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Caroline Watkins

Prof. Caroline Watkins

Professor of Stroke and Older People’s Care; College of Health and Wellbeing Director of Research and Innovation

College of Health and Wellbeing

Brook Building, BB419

+44 (0) 1772 89 5542

Caroline is the only nursing professor of stroke care in the UK. Caroline leads the internationally renowned Clinical Practice Research Unit (CPRU) for stroke research , is Director of Lancashire Clinical Trials Unit (Lancashire CTU), and Director of Capacity Building and Implementation for NIHR Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care North West Coast (NIHR CLAHRC NWC).

Caroline is also the Director of Research and Innovation for College of Health and Wellbeing. She has established Research Support Team (RST) and Health Research Methodology and Implementation Hub (HeRMI) to improve former School of Health, now College of Health and Wellbeing capacity and capability for research, as well as providing a mechanism for developing researchers.

Full Profile

Caroline plays an active role in service developments, implementing research evidence into practice, through extensive engagement with planners and policy makers. Her team’s research work is incorporated into the National Clinical Guideline for Stroke (2012), the Joint Royal College Ambulance Liaison Committees Guidelines, the National Stroke Strategy (2007) and has informed the development, led by Caroline, of the Stroke-Specific Education Framework and the UK Stroke Forum’s focus on Education and Training. The newly established NIHR CLAHRC NWC requires the effective engagement of key partners in developing a research agenda aimed at reducing health inequalities through implementation research.

Caroline has been chosen as a Senior Investigator for the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

Caroline is in her third year as a member of the NIHR Commissioning Board for the Health Technology Assessment (HTA) where she contributes significant research and clinical expertise.

Caroline’s advanced leadership skills are evidenced by the formation of robust collaborative links locally, nationally, and internationally, which is being enhanced by the strategic development of Lancashire CTU.

Caroline was awarded Fellow of the European Stroke Organisation for her contribution to stroke care and research, and her commitment to developing researchers. She was also Distinguished Visiting Research Fellow (DVRF) at Australian Catholic University (ACU), Sydney, Australia in 2012, and has since been awarded Professorial Fellow in Stroke Care at ACU.

In 2016 Caroline was recognised by the Stroke Association with a Special Recognition Life After Stroke Award for her contribution to improving the lives of stroke survivors through better stroke care and research. For more information read more.


  • PhD, University of Liverpool, Thesis title: The Effects of Patient's Expectations on the Rehabilitation Process, 1990-1999
  • BA (Hons), Psychology, Class 2:1 & Wandecza Dubicki Prize for Research, 1986-1990
  • State Registered Nurse, South Sefton Health Authority, 1977-1980
  • Certificate in Social Care, 1988-1989
  • Further Education Teaching Certificate, 1985-1986


Refereed Publications

Matuszewski BJ, Quan W, Shark L-K, McLoughlin AS, Lightbody CE, Emsley H, Watkins CL. Hi4D-ADSIP 3D Dynamic Facial Articulation Database. Image and Vision Computing. (in press).

Jones SP, Carter B, Ford GA, Gibson GME, Leathley MJ, McAdam JJ, O'Donnell M, Punekar S, Quinn T, Watkins CL on behalf of the ESCORTT group. The identification of acute stroke: An analysis of emergency calls. International Journal of Stroke. (in press).

Gibson JME, Watkins CL. The use of formal and informal knowledge sources in patients’ treatment decisions in secondary stroke prevention: qualitative study. Health Expectations. (on-line publication 8 September 2011). (in press).

Jones S, Leathley M, Watkins C, et al. Recognising Stroke and TIA - The Role of Primary Care. British Journal of Primary Care Nursing. (in press).

More publications


Current Projects

Aiding atrial fibrillation detection in Primary Care. North West Coast Academic Health Science Network (NWC AHSN). 2015.

Psychoeducational intervention for people after a Transient Ischaemic Attack and minor stroke. The Stroke Association Postdoctoral Fellowship. 2015.

