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Nicola McCleary

Title: Scientist, Child Health Evaluative Sciences
Designations: PhD
Pronouns: she/her
Alternate Contact Name: Andrea Chiaramida
Alternate Email:
U of T Positions: Assistant Professor, Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation


Dr. Nicola McCleary is a Scientist in the Child Health Evaluative Sciences Program at SickKids Research Institute and an Assistant Professor in the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation at the University of Toronto. She completed her academic training in Scotland, gaining a B.Sc. in Psychology from the University of Dundee (her hometown), and both an M.Sc. in Health Services Research and PhD in Applied Health Sciences from the University of Aberdeen. Her PhD studies focused on understanding factors influencing primary care physicians’ antibiotic prescribing for upper respiratory tract infection. Following her PhD, she worked at the University of Edinburgh, the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, and the Eastern Ontario Regional Laboratory Association. In these roles, she led collaborative research projects with clinical colleagues and health system partners focused on identifying effective ways to support clinical practice change. She also previously co-led the Psychology and Health Research Group at the Ottawa Hospital.


Dr. McCleary is an Implementation Scientist, focused on identifying effective ways to support the uptake of health evidence to improve health outcomes, including implementation of evidence-based practices and de-implementation of ineffective practices. She draws on her background in psychology by framing implementation problems in relation to behaviour change.

Her work focuses on:

  • elucidating barriers to and enablers of change in healthcare contexts to guide the selection of implementation strategies
  • investigating mechanisms of action through which interventions operate to achieve intended impacts
  • exploring the cognitive processes underlying clinical practice behaviours.

The latter includes work to better understand the role of ‘automaticity’ (e.g., cognitive heuristics, habit) such that this can be better incorporated into implementation efforts. Dr. McCleary has led projects focused on a wide range of clinical topics, including improving the provision of asthma self-management support, reducing opioid prescribing in primary care and reducing over-use of laboratory test-ordering in hospital settings.

Education and experience 

  • 2021–2024: Senior Implementation Research Fellow, Eastern Ontario Regional Laboratory Association (EORLA), Ottawa, Canada
  • 2019–2021: CIHR Health System Impact Postdoctoral Fellow, Centre for Implementation Research, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Ottawa, Canada
  • 2017–2019: Postdoctoral Fellow, Centre for Implementation Research, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Ottawa, Canada
  • 2015–2017: Research Fellow, Usher Institute of Population Health Sciences and Informatics, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland
  • 2011–2015: PhD Applied Health Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, Scotland
  • 2010–2011: M.Sc. (distinction) Health Services and Public Health Research, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, Scotland
  • 2005–2009: B.Sc. (Hons.) Psychology (First Class), University of Dundee, Dundee, Scotland


  • 2021: Stan Maes Early Career Award, European Health Psychology Society
  • 2021: Meritorious Scientific Abstract Award, 16th International Congress of Behavioural Medicine
  • 2019: Award for Excellence in Postdoctoral Studies, University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine


  • 2022–2025: The Canadian Behavioural Trials and Interventions Training Platform, Co-investigator, CIHR Training Grant: Clinical Trials Training Platforms, $1,776,068
  • 2022–2025: Umbilical mesenchymal stromal cells as cellular immunotherapy for septic shock: A phase II RCT, Co-investigator, CIHR Operating Grant: Clinical Trials Projects, $439,571
  • 2022: Medication adherence following myocardial infarction: Exploring new frontiers in behavioural and implementation science, Co-Principal Investigator, CIHR Planning and Dissemination Grant, $15,000
  • 2021–2022: Using behavioural science approaches to optimize Public Health and Social Measures (PHSM) that prevent COVID-19 transmission and infection in priority populations in diverse urban settings, Co-Investigator, CIHR Operating Grant: Emerging COVID-19 Research Gaps & Priorities, $305,721
  • 2019–2021: Leveraging implementation and behavioural science to support laboratory stewardship, Principal Investigator, CIHR Health Systems Impact Postdoctoral Fellowship $155,000


  1. McCleary N, Brehaut J, Grimshaw JM, McCudden C (2024). Data-driven laboratory stewardship: an implementation science perspective. Journal of Laboratory and Precision Medicine, 9:8.
  2. McCleary N, Laur C, Presseau J, Dobell G, Lam JMC, Gushue S, Hagel K, Bevan L, Salach L, Desveaux L, Ivers N (2023). Surfacing the causal assumptions and active ingredients of healthcare quality improvement interventions: an application to primary care opioid prescribing. Implementation Research and Practice, 4:26334895231206569.
  3. McCleary N, Ivers NM, Schwalm JD, Witteman HO, Taljaard M, Desveaux L, Bouck Z, Grace SL, Grimshaw JM, Presseau J (2022). Impacts of two behaviour change interventions on determinants of medication adherence: Process evaluation applying the Health Action Process Approach and Habit Theory alongside a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 45(5), 659-673.
  4. McCleary N, Francis JJ, Campbell MK, Ramsay CR, Burton CD, Allan JL (2021). Antibiotic prescribing for respiratory tract infection: exploring drivers of cognitive effort and factors associated with inappropriate prescribing. Family Practice, 38(6), 740-750.
  5. McCleary N, Andrews A, Buelo A, Captieux M, Morrow S, Wiener-Ogilvie S, Fletcher M, Steed L, Taylor SJC, Pinnock H (2018). IMP2ART systematic review of education for healthcare professionals implementing supported self-management for asthma. npj Primary Care Respiratory Medicine, 28(1):42.

See Nicola McCleary's Google Scholar for a full list of publications.

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