School of Health Sciences
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Holly Blake

Associate Professor of Behavioural Science, Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences



Holly is a Chartered Health Psychologist and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society (BPS). She is Associate Professor of Behavioural Science and the Director of Postgraduate Research at the University of Nottingham School of Health Sciences. She is affiliated to the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre, the Arthritis UK (ARUK) Pain Centre, and the Nottingham Centre for Healthcare Technologies.

She has research interests in:

  • workplace health and wellbeing
  • health behaviour change - across populations (adults, children, long-term conditions) and settings (workplaces, hospitals, community).

Her research involves the development, delivery and evaluation of workplace interventions for health and wellbeing (in particular the NHS workforce, but across public, private and third sector), interventions to support self-management of long-term conditions (e.g. rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, long-term pain, diabetes, CHD), investigations relating to patient involvement in care, technology-based health communications (e.g. online learning tools, digital interventions: website, email and mobile phone messaging), and behavioural interventions to promote physical activity, self-care practices and uptake of health services.

University Roles & Committees

  • REF Environment Co-ordinator, UoA3 - Faculty MHS & Faculty Science (2017-current)
  • HR/People & Culture Team Work and Wellbeing Task and Finish Group (2018-current)
  • Senate, Elected Member (2014-2017)
  • APPLE Programme - Facilitator for Work, Health and Wellbeing (2012-2017).

Faculty Roles & Committees

  • Chair; Work Health and Wellbeing Executive Group, Faculty MHS (2017-current)
  • NIHR Nottingham Biomedical Research Group Strategy Board (2018-current)
  • Postgraduate Research Directors Group, Faculty MHS (2016-current)

School Roles & Committees

  • Director of Postgraduate Research (2016-current)
  • Research Strategy Board (2016-current)
  • Research Operations Committee (2016-current)
  • Deputy School Ethics Officer (2015-2017)
  • Chair of Work, Health and Wellbeing Committee (2012-2017)

External Roles & Committees

  • NUH Trust Health and Wellbeing Steering Group (2018-current)
  • Trustee of the UK Society for Behavioural Medicine (UKSBM) (2013-2017)
  • Executive Board Member of UKSBM - Conference and Liaison Officer (2015-2017)
  • Chair of Scientific LOC for UKSBM ASM (2014)
  • ASC Qualifications Mentor (2014-current)
  • NUH Trust Compassion in Care Advisory Board Member (employee wellbeing remit) (2014-2015)
  • NUH Q-active Management Group (2005-2010)


  • 2017 Workplace Health Champion (Nottinghamshire)
  • 2016 SHS Silver Award for Workplace Health and Wellbeing (Nottinghamshire)
  • 2015 Lord Dearing Award for Excellence in Teaching and Learning
  • 2015 SHS Bronze Award for Workplace Health and Wellbeing (Nottinghamshire)
  • 2013 Vice-Chancellor's Achievement Award for sustained and substantial contribution to employee health and wellbeing in the NHS and University of Nottingham.
  • Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA)

Expertise Summary

Main areas of interest

  • Workplace interventions for health (public and private sector - physical activity, diet, stress, occupational health screening)
  • Health and Wellbeing of NHS employees
  • NHS staff as role models for health
  • Health behaviour change interventions
  • Uptake of, and barriers to, health screening
  • Technology for health behaviour change (e.g. mobile, online & multimedia interventions)
  • Self-care and management of long-term conditions (e.g. arthritis pain, diabetes, coronary heart disease)
  • Psychological aspects of long-term conditions
  • Public health dentistry - oral health behaviour in children and adults, diagnostic screening
  • Promoting health behaviour in people with long-term conditions (e.g. physical activity, diet)

Policy Contributions

2008; 2013; 2014; 2016; 2017 National Institute for Health and Clinical Effectiveness (NICE) Guidelines

Teaching Summary

Teaching Development

  • Lead for Evidence-Based Practice and Research Methods (Year 2 GNC)
  • Lead for Year 2 GNC Quantitative Methods & Statistics
  • Co-Lead for GNC Health Promotion (Year 1-2)
  • Quantitative Champion for dissertation pathways (MNurSci/BSc)

Teaching Activities

  • Doctoral supervision
  • Masters supervision (Masters in Nursing Science, Masters in Advanced Nursing Practice, MSc Health Psychology; Graduate Entry Nursing; Masters in Research Methods - Health Pathway)
  • Course Leader/Trainer for RSPH Level 2 Award in Understanding Health Improvement
  • Module Co-Lead B93583: Physical Activity and Health - (BSc Physiotherapy, Year 3, Sem 2)
  • Graduate New Curriculum: Unit A Personal and Professional Effectiveness (EBP & Research Methods)
  • Graduate New Curriculum: Unit C Person-Centred Nursing Care (Health Promotion/Public Health)
  • MNurSci: Research Methods for Dissertation (year 3 & 4)
  • BSc Sport Rehabilitation and Exercise Science (Psychology and Sport)
  • BSc Physiotherapy (Physical activity and health/workplace health)
  • MA Research Methods (Health Pathway - Research Ethics)
  • Learning Beyond Registration
  • Post Graduate Certificate in Psychological Therapies
  • Doctoral Training Centre: B74EIS Evaluating Interventions, Services and Policy in Health and Social Care. Unit 4 Experimental Evaluation (MSc PEoL, MSc or Postgraduate Diploma in Advanced Nursing)
  • University Professional Development : APPLE programme
  • Faculty/NHS/University Professional Development E-learning
  • Workplace Wellness Professional Development Training
  • Health Psychology/Forensic Psychology Stage 2 Trainees
  • Mentoring and Interns (local, national & international)
  • Academic Text Peer review (Palgrave, Sage)

Research Summary

2016-7 Active funded studies

PI: ESRC Impact Acceleration Account, 2017. 'Implementation of a workplace HIV testing programme: development of a toolkit for employers'. (Blake, Evans, Hand, Rowlands, Juma et al).

