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Staff Profile

Dr Sarah Brand

Senior Research Fellow in Implementation Science

Kath Maguire

Broadly, my research asks: How can we produce the kind of knowledge that decision makers at all levels of health and social care policy and practice need to make interventions work better for local populations? 

I approach this question using mixed methods realist approaches to develop and evaluate complex health and social care interventions. My main interest is using realist approaches to co-produce programme theory with the users and delivers of health and social services to understand how services/interventions work, for whom, and under which circumstances. This provides rich evidence to help make our health and social care systems work better for the people who use and deliver them. I have a particular interest in the use of realist and rapid realist approaches in formative and process evaluation to inform implementation.

I am a Senior Research Fellow in Implementation Science in PenARC ( I apply realist approaches to implementation research to understand and articulate how interventions interact with setting. In collaboration with colleagues across PenARC I use this information to create more successful implementation of interventions in health and social care in the South West. My goal is to impact policy and practice in health and social care. I engage with a policy and practice audience to support implementation of innovations in practice both directly through my research, and through practice-focused reports, journal articles, workshops, and talks.

In my previous role I was a member of the Children’s Social Care Research and Development Centre (CASCADE) programme management team as research partner for the What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care. I led a programme of realist research within CASCADE to meaningfully and rapidly summarise evidence for decision makers in Children’s Social Care to help them to safely reduce the number of children in care.

Research projects


I am Chief Investigator on a new HCRW funded project to build on existing realist reviews and test underlying theory about how social prescribing with time credits can improve mental health and wellbeing.

  • Realist Evaluation of Social PrEsCribing and Time credits:

Safely reducing the number of children in care

Shared decision making meetings between parents and health and social services

  • Rapid realist review
  • Rapid realist evaluation of implementation of a practice change in three Local Authorities informed by our rapid realist review (underway)


ENGAGER aims to coordinate health and social care around the needs of young men leaving prison who have common mental health problems.

Realist formative process evaluation


Healthy workplaces




Email me

Contact by phone
+44(0)1392 722403

Employed by
University of Exeter, PenARC

Areas of expertise
Implementation research, Realist evaluation, formative evaluation, process evaluation, realist review, rapid realist approaches,

Upcoming Events


Searching and Review Clinic

Online appointments via Microsoft Teams

COVID-19 update: Following advice issued to all University of Exeter staff on Monday 16th March to work...
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PPI Advice Clinic - POSTPONED

South Cloisters, St Luke's Campus, University of Exeter

Patient and Public Involvement Advice Clinics Held every month 30 minutes between 12pm-1pm Whatever your query, from finding...
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Understanding research priorities for young people with long term health conditions

10 March 2020

A collaboration between researchers has resulted in a clearer understanding of how to address the...
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PenARC welcomes new PhD students

18 February 2020

Our PhD studentships are linked to PenARC project and priority areas and are an important...
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Groundbreaking role for operational research in NHS decision-making

12 February 2020

A pioneering collaboration between PenARC and University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust (UHP) has led to...
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Research Projects

Understanding research priorities for young people with long term health conditions

Theme: ARC - Complex Care

A project to identify and describe, through patient and public involvement activities, the research needs of...
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Getting Up Following a Fall

Theme: ARC - Complex Care

Although there is evidence that falls can be prevented, little attention has been paid to...
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Research Projects