J, Pronovost PJ, Rubenstein LV, Wachter RM, Shekelle PG. “What context features might be important determinants of the effectiveness of patient safety practice interventions?” BMJ Qual Saf. 2011 Jul;20(7):611-7.

 Ovretveit JC, Shekelle PG, Dy SM, McDonald KM, Hempel S, Pronovost P, Rubenstein L, Taylor SL, Foy R, Wachter RM. “How does context affect interventions to improve patient safety? An assessment of evidence from studies of five patient safety practices and proposals for research.” BMJ Qual Saf. 2011 Jul;20(7):604-10.

Foy R, Eccles MP, Hrisos S, Hawthorne G, Steen N, Gibb I, Croal B, Grimshaw J. “A cluster randomised trial of educational messages to improve the primary care of diabetes.” Implement Sci. 2011 Dec 16;6:129.

Foy R. RE: Will evidence be enough to promote interactive communication for the benefit of patients?. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2010; 153 (2):131-131.

Foy R. Will Evidence Be Enough to Promote Interactive Communication for the Benefit of Patients? RESPONSE. ANN INTERN MED. 2010; 153 (2):131-131.

Ward V; Smith S; Foy R; House A; Hamer S. Planning for knowledge translation: a researcher's guide. Evidence & Policy. 2010; 6 (4):527-541.

Foy RC;Hempel S; Rubenstein L; Suttorp M; Seelig M; Shanman R; Shekelle PG. Meta-analysis: Effect of Interactive Communication Between Collaborating Primary Care Physicians and Specialists. Annals of internal medicine. 2010; 152 (4):247-.

Danz MS, Rubenstein LV, Hempel S, Foy R, Suttorp M, Farmer MM, Shekelle PG. “Identifying quality improvement intervention evaluations: is consensus achievable?” Qual Saf Health Care. 2010 Aug;19(4):279-83.

Foy R, Hempel S, Rubenstein L, Suttorp M, Seelig M, Shanman R, Shekelle PG. “Meta-analysis: Effect of Interactive Communication Between Collaborating Primary Care Physicians and Specialists.” Ann Intern Med. 2010; 152: 247-258.

Tanner F; Foy R; Harrison W. ‘Wads up, doc’–trends in British newspapers’ reporting of general practitioners’ pay. Primary Health Care Research and Development. 2010; 11 (04):405-409.

Eccles MP; Francis J; Foy R; Johnston M; Bamford C; Grimshaw JM; Hughes J; Lecouturier J; Steen N; Whitty PM. Improving professional practice in the disclosure of a diagnosis of dementia: a modeling experiment to evaluate a theory-based intervention.. Int J Behav Med. 2009; 16 (4):377-387.

Lecouturier J; Bamford C; Hughes JC; Francis JJ; Foy R; Johnston M; Eccles MP. Appropriate disclosure of a diagnosis of dementia: identifying the key behaviours of 'best practice'. BMC HEALTH SERV RES. 2008; 8.

Foy R. “Cracking the system.” British Journal of General Practice Back Pages 2008;578:734-5

Foy R; Eccles M. Structured career pathways in academic primary care. FAM PRACT. 2008; 25 (1):63-67.

Tetroe JM; Graham ID; Foy R; Robinson N; Eccles MP; Wensing M; Durieux P; Legare F; Nielson CP; Adily A; Ward JE; Porter C; Shea B; Grimshaw JM. Health research funding agencies' support and promotion of knowledge translation: An international study. MILBANK Q. 2008; 86 (1):125-155.

Foy R. “Life under liberty.” BMJ 2007;335:349