Centre for Health Services Studies

Excellence in Health Research

profile image for Dr Sarah Hotham BA, BSc, MSc, PhD, C.Psychol

Dr Sarah Hotham BA, BSc, MSc, PhD, C.Psychol

Senior Research Fellow



A Chartered Psychologist and Research Fellow, my expertise lies in health psychology and behavioural medicine in public health, with a focus on obesity and physical activity. My PhD in Health/Cognitive Psychology at the University of Kent explored the relationship between eating behaviours and attention using experimental methods such as eye tracking, reaction times and EEG.

Research funding awards include The Big Lottery, Kent County Council, London Triborough Authorities, local NHS Trusts and CCGs. I am currently Principal Investigator for a number of projects exploring the impact of behaviour change techniques on obesity and physical activity and the role of the voluntary sector in delivering health and social care. I also lead a local evaluation - ‘Ageless Thanet’ - of a five year Big Lottery-funded programme to reduce social isolation and loneliness.

I am primary Supervisor for PhD student Susan Potter who is evaluating social prescribing programme in Bexley. I am also a CHSS Mentor.

I peer review for journals including Appetite and Eating Behaviours and carry out expert reviews for the Big Lottery and NIHR research programmes.

Previous employers include Pfizer and the School of Psychology at the University of Kent - working on projects around the role of perfectionism in sporting and academic life. I have completed Stage 1 of the British Psychological Society Health Psychology qualification.


  • The implementation of virtual consultations for patients accessing NHS psychological interventions: A mixed-methods evaluation to understand what works, for whom and in what circumstances (PI). KMPT. £10,500. August-October, 2020
  • London Sport (2018). Designing a training package to improve physical activity knowledge in social prescribers (PI)
  • Kent County Council (2018). Designing an evaluation to capture effectiveness of the school nurse package of care programme to support children and families to make positive healthy lifestyle changes. (PI)
  • Big Lottery (2018). Ageing Better Programme Intervention Typology Project. (PI)
  • Bexley NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (2018). Developing an evaluation toolkit to assess impact of prevention and early intervention (PEI) grants in Bexley. (PI)
  • NHS North West London Collaboration of CCGs (2017). Improving the competencies of psychological wellbeing practitioners for LTCs. (Co-I)
  • Kent Health VC Scholarship. Evaluation of social prescribing model in Bexley. KentHealth VCs Research grant to fund PhD studentship. (PI)
  • Kent County Council (2016). Impact of conservation volunteering on health & well-being. (PI)Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust (2016). Feasibility of using mindfulness in adult Tier 3 weight management services. (PI)
  • Big Lottery(2015) Ageing better programme: Ageless Thanet (Co-I)
  • Kent County Council (2015). Evaluation of KCC physical inactivity pilot (PI)
  • London Triborough Authorities (2015). Evaluation of ‘whole place’ community health lifestyle project. (Co-I)
  • Faculty Research Fund: Social Sciences (2014). The effect of a mindful eating intervention on dieters’ susceptibility to food cues and weight loss. (PI)
  • Kent Health Grant (2014). Support for the qualitative analysis of PCMHS project (PI)
  • East Kent Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (2012). Understanding the support needs of disabled children and their families in East Kent (Co-I)
  • PhD Studentship (2009) School of Psychology, University of Kent
  • Pfizer Studentship (2007) MSc in Research Methods in Psychology


  • Chartered member of the British Psychological Society: BPS Division of Health Psychology and Cognitive Psychology Section
  • Association for the Study of Obesity
  • UK Society of Behavioural Medicine
  • Higher Education Academy: Associate Fellow
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Also view these in the Kent Academic Repository

