Professor Rebecca Lawton

Professor Rebecca Lawton


Rebecca Lawton is a health psychologist who conducts research in two main areas:patient safety and lifestyle behaviour change. Rebecca began her research career working with Professor James Reason at the University of Manchester where she investigated the role of human error, specifically procedural violations, in the context of railway accidents. Post-doctoral research posts included investigation of the predictors of road traffic accidents and risk perception in the context of the NHS. Rebecca has received funding from the ESRC, DfT, DH, Bupa Foundation, NIHR and SHA to investigate human behaviour from a social cognitive and systems perspective.

Her work has involved close collaboration with surgeons, anaesthetists, midwives, nurses and GPs, as well as patient groups. Rebecca has acted as a consultant on a wide variety of projects in this field, including the design of error management systems for British Airways, Singapore Airlines and consultancy work as an accident investigator for Railtrack. She teaches about psychological perspectives on patient safety at postgraduate level and supervises postgraduate students in this area. Rebecca has published widely in the area of risk and safety as well as in the field of lifestyle behaviour change, where she has a specific interest in the influence of emotion on behaviour. Within the School of Psychology, Rebecca is lead for Impact, a role that involves working with colleagues to maximise the 'good' that research can do within society.


  • Director, Yorkshire and Humber Patient Safety Translatioal Research Centre
  • Impact Lead, School of Psychology
  • Academic Director, Improvement Academy

Research interests

Rebecca Lawton is a founder member of the Yorkshire Quality and Safety Research Group. In 2009, she took up a secondment at Bradford Institute of Health Research where she leads a multi-disciplinary team of researchers, innovation managers and administrative staff to deliver on research, evaluation and innovation/implementation projects on patient safety. Rebecca is currently Director of one of three NIHR funded Patient Safety Translational Research Centres in England - a collaboration between the University of Leeds and Bradford Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust.  Rebecca also leads a theme of research on Improvement Science within the Yorkshire and Humber Collaboration for Leadership and Applied Health Research and Care.


  • BA Psychology, University of Nottingham
  • Diploma of Applied Psychology, University of Nottingham
  • PhD, University of Manchester

Professional memberships

  • Fellow, British Psychological Society

Student education

Rebecca runs a problem based learning module at postgraduate level focusing on the application of psychological theory to patient safety.

Current postgraduate researchers

<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="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>