Institute of Health & Society

Staff Profile

Michael Sykes

NIHR Doctoral Research Fellow



I am a nurse with research interests in improving health services through interventions to increase the effectiveness of care, with a focus on audit and feedback in the care of people with dementia. I also have an interest in improving health services through understanding and reducing harm.

My training in clinical research, improvement methods, business management, nursing and psychology provide a broad foundation for my work.

To date I have been awarded almost £500,000 of research funding, including recently gaining an NIHR Doctoral Research Fellowship.

I have extensive experience of leading team, Trust and national initiatives to improve care, as well as experience of assuring the quality of care across different health sectors.

Academic Qualifications

  • Currently undertaking PhD Health Services Research, Newcastle University, 2017-2019.
  • Masters in Clinical Research, Newcastle University, 2014-15.
  • Masters in Business Administration, Open University, 2004-2008.
  • Diploma in Nursing (adult), Nottingham University, 1996-98.
  • BSc(Hons) Psychology, Northumbria University, 1991-94.

Areas of expertise

  • Audit and feedback
  • Co-production
  • Complex intervention development


  • 2018 International Behavioural Trials Network (£617) - Travel award
  • 2016 NIHR Doctoral Research Fellowship (£368,214) - Enhancing audit and feedback in acute Trust dementia care
  • 2015 UKSBM (£650) - Bursary to attend Annual Scientific Meeting of UK Society for Behavioural Medicine
  • 2015 BMJ/ IHI (£777) - Scholarship to attend International Forum for Quality and Safety
  • 2014 NIHR Scholarship (£62,500) - Clinical Academic Training Scheme Masters (Clinical Research)
  • 2013 Durham University / Tees, Esk & Wear Valleys (£21,189) - Seedcorn funding for preliminary research exploring the role of social learning in healthcare (Co-Applicants: Prof Emma Flynn & Prof Joe Riley)
  • 2010 NHS Institute for Improvement and Innovation (£10,000) - Development of a case-note review tool for mental heath
  • 2004 NHS Education for Scotland (£3535) - Evaluation of higher professional training fellowship

Google scholar: Click here.


Research interests

Improving care, including that received by people with dementia, through research in:

Implementation science, and in particular audit and feedback

Developing complex interventions using co-production

Understanding harm


Current research

My PhD focusses on improving acute hospital care for people with dementia and for carers through enhancing audit and feedback.  Between 25-40% of patients in acute hospitals have dementia. There are gaps between what evidence recommends and what is received by these patients. Audit and feedback is a much-used intervention to get evidence into practice, however there is variation in its effectiveness. Enhancing how audit and feedback is done could lead to improved care and better outcomes for patients and carers.

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I teach on the Health Care Quality module at Newcastle University. I have previously taught under- and post-graduate students at the Universities of Abertay and Dundee on topics related to implementation science, clinical governance, patient safety and improvement methods.

I lead quality improvement collaboratives in order to improve the care described in the National Diabetes Audit. I have previously provided a range of workshops to health professionals including through the NHS Institute’s Leading Improvement in Patient Safety (Mental Health) programme.

I spoke on Leading Improvement as part of Edge Hill University’s Mental Health Lecture Series.

I have run research awareness workshops to nurses at Tees, Esk & Wear Valleys NHS FT and public involvement in research workshops at Dundee University.

Selected presentations

  1. Sykes, M (2018) Enhancing audit and feedback in acute hospital dementia care. Audit and feedback MetaLab, Toronto.
  2. Sykes, M. (2018) National Diabetes Audit Quality Improvement Collaborative. DiabetesUK, London.
  3. Sykes, M (2017) Enhancing audit and feedback. Health Foundation: National Q Network. Liverpool.
  4. Sykes, M. Webster, L. Flynn, E. (2015) Exploring what clinical positional leaders describe as affecting behaviour change. International Forum for Quality and Safety, London (Poster)
  5. Sykes,M. (2015) Harvest plot synthesis of systematic reviews: A worked example. Developing and modelling complex interventions, Newcastle University.

  6. Sykes, M. Webster, L. Flynn, E. (2015) Exploring what clinical positional leaders describe as affecting behaviour change. International RCN Research Conference, Nottingham

  7. Sykes,M. (2014) Social learning and diffusion of healthcare innovation. SPIRE, Wolfson Research Institute, Durham University.

  8. Sykes,M. Flynn,E. (2014) Social learning and diffusion of healthcare innovation.Centre for co-evolution of biology and culture, Durham University.

  9. Sykes,M. (2011) Leading improvement in patient services.Mental Health Lecture Series, Edge Hill University

  10. Sykes, M. (2010) Targeted case-note review tool for measuring harm in mental health. Safety Congress, Birmingham.

  11. Sykes, M. (2008) Statistical process control charts for patient safety. Risk and patient safety, London.

  12. Bunyan, M. Muir, M. Sykes, M. (2005) Postnatal depression: Research to practice symposium. RCN International research conference, Belfast.


  • Sykes MJ, McAnuff J, Kolehmainen N. When is audit and feedback effective in dementia care? A systematic review. International Journal of Nursing Studies 2017, 79, 27-35.
  • Sykes M, Brabban M, Reilly J. Balancing harms in support of recovery. Journal of Mental Health 2015, 24(3), 140-144.
  • McCulloch J, Sykes M, Haut F. Accidents don’t happen anymore: Junior doctors’ experience of Fatal Accident Inquiries in Scotland. Postgraduate Medical Journal 2005, 81, 185-7.
  • Duncan F, Sykes M, Young S. Record keeping in Occupational Therapy: are we meeting the standards set by the College of Occupational Therapy?. British Journal of Occupational Therapy 2004, 67(12), 547-550.
  • Sykes M. User involvement in clinical governance. Quality in Primary Care 2003, 11, 13-18.
  • Cowdell F, Dyson J, Sykes M, Dam R. Effective and meaningful engagement of older people in health care interventions using co-methodologies: an integrative literature review. Health Expectations 2018. Submitted.