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Fiona Lugg-Widger

Fiona Lugg-Widger


Research Fellow - Routine Data

School of Medicine


I am the Deputy Director for Data at the Centre for Trials Research and a senior trials methodologist with expertise in the design and conduct of large, often complex multi-disciplinary trials and studies that use routinely collected data (routine data) and/or linked data to deliver policy-relevant population health research. 

Developing the knowledge and skill set of all researchers working with routine data

  • I was the lead researcher for the CENTRIC study which developed a six-module online training course for researchers working with routine administrative data. The free training course is available here: 
  • From November 2023, Health Data Research (HDR) Futures will include training material developed by the PRIMORANT study for trialists working with routine data.
  • I am part of the international SPIRIT-ROUTINE development group which will produce a SPIRIT extension to improve the design and transparency of reporting trials using cohorts and routine data.

Identifying new routine data sources to enhance or replace trial datasets

I work across a range of trials and observational studies designing the data flows, consent models and governance appropriate for the data sources and study design. The following studies exemplify my growing portfolio of research that works with new data sources or using novel data flows to deliver robust policy-relevant population health research:

The Social workers in school (SWIS) Trial is accessing childrens social care data directly from local authorities

Family VOICE will use novel data flows to link data from local authorities to data held within the National Pupil Database and NHS Digital

Solutions trial is accessing police data for the 10–17-year-old participants presenting at police custody

The OSCAR study was the first study to access workforce data for Domiciliary Care Workers in Wales and link it to data held in the SAIL databank

The Building Blocks: 2-6 and FNP Scotland evaluated the same intervention in England and Scotland respectively using routine data sources only

Assessing the feasibility of accessing routine data

As part of the E-PAtS feasibility trial, we co-produced a brief survey for participants exploring the knowledge and acceptability of the linkage of their (self-reported) trial data to routine health, education and social care data. This has since been adapted for other feasibiliity studies such as TIC-TOC and SAFE.

Improving the use and accessibility of routine data for trialists

  • We have recently completed the COMORANT-UK study which has identified 7 top questions through consensus for prioritisation by trialists, funders, data providers and regulators:

Enabling better communication with participants and the public on the use of routine data

  • We have co-produced, with members of the public, two animations that are freely available to use:

What is routine data?

How Researchers Use Routine Data

















Since 2016, I have been awarded approximately >£73m in grant funding across 21 awards, including £134k as lead investigator.

Research grants (most recent first):


  • Sydes M; Mafham M; Robling M; Lugg-Widger FV; Cannings-John R; Shepherd V; Hood K. Transforming Data for Trials workstream: HDR UK Quinquennium 2 (QQ2) Infrastructure funding. Total QQ2 funding: £64M
  • Barber V; Lugg-Widger FV; Nollett C; Sprange K; Appelbe D; Brittain C. EXPLAIN Initiative. £62k NIHR 
    Clinical Trials Units (CTU) Efficient / Innovative Designs
  • Fry A; Reed K; Lugg-Widger FV; Cannings-John R. Utilising data linkage to investigate the health impact of carrier status for common genetic disorders. £66k H&CRW Health PhD Studentship Award 
  • Lugg-Widger FV; Williamson P; Farrin A; Sydes M; Robling M; Mafham M; Townson J. Addressing high priority methodological questions for the trials community to use routinely-collected healthcare data. £119k HDR UK Directors Discretionary Fund. Submitted March 2022.


    • Lugg-Widger FV; Farrin A; Sydes M; Davies G; Robling M. Determining the most important methodological areas requiring methodological research for routine data in trials: a consensus (COMORANT-UK) £10k MRC-NIHR Trials Methodology Research Partnership. October 2021.
    • Flynn S; Langdon P; Hastings R; Gray K; Thompson P; Coulman E; Playle R; Segrott J; Lugg-Widger FV; Moody G. Brief Solution Focused Therapy (BSFT) in 10-17 year olds presenting at police custody: A Randomised Controlled Trial with internal pilot. £824k. Youth Endowment Fund. (Awarded December 2021.)
    • Scourfield J, Robling M, Evans R, Wilkins D, Petrou S, Pallman P, Lugg-Widger F, Au K. A complex systems evaluation of family group conferences in child welfare. £1,193,890. NIHR HS&DR. March 2021. 


    •  Ahmed H, Cannings-John R, Hughes K, Lugg-Widger F, Akbari A, Gillespie D. Investigating causal relationships between urinary tract infection and acute myocardial infarction or stroke. £219,146. British Heart Foundation. December 2020. 
    • Kearney P; Williamson P; Sydes M; Farrin A; Lugg-Widger F; Davies G; Avery K; O’Keeffe L; Watkins A; Developing Reporting Guidelines for Clinical Trial Protocols for Trials conducted using Routinely Collected Health Data: the SPIRIT-Routinely Collected Health Data (SPIRIT-RCHD) extension. €9,888.93. Health Research Board Trials Methodology Research Network. December 2020.
    • Robling M, Cannings-John R, Hood K, Lugg-Widger F, Brookes-Howell L, Thomas D, Akbari A, John A. Establishing the impact of COVID-19 on the health of domiciliary care workers in Wales: developing a model for UK service planning and carer support £406,826. UKRI-ESRC. October 2020. 
    • Westlake D, Forrester D, White J, Petrou S, Pallmann P, Lugg-Widger F. Social Workers in Schools - Pragmatic cluster RCT. £811,555. Department for Education. July 2020. 
    • McCutchan G, Brain K, Hughes A, Edwards A, Townson J, Sewell B, Watkins A, Jones D, Thomas A, Huws D, Newton G, Erwin C, Davies G, Thomas S, Cannings-John R, Robling M, Whitaker K, Emery J, Quinn-Scoggins H, Lugg-Widger F, Kirby N. Targeted Intensive Community-based campaign To Optimise Cancer awareness: feasibility of a symptom awareness campaign to support the Multidisciplinary/Rapid Diagnostic Centre referral pathway in a socioeconomically deprived area. Cancer Research Wales. £391,331. January 2020.


