Condition category
Not Applicable
Date applied
Date assigned
Last edited
Retrospectively registered
Overall trial status
Recruitment status
No longer recruiting

Plain English Summary

Background and study aims
People use the internet to access customer reviews and ratings. Sharing personal experiences on Facebook or Twitter is becoming a part of everyday life. Increasingly, people are going online to give feedback on their experience of the NHS, or to read the feedback that other people have provided. There are websites which invite feedback on doctors or hospitals, and some people choose to tell their NHS stories in personal blogs or discussion forums like Mumsnet. This research is part of a wider study funded by the NIHR Health Services and Delivery Research designed to help the NHS to interpret and act on online patient feedback to improve the quality of NHS services. This study conducts case studies in four NHS Trusts in England using observations, interviews and focus groups to see how staff relates to online sources of patient feedback in terms of their awareness and attitude. These case studies will help to understand how staff use patients online feedback, the barriers and facilitators to using feedback to improve NHS quality and what skills are required to benefit from the feedback. The aim of this study is to understand what the challenges might be in encouraging the appropriate use of this in the NHS.

Who can participate?
Adults who are employed by the NHS.

What does the study involve?
Participants are asked to either attend a one hour focus group, face to face interviews, or will be observed at work over a six week study period to explore the use of online feedback and how this can be used in improving NHS services.

What are the possible benefits and risks of participating?
There are no notable benefits or risks with participating.

Where is the study run from?
This study is being run from the University of Oxford and takes place in four NHS trusts (UK).

When is the study starting and how long is it expected to run for?
April 2016 to October 2017

Who is funding the study?
National Institute of Health Research (UK)

Who is the main contact?
Professor John Powell (Scientific)
Ms Vanessa Eade (Public)

Trial website

Contact information



Primary contact

Ms Vanessa Eade


Contact details

Health Experiences Research Group
Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences
Radcliffe Observatory Quarter
Woodstock Road
United Kingdom



Additional contact

Prof John Powell


Contact details

Health Experiences Research Group
Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences
Radcliffe Observatory Quarter
Woodstock Road
United Kingdom

Additional identifiers

EudraCT number number

Protocol/serial number


Study information

Scientific title

The INQUIRE Project: Improving NHS Quality Using Internet Ratings and Experiences



Study hypothesis

The aim of this study is to examine how online feedback is currently viewed in four NHS case study sites, how online feedback shapes, gets contested and/or mobilised in everyday practices in hospitals, and to explore the potential barriers and facilitators to the use of online patient feedback by NHS staff and organisations.

Ethics approval

University of Oxford Medical Sciences Inter-Divisional Research Ethics Committee, 03/02/16, ref: R32336/RE001

Study design

Observational case series

Primary study design


Secondary study design

Case series

Trial setting


Trial type


Patient information sheet

Not available in web format, please use the contact details below to request a patient information sheet


Health services and delivery research


The INQUIRE study is part of a wider programme of work consisting of five interlinked projects of applied health service research.

This study uses in-depth case studies (including ethnographic observations, interviews and documentary analysis) carried out in four NHS secondary care provider organisations. The case studies take an ethnographic approach, using mixed methods including face-to-face interviews, observations of meetings, focus groups, documentary analysis, and researcher’s field notes.

Participants will either attend a staff focus group or staff interviews. The staff focus groups include a one hour group discussion to explore the use of online commentary. Up to 2 focus groups may be held in each participating NHS Trust. Focus groups last no longer than one hour and will comprise up to 8 staff members. The interviews (done either as a one off or intermittently) are done with staff working at all levels of the organisation and focuses on capturing the views of managers and those working in quality improvement and complaints handling on online feedback (approximately 10 staff interviews will be done per Trust).

Also, observational work is done within each participating study sites during the six week study period. This requires the researcher to work in situ adopting fieldwork role to facilitate the close examination of the day-to-day practices involved in processing user generated comment. Multiple observations will take place and will be recorded by the researcher in field notes collected for later analysis. In addition the researcher will collect relevant documents such as local policy documents.

Data (in the form of field note descriptions, documents and interview/focus group recordings) is analysed through thematic analysis and comparative case study analysis.

Intervention type



Drug names

Primary outcome measure

Staff views about organisational practices in online feedback is measured through staff focus groups, interviews and observations throughout the study period.

Secondary outcome measures

There are no secondary outcomes for this study.

Overall trial start date


Overall trial end date


Reason abandoned (if study stopped)


Participant inclusion criteria

Staff who work at the participating NHS Trusts.

Participant type

Health professional

Age group




Target number of participants

Planned Sample Size: 72; UK Sample Size: 72

Participant exclusion criteria

Participants that do not fulfil the inclusion criteria.

Recruitment start date


Recruitment end date



Countries of recruitment

United Kingdom

Trial participating centre

University of Oxford
Clinical Trials and Research Governance, Joint Research Office Block 60, Churchill Hospital Headington
United Kingdom

Sponsor information


University of Oxford

Sponsor details

Clinical Trials and Research Governance
Joint Research Office
Block 60
Churchill Hospital
United Kingdom

Sponsor type

Hospital/treatment centre



Funder type


Funder name

National Institute for Health Research

Alternative name(s)


Funding Body Type

government organisation

Funding Body Subtype

Federal/National Government


United Kingdom

Results and Publications

Publication and dissemination plan

These summaries will be disseminated via the project website, and on the Improving Health Care section of the website as part of the ‘toolkit’ training resource for NHS organisations. Results will be disseminated through peer reviewed journals, as well as conference presentations in the disciplines of health policy, e-health, medical sociology and the sociology of science and technology. More general, untargeted, offline dissemination towards these lay, practitioner, and policy audiences, through media coverage in the general press, practitioner journals, and the Health Service and Delivery Research journal will be done.

IPD sharing statement:
The datasets generated during and/or analysed during the current study are not expected to be made available due to confidentiality reasons.

Intention to publish date


Participant level data

Not expected to be available

Basic results (scientific)

Publication list

Publication citations

Additional files

Editorial Notes

09/11/2017: The ISRCTN prospective/retrospective flag compares the date of registration with the recruitment start date and does not include any grace period. The registration of this study was requested through the NIHR Portfolio and was finalised within 6 months of the recruitment starting.