Merritt, R. K., Hotham, S. and Schrag, A. (2023) 'Support needs in Carers of People with Parkinson's from early to later stages: A qualitative study with 36 carers in 11 European countries', Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neurology. doi: 10.1177/08919887231168404.
Ghio, D., Lawes-Wickwar, S., Tang, M. Y., Epton, T., Howlett, N., Jenkinson, E., Stanescu, S., Westbrook, J., Kassianos, A. P., Watson, D. and others. (2021) 'What influences people's responses to public health messages for managing risks and preventing infectious diseases? A rapid systematic review of the evidence and recommendations', BMJ Open. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2021-048750.
Presseau, J., Byrne-Davis, L. M., Hotham, S., Lorencatto, F., Potthoff, S., Atkinson, L., Bull, E., Dima, A. L., van Dongen, A., French, D. and others. (2021) 'Enhancing the translation of health behaviour change research into practice: A selective conceptual review of the synergy between implementation science and health psychology', Health Psychology Review. doi: 10.1080/17437199.2020.1866638.
Gadsby, E., Hotham, S., Eida, T., Lawrence, C. and Merritt, R. (2020) 'Impact of a community-based pilot intervention to tackle childhood obesity: a "whole-system approach" case study', BMC Public Health. BMC. doi: 10.1186/s12889-020-09694-2.
Hamilton-West, K. E., Milne, A. and Hotham, S. (2020) 'New Horizons in Supporting Older People's Health and Wellbeing: Is Social Prescribing a Way Forward?', Age and Ageing. Oxford University Press, pp. 319-326. doi: 10.1093/ageing/afaa016.
Schrag, A., Zhelev, S., Hotham, S., Merritt, R. K., Khan, K. and Graham, L. (2019) 'Heterogeneity in progression of prodromal features in Parkinson's disease', Parkinsonism & Related Disorders. Elsevier, pp. 275-279. doi: 10.1016/j.parkreldis.2019.05.013.
Hamilton-West, K. E., Gadsby, E. W. and Hotham, S. (2019) 'Improving the evidence base for social prescribing', British Medical Journal. BMJ. doi: 10.1136/bmj.l744.
Hamilton-West, K. E., Gadsby, E. W. and Hotham, S. (2019) 'Helen Salisbury: Social prescribing and the No 17 bus', BMJ. BMJ Publishing Group. doi: 10.1136/bmj.l271.
Merritt, R. K., Hotham, S., Graham, L. and Schrag, A. (2018) 'The subjective experience of Parkinson's disease: a qualitative study in 60 people with mild to moderate Parkinson's in 11 European countries', European Journal of Person Centered Healthcare. European Journal of Person Centered Healthcare. doi: 10.5750/ejpch.v6i3.1536.
Schrag, A., Khan, K., Hotham, S., Merritt, R., Rascol, O. and Graham, L. (2018) 'Experience of care for Parkinson's disease in European countries: A survey by the European Parkinson's Disease Association', European Journal of Neurology. Wiley, pp. 1410-e120. doi: 10.1111/ene.13738.
Schrag, A., Modi, S., Hotham, S., Merritt, R., Khan, K. and Graham, L. (2018) 'Patient experiences of receiving a diagnosis of Parkinsons's disease', Journal of Neurology. Springer, pp. 1151-1157. doi: 10.1007/s00415-018-8817-8.
Hamilton-West, K. E., Hotham, S., Yang, W., Hedayioglu, J. and Brigden, C. L. (2017) 'Evaluation of a pilot service to facilitate discharge of patients with stable long-term mental health needs from secondary to primary care: the role of Primary Care Mental Health Specialists', Primary Health Care Research and Development. Cambridge University Press, pp. 344-353. doi: 10.1017/S1463423617000184.
Hotham, S., Hamilton-West, K., Hutton, E., King, A. and Abbott, N. (2017) 'A study in to the effectiveness of a postural care training programme aimed at improving knowledge, understanding, and confidence in parents and school staff', Child: Care, Health and Development. Wiley, pp. 743-751. doi: 10.1111/cch.12444.
Fairhurst, A. and Hotham, S. (2017) 'Going further than the 'Daily Mile'', Perspectives in Public Health. Sage, pp. 83-84. doi: 10.1177/1757913916685639.
Hamilton-West, K. E., Bates, A., Hotham, S. and Wilson, P. M. (2017) Improving competencies of PWPs/counsellors to work with people with long-term conditions: Final Report. University of Kent.
Hotham, S. (2017) Evaluation of a physical inactivity pilot delivered in primary care. Kent County Council.
Research reports (external)
Hotham, S., Osborne, J., Mikelyte, R., Walker, S., Barnes, A., Callis, J., Cooper, E., Cowe, R., Dunleavy, T., Goodearl, E. and others. (2021) The Implementation of Video and Telephone Psychological Therapy for Adults Accessing Secondary NHS Community Mental Health Services A mixed-methods Evaluation to Understand What Works, for Whom and In What Circumstances. Centre for Health Services Studies and Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust.
Hutton, E., King, A., Hamilton-West, K. E. and Hotham, S. (2016) Understanding the support needs of disabled children and their families in East Kent. East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust.
Conference or workshop items
Hamilton-West, K. E. and Hotham, S. (2019) 'Embedding behavioural science in social prescribing research, policy and practice', in. Society of Behavioural Medicine Annual Scientific Meeting. Available at: https://www.sbm.org/meetings/2020-annual-meeting-webinar-series.
Hamilton-West, K. E. and Hotham, S. (2018) 'Introduction to Evaluability Assessments: Using the methodology to improve evaluation of behaviour change interventions.', in. UK Society for Behavioural Medicine Annual Scientific Meeting.. Available at: http://www.uksbm.org.uk/.
Hamilton-West, K. E., Bates, A., Hotham, S. and Wilson, P. M. (2018) 'Development and Evaluation of a Long-Term Conditions Training Programme for Primary Care Mental Health Workers', in. European Health Psychology Society Conference.
Eida, T. J., Gadsby, E. W., Hotham, S. and Merritt, R. K. (2017) 'Go Golborne Action Learning Event: Partner survey and interviews', in. Action Learning Event.
Lawrence, W., Hamilton-West, K. E., Godfrey, E., Rovner, G. and Hotham, S. (2017) 'Training healthcare professionals in novel health psychology strategies and tools.', in. European Health Psychology Society Conference.
Hamilton-West, K. E., Lawrence, W., Godfrey, E. and Hotham, S. (2016) 'Training Health and Community Workers in Skills to Support/Promote Health Behaviour Change.', in. BPS Training Centre Workshop.
Confidential reports
Gadsby, E. W., Hotham, S. and Eida, T. J. (2017) Evaluation of the Go Golborne pilot: Report 2 - Early Findings. Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
Showing 25 of 52 total publications in KAR. [See all in KAR]
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Psychology, quantitative methods, public health and behaviour change, social prescribing, eating behaviours, health behaviours, self-efficacy theory, voluntary sector role in health and social care, training healthcare professionals.

