Pain Centre Versus Arthritis

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Holly Blake

Professor of Behavioural Medicine, Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences



Holly Blake is Professor of Behavioural Medicine at the University of Nottingham. She is a chartered health psychologist with research expertise in health promotion, health behaviour change, patient experiences and self-management of chronic conditions across populations and settings. She has expertise in the design, delivery and evaluation of complex interventions for health. This includes a focus on self-management for people living with long term conditions and behavioural interventions to promote self-care practices, healthy lifestyles, and uptake of health screening and health services.

She has a particular interest in workforce health and wellbeing, in particular the health and wellbeing of health and care workers. She has experience in the development, delivery and evaluation of workplace interventions for employee health and wellbeing across the public, private and third sector. Holly is currently engaged in several COVID-19 response studies looking at the impacts of the pandemic on employee health and wellbeing in the NHS, in higher education and in the private sector.

Her interest in digital innovations for healthcare and education is a common theme across her research areas. She leads studies focused on the use of technology for education, health promotion and patient self-management of chronic conditions (e.g., digital learning tools, e-Health, m-Health).

Holly holds an honorary contract with Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust where she sits on the Staff Wellbeing Strategic Board. She is a member of the Work, Health and Wellbeing Executive Group at the University of Nottingham Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (Chair: 2017-18), and the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Research Hub. She is Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society (BPS) and is affiliated to the Centre for Organizational Health and Development, NIHR Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre, Nottingham Pain Centre Versus Arthritis, and the Nottingham Centre for Healthcare Technologies.

COVID-19 Response Studies

  • Study Lead: COVID-Well study. Mixed-methods evaluation of the implementation of COVID19 Wellbeing Centres in an NHS hospital workplace setting.
  • Study Lead: Mitigating the Psychological Impacts of COVID-19 on Health and Care Workers. Digital training packaged accessed by >70,000 health and care workers globally.
  • Study Lead: PoWerS Study: Psychological Wellbeing of Healthcare Trainees. Qualitative study with participants from 13 academic institutions in the UK.
  • Study Lead: Test@Work texts. Workplace HIV testing intervention delivered by mobile phone.
  • Study Lead: Students views towards asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 testing. 3 qualitative studies with students and staff in higher education, conducted at various stages of the pandemic.
  • Study Lead: Evaluation of asymptomatic testing in university residences. Mixed-methods process evaluation of SARS-CoV-2 testing intervention with students.
  • Co-Investigator: ICON study. A national survey of the impact of COVID-19 on nurses and midwives. This is a collaboration between 7 UK institutions and the RCN Research Society.
  • Co-investigator: WOW study. Wellbeing of the Workforce During COVID-19.

Workforce Evaluations

  • Co-Investigator: Mental health and well-being practices, outcomes and productivity: A causal analysis. Longitudinal surveys and qualitative studies to explore the mechanisms through which firms' adoption of mental health and well-being (MH&W) practices can benefit productivity and productivity improvement.
  • Study Lead: IPSOS-MORI national workforce evaluation survey data evaluating the advanced clinical practitioner (ACP) role in the UK NHS (Health Education England).
  • Study Lead: Regional evaluation of the advanced clinical practitioner (ACP) role - qualitative interview study with GPs, ACPs and practice managers in primary care (Health Education England).

Workforce Interventions

  • Consortium partner. £6.8m Mental Health and Productivity Pilot (Midlands Engine)
  • Study Lead: Test@Work study. This complex programme of work involves five streams: (1) the development of a digital toolkit to guide employers on workplace health screening and HIV testing; (2) the delivery and evaluation of workplace health checks including HIV testing with construction workers in the UK; (3) the delivery of a health promotion messaging via mobile phone to employees; and (4) two qualitative interview studies with line managers and employees. This study is funded by American biotechnology research company Gilead Sciences, Inc. For further information:
  • Study Lead: WHIRL study (Workplace Health Interprofessional Learning). An IPL programme embedded within the Test@Work study, that provides opportunities for healthcare students to engage with multiple stakeholders and gain experience of health promotion activities in industry. The WHIRL study runs alongside stream 2 of the Test@Work study.
  • Study Lead: Engaging SMEs in Workplace Health Checks. These outreach activities run alongside stream 2 of the Test@Work study. Funded by an Ingenuity Small Business Engagement Award.
  • Study Lead: PAW Study (Chronic or Persistent Pain at Work). Development and evaluation of a digital toolkit to support people at work with chronic pain. Funded by STEMM-CHANGE and Sphere (development) and Nuffield Foundation (feasibility trial).
  • Co-Investigator: Managing Minds at Work. Line manager training on mental health at work.
  • Co-Investigator: PROWORK: mental health and return to work
  • Co-Investigator: SCALES (UoN PI). Alcohol prevention in Urgent and Emergency Care - digital training materials for NHS staff.

