Dr Gwenda Simons

Gwenda Simons

Institute of Inflammation and Ageing
Research Fellow

Contact details

Rheumatology Research Group
Institute of Inflammation and Ageing (IIA)
Queen Elizabeth Hospital
University of Birmingham
B15 2WB

Dr Gwenda Simons is a social psychologist with experience of both applied (health) psychology and experimental social psychology. She is interested in health interventions in chronic diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis as well as patient education and health literacy. She currently works as a researcher in the Rheumatology Research Group looking at the perceptions of people at risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis on issues around preventative medication and lifestyle interventions.

Gwenda firmly believes that research about people with a chronic condition should be developed together with people who have this condition. Patients should not just been seen as potential subjects of research but also as instigators of research and collaborators. She is one of the academic coordinators of the Birmingham Rheumatology Research Patient Partnership (R2P2).  In this role she facilitates patient and public involvement across the Rheumatology Research Group.


Research fellow in behavioural medicine

PhD in Psychology, University of Portsmouth, UK, 2003
PGCert Research methods, University of Portsmouth, UK, 2002
MA in Social Psychology, University of Amsterdam (UvA), NL, 1998.


Originally from the Netherlands, Dr Gwenda Simons has been living and working in the UK since January 2000. She qualified with a MA in Social Psychology from the University of Amsterdam (the Netherlands) in 1998. Following her master studies, Gwenda completed a year of independent research at the University of Würzburg, Germany with the help of a scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). She subsequently studied for her PhD in psychology at the University of Portsmouth, UK. After completing her PhD in 2003, she continued working at the University of Portsmouth on a pan-European project which saw the development of a patient education programme for people with Parkinson’s disease and their carers. This was followed by a period of more experimental work at the University of Oxford, exploring various aspects of interpersonal emotion and emotion regulation. Gwenda’s move to the University of Birmingham in 2012 meant a return to more applied social psychology and she currently works within the area of behavioural medicine, looking at perceptions of Rheumatoid Arthritis in the general public, patients with the condition and professionals such as pharmacists


Dr Simons currently has not got any teaching responsibilities


Dr Gwenda Simons’ current research looks at perspectives of individuals in different pre-Rheumatoid arthritis phases on issues such as risk perception, predictive testing and preventative medicine. Her research further looks at patient preferences in benefit risk assessments during the drug life cycle within the IMI PREFER consortium. She is also involved in research looking at the perceptions of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and decisions to seek help for RA symptoms in the general public as well as research looking at the perceptions of pharmacists and pharmacy assistants of RA and the sign posting of patients with joint problems.

Other research areas of interest include interpersonal emotions, emotion regulation, nonverbal behaviour and emotional eating.

Other activities

• Allied Health Professional Member of the British Society for Rheumatology
• Member of the United Kingdom Society for Behavioural Medicine
• Member of the EULAR Study Group for Risk Factors for RA
• Member of the EULAR PARE Study Group for Collaborative Research


  1. Simons G, Stack RJ, Stoffer-Marx M, Englbrecht M, Mosor E, Buckley CD, Kumar K, Hansson M, Hueber A, Stamm T, Falahee M and Raza K (2018) Perceptions of first-degree relatives of patients with rheumatoid arthritis about lifestyle modifications and pharmacological interventions to reduce the risk of rheumatoid arthritis development: a qualitative interview study. BMC Rheumatology 2(31