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Convenor Intercalated BSc in Management in Primary Care
SO734: Research and Evaluation Methods

Convenor Applied Health Research - MSc
SO955: Quantitative Methods in Health Research

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My motivation for mentoring

I’m a BPS Chartered Psychologist who specialises in behavioural medicine with a focus on weight management and physical activity. I received my PhD in 2013 from the University of Kent for exploring the relationship between maladaptive eating behaviours and attention using experimental methods such as eye tracking, reaction times and EEG. Since working in CHSS my interests has moved to more applied health research, working with Local Authority Public Health teams, CCGs and NHS Trusts to develop and evaluate behaviour change interventions. I am also interested in the training of healthcare professionals, improving their capacity to understand and use behaviour change techniques in everyday practice. Outside of my university role I work as a consultant and provide one-to-one support to individuals making healthy lifestyle changes. 
I have been lucky enough throughout my academic career to have benefited from fantastic support and mentorship and thus appreciate the impact this positive relationship can have. I’m excited to be part of the CHSS mentorship scheme as it provides an opportunity for me to give something back, share what I’ve learnt, and build a helpful and encouraging relationship with a colleague.
I’m also keen athlete so happy to have mentoring sessions while out running, although obviously this is not compulsory!

Apply for mentorship

If you would like me to be your mentor, please fill in the mentor application form here.

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Last Updated: 19/10/2021