Community / Behavioural Interventions

  • Co-Investigator: Mental health and wellbeing among young women: Mapping current green social support, network building, and PPI structures to underpin an evaluative study among pregnant young women.

Current PhD students

Holly supervises doctoral students within and cross-faculty, and doctoral alumni. Her current and recent postgraduate students are undertaking PhDs in Health Informatics, Health Sciences, Applied Psychology, Public Health, Computer Sciences, Nursing and Physiotherapy. They are working on interventions for health behaviour change in the UK, Europe, Jordan, Saudi, Nigeria, Malaysia, Indonesia and China. Topic areas include workplace health, psychological wellbeing in the healthcare workforce, self-management of long-term conditions, patient experiences, health behaviour change, exercise interventions, digital innovations in healthcare and behaviour change.

  • Eda Uckun - Digital line manager training for mental health at work
  • Melyza Perdana - Nurse training (blended face-to-face / digital) for kidney disease
  • Mehmet Yildirim - Digital app for mental fitness in UK nurses
  • Maria Armaou- Digital ACT intervention for psychological wellbeing in UK nurses
  • Yasser Allehyani - Online intervention for stress management in Saudi nurses
  • Nazm Berry - Stress in UK nurses

Recent PhD graduates

  • 2022 - Dr Chinenye Uchendu - Health of nurses in Nigeria
  • 2022 - Dr Haiquan Wang - Physical activity for school children in China
  • 2022 - Dr Rana Ahmed - Digital intervention for back pain in Saudi nurses
  • 2022 - Dr Mohammed Alsahli - mHealth and type 2 diabetes in Saudi Arabia
  • 2021 - Dr Lydia Briggs - eHNA & psychological wellbeing in women with breast cancer
  • 2021 - Dr Zaki Albelbisi - Diabetes education and behaviour change in Jordan
  • 2020 - Dr Yitong Huang - Technology, smart objects and work breaks
  • 2019 - Dr Asem Abdalrahim - Technology in dementia care in Jordan
  • 2019 - Dr Anirban Banerjee - self-management and back pain
  • 2018 - Dr Suhathai Tosangwarn - stigma in care homes
  • 2018 - Dr Betsy Lai - worksite exercise intervention
  • 2017 - Dr Aisha Aishairmis - self-care and diabetes
  • 2015 - Dr Eman Alsaleh - physical activity and cardiac rehabilitation
  • 2015 - Dr Helen Quirk - physical activity and paediatric diabetes

University Roles & Committees

  • HR/Staff Wellbeing Steering Group (2022-)
  • Advisory Committee of the Connected Ward Test Bed (2022-)
  • REF Environment Co-ordinator, UoA3b - Faculty MHS & Faculty Science (2017-2021)
  • HR/People & Culture Team Staff Task & Finish Group - Engagement: Roles and Responsibilities (2019)
  • HR/People & Culture Team Task and Finish Group - Work and Wellbeing (2018-19)
  • Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Research Hub Steering Group (2018-current)
  • Senate, Elected Member (2014-2017)
  • APPLE Programme - Facilitator for Work, Health and Wellbeing (2012-2017).

