Centre Co-director: Centre for Health, Activity and Rehabilitation Research


Tel: 0131 474 0000

Professor Cathy Bulley (PhD, BSc (Hons) is a Professor in the Dietetics, Nutrition & Biological Sciences, Physiotherapy, Podiatry & Radiography Division. She is also co-director of the Centre for Health, Activity and Rehabilitation Research (CHEARR).

I trained as a Physiotherapist at QMU between 1994 and 1998. On completing this I decided that my heart lay in research. I studied for my PhD between 1998 and 2002, conducting a mixed methods study that focused on young women and their behaviours, experiences, and personal meanings and feelings relating to exercise and physical activity. I worked clinically after completing my PhD but soon moved into research again through conducting a needs assessment of lymphedema services in Fife. This led me to interest in using audit, service evaluation and research to advocate for people who are living with different long-term health conditions and for the people in their lives – families and informal carers. I have worked with people living with the impacts of breast cancer and its treatment, lymphedema, stroke, multiple sclerosis and renal disease. I take a pragmatic approach and use quantitative and qualitative methodologies as appropriate to ask and answer questions from different perspectives.

Affiliations/Memberships to Other Organisations:

  • Member of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy
  • Registered with the Health and Care Professions Council

Professional Social Media:

Research/Knowledge Exchange Centre Membership:

I am co-investigator on a Trial funded by the National Institute for Health Research, leading the qualitative aspects of a pragmatic, single-blind, randomized controlled trial that looks at the ‘clinical value and cost-effectiveness of intra-dialytic exercise for the improvement of quality of life in stage 5 chronic kidney disease patients receiving maintenance haemodialysis’ - the PEDAL Trial (It is a pragmatic, single-blind, randomised controlled trial taking place at four centres and with 48 months study duration. See: nets.nihr.ac.uk/projects/hta

I am principal investigator for the ‘SNOFLAC-MS study’: Scoping the Needs Of FamiLies And Carers of people with Multiple Sclerosis. Commissioned by the Multiple Sclerosis Society, this involves a Rapid Realist Review and Evaluation methods and will result in recommendations to the MS Society about policy and service development.

I am also involved in PhD supervision, systematic review and development discussions that relate to multiple other areas of my active research interests.

Active Research Interests:

  • Needs and unmet needs of family or carers of people living with Multiple Sclerosis
  • Interventions to improve quality of life for people living with Multiple Sclerosis
  • Experiences of people who are living with renal disease and receiving haemodialysis, including experiences of an exercise intervention
  • Experiences of women who have received treatment for breast cancer, including ways of facilitating physical activity participation.
  • Ways of identifying negative effects of treatment for breast cancer (e.g. lymphoedema), and helping to reduce the risk of their development and reduce their impact on people who are living with them.
  • Facilitating physical activity participation in children and young people who are living with cerebral palsy
  • The use of social media in research and practice.

Research Methods:

  • Qualitative research methods using face-to-face, online and telephone interactions, and most frequently from pragmatic, realist or phenomenological perspectives.
  • Service evaluation studies
  • Use of social media in research

I particularly enjoy working with students who come from varied countries and cultures and have a focus on facilitating transitions into, through, and out of higher education. My primary topics of interest relate to integrating research and practice, and to the importance of engaging with individuals within their social, cultural and physical environments, during any activities relating to health care or promotion. I promote clinically-based dissertations at all levels in the physiotherapy subject area and have supported students on all programmes to publication and presentation regarding their dissertations. My lectures and seminars focus on Contextualising Physiotherapy, Physiotherapy Practice and Current and Emerging Roles in Physiotherapy, amongst other topics.