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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,

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PPI Advice Clinic


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Searching and Review Clinic

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October 2020 Newsletter

08 October 2020

Our latest newsletter, with news of our continued COVID-related activities, the launch of our new...
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Mental Health Facility at Torbay Hospital begins construction

06 October 2020

The construction of a new £11.8 million Mental Health facility, supported by research undertaken as...
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Research Projects

Remote-by-Default Care in the COVID-19 Pandemic

Theme: ARC - Public Health

A research project to investigate how to ensure the delivery of effective care accessed remotely...
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Digital Health Resources for Clinicians and Researchers

Theme: ARC - Methods for Research & Improvement

An introduction to literature and resources on digital health for researchers and clinicians in response...
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Research Projects