Dr Sarah Alderson

Dr Sarah Alderson


Dr Sarah Alderson is a clinical associate professor in primary care with an interest in implementation science and a GP at Oaklands Medical Centre in Holmfirth, West Yorkshire.

Dr Sarah Alderson studied Medicine and Surgery at the University of Leeds, obtaining her MBChB in 2000. She completed her general practice vocational training in Leeds and MRCGP in 2005. After three years as a full time GP, she obtained her PhD on Patients understanding of depression associated with chronic disease in 2012. Her doctoral research increased understanding of why quality improvement initiatives, such as the screening for depression in chronic physical disease, did not deliver expected outcomes. She identified a fundamental mismatch between the expectations of well-intentioned policy makers and those of patients and physicians. This resulted in five peer-reviewed publications and her continued involvement with NIHR CLARHC Diabetes and mental illness: improving outcomes and services (DIAMONDS), to conduct research into the relationship between
severe mental illness and diabetes, and improve outcomes for this patient group.

Her current research continues to look at mental and physical disease co-morbidity and understanding behaviour and behaviour change in order to embed interventions targeting patients and professionals within primary care, particularly the use of audit and feedback interventions to support healthcare staff in quality improvement. She leads the Campaign to Reduce Opioid Prescribing (CROP), a feedback intervention project in primary care to reduce potentially harmful opioid prescribing in chronic, non-cancer pain. CROP is now being delivered across the north of England.

She is a founder member of the international expert collaborative, the Audit and Feedback Metalab.


  • Deputy research lead for Leeds Institute of Health Sciences

Research interests

Dr Alderson’s current research focuses on understanding behaviour and behaviour change in order to inform interventions targeting patients and professionals within primary care. She is a principal investigator on three funded awards (AMS starter grant, RCGP scientific foundation grant and Wellcome Trust ISSF) and co-investigator on six clinical trials (PGfAR ASPIRE, PGfAR ISCOMAT, HS&DR ENACT, PGfAR DIAMONDS, HTA ATLANTIS, HDR Better Care). As her career and development have progressed, she has come to recognise the fundamental role and associated challenges of conducting rigorous evaluations of complex interventions. Leading the Campaign to Reduce Opioid Prescribing (CROP), a primary care feedback intervention in West Yorkshire, and growing experience in implementation science has reinforced this interest in two key, closely-related aspects of research:

(i) Harnessing routine primary care data in both interventions to change professional behaviour (typically feedback) and evaluations; and

(ii) The potential of ‘implementation laboratories’ (a type of learning health system) to advance science and population impact.

CROP led to a reduction in potentially harmful opioid prescribing without increasing prescriptions of other potentially harmful painkillers. CROP is now being implemented across the north of England and led to international recognition. CROP led to two further feedback intervention projects addressing high priority prescribing issues in West Yorkshire to reduce gabapentinoid prescribing (Rethink) and Lower Anti-Microbial Prescribing (LAMP).


  • PhD - Understanding Depression Associated with Chronic Physical Disease
  • MBChB 2000 Leeds
  • MRCGP 2005
  • DFRSH 2009
  • DRCOG 2004

Professional memberships

  • British Medical Association
  • Royal College of General Practitioners
  • Society of Academic Primary Care
  • Audit and Feedback Metalab

Student education

Dr Sarah Alderson holds a fellowship with the Higher Education Academy and supervises iBSc Applied Health research projects, ESREP projects, MSc and PhD students. She is a personal tutor for iBSc Applied Health students.

Research groups and institutes

  • Division of Primary Care, Palliative Care and Public Health
  • Health services research
  • Implementation Science
  • Leeds Institute of Clinical Trials Research
  • Leeds Institute of Health Sciences
  • Primary care
  • Clinical academic training
<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>