Paul Dieppe, BSc, MD, BS(Lond), FRCP, FFPH


Home Institution:
University of Exeter Medical School

Rheumatology and Health Services Research

Current Positions: 

  • »
    Emeritus Professor of Health and Wellbeing, University of Exeter Medical School
  • »
    Emeritus Senior Investigator of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) UK
  • »
    Honorary Professor of Health Services Research, University of Bristol

What conditions enable a healing response? 

Scholar Project

Having treated hundreds of patients during his 30-year career as a rheumatologist, Dr. Dieppe is now exploring questions about individuals’ healing experiences and the optimal conditions for healing. His Institute Scholar project aims to gain a better understanding of the healing response and to develop new theories of healing that address what works, for whom, and in what circumstances.

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The first part of Dr. Dieppe’s project involves analyzing data from a variety of US- and UK-based healers, the US data coming through his collaboration with Dr Warber of Ann Arbor.  Those interviewed include a kinesiologist, spiritual healer, and a pagan healer, as well as practitioners of Western medicine and energy medicine. Data includes interviews with practitioners, observations of healing demonstrations, and practitioners’ pictorial representations of their concepts of healing.

Data has also been collected from “healees,” some of whom provided pictorial representations of their concepts and experiences of healing, and recorded their thoughts. Dr. Dieppe’s research team will interpret the data from both healers and healees and compare themes emerging from the US with those from the UK.

With the help of Professor Sian Bonnell of the University of Falmouth, Dr. Dieppe plans to curate the pictorial representations of healing and their related dialogues in a format that can be both exhibited and published, providing a springboard for discussion among practitioners and the public.

In the second part of his Scholar project, Dr. Dieppe will collaborate with University of Exeter drama scholar Dr. Sarah Goldingay and others to explore the value of healing rituals and leverage performance-based approaches to understand healing.

In the final part, he’ll develop new theories of healing based on principles of realist research The realist paradigm is useful as it recognizes complexity, the importance of individual experiences, and the significance of the ideas, values, and emotions participants bring to the contexts in which interventions are provided.

Drawing on realist philosophy as well as insights gained from the project’s earlier phases and information from traditional literature and science, Dr. Dieppe will develop new theories that help address the question posed by realist research: What works, for whom and in what circumstances?



Dr. Paul Dieppe is among world’s preeminent osteoarthritis researchers and one of only 23 health researchers in the UK to hold the prestigious Emeritus Senior Investigator award from the National Institute for Health Research. A recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Osteoarthritis Research Society (2010), he was made a Master of the American College of Rheumatology in 2011.

Over the past 20 years, Dr. Dieppe’s professional interests have increasingly turned to health services research, medical education and subjects such as the placebo response, patient-centered care, and healing. In 2009, he joined the University of Exeter, where he is now Emeritus Professor of Health and Wellbeing, to pursue those interests while continuing research in osteoarthritis and joint replacement.

For 10 years beginning in 1997, Dr. Dieppe was Director of the Medical Research Council’s Health Services Research Collaboration in the UK, overseeing a large national research program with 70 core staff and an annual budget of $2.5 million.

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Prior to that, Dr. Dieppe was at the University of Bristol, most recently as Dean of Medicine, from 1995-1997. He was made Professor Rheumatology in 1987, and established one of world’s leading centers for osteoarthritis research, training several people who have gone on to become leaders in the field.

Dr. Dieppe came to Bristol in 1978 as an academic rheumatologist shortly after completing his medical training and education at London University and St. Bartholomew's Hospital Medical College, London. His first degree was in physiology (First Class Honors BSc 1967) from
London University.

In addition to his research career, Dr. Dieppe performed clinical work until 2011. He’s active in undergraduate and postgraduate teaching in Exeter and elsewhere, and speaks at numerous meetings in the UK and overseas.

Education & Training

MD, London University

MB, BS, St. Bartholomew's Hospital Medical College, London

BSc (1st Class, Physiology), London University


Selected Honors

Master of the American College of Rheumatology, 2011

Lifetime Achievement Award, Osteoarthritis Research Society, International, 2010

National Institute for Health Research (UK) Senior Investigator Award, 2009

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Member of the Board of the International Society for Behavioural Medicine, 2006-9

Fellow (honorary), Faculty of Public Health, Royal Colleges of Physicians, 1999

Carol Nachman Medal of the State Capital Wiesbaden for Rheumatology, 1998

Jan van Breeman Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Rheumatology, 1996

ABI Medical Community Awards, 1990, 1991

Roussell International Award for Osteoarthritis Research, 1989

Rogers Prize, London University, 1985

Heberden Roundsman, 1984

Fellow, Royal Colleges of Physicians of the United Kingdom, 1983

Margaret Holroyd Prize, British Society of Rheumatology, 1975

British Association for Rheumatology and Rehabilitation Annual Award, 1975


Selected Publications

Research Papers

Clients of UK healers: A mixed methods survey of their demography, health problems, and experiences of healing.
Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, May 2019

Healing journey: a qualitative analysis of the healing experiences of Americans suffering from trauma and illness.
BMJ Open, September 2017

Transformational Changes in Health Status: A Qualitative Exploration of Healing Moments.
Explore, October 2017

The power and value of placebo and nocebo in painful osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis Cartilage, November 2016

Review of 99 self-report measures for assessing well-being in adults: exploring dimensions of well-being and developments over time.
BMJ Open, July 2016

A Consideration of the Perspectives of Healing Practitioners on Research Into Energy Healing.
Global Advances in Health and Medicine, November 2015

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Caring and healing in health care: The evidence base. 
International Journal of Nursing Studies, October 2015

Is Healing an Option to Aid Sustainable Health Care Futures?
Journal of Holistic Healthcare, Spring 2015

Bad Is More Powerful than Good: The Nocebo Response in Medical Consultations.
The American Journal of Medicine, February 2015

'And the pain just disappeared into insignificance': The healing response in Lourdes - Performance, psychology and caring.
International Review of Psychiatry, June 2014

Individualisation of drug treatments for patients with long-term conditions: a review of concepts.
BMJ Open, March 2014

Trust in the health-care provider-patient relationship: a systematic mapping review of the evidence base.
International Journal for Quality in Health Care, September 2013

Trial designs and exploration of the placebo response.
Complementary Therapies in Medicine, April 2013

Book Chapters

Co-author, “Nocebo Phenomena: ‘Negative Non-Specific Effects’” in Placebo Effects, 2015.

See articles & papers on PubMed