Browse/search for people

Dr Rebecca Barnes

Dr Rebecca Barnes

Dr Rebecca Barnes
PhD, PgDip, BSc (Hons)

Senior Research Fellow in Applied Conversation Analysis

Office Room 1.05
Canynge Hall,
39 Whatley Road, Bristol BS8 2PS
(See a map)

+44 (0) 117 928 7213


My main research interest is the study of interaction between patients and health care professionals. I specialise in the application of conversation analytic (CA) methods to address important questions in relation to improving health care. I have studied patient requests and doctor offers for medical services, how treatment recommendations are formulated and responded to, and safety-netting practices in primary care. I am also interested in using CA alongside other methods to examine implementation fidelity in clinical trials of communication-based interventions. I lead the CA Research Group in Bristol and am a Training Lead for the NIHR School for Primary Care Research.

I am currently co-leading a large collaborative CA study with Professor Geraldine Leydon-Hudson (Southampton) on the management of common infections out-of-hours. I am also working with Dr Rachna Begh (Oxford) using CA methods to assess fidelity to a brief intervention to support the management of smoking in primary care (MaSC trial), and am advising Dr Katie Mills (Cambridge) on a study using CA methods to explore communication of cardiovascular disease and cancer risk in primary care (I-CaPP).

I am collaborating with Dr Genevieve Liveley and Dr Barbara Caddick on the Poetics in Practice (PiP) Brigstow seedcorn project exploring storytelling in primary care consultations. I am working with Dr Emma Anderson and Professor Esther Crawley using CA methods to understand what the Lightning Process treatment offers to paediatric CFS/ME. I am also working with Dr Cindy Mann, Dr Rachel Johnson, Professor Chris Salisbury and Year of Care on an implementation project to support patients with multi-morbidities in primary care. 

Current external collaborators include Professor Tanya Stivers and Professor John Heritage (UCLA), Professor Anna Lindstrom (Uppsala), Professor Rose McCabe (City University, London), Dr Merran Toerien (York University), Dr Fiona Stevenson (UCL), Professor Paul Aveyard (Oxford) and Dr Hannah Wheat (Exeter).

I also led the Bristol Archive Project, funded by the NIHR School for Primary Care Research where we collected video-recordings and linked data from over 300 GP consultations with adult patients. In this project we compared recommendations given by GPs for prescription drugs and self-care treatments exploring the way the advice was delivered might affect patients' subsequent decision-making. The consultations and other linked data collected in this study are available for re-use by bonafide researchers with further NHS ethical approval in the One In a Million primary care consultations archive held in the University Research Data Repository.

I am interested in supervising postgraduate students in the following areas: patient-health care professional interaction, conversation analytic (CA) methods, prescribing, safety-netting, using mixed methods to assess implementation fidelity in trials.



My background is in social psychology and for the last 15 years I have been steadily building my research experience as a qualitative methodologist, specialising in applied conversation analytic (CA) methods with a particular interest in health care communication. CA is the dominant contemporary method for the analysis of social interaction. It has been extensively applied in primary care, particularly in North America where it has been used to successfully identify a wide range of important communication practices and dilemmas that recur in patient-provider consultations and that have substantive effects and outcomes. The field is rapidly evolving and in the UK, it is also beginning to find its way into various aspects of RCTs, complementing other qualitative methods used for process evaluations such as focus groups and interviews. Furthermore it can provide a theoretical resource for the content of interventions themselves, attracting researcher-clinician partnerships, NIHR funding and policy makers.

I conceived the idea for and organised (with Professor Nicky Britten, UoE) the 1st & 2nd ‘International Meeting on Conversation Analysis and Clinical Encounters’, sponsored by the Foundation for the Sociology of Heath and Illness, held July 16-18th 2007 at the Peninsula Medical School, University of Exeter and July 20-23rd 2009 at the Peninsula Medical School, University of Plymouth.

I am a member of the International Society for Conversation Analysis 


I currently tutor on the MBChB Year 1: Society, Health & Medicine course, and organise and teach a short course at the School of Social and Community Medicine, 'Introduction to using Conversation Analysis to study Health Care Encounters'


  • Primary health care
  • consultation research
  • mindfulness


  • Conversation analysis
  • qualitative methods



Bristol Medical School (PHS)

Centres, collaborations and units

Recent publications

View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system

Edit this profile If you are Dr Rebecca Barnes, you can edit this page. Login required.

PDF versionDownload PDF