Faculty Roles & Committees

  • Deputy Theme Lead, Physical Health and Mental Health Multimorbidity: Midlands Mental Health and Neurosciences PhD Programme for Healthcare Professionals (2022-)
  • Chair; Work Health and Wellbeing Executive Group, Faculty MHS (2017-18)
  • Member: Work Health and Wellbeing Executive Group, Faculty MHS (2017-)
  • Member: Faculty MHS Equality & Diversity Group (2018)
  • NIHR Nottingham Biomedical Research Group Strategy Board (2018-2019)
  • Postgraduate Research Directors Group, Faculty MHS (2016-19)
  • Centre for Doctoral Training in Rehabilitation and Healthcare Research Management Board (2016-19)

School Roles & Committees

  • Professional Lead - Associated Professions (2021-current)
  • People Strategy Board (2021-current)
  • School Management Board (2019-2021)
  • Research Strategy Board (2016-2021)
  • Director of Postgraduate Research and Environment (2016-2019)
  • Research Operations Committee (2016-2019)
  • Deputy School Research Ethics Officer (2015-2017)
  • Chair, Work, Health and Wellbeing Committee (2012-2017)

External Roles & Committees

  • NUH Trust Staff Wellbeing Steering Group (2018-current)
  • Carnegie PhD Advisor (reviewer panel) (2018-current)
  • Consultations Advisor for UKSBM (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 UKSBMASM (2014-15)
  • ASC Qualifications Mentor (2014-current)
  • NUH Trust Q-active Management Group (2005-2010)
  • NUH Trust Compassion in Care Advisory Board Member (employee wellbeing remit) (2014-2015)

Selected Awards/Recognition

  • 2020 - Lord Dearing Award for Excellence in Teaching and Learning
  • 2016 & 2019 UoN selected nominee for Times Higher Education (THE) Outstanding Research Supervisor
  • 2017 Workplace Health Champion (Nottinghamshire)
  • 2016 SHS Silver Award for Workplace Health and Wellbeing (Nottinghamshire)
  • 2015 Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA)
  • 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.

Teaching Summary

Doctoral supervision (PhD Health Sciences, PhD Applied Psychology, PhD Epidemiology and Public Health, PhD Computer Sciences, PhD Physiotherapy, PhD Nursing) Masters supervision (Graduate Entry… read more

Research Summary

Behavioural interventions; Digital health (e-health, m-health, online education); Workforce; Workplace health and wellbeing; Occupational health - health screening and health testing; Public health;… read more

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
  • Doctoral supervision (PhD Health Sciences, PhD Applied Psychology, PhD Epidemiology and Public Health, PhD Computer Sciences, PhD Physiotherapy, PhD Nursing)
  • Masters supervision (Graduate Entry Nursing; MSc Advanced Nursing Practice; MSc Quality and Patient Safety Improvement; MSc Health Psychology)
  • LINK Research Supervision (BMedSci, Graduate Entry Medicine)
  • Foundation Programme - course lead for Health Psychology.
  • NURS4174: The Principles and Methods of EBP in Health and Social Care (research)
  • NURS4073: Evidence for Health and Social Care (research)
  • NURS4172: Dimensions of Advanced Nursing (Workplace Health in the NHS).
  • NURS4093 - NURS3040: Pain Management (Psychology and Pain)
  • MSc Quality and Patient Safety Improvement (Quantitative Research for Healthcare)
  • BSc Sport Rehabilitation and Exercise Science (Psychology and Sport)
  • BSc Physiotherapy (Psychology and Pain)
  • MA Research Methods (Health Pathway - Research Ethics)
  • Course Leader/Trainer for RSPH Level 2 Award in Understanding Health Improvement
  • 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)

Current Research

Behavioural interventions; Digital health (e-health, m-health, online education); Workforce; Workplace health and wellbeing; Occupational health - health screening and health testing; Public health; Health promotion; Mental health; COVID-19; Self-management of chronic conditions; Psychosocial outcomes; Mixed-methods; Participatory design, Trials; Process evaluation

Pain Centre Versus Arthritis

Clinical Sciences Building
City Hospital
Nottingham, NG5 1PB

telephone: +44 (0) 115 823 1766 ext 31766
fax: +44 (0) 115 823 1757