Dr Rachael Kelley

Dr Rachael Kelley



Rachael is currently a visiting Research Fellow in the Leeds Institute of Health Sciences (LIHS), having previously worked in the Institute as a member of staff for 14 years. Her research interests focus around mental health, in particular the care of people living with dementia and their families and hospital services for people who self-harm. She sits on a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Research for Patient Benefit funding panel and has held several NIHR research grants. She was also awarded two NIHR Fellowships at LIHS; a NIHR Doctoral Research Fellowship and a NIHR Clinical Trials Fellowship. She is currently a Module Lead on the Postgraduate Programmes in Health Research, teaching qualitative and quantitative research methods to postgraduate students working in applied health research or clinical practice. She has a clinical background as a mental health nurse.

Rachael has expertise in a variety of qualitative and quantitative research methods ranging from large epidemiological studies to in-depth ethnographic research. She undertakes applied mental health research; her specific areas of interest include care and support for people living with dementia and their families, services for people who self-harm, and the management of dementia and mental health problems in general hospital and emergency care settings. Please see the 'research interests' section for an overview of her research.

Rachael worked at LIHS from 2004-2017 and retains a visiting role at LIHS as a Research Fellow. She also works as a Research Fellow at the Centre for Dementia Studies at Leeds Beckett University where she continues to work on research to improve the care and support offered to people with dementia and their families.

Leeds Beckett Academic Profile

Academic Services

Rachael has been a member of the NIHR Research for Patient Benefit Funding Panel (Yorkshire and North East) since 2020 and sits on the advisory group for the NIHR Mental Health Research Incubator. She also takes an active role in supporting applicants within the School of Medicine to NIHR fellowship schemes, including the provision of support to many successful applicants. She is also a member of the Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust Dementia Steering Group.

From 2011-2017 Rachael was a member of the LIHS and School of Medicine Athena Swan Committees. She took an active role in co-leading work around improving the support offered to postgraduate and medical students and to staff who are parents within the School. 


  • Research Fellow
  • Lecturer in Applied Health Research
  • DClin Research Supervisor

Research interests

Research Interests:

Rachael worked at LIHS from 2004 to 2017 on various quantitative and qualitative research projects. Her research has focused mainly on two research areas; improving care and support for people living with dementia and their families and hospital services for people who self-harm. Her research work at LIHS included coordinating all local aspects of a large multi-centre epidemiological research project into self-harm which was part of the National Suicide Prevention Strategy for England. Her NIHR-funded Doctoral Fellowship used ethnographic methods to explore the impacts of family involvement on general hospital care for people with dementia.

Subsequent research includes work on several large clinical trials of complex interventions to improve health care for older people, including the DCM-EPIC Trial; a HTA-funded multi-centre randomised clinical trial to establish the effectiveness of a care improvement tool called Dementia Care Mapping (DCM) in care homes, a systematic review of the implementation of DCM in care homes, and a mixed methods study of care experiences, treatments and outcomes for people with co-morbid dementia and cancer (the CanDem Study) – a collaborative project between the Centre for Dementia Research at Leeds Beckett University and the Leeds Institute of Clinical Trials Research. She is currently working on a NIHR funded mixed methods research study exploring treatment decision making in Memory Assessment Services for people living with dementia and their families.


Research Funding:

2021-22 NIHR Research for Patient Benefit (£149,169) – Effective communication of pharmaceutical treatment uncertainty in Memory Assessment Services

2019-21 Leeds University Business School Challenge Fund (£26,000) - Applying computer modelling, simulation and socio-technical systems analysis to improve NHS dementia care outcomes

2018-19 NIHR Research for Patient Benefit (£155,116) Effective clinical cancer treatment, care and management for people with comorbid cancer and dementia

2015-16 NIHR Clinical Trials Fellowship (£41,620) Complex Interventions Division, Leeds Institute of Clinical Trials Research, University of Leeds

2010-11 West Yorkshire Research and Development Consortium Funding (£43,740) Mortality follow up of people attending hospital following self-harm

2009-15 NIHR Doctoral Research Fellowship (£223,434) Involving families of people with dementia in general hospital care


Rachael's doctoral thesis can be accessed here and a summary of her thesis can be found here. More details of the DCM-EPIC Trial can be found here.


  • PhD (2017) School of Medicine, University of Leeds
  • MSc (2008) School of Medicine, University of Leeds (Distinction)
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Health Research (2006) School of Medicine, University of Leeds (Distinction)
  • BSc (Hons) Mental Health Nursing (2002), Leeds Beckett University (Distinction)

Professional memberships

  • Registered Mental Health Nurse with the NMC

Student education

Rachael has been a regular tutor on the Health Research MSc Programme at LIHS since 2006, and continues this role as a Module Leader as part of her visiting duties at the University. She delivers teaching on topics including statistics, qualitative research methods, ethics and research dissemination as well as marking student assignments. She has previously taught on the mental health component of the MBChB (Medical Degree). Rachael also supervises doctoral students on the DClin Psychology course.


DClin Psychology Doctoral Thesis: Jenkins, E. Comparing conveyance and non-conveyance to the Emergency Department for self-harm. (2015-2017)

Dclin Psychology Doctoral Thesis: Crane, R. Understanding nursing staff responses to distressed behaviours in people with dementia in a general hospital setting. (2018-present)

DClin Psychology Doctoral Thesis: Higgins, E. Disclosing Self-Harm to Non-Professionals in an Adult Sample. (2018-present)

Rachael has experience of supervising students at both PhD and DClin levels and is happy to supervise doctoral students on topics related to her research interests.

Research groups and institutes

  • Leeds Institute of Health Sciences
  • Psychological and Social Medicine
<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>