Professor Sarah Hewlett

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About me

I qualified as a nurse at St Bartholomew's Hospital in London (1975) , and my clinical career included 5 years as senior sister running a high dependency neurosurgical unit. After becoming a clinical researcher in arthritis, I undertook an MA in Health Care Ethics, examining the ethics of informed consent to research (University of Wales, 1994).  My PhD is in measuring the impact of disability in rheumatoid arthritis, as opposed to level of disability (University of Bristol, 2000). I was made a Fellow of the Royal College of Nursing in 2011, in recognition of my nursing research, particularly into rheumatoid arthritis fatigue. As Arthritis Research UK Professor of Rheumatology Nursing, I now combine research, teaching and clinical care in my post at UWE, which is a rewarding and exciting combination. I have a clinical practice that offers psychological support to people with rheumatoid arthritis.

Area of expertise

My research team and I have extensive research expertise in rheumatoid arthritis (RA), centred around the patient perspective. We have an international reputation around RA fatigue, and have published qualitative studies on the nature of fatigue (see publication list, 2005), a conceptual model (2010) and an RCT of cognitive behavioural therapy for fatigue (2011). We developed and validated the Bristol RA Fatigue scales (2010), which have been translated into 36 languages. These are freely available for use and can be accessed via BRAF fatigue scales

We are running a 7 centre RCT of clinical rheumatology teams delivering a CB approach intervention for RA fatigue.

We have expertise in research into psychological needs and support for rheumatology patients, including the use of CB approaches by staff, and understanding illness perceptions, beliefs about flares of arthritis and their self-management. We are currently looking at access to foot care, physical activity programmes, and understanding the symptom of stiffness.

Our team comprises PhD students, research associates and postdoctoral fellows from a range of disciplines (nursing, podiatry, physiotherapy, psychology). Our post-doctoral Fellows are exploring the use of cognitive behavioural skills by clinical teams in rheumatology (Dr Emma Dures), the experiences of men with arthritis (Dr Caroline Flurey) and nurse-led care (Dr Mwidimi Ndosi). Associate Professor Jo Robson is a clinical academic rheumatologist working on patient-reported outcomes in rare rheumatic diseases. We receive research funding from a wide range of funders including MRC, Leverhulme, NIHR, RfPB, HTA and Arthritis Research UK. We collaborate internationally with researchers in the USA, Canada, Netherlands, Spain, Germany, Sweden and France.

Our UWE research team is based at the Academic Rheumatology Unit at the Bristol Royal Infirmary, where we work closely with colleagues from the Trust and the University of Bristol, and our patient research partners.


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