Improvement science

Welcome to the Improvement Science theme page. We are a small team of researchers with expertise in improvement science methods and approaches. Our current interests include the uptake of digital innovations and medical devices, improvement science outcomes measurement, de-implementation of low value practices, optimising audit and feedback and using the positive deviance approach to improve health care quality.

What is improvement science?

Improvement Science is a broad term covering three elements:

At its core is the development and evaluation of theories/models/frameworks to inform systematic, evidence-based intervention design, evaluation, and introduction into clinical practice. Improvement science is sometimes used interchangeably with ‘implementation science’, although the latter arguably focuses more on the successful embedding and sustainment of evidence into practice, rather than on intervention development. As such, we work closely with colleagues in the Improvement Academy ( who are the implementation arm of NIHR ARC YH.

Our objectives

Links with other groups

Our theme is led by Professor Rebecca Lawton who also directs the Yorkshire and Humber Patient Safety Translational Research Centre ( and the Yorkshire Quality and Safety Research Groups ( We are all part of the Bradford Institute for Health Research ( 

Our steering group has members from the University of Leeds, Bradford, and Sheffield Hallam University, the Yorkshire and Humber Academic Health Science Network and several NHS Trusts including York, Leeds, and Bradford trusts. We welcome new members with improvement science expertise and interests, particularly from local authorities. We meet every 3 months (via zoom) for 1.5 hours to review the progress of the theme against our objectives, discuss new and existing projects (often with a presentation) and share ideas for capacity building. Please contact the Improvement Science theme manager if this might be of interest to you: 

Our projects

As a cross-cutting theme we support multiple projects across the YHARC. In offering a more responsive service, these change over time. Below we provide some examples of projects that we have led on early on in the YHARC and associated resources.

Latest publications

Our theme resources

Contact the team

Andria Hanbury, Theme Manager –