PI: ESRC Impact Acceleration Account, 2016. Implementation of an online intervention to promote health and wellbeing in NHS nurses. (Blake, Knowles).

PI: National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Research for Patient Benefit Programme, 2016. SKIP Study (Supporting Kids with diabetes In Physical activity): Feasibility of an online intervention to promote physical activity in children with type 1 diabetes. (Blake, Glazebrook, Leighton, Guo, Greening, Randell).

CI: Public Health England: HIV Prevention Innovation Fund, 2016. HIV and Health at Work - the M1 corridor distribution project. (PI/CI: Hand, Juma, Rowlands et al; Evaluators: Evans, Blake)

PI: Nottingham Hospitals Charity, 2015. Development and evaluation of a prototype for an online multimedia intervention to promote physical activity in children with type 1 diabetes (Blake, Glazebrook, Randell).

PI: NIHR Research Capability Funds (RfPB) 2014-15. SKIP study: Supporting Kids with diabetes In Physical activity: technology-based intervention. (Blake, Glazebrook, Randell et al)

PI: Arthritis Research UK Pain Centre, 2014-15. Feasibility of a text-messaging intervention to promote physical activity in knee osteoarthritis. (Blake et al).

PI: Burdett Trust for Nursing, 2015. Workplace health and wellbeing: Online intervention to promote health and wellbeing in NHS nurses. (Blake, Gartshore, Cooper, Knowles)

CI: NIHR Research Capability Funds (PGfAHR), 2014-15. An online intervention to improve self-efficacy and sustain behaviour changes about exercise to improve mental health and wellbeing of young vulnerable people. (Callaghan, Michail, Blake et al).

CI: NIHR Research Capability Funds, 2013. Going beyond awareness raising: a mobile phone SMS-based intervention to encourage uptake of HIV testing amongst African communities in Nottingham, 2013. (Evans, Blake, Suggs)

CI: Nottingham Hospitals Charity, 2013. Patient engagement and complex treatment decisions in RA-what do patients need to know and how do we tell them? (Gaywood, Blake, Leighton, Pande)

Current PhD students

Holly supervises doctoral students within and cross-faculty, and doctoral alumni. Her current and recent postgraduate students are undertaking interventions for health behaviour change in the UK, Europe, Jordan, Nigeria, Malaysia and China.

Topic areas include self-management of long term conditions, patient experiences, health behaviour change, exercise interventions, workplace health, digital innovations in healthcare and behaviour change, health of healthcare professionals.

  • Zaki Albelbisi - diabetes education and behaviour change (Blake/Windle)
  • Anirban Banerjee - self-management and back pain (Blake/Hendrick)
  • Lydia Briggs - eHNA and breast cancer (Blake/Corner/Bailey/Cooper)
  • Yitong Huang - technology and work breaks (Blake/Benford)
  • Haiquan Wang - physical activity in schools (Blake/Chattopadhyay)
  • Chinenye Uchendu - health of nurses (Blake/Windle)
  • Asem Abdalrahim - technology in dementia care (Blake/Clissett).

Recent PhD graduates

  • 2018 - Dr Suhathai Tosangwarn - stigma in care homes (Blake/Clissett)
  • 2018 - Dr Betsy Lai - worksite exercise intervention (Griffiths/Blake)
  • 2017 - Dr Aisha Aishairmis - self-care and diabetes (Adams/Blake)
  • 2015 - Dr Eman Alsaleh - physical activity and cardiac rehabilitation (Blake/Windle)
  • 2015 - Dr Helen Quirk - physical activity and paediatric diabetes (Blake/Glazebrook)

Research Activities

  • Data Monitoring and Ethics Committee (DMEC) for the H.E.A.L.T.H Study 'Pragmatic RCT of exercise with young people diagnosed with anxiety and depression'. NIHR Research for Patient Benefit Programme (Callaghan et al).
  • Journal Editorial responsibilities, journal peer review
  • Funding peer review (NIHR Programme Grants for Applied Research, NIHR Research for Patient Benefit, Health Research Board)

Recent Publications

  • Director of 'Enhance' Health & Well-Being Programme, University of Nottingham
  • NUH-Health and Wellbeing Research & Evaluation Manager, NUH Trust
  • Division of Nursing Environmental Champion (Nottingham)
  • Member of Community Themed Audit Team
  • Member of SNMP Public Health Group/newsletter editor
  • Member of SNMP Public Health Strategy Group
  • Member of Education and Technology for Health Research Group
  • Member of Child, Maternal and Public Health Research Group

Professional Activities

  • Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society (BPS)
  • Member of the BPS Division of Health Psychology

Past Research

  • Physical activity intervention in people with long-term conditions (e.g. brain injury)
  • Secondary analysis of allied dunbar national fitness survey data
  • Cancer epidemiology (brain tumour, breast cancer, cervical cancer, bowel cancer)
  • Lifestyle intervention in osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis (e.g. exercise, weight loss)
  • Teenage pregnancy
  • Alcohol consumption & binge drinking
  • Secondary analysis of birth cohort data
  • Dr-Patient communication
  • Stroke Rehabilitation (caregiver strain, cognitive assessment, cognitive function)

School of Health Sciences

B Floor, South Block Link
Queen's Medical Centre
Nottingham, NG7 2HA

telephone: +44 (0)115 95 15559