    • Hutchings J, Hastings R, Ford T, Bowes L, Edwards R, Townson J, Coulman E, Clarkson S, Cannings-John R, Segrott J, Watkins R, Hayes R, Charles J, Lugg-Widger F, Patterson P. A multicenter cluster randomised trial to evaluate the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of KiVa to reduce bullying in primary schools: The UK KiVa Trial. £2,331,975. National Institute for Health Research Public Health Research. March 2019. 
    • Young H, Lewis R, Morgan G, Bonell C, White J, Melendez-Torres G, Lugg-Widger F, Townson, J, Pallmann P, Madan J. SAFE: Optimisation, feasibility testing and pilot randomised trial of SaFE: a sexual health and healthy relationships intervention for Further Education. £612,490. National Institute for Health Research Public Health Research. March 2019. 
    • Robling M, Lugg-Widger F, Townson J. A co-produced training programme for researchers accessing routinely collected data. £99,804. Information Commissioners Office. January 2019.


    • Channon S, Lugg-Widger F, Davies F, Scherf C, Couzens Z, Morantz L, Grant A, Sanders J, Coulman E, Strange H, Cannings-John R. The feasibility and acceptability of a planned pre-pregnancy weight loss intervention: The Plan-it study. £246,958. National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment. October 2018. 
    • Lugg-Widger F, Robling M, Gee P, Segrott J, Angel L. Getting Animated about routine data. £5,000. Wellcome Internal Strategic Support Fund: Public Engagement call. September 2018.


    • Hastings R, Lindsay G, Petrou S, Totsika V, Gillespie D, Hood K, McNamara R, Robling M, Gore N, Jahoda A, Shurlock J, Bradshaw J, Segrott J, Lugg-Widger F. Early Positive Approaches to Support (E-PAtS) for families of young children with intellectual disability: Feasibility study. £640,000. National Institute for Health Research Public Health Research. August 2017. 
    • Sanders J, Brocklehurst P, Gale C, Nolan M, Cannings-John R, Robling M, Lugg-Widger F, Holmes A, Paranjothy S, McMullen S, Ismail K, Morantz L, Hunter B, Channon S. Establishing the safety of waterbirth for mothers and babies: A cohort study with nested qualitative component. £895,187. National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment. October 2017.


    • Robling M, Waters C, Channon S, Cannings-John R, Lugg-Widger F. Establishing the impact of specialist home-visiting on children’s language development and parent-child interaction: developmental pathways to later adverse outcomes. £50,000. ISSF3 population award. July 2016.
    • Cannings-John R, Robling M, Lugg F, Paranjothy S, Pell J, Sanders J, White J Evaluation of the effectiveness of the family nurse partnership in Scotland: a natural experiment £183,137. Scottish Government. June 2016.


    Education and qualifications

    • 2014: PhD (Primary Care & Public Health) Cardiff University
    • 2010: Masters of Research, School of Biosciences, Cardiff University
    • 2009: BSc (Microbiology), Cardiff University

    Career overview

    • 2014 - present: Centre for Trials Research at Cardiff University

    Invited speaker events and webinars

    • “Consensus on methodological opportunities for routine data and trials - COMORANT-UK” MRC-NIHR Trials Methodology Research Partnership Summer Webinar 2022. Available here: 
    • “Challenges in accessing routinely collected data from multiple providers in the UK for primary studies” Population data BC Webinar series 2019. Available here: 
    • “Routine Data in Trials” – Workshop UK Trial Managers Network 2018
    • “Routine Data” parallel session organiser, facilitator and speaker. Population Health Conference 2018
    • “Routine Data in Trials” – Invited speaker. UK Clinical Research Collaboration meeting for statisticians 2017.
    • “Routine Data Linkage” – Invited speaker. NIHR workshop for statisticians 2017

    Public and Policy Engagement activities

    • House of Commons Science and Technology Committee – Digital Government Inquiry. 2018. Oral and Written evidence.
    • Public Health Research and Science Conference 2021: Children and Young People "Implementing and evaluating a licenced intensive home visiting programme" Panel Member
    • “What’s the relationship between informing people and building trust?” Understanding Patient Data Celebration: Panellist 2018

    Recent Press coverage on research

    External Committees and Memberships

    • Evaluation of FNP in Norway Advisory group. August 2022 - Present
    • Open Research Integrity and Ethics Committee September 2021 - Present
    • Trials Methodology Research Partnership Health Informatics Strategy Group. March 2020 - Present
    • Trials Methodology Research Partnership Health Informatics Routine Data Topic Group. March 2020 - Present
    • FNP evaluation Study Steering group. May 2019 - Present
    • UKCRC Routine Data Access sub-group. Dec 2018 – May 2019


    • GW4 Crucible 2019
    • Outstanding Contribution Award in 2019 for exceptional level of contribution to the University. Cardiff University. [award £500]

    Committees and reviewing

    2017: Member of the CTR NHS Digital Working group

    2014 – present: Chair of the Routine Data | Data Linkage Forum

    2012 – 2013: School of Medicine Postgraduate Representative

    External profiles