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Dr Leon Poltawski

Dr Leon Poltawski

Research Fellow


 +44 (0) 1392 725406

 Smeall building JS01


Smeall Building, University of Exeter, St Luke's Campus, Heavitree Road, Exeter, EX1 2LU, UK

 Office hours:

I work part-time, usually Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.


I am presently part of the the Primary Care Group (PCG) of the Exeter University Medical School. Currently I am working in two studies in which the PCG is collaborating: (1) helping to conduct the process evaluation in a large national multi-centre trial of a General Practice-based intervention to improve asthma management (ARRISA-UK); and (2) recruiting and interviewing GP patients about their experience and views of online appointment-booking services (OBoE).

Prior to this I was working with Professor Colin Greaves on the the development and evaluation of a behaviour change programme to support long term weight loss maintenance (the SkiM study), and with Sarah Dean (now Professor), on development and evaluation of a rehabilitation intervention for long-term stroke survivors.

My research career began at the University of Hertfordshire physiotherapy department, where I worked with Professor Tim Watson, investigating the use of electrotherapy to promote tissue healing. This included ultrasound treatment of cutaneous side effects of apomorphone in Parkinson's disease, and microcurrent therapy for tendinpathy in chronic tennis elbow, which was the subject of my doctoral work. I then moved into the study of complex interventions, conducting qualitative investiagtions of inter-professional working for older people with complex conditions, led by professor Clare Goodman.

Through my work I have developed an interest in the psychology of health behaviour change, and in research methodologies for complex interventions. In particular, I am interested in the use of multiple forms of evidence to inform the development of behaviour change interventions; and in the use of process evaluation to assess how and in what circumstances interventions may be effective.



  • PhD (University of Hertfordshire)
  • BSc - Physiotherapy (University of Hertfordshire)
  • BA - Social Sciences (Open University)
  • BSc - Physics & Astrophysics (London University)


Previous employment

  • Secondary school and sixth form physics and science teacher (UK and Zimbabwe)
  • Adult education: training volunteers for life and work in developing countries, and teaching Anatomy & Physiology.
  • Project & personnel management: emergency aid to Sudan; recruitment, training, placement and support of volunteers working in developing countries
  • Physiotherapist.


Research group links


Research interests

  • Health behaviour change
  • Developing complex interventions
  • Qualitative and process evaluation of complex interventions


Research projects


  • process evaluation in a multi-centre cluster RCT of a GP practice-based intervention to improve management of Asthma (ARRISA-UK)
  • Recruitment and interviewing of patients regarding their views and experience of online booking systems at General Practices (OBoE)


  • Planing and conducting Focus Groups with GPs and with patients, regarding shared decision-making in the management of multimorbidity in older patients (INVOLVE)
  • Comparison of GP training in the UK with that in several othewr countries, to help streamline processes of recruitment to the UK workforce (GMAP).
  • Developing and feasibility-testing a behavioural intervention to support weight loss maintenance (SkiM)
  • Synthesis of evidence regarding weight loss maintenance for those at risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Safety and feasibility testing of a technique for stroke survivors to get up from the floor independently (IGO)
  • Development work for a trial of an RCT of a functional exercise-based programme for long-term stroke survivors (ReTrain)
  • Synthesis of evidence-based guidelines for exercise after stroke,
  • Synthesis of qualitative studies on the impact of upper limb impairment following stroke
  • Creating an intervention content analysis tool for fidelity assessment



  • 2015 The Stroke Association
    £161,180 for Community-based Rehabilitation Training after Stroke (ReTrain): a pilot RCT (Co-applicant)
  • 2012 Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital--
    £10,000 for safety study in floor-to-stand technique
  • 2011 Stroke Research Network
    £2,600 to support stroke research proposal development
  • 2005 Parkinson’s Disease Society
    £5,500 to support pilot trial of therapeutic ultrasound for apomorphine nodules
  • 2005 Brittania Pharmaceuticals
    £2,000 to support pilot trial of therapeutic ultrasound for apomorphine nodules



Research networks

Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research

CHAIN - support network for health and social care

Research grants

  • 2014 The Stroke Association
    Fund pilot RCT of ReTrain exercise-based intervention for Long Term Stroke Survivors
  • 2011 Stroke Research Network
    Stroke research proposal development
  • 2011 Royal Devon & Exeter Foundation Trust
    Support pilot study of method to teach stroke survivors to stand from floor independently
  • 2005 Parkinsons Disease Society
    Support of pilot trial of therapeutic ultrasound for Apomorphine nodules
  • 2005 Britannia Pharmaceuticals
    Support of pilot trial of therapeutic ultrasound for Apomorphine nodules


Supervision / Group

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