Professor David Hewson

Professor of Health and Ageing

David Hewson

I am a Professor of Health and Ageing at the University of Bedfordshire. My research has a strong community approach, using a real-world implementation of interventions to improve the quality of life of older people. I work closely with local commissioning groups to ensure that research can be directly applied in the local community. My research is organised into three themes:

  • Functional Geriatric Screening
  • Ageing in Older Migrants
  • Exercise is Medicine - Physical Activity for Healthy Ageing

Functional geriatric screening is a theme that is primarily concerned with sarcopenia and frailty, which are two related conditions. Sarcopenia is the progressive loss of muscle mass associated with age, while frailty is an inability to cope with additional stressors. Both frailty and sarcopenia can be diagnosed using different tests, many of which are complicated to perform and not readily accessible. The research projects in this theme focus on developing new tools and procedures that will simplify the screening process, making it easier for older people with these conditions to be diagnosed.

Ageing in older migrants is a theme that addresses issues related to the way in which people age in different cultures. There are genetic and environmental factors that determine how people age, with key links between these factors and ethnicity. For instance, in some ethnic groups, physical activity levels are very low, which can be linked with frailty and sarcopenia. The UK has a multi-ethnic population, with many of the minority ethnic groups beginning to have larger numbers of older people. Many of the screening tests currently used to identify things such as fall risk are based on normative data developed in studies on populations of European origin. The research projects in this theme focus on developing screening tools and procedures that are appropriate for different ethnic groups, while also adopting a qualitative approach to understand ageing-related issues for these groups.

Physical activity for healthy ageing is a theme that adopts an "exercise as medicine" approach. For many conditions associated with ageing, an overly sedentary lifestyle can be a contributing factor to the progression of the condition. In many cases, undertaking physical activity can slow or even reverse the functional decline that has occurred, as well as improve quality of life. The research projects in this emerging theme focus on developing physical activity interventions for different age-related conditions, including dementia, frailty, and sarcopenia.

Prior to joining the University of Bedfordshire, I was a Professor of ICT for Health at the University of Technology of Troyes, in France where I coordinated the E-Health group of the Charles Delaunay Institute, a CNRS Laboratory (UMR ICD 6281). This group participates actively in research on physical and social frailty, with the aim of identifying changes in the capacity to live autonomously, approached from both technological and social standpoints. In respect to physical frailty, I developed a range of different devices to detect frailty according to the Fried criteria using auto-administered tests. The devices include a bathroom scale that functions as a force plate to evaluate balance quality and weight loss, a ball containing a pressure sensor and wireless communication that estimates grip strength, a Doppler-based device to measure instantaneous gait velocity, and a smartphone to measure physical activity, gait velocity, and gait variability.


  • Habilitation à diriger de la recherche (HdR) / Accreditation to Direct Research, Université de Technologie de Compiègne (2006)
  • PhD, University of Auckland, New Zealand, 2000

Current research activities

Postgraduate research supervision


  • Ayodele Ayeni – The association between social vulnerability and frailty in community-dwelling older people (Supervision team: Dr Adrienne 'Polly' Sharples)
  • Nimra Khan – Development of a framework of knowledge, based on the chronic care model, to improve understanding about the implementation of a national frailty screening and management policy at a local level (Supervision Team: Prof Gurch Randhawa)
  • Ijeoma Okpechi – Knowledge and attitude of healthcare professionals to frailty screening in primary care (Supervision Team: Prof Gurch Randhawa)
  • Shraddha Pradhananga – Frailty screening in South Asians: does ethnicity matter? (Supervision Team: Dr Krishna Regmi)
  • Lesley-Anne Tanhamira – Can a remotely delivered adapted mind-body physical activity intervention positively impact physical functioning, quality of life and wellbeing in older people? (Supervision Team: Prof Gurch Randhawa

MSc by Research

  • Charlotte Poynter (MSc). Can golf improve or maintain the quality of life and physical function of people living with dementia and their caregivers? (Supervision Team: Dr Ali Tomlin