REVUS – Reducing Variation in health professional Undergraduate programmes on Stroke through collaborative research and development. Health Education North West. 2015.

Improving Cardiac Arrest Recognition and Effectiveness (ICARE). Department of Health. 2015.

Accelerating Delivery of Psychological Therapies after Stroke (ADOPTS). NIHR CLAHRC NWC. Improving Mental Health NWC Theme. 2014.

OPTIMUS. Optimization of Stroke Care. SRP-grower 2013 (Vrije Universiteit Brussels). 2014.

Exploring Models of Stroke Care: Implementation, costs, and benefits. NHS England. Cheshire and Merseyside Strategic Clinical Networks. 2014.

A feasibility study for a randomised controlled trial of transcutaneous posterior tibial nerve stimulation to alleviate stroke-related urinary incontinence (TREAT-UI: TPTNS for REhabilitation And Treatment of Urinary Incontinence). The Stroke Association. 2014.

Training Fellowships for GP Trainees. East Lancashire CCG. 2014.

ACU International Stroke Research Collaborative: ACU-ISReC. Australian Catholic University (ACU). 2013.

AVERT: A Very Early Rehabilitation Trial – Trial Management support. University of Glasgow. 2013.

Clinical Academic Internships. Health Education England (HEE). 2013-2015.

Head Position in acute Stroke Trial (HeadPoST). National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). 2013.

Improving Mental Health Theme. Public and Stakeholder Engagement, Knowledge Exchange and Implementation Theme. NIHR Collaborations for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRCs). 2013.

NETSMART jr. (Stroke Workforce Development Project extension). Cheshire and Merseyside Cardiac and Stroke Network. 2013.

Living Well Project: Early Palliative care and MI for persons with HIV/AIDS. US National Institute of Health (NIH). 2012.

FRESH - Facilitating Return to work through Early Specialist Health-based interventions. NIHR HTA. 2012.

The development of a feasible structured upper limb exercise programme in UK stroke rehabilitation units. NIHR Career Development Fellowship. 2012.

Recently Completed Projects

The impact of educational interventions for health care professionals on stroke patient care: an integrative review. The Stroke Association. 2013.

Medication adherence post-stroke: exploring patients’, carers’, and stroke unit nurses’ perspectives of potential problems early after discharge. The General Nursing Council for England and Wales Trust. 2012.

Motivational Interviewing – Chester case study. Northern Stroke Research Fund. 2012.

Testing the effects of Early Supported Discharge training on staff knowledge and skills. Wessex HIEC. 2012.

NIHR Research Methods Fellowship and Internship. NIHR. 2011.

Stroke Workforce Development Project. Cheshire and Merseyside Cardiac and Stroke Network. 2011.

Development and feasibility evaluation of a repetitive functional task practice (RFTP) programme for upper limb recovery early after stroke. The Stroke Association. 2011.

Lancashire Initiative for Nursing and Caring research in Stroke (LINCS). Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust Flexibility and Sustainability Funds. 2010-2011.

Health, Innovation and Education Cluster (HIEC) Stroke Theme. NHS North Lancashire. 2010-2011.

ASTUTE: Acute Stroke Telemedicine: Utility, Training and Evaluation. NIHR RfPB. 2010.

NIHR Senior Investigator Award. NIHR. 2009.

A cluster randomised controlled trial of an occupational therapy intervention for residents with stroke living in UK care-homes. NIHR HTA. 2009.

Technology in Radiotherapy Feasibility Studies (TeRaFS). Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). 2009.

Facilitating stroke specific education and training: exploring needs and implementation. Department of Health. 2009.

Implementing stroke specific education framework: developing and evaluating a toolkit. Department of Health. 2009.

Building the capacity of stroke services to deliver best practice. Clinical Leadership Programme for Stroke Service Managers. Department of Health. 2009.

ICONS: Identifying Continence OptioNs after Stroke. NIHR. 2008.

Mapping Vocational Rehabilitation Services for People with Long Term Neurological Conditions. NIHR Research Initiative for Long Term Neurological Conditions. 2008.

