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Wolfson Institute of Population Health

Clare Relton, BA Hons, FSHom, MSc, PhD


Senior Lecturer in Clinical and Public Health Trials

Telephone: +44 0207 882 6696


Clare specialises in the efficient and practical design of randomised controlled trials that generate real world evidence. She leads and supports the development of new trials with chief investigators, from conception to completion. Her methodological interests focus on innovative recruitment and informed consent processes, particularly those that help health providers continually learn from the care they deliver, i.e. ‘learning health systems’.  Clare supervises PhD students and teaches courses on how to apply and develop efficient, practical approaches to trial design. She enjoys bringing together clinicians, researchers, triallists, regulators, and ethicists to share experiences and learning.

Clare is currently a Senior Lecturer in Clinical Trials at the Centre for Primary Care and Public Health at QMUL and an honorary Senior Research Fellow at ScHARR (University of Sheffield). She has a background in Philosophy and Complementary and Alternative Medicine. With the support of a Department of Health Fellowship she completed her MSc (Health Services Research), and PhD (Pragmatic Trial Design) in 2009. This led to the publication of an innovative pragmatic trial design which is now known as Trials within Cohorts (TwiCs). Studies using the TwiCs design utilise cohorts (i.e. observational studies, routine health data sources) to recruit and/or collect outcome data for randomised controlled trials.  Clare was part of the international team who developed CONSORT-ROUTINE - the new extension to the 2010 Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (CONSORT) Statements for RCTs using cohorts and/or routinely collected data.

In addition to her methodological research Clare also designs and leads intervention trials in public health nutrition and integrative medicine including homeopathic medicine. She led the Yorkshire Health Study (2010-2019) – a large regional population based observational study and multiple trials facility, and the NOSH Project (Vouchers for Breastfeeding) cluster randomised controlled trial (2012-2017). Clare has led the development and testing of FRESH Street  This is an innovative place-based intervention which offers households weekly vouchers for locally supplied (non-supermarket) fresh fruit and vegetables. This scheme has now been tested in five areas with poor diet and health in the north and south of England. The Fresh Street approach is now being tested in a variety of deprived areas in the north and south of England

Clare is interested in trialling any intervention which might bring practical health benefits – particularly those which help support healthy lifestyles, and empower people and the communities they live in to support their own health needs.


Topics for PhD supervision

Trial methodology

  • Informed Consent – bridging the gap between routine healthcare and research
  • Trials within Cohorts, Registries and Administrative Databases
  • Micro trials – small scale multiple trial infrastructures in primary and secondary care


Financial incentives and health-related behaviours

Homeopathic medicine and/or Treatment by a Homeopath


Research Interests:

Developing methods used to:

  • Embed multiple trials within cohorts (TwiCs) and other existing data structures
  • Embed Studies within Trials (SWATs)
  • Ensure informed consent procedures for trials are fully practical and ethical


Please click through to see a complete list of Clare’s publications


Relton C, O'Cathain A, Nicholl J, Torgerson D. Rethinking pragmatic randomised controlled trials: Introducing the "cohort multiple randomised controlled trial" design. BMJ 2010 340(7753):963-967

Relton, Clare; Strong, Mark; Renfrew, Mary J; et al; Cluster randomised controlled trial of a financial
incentive for mothers to improve breast feeding in areas with low breastfeeding rates: the NOSH study protocol.
 BMJ Open, 6, 4, e010158, 2016.

Relton C, Bissell P, Smith C, Blackburn J, Tod A, Copeland R, Young T, Cooper CL, Nichol J, Loban A, et al. South Yorkshire Cohort: a 'cohort trials facility' study of health and weight - protocol for the recruitment phase. BMC Public Health 11:640 2011

Relton C, O'Cathain A, Nicholl J, Strong M, Holdsworth M. Plastic food packaging encourages obesity. BMJ (Clinical research ed.) 344:3824, 2012

Viksveen P, Relton C. Nicholl JN. Depressed patients treated by homeopaths: a randomised controlled trial using the "cohort multiple randomised controlled trial" (cmRCT) design. Trials 2017, 18, 299. DOI 10.1186/s13063-017-2040-2

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