Greyscale photo of someone with their leg in some sort of medical machinery

Centre for Health, Activity and Rehabilitation Research

Research and knowledge exchange activities that enhance people's quality of life through strategies that use nutrition, physical activity and exercise, and new technologies. Image courtesy of: John Clarke Russ, John Clarke Russ Photography, LLC

The aims of the Centre for Health, Activity and Rehabilitation Research (CHEARR) are to generate research and knowledge exchange activity that enhances:

(i) The quality of life of people living with long-term health conditions and

(ii) The nutritional and physical well-being of the general public.

Our research, conducted with partners in the healthcare, community and commercial/industrial sectors, also aims to support the development of enhanced professional practice and policy.

Our Research & Impact

The activity of the Centre for Health, Activity and Rehabilitation Research (CHEARR) is based on the research programmes of staff working in the Rehabilitation Sciences and Clinical Nutrition and Functional Food fields of study.

Both groupings conduct applied and translational research that addresses real-life issues affecting the health status and quality of life of people (including patients), the professional practice of clinicians/health and social care workers and the development of health and social care policy. A key driver of our clinically-oriented research is the use of collaborative consortia to develop, implement and evaluate outcome evaluation frameworks and interventions that acknowledge the importance of patient-led self-monitoring and, increasingly, self-management of long-term health conditions in diverse populations (e.g. people with Long-COVID and paediatric, orthopaedic, neurological, and cardio-metabolic conditions; elderly people who are frail).

Our recent research activity has been funded from a number of sources including the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR), Chief Scientist’s Office (CSO), Scottish Government, NHS Health Scotland, local NHS Trusts, and a wide range of medically-oriented charity funders (e.g. Alcohol Research Council, British Kidney Patients Association, Coeliac Society UK, La Fondation Motrice, Multiple Sclerosis Society of the UK). In addition, we continue to attract industry-funded research support, especially via the activities of our Knowledge Exchange partner, the Scottish Centre for Food Development and Innovation.

We prioritise researcher development, including support for doctoral students and contract researchers, upholding the principles within the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers.


• To provide systematic review evidence for the efficacy and effectiveness of Rehabilitation Sciences and Clinical Nutrition and Functional Food interventions targeted at vulnerable groups and/or people living with long-term health conditions;

• To develop and evaluate feasible, and contextually appropriate, outcome assessments (including self-monitoring strategies) for potential implementation in healthcare and/or community based intervention research evaluations;

• To undertake pilot research trials (e.g. phase II Randomised Controlled Trials - RCTs) to test the feasibility and acceptability of Rehabilitation Sciences and CNBS interventions;

• To develop and evaluate the effectiveness of pragmatic interventions (including self-management approaches) with both healthy populations and people living with long-term health conditions.


As impact generation is a core value of CHEARR, and central to the mission of the university, we are constantly seeking opportunities to apply and translate our research for the wider benefit of our stakeholder communities. In this regard we work closely with healthcare teams, and patient groups across the public, private and third sector to provide research-informed evidence that impacts upon the development and delivery of appropriate services to enhance quality of life. We are also increasingly extending this approach with commercial partners from the Health Technology and Food and Drink sectors to deliver impact around public-understanding of the health, social and economic benefits associated with assistive and prosthetic health technologies as well as the benefits of functional food and drink. We are involved in promoting and engaging in research-led enterprise and entrepreneurship activities that relate to the Centre objectives. Centre members are heavily engaged with student learning, both ensuring that our research is embedded in learning, and inspiring students to consider engaging in research and innovation.

We are committed to ensuring that the Research and Knowledge Exchange activity of CHEARR supports the continued generation of high levels of impact and relevance to patients,  practitioners and policy makers and particularly within healthcare environments.

Sub Themes

The Centre currently focuses on three multi-disciplinary research themes:

  • Physical activity and exercise strategies to support health and wellbeing 

Researchers within this theme primarily investigate the integration and optimisation of exercise and physical activity into routine health care and daily life. Examples include research that supports ways of supporting people with end-stage renal disease to engage in physical activity and the development of Frame Running as a Paralympic event and grassroots leisure activity. For the latter, QMU collaborated with the Cerebral Palsy International Sports and Recreation Association (CPISRA) on a Erasmus+ funded RUNFREE project aiming to raise Frame Running awareness and develop education materials to support the organisation of Frame Running events 

  • Assistive technologies and e-health 

Within this theme Centre members use assistive technologies and e-health strategies as means of enhancing participation in life. Examples include development and evaluation of interventions for foot-drop such as Functional Electrical Stimulation and novel footwear; website applications for prehabilitation purposes and to support foot health. 

  • Clinical Nutrition and Functional Food

Within this theme researchers conduct nutritional, dietary and health outcome surveillance research. They also develop and investigate the potential utility of “functional foods” and other dietary interventions for health improvement and disease risk reduction in healthy and vulnerable populations. Research within this sub-theme spans basic biological science, dietetic and public health nutrition. Examples include development and testing of a new food product to replace palm oil and anti-bacterial properties of honey. 

Postgraduate Study

CHEARR offers postgraduate research supervision expertise across our three themes of: Physical activity and exercise strategies to support health and wellbeing, Assistive technologies and e-health, and Clinical Nutrition and Functional Food. 

We welcome applications from individuals with interests in research that focuses on health, nutritional status and quality of life of people, the professional practice of health and care professionals, and the development of health and care policy. A key driver of our postgraduate research training is the use of collaborative partnerships to facilitate applied research programmes of high relevance to our key stakeholder communities (e.g. consumers, patients, industry, NHS). 

We have extensive experience of the supervision of postgraduate research and we offer research training via our MSc Clinical Research, PhD and Professional Doctorate degree routes. Initial enquiries can be made to Prof Cathy Bulley or Dr Marietta van der Linden (co-directors of CHEARR) or to individual members of the Centre who are engaged in the relevant area of research.

Useful Links:

Graduate School
Postgraduate Taught Study