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Professor Davina Allen

Professor Davina Allen

Head of Research and Innovation

School of Healthcare Sciences

+44 (0)29 206 88561
Room 13.08, Eastgate House, Newport Road, Cardiff, CF24 0AB
Media commentator
Available for postgraduate supervision


I am a sociologist and nurse academic with an international research profile in nursing, healthcare work organisation and service improvement.    
I have expertise in ethnographic research methods and the use of sociological theories in advancing the science of improvement in health and social care.  
My research includes foundational ethnographic studies of organisational phenomena, a long-standing programme of research on nursing work, and large-scale applied research projects.  This includes work at the forefront of new approaches to evidence synthesis, methodological advances in the development, implementation and evaluation of theoretically informed complex interventions, and theory development.  
I am currently Head Research & Innovation (HCARE),  Professor II (Care Centre NTNU, GjØvik, Norway), Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta, Canada, and Editorial Board member of Journal of Health Services Research and Policy
I am a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences and a Health Foundation Improvement Science Fellow.
Current Projects

I led the recently completed (November 20919) PUMA Study; a large scale NIHR funded, prospective mixed methods before and after study of the development, implementation and evaluation of a programme to improve paediatric early warning systems.

I am leading the Pro-Judge Study, funded by the RCN Foundation, which is analysing the use of professional judgement in nurse staffing decisions.

I am leading the developing an evidence-based tool designed to capture the organisational components of nursing work (TRACT), funded by an ESRC Impact Accerlerator Account Award.

I am leading a project designed to develop an educational platform using the latest digital technologies to integrate into nurse education formal preparation for the organisational components of the nursing role.  

I currently writing an ethnography of transfers of care across the hip fracture pathway, based on research undertaken as a Health Foundation Improvement Fellowship.  

Find out more about my research on Translational Mobilisation Theory
Find out more about my research on nursing


























2021 - Development and evaluation of a digitised educational platform to address a gap in nurse education on preparation for the organisational components of the nursing role, ESRC, Impact Accelerator Account Award (Chief Investigator)

2019 - Pro-Judge: An Ethnographic Examination of Nurses' Professional Judgement in Nurse Staffing Systems in England and Wales (Chief Investigator) - RCN Foundation 

2019 - NIPT Wales: Understanding and improvng the new landscape of prenatal screening, Health and Social Care Wales (PI: Dr Heather Strange, co-applicant and mentor)

2019 - The 'politics' of a changing institutional ecology: coodination, prioritization and labour in Norwegian health, care and welfare services, Norwegian Research Council (co-applicant)

2018 - Workforce Behaviours in Healthcare Systems, THIS Institute (PhD studentship, with Professor Paul Harper)

2017 - Cardiff University Health and Social Care Improvement Research Network

2017 - Evaluation of Freedom to Speak up Guardians, NIHR HS&DR (PI: Dr Aled Jones)

2017 - Evaluation of Cancer Care Pathways, Norwegian Research Council

2017 - Feasibility and Acceptability of a new Clinical Pathway for the Identification of Non-Responders to Glaucoma Eye Drops (the TRIAGE study), NISCHR Research for Patient Benefit (PI: Prof Heather Waterman)

2017 - Prioritizing Care: Emerging dilemmas in the Norwegian care service landscape (pricare), Norwegian Research Council

2017 - One common ICT platform in the health care service: Interdisciplinary cooperation through shared journal information (PhD studentship), NTNU

2017 - Exploring personal responsibility for infection prevention and antimicrobial resistance in acute and community hospitals (EMPEROR) PhD Studentship, KESS PhD studentship (With Prof Dinah Gould)

2016 – Making Nurses’ Organising Work Count - ESRC, Impact Accelerator Account Award

2015 - Improving Access to Care and Treatment for Patients with Hip and Knee Pain at the Primary/Secondary Interface, NISCHR RfPPB (PI: Dr Kate Button)

2015 - An Actor Network Analysis of Patient Experience Data, NIHR HS&DR (PI: Sara Donnetto, Kings College London)

2015 - An Evaluation of Alcohol Treatment Centres: Implications for Service Delivery, Patient Benefit and Harm Reduction,  NIHR HS&DR (PI: Prof Simon Moore)

2014 - PUMA: Paediatric Early Warning System Utilisation and Mortality Allowance (Chief Investigator), NIHR HS&DR 

2014 - Delaying institutionalization, sustaining families: Comparative case studies of care at home for older people with dementia, Canadian Institute for Health Research, (PI: Dr Christine Ceci)

2013 - Lean, Agile or Leagile? A feasibility study to explore and compare the utility of pathway technologies, The Health Foundation Improvement Science Fellowship (Collaborator and mentor to Sharon Williams)

2013 - Design, development and pre-piloting of The Parent Learning Needs and Preferences Assessment Tool (PLAnT): a mixed methods study in the 13 UK Children’s Kidney Units, Kids for Kidney,  (PI: Veronica Swallow, University of Manchester)

2011 - Connecting for Service Improvement: Understanding departmental and organisational interfaces (Principal Investigator: Davina Allen) The Health Foundation

2011 - The organising work of nurses (Principal Investigator: Davina Allen)

2005 - The social organisation of ICP development: an ethnography (Principal Investigator: Davina Allen)

2008 - 'Evidence into practice: evaluating a child-centred intervention for diabetes medicine management' (Principal Investigator: Anne Williams) NIHR Service Delivery and Organisation Programme  

2007 - 'Mental health services in transition' WORD and The Health Foundation   (Principal Investigator: Ben Hannigan)

2007 - 'Health, medicines and health-care choices made by children, young people and their carers' NIHR Service Delivery and Organisation Programme   (Principal Investigator: Anne Williams)

2006 - 'The Transition from paediatric to adult diabetes services: What works for whom and in what circumstances?' NIHR Service Delivery and Organisation Programme  (Principal Investigator: Davina Allen)


I am interested in supervising students in the areas of:

Past projects

Ben Hannigan

Health and social care for people with severe mental health problems: An ethnographic study

Nicola Evans

Exploring the contribution of safe uncertainty in facilitating change

Judith Carrier

Nurses’ use of evidence based guidelines in Primary Care

Sue Taylor

The research component of the consultant nursing role

Dominic Roche

Involving patients in healthcare safety: a realistic evaluation