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

headshot of paul dieppe

Home Institution: University of Exeter Medical School

Field: Rheumatology and Health Services Research

Current Positions:

My Driving Question

What conditions enable healing?

Scholar Project

Having treated hundreds of patients during his 40-year career as a rheumatologist, Dr. Dieppe is now exploring questions about individuals’ healing experiences and the optimal conditions for healing (in contrast to curing). His Institute Scholar project aims to gain a better understanding of healing and to develop new theories that address what works, for whom, and in what circumstances. 

The first part of Dr. Dieppe’s project involved analyzing data from a variety of US- and UK-based healers, the US data coming through many international collaborations, including that with Nova Institute Scholar Dr. Sara Warber. Those interviewed included many different types of healer, as well as practitioners of Western medicine and energy medicine, and members of the public.  Data included interviews with practitioners, observations of healing demonstrations, and pictorial representations of people’s concepts of healing.

Data has also been collected from “healees,” (those who have experienced healing) some of whom provided pictorial representations of their concepts and experiences of healing, and recorded their thoughts. Dr. Dieppe’s research team have been interpreting the data from both healers and healees and compared themes emerging from the US with those from the UK. Dr. Dieppe and his colleagues have also curated the pictorial representations of healing and their related dialogues into an exhibition which has been shown in hospitals in England, at medical meetings in England and the USA, at the Nova Institute for Health, and in The University of Lapland. Further insights into the nature of healing have been gained by interviewing people who have seen the exhibitions.

In another part of his Scholar project, Dr. Dieppe collaborated 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. With Dr. Rahtz from Exeter and Dr. Warber from Ann Arbor, they also visited the healing pilgrimage site of Lourdes, in South West France, and explored healing phenomena and associated rituals there.  Dr. Dieppe is also collaborating with Professor Jaana Erkilla-Hill and others in Scandinavia to explore the roles of art and creativity in healing.

In the final part of his project he is developing new theories of healing based in part on realist research, a paradigm that 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.

He is currently writing a book on healing based on his work with the Nova Institute of Health.


Dr. Paul Dieppe is among world’s preeminent osteoarthritis researchers and one of a small number of health researchers in the UK to have held the prestigious 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.

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 still active in undergraduate and postgraduate teaching in Exeter, Bristol and elsewhere, and speaks at numerous meetings in the UK and overseas.

Education and 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
  • 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