Assessing the effectiveness of Communication Therapy in the North West (ACTNoW) study. NIHR HTA. 2003-2008.

Emergency Stroke Calls: Obtaining Rapid Telephone Triage (ESCORTT). NIHR. 2007.

Research Activities

  • Acute stroke
  • Anxiety after stroke
  • Aphasia
  • Capacity building and implementation
  • Clinical academic internships
  • Clinical and academic leadership
  • Clinical trials
  • Communication therapy
  • Complex interventions
  • Continence and incontinence (after stroke)
  • Depression
  • Dressing rehabilitation
  • Dysphagia
  • Exercise after stroke
  • Functional recovery
  • Head positioning in acute stroke
  • Health innovation and education
  • Health research methodology and implementation
  • Identification of needs/unmet needs
  • Involvement of users and carers in organisation and delivery of stroke care
  • Medication adherence post stroke
  • Motivational interviewing
  • Neurological assessment of stroke patients
  • Nursing care
  • Occupational therapy
  • Older people’s care
  • Organisation and delivery of therapy services
  • Psychological adjustment
  • Psychological and neurological problems after stroke
  • Public awareness
  • Quality of stroke care
  • Rapid emergency stroke pathways
  • Rehabilitation
  • Repetitive functional task practice
  • Service development and implementation
  • Spasticity in stroke
  • Stroke
  • Stroke assessment and management
  • Stroke education
  • Stroke information for South Asian community groups
  • Stroke prevention and management
  • Stroke service development
  • Stroke-Specific Education Framework (SSEF)
  • Stroke strategy implementation
  • Stroke workforce development, education and training
  • Swallowing
  • Systematic review
  • Telemedicine
  • Telestroke systems
  • Thrombolysis in acute stroke
  • Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA)
  • Upper limb exercise
  • Vocational rehabilitation

External Activities

Positions of Responsibility

  • Director of Capacity Building and Implementation, NIHR Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care North West Coast (NIHR CLAHRC NWC), 2014-to date
  • Professorial Fellow in Stroke Care, Faculty of Health Sciences, Australian Catholic University, Australia, 2014-to date
  • Education and Training (E&T) Lead and Member, UK Stroke Forum (UKSF) Steering Group, 2014-to date
  • NSNF Representative and Member, UKSF Steering Group, 2014-to date
  • E&T Lead, UKSF Scientific Conference Programme and Education Committee, 2014-to date
  • SSEF Consultant, UKSF E&T Consultation Group, 2014-to date
  • REF Sub-Panel Member for Sub-Panel 3: Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy, 2014-to date
  • Chair, OPSYRIS, 2014-to date


  • Reviewer, National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)
  • Reviewer, NIHR Health Technology Assessment (HTA)
  • Reviewer, The Stroke Association (TSA)
  • Reviewer, Medical Research Council (MRC)
  • Reviewer, BMJ Open
  • Reviewer, International Journal of Stroke
  • Reviewer, Age and Ageing
  • Reviewer, Australasian Journal on Ageing
  • Reviewer, British Journal of Neuroscience Nursing
  • Reviewer, Journal of Advanced Nursing
  • Reviewer, Aphasiology
  • Member of Editorial Board, Oxford University Press
  • Member of Editorial Board, Wiley-Blackwell


  • UK Stroke Forum (UKSF) Conference
  • Northern Ireland Multidisciplinary Association for Stroke Teams (NIMAST)/UKSF Conference
  • European Stroke Organisation (ESO) Conference
  • AHA International Stroke Conference (ISC)
  • Stroke Conference
  • Health Services Research Network (HSRN) Annual Symposium
  • Organisation for Psychological Research into Stroke (OPSYRIS) Conference
  • Welsh Stroke Conference
  • World Stroke Day
  • International Conference on Motivational Interviewing (ICMI)
  • Clinical Trials Methodology Conference
  • Society for Research in Rehabilitation (SRR) Meetings
  • Stroke Research Network (SRN) Annual Meetings
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