Faculty of Medical Sciences

Staff Profile

Professor Richard Thomson

Strategic Research Adviser



Richard Thomson's research interests are in shared decision making, quality of care, and stroke epidemiology and prevention. He leads the Decision Making and Organisation of Care Research Group within the Institute of Health and Society.

Roles and Responsibilities

I am Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health in the Institute of Health and Society and the Dean of Patient and Public Engagement for the Faculty of Medical Sciences.

I lead the Decision Making and Organisation of Care (DMOC) research group in the IHS. I am a member of the Faculty of Medical Science's Board of Clinical Specialties and the Research Strategy Committee.

I am lead for academic training in public health in the North East Deanery


BA (Physiology)1979, Oxford University
BM BCh, 1982, Oxford University
Doctor of Medicine, 1990, University of Newcastle upon Tyne 1990
Thesis : The Hepatic Effects of Ketoconazole
MRCP, 1984, Edinburgh
FRCP, 1996, London
MFPHM, 1990
FFPHM, 1996
Accreditation/CCST in Public Health Medicine, November 1992

Previous Positions

1990 - 1992 Director, Service Quality and Standards,Northern Regional Health Authority
1992 Director, Health Strategy, Northern Regional Health Authority
1990 - 1992 Consultant in Public Health Medicine, Northern Regional Health Authority
1992– 1999 Senior Lecturer in Epidemiology and Public Health, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Newcastle Medical School

1996 – 2007 Director, UK Quality Indicator Project (UK QIP)
2004 – 2007 Secondment to National Patient Safety Agency as Director of Epidemiology and Research (Executive Director of NPSA)


Member of Steering Committee of International Patient Decision Aids Standards (IPDAS) collaboration 2003-
Member of Institute for Learning & Teaching in Higher Education

Informal Interests

I am a Board member of the charity, Stepney Bank Stables (www.stepneybank.co.uk/)Newcastle’s Inner City Community Horse Project. The aim of the Project is to use the horse as a tool, to motivate, educate and pass on key social skills particularly to disadvantaged and hard to reach groups.


Research Interests

My main research interests are in risk communication and shared decision making, with particular interests in the importance of context and the challenges of implementation

Other Expertise

I have undertaken research in a range of areas relevant to quality of health care and stroke prevention including quality indicators, guidelines and atrial fibrillation

Current Work

Our programme of research in the Decision Making and Organisation of Care Research Group includes innovative work in developing and evaluating shared decision making and risk communication. This began with work in stroke prevention and atrial fibrillation, but now extends much more widely (e.g. pain relief and labour, caesarean section, acute stroke care, squint in children). Work is developing on the population and public health implications of shared decision making.
This programme includes collaboration with clinical colleagues across the Faculty of Medical Sciences in Newcastle, in particular with obstetrics, fetal medicine, urology, ophthalmology, care of the elderly, oncology and ENT. It includes international collaboration as a member of the Steering Group for the International Patient Decision Aids Standards (IPDAS) Collaboration.

Research Roles

I lead the Decision Making and Organisation of Care Research Group

Esteem Indicators

I have delivered multiple plenary and keynote conference addresses, and invited seminars. I am a founding Associate Editor of Quality and Safety in Health Care and have recently been a Member of the WHO World Health Alliance Steering Group developing an International Classification for Patient Safety (ICPS). I was invited as an expert witness to the House of Commons Select Committee Enquiry into Patient Safety (www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmselect/cmhealth/151/151i.pdf). A systematic review on factors influencing patient desire for engagement in decision making, written with my colleagues Beccy Say and Madeleine Murtagh, was featured on the Thomson Reuters Science Watch (sciencewatch.com/dr/fmf/2009/09mayfmf/09mayfmfThom/)


My research is funded a number of agencies especially the NIHR, currently being co-applicant on two funded programme grants on 1) acute stroke care, with a personal emphasis on decision making in thrombolysis and 2) patient and public engagement in safety improvement (with colleagues in Bradford, York and Leeds). I am a PI on two RfPB grants on shared decision making in squint and on the contribution of safety incidents to deaths of patients in UK hospitals.