Professor Gretl McHugh

Professor Gretl McHugh


I joined the University of Leeds in April 2015 as Chair in Applied Health Research. I was the Faculty of Medicine & Health (FMH) UoA 3 Lead for REF 2021. Previously I was the FMH lead for Post-Doctoral Career Development (July 2015-2018) and established the FMH Post-Doctoral Academy to support post-docs with their career development. My background is in community nursing and I worked as a Health Visitor for several years before moving into research. I am a health services researcher and my research focus has been in primary and community care.

I have held NIHR Doctoral and Post-Doctoral Fellowship Awards and a Stepping Stone Fellowship from the University of Manchester, which enabled research into osteoarthritis and outcomes following joint replacement.

Previously, I worked at the University of Manchester as a Senior Research Fellow and then Senior Lecturer in the School of Nursing, Midwifery & Social Work. I also held a joint appointment with the School and a Community NHS Trust to develop research capacity among community nurses and I maintain an active interest in community nursing developments and health visiting practice. I have co-edited the 4th edition of the textbook 'Health Visiting: a preparation for practice', published in 2017.

I am deputy chair of one of the NIHR Doctoral Awards Panel. I Co-Chair  the Versus Arthritis Fellowship Expert Committee.  I became a Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI) Fellow in 2012 in recognition of my research in community nursing and primary care. I was the Review’s Editor for the journal Health and Social Care in the Community until 2021.


  • Faculty of Medicine & Health UoA 3 Lead for REF 2021

Research interests

My research is focused upon improving quality of care and services for patients with musculoskeletal conditions. My current projects include:

  • Remote osteoarthritis peer-mentorship for socioeconomically underserved people, funded by Nuffield Foundation and Versus Arthritis.
  • Development and evaluation of the Digital-My Arm Pain Programme (D-MAPP) for improving painful distal upper limb musculoskeletal disorders funded by NIHR PGfAR
  • Evaluation and implementation of electronic-rehabilitation programmes for chronic knee pain in the UK, funded by Versus Arthritis

I supported two HEE/NIHR Research Fellows as a supervisor. These projects included:

  • Development and process evluation of a pre-operative education and prehabilitation digital intervention for patients awaiting total knee replacement: a Virtual Knee School ( Dr Anna Anderson)
  • An exploratory study to advance self-care support by dieticians in the routine care of children with cystic fibrosis (Dr Laurie Cave)

My completed projects include:  an NIHR RfPB grant to develop Peer Mentorship to support Individuals with Osteoarthritis to self-management their condition (aMIgO study). I was  a co-applicant on a Versus Arthritis Health Services Research funded study to develop a standardised approach to virtual clinic follow-up following total joint replacement.

Other projects have included: investigating older people with musculoskeletal conditions; outcomes from hip and knee replacements due to osteoarthritis; nurse prescribing; new ways of delivering community services; pain management; and continuing care after cancer treatment. I completed a NIHR CLAHRC project for Greater Manchester which was an evidence base review of educational materials for carers who care for individuals with long-term conditions. I have also recently completed work on social prescribing to support individuals with osteoarthritis.

I have methodological experience of surveys (cross sectional and longitudinal); intervention development (both complex and digital); feasibility studies, trials, mixed methods studies, qualitative research and systematic reviews.


  • PhD
  • MSc (Public Health)
  • B.Nurs (Hons)
  • RN
  • SCPHN (HV)

Professional memberships

  • NMC

Student education

My teaching experience includes curriculum development and teaching of undergraduate units in epidemiology and public health and dissertation; and post-graduate units in critical appraisal and evidence synthesis; research design and long-term conditions. 

I supervise at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

Research groups and institutes

  • Long-term conditions

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>