Selection of recent journal articles

  • Wehner-Hewson, N., et al. (2021) Racial and ethnic differences in falls among older adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Racial Ethn Health Disparities, 8, early view.
  • Kane, C., et al. (2021). The psychological effects of working in the NHS during a pandemic on final-year students: part 1. Br J Nurs, 30: 1303-1307.
  • Bailey, D.P. et al. (2021). A randomised-controlled feasibility study of the REgulate your SItting Time (RESIT) intervention for reducing sitting time in individuals with type 2 diabetes: study protocol. Pilot Feasibility Stud, 7: 76.
  • Papadopoulos, C. et al. (2021). The CARESSES randomised controlled trial: exploring the health-related impact of culturally competent artificial intelligence embedded into socially assistive robots and tested in older adult care homes. Int J Soc Robot, 13: early view.
  • Shukla, B.K., et al. (2020). Instrumented analysis of the sit-to-stand movement for geriatric screening: a systematic review. Bioengineering, 7: 139.
  • Shukla, B.K. et al. (2020). A comparison of four approaches to evaluate the sit-to-stand movement. IEEE Trans Neural Syst Rehabil Eng, 28: 1317-1324.
  • Papadopoulos, C. et al. (2020). The CARESSES study protocol: testing and evaluating culturally competent socially assistive robots among older adults residing in long term care homes through a controlled experimental trial. Arch Public Health, 78: 26.
  • Khan, N., et al. (2020). Effectiveness of integrated chronic care interventions for older people with different frailty levels: a systematic review protocol. BMJ Open, 10: e038437.
  • Okpechi, I. et al. (2020). Knowledge and attitude of healthcare professionals to frailty screening in primary care: a systematic review protocol. BMJ Open, 10: e037523.
  • Bassement, J., et al. (2020). A pilot study to detect balance impairment in older adults using an instrumented one-leg stance test. J Biomech Eng, 2020, 142: 0910001-5.
  • Pradhananga, S., et al. (2019). Ethnic differences in the prevalence of frailty in the United Kingdom assessed using the electronic Frailty Index. Aging Med, 2: 1-6.
  • Ojo, S., et al. (2019). Perceived barriers and facilitators to breaking up sitting time among desk-based office workers: a qualitative investigation using the TDF and COM-B. Int J Environ Res Public Health, 16: 2903.
  • Ojo, S., et al. (2019). Breaking barriers: using the behaviour change wheel to develop a tailored intervention to overcome workplace inhibitors to breaking up sitting time. BMC Public Health, 19: 1126.
  • Bailey, D.P., et al. Sitting time and risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis, Am J Prev Med, 57: 408-416.
  • Ojo, S., et al. (2018). The impact of active workstations on workplace productivity and performance: A systematic review. Int J Environ Res Public Health, 15: 417.

Teaching responsibilities

I have extensive teaching experience at undergraduate and postgraduate levels over 25 years in many different countries, including the UK, France, and India. I have taught a wide range of subjects with a focus on research methods, in particular evidence-informed practice. I am part of the School of Society, Community and Health, where I teach on the MSc Public Health teaching team as the lead of the Public Health Intelligence unit, while I also supervise dissertations. I also lead the ‘academic, evidence and information literacy’ curriculum theme for the BSc Occupational Therapy and BSc Physiotherapy courses. In this theme, students learn the importance of evidence-informed therapy, which is linked to their placement activities where they actively participate in research directly related to their course of study, and which could be continued in their subsequent professional careers.

Current Teaching Programme

  • MSc Public Health
    • Public Health Intelligence – Unit Leader (Since September 2018)
    • Public Health Dissertation - Unit leader (2018-2022)
  • BSc Occupational Therapy / BSc Physiotherapy
    • Therapies Project – Unit Leader (From September 2022)
    • Evidence-Informed Therapy – Unit Leader (Since September 2021)
    • Academic Skills for Therapists – Lecturer (Since September 2020)

Previous teaching experience

University of Bedfordshire

  • MSc Advanced Nursing Studies
    • Evidence-Based Healthcare Practice - Unit Leader
    • Dissertation Unit – Unit Leader
  • MBA Hospital and Health Services Management – Route Leader
    • Perspectives on Social Healthcare – Unit Leader
    • Organising Modern Healthcare Services – Unit Leader
  • MSc Diabetes – Course Leader
    • Dissertation (Systematic Review / Primary Research) – Unit Leader
  • BSc Sports Therapy
    • Final Year Project (Primary Research) – Unit Leader

University of Technology of Troyes (France)

  • University of Technology of Troyes
    • Post-graduate
      • Ergonomics and human-machine interfaces (taught in French)
    • Undergraduate
      • Biology for Engineers (taught in English and in French)
      • Exercise Physiology (taught in French)
      • Project Management (taught in English and in French)

Indian Institute of Technology Jodhpur (India)


In addition to my academic activities, I have always enjoyed participating in sports. I currently continue to play both golf and tennis.

When I'm not working or playing sport, I enjoy good food, particularly cheese, wine, and real ales. I am also passionate about India, where I have made over 30 visits in the last 10 years, mostly to Rajasthan.

Other references

Contact details

Professor David Hewson
Institute for Health Research / School of Society, Community and Health
Faculty of Health and Social Sciences
University of Bedfordshire
University Square

Office: E404

M: +44 (0)1582 743939 (Ext 3939)
T: +44 (0)7525 616645


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