Dr Rachel Reeves RGN, BSc Hons, DPhil (Oxon)

Principal Research Fellow

Dr Rachel Reeves is a Principal Research Fellow in the School of Human Sciences at the University of Greenwich.

Rachel is a Registered Nurse with 12 years' nursing experience in the National Health Service. She gained a BSc Hons Psychology and Politics (Oxford Brookes University) and a Doctorate in Psychology (University of Oxford).

Rachel joined the university in 2007 as health services researcher specialising in patient experience, survey methods, questionnaire design and the national patient survey programme for England.

More recent research has focused on testing interventions aimed at improving the impact of patient surveys. She is experienced in both quantitative and qualitative research methods.

Posts held previously:

  • 2007-present: Freelance Consultancy, Department of Health
    Advising on the Cancer Patient Experience Survey Programme (2010) and designing and implementing the Independent Sector Treatment Centre NHS Patient Experience Survey (2007–2010)
  • 2001-05, Manager, Co-ordination Centre, Picker Institute Europe
    Established a new NHS national patient survey programme for England
  • 1996, Research Assistant, Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford
  • 1995-2001, Lecturer (p/t), Politics and Psychology, Oxford Brookes University 
  • 1986-94, Staff Nurse at Oxford NHS Hospitals

Responsibilities within the university

  • Principal Research Fellow, School of Human Sciences

Research / Scholarly interests

Rachel's research work has focused on measuring patients' experiences and using the data to feedback information to health care staff so that they can improve the quality of care. One aspect of this research is questionnaire development using both qualitative and quantitative methods: carrying out focus groups and interviews with patients and healthcare staff to ensure that survey tools measure patients' experiences as accurately as possible, and that the responses can be used by health care staff to help them improve standards; conducting postal questionnaire surveys to identify which issues matter most to patients; examining large-scale survey data to understand the relationships between demographics, patients' evaluations of care, and response rates.

The integration of qualitative and quantitative methods is also an important feature of the reports she has developed for feeding-back patient survey data to staff (to maximise staff engagement with survey data, patients' comments are included alongside quantitative survey data).
More recently, Rachel was delivering ward-specific feedback to nurses and facilitating their engagement with the survey results in ward meetings. Preliminary findings suggest that ward meetings are necessary for nurses to engage with survey results, and that written feedback alone does not engage them.

Key funded projects

  • University of Greenwich Research & Enterprise Committee, 2008-10:
    Increasing the impact of patient survey results on the quality of nursing care through targeted feedback: A pilot study for a definitive trial of a complex intervention

Research shows that patients' experiences of care in acute NHS Trusts have changed little since the introduction of the national inpatient survey programme, particularly in relation to inter-personal aspects of care, and that NHS staff believe that a significant barrier to the surveys' impact is that they are not ward-specific. The study comprised the development and testing of an intervention to deliver ward-based feedback.

The study was conducted during 2009 and 2010 in a total of 18 wards across two London NHS trusts. Patient surveys were conducted at four-monthly intervals. Wards were randomly allocated to Basic Feedback (ward-level patient survey results including patients' written comments sent to nurses by letter); Feedback Plus (in addition to letters, ward meetings to discuss results and plan improvements) or Control (no active feedback of survey results).

A total of 9,565 patients were surveyed and 4,236 returned usable questionnaires, representing a response rate of 47%. Nursing Care Scores (derived from 20 survey questions) improved more for Feedback Plus than Basic Feedback or Control (difference between Control and Feedback Plus = 8.28 ± 7.2 (p = 0.02)). Merely communicating written patient survey results to nurses did not stimulate interest in them, nor did it lead to improvements in patient care, even though results were disaggregated by ward. Nurses demonstrated some resistance to accepting the feedback, but Feedback Plus meetings were effective in engaging nurses, correcting methodological misunderstandings and challenging "excuses". Patients' written comments were vital for stimulating nurses' interest in the results.
This study provides preliminary evidence that facilitated patient feedback can improve patients' experiences such that a full trial is justified.

  • Greenwich Council: Getting around Greenwich, 2008–09
    Study involving interviews and group discussions with older people about transport needs in and around Greenwich

Recent publications

Pérotin, V., Zamora, B., Reeves, R., Bartlett, W. and Allen, P. (2013). Does hospital ownership affect patient experience? An investigation into public-private sector differences in England. Journal of Health Economics, 32(3), pp. 633-646.

Reeves R. (2012). Why the friends and family test won't work. Health Service Journal, 7th December.

Reeves, R. and Seccombe, I. (2008). Do patient surveys work? The influence of a national survey programme on local quality improvement initiatives. Quality and Safety in Healthcare, 17, pp. 437-441.


Rankin, S. (2013). Action learning using simulation, group engagement and critical thinking. Shift, Sharing Practice, Developing Community-Workshop, University of Greenwich.