Professor John Gabbay’s research, based on qualitative case-study and ethnographic methods, has focussed on the ways in which health professionals use medical knowledge to inform their policy and practice. Since he retired in 2004, he has pursued this work more actively, working closely with Andrée le May in researching how knowledge enters clinical practice, policy & learning, trying to understand how practitioners can more easily use best evidence to improve their everyday work. Besides developing the mindlines model, John and Andrée have also been researching the skills needed for effective quality improvement and applying relational methods of research implementation in health and social care.
John, who qualified in medicine in 1974, is Emeritus Professor of Public Health at the University of Southampton, Honorary Senior Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Public Health, University of Cambridge, and a Senior Member of Darwin College, Cambridge. He entered public health in 1983 after spending several years teaching at the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge, where his research centred on the social construction of medical knowledge and its epistemological consequences. His career in public health focussed on the acute sector, where he was deeply involved in the (then highly controversial) introduction of medical audit in the UK during the 1980s. He was appointed as the foundation director of the Wessex Institute at the University of Southampton in 1992, where he directed the NHS National Coordinating Centre for Health Technology Assessment from 1998-2004, during which time it developed a vital role in informing the work of NICE. From 2018-2022, he was the joint implementation lead for the East of England Applied Research Collaboration, helping health and social care organisations across the region to use a relational approach grounded in communities of practice to incorporate research findings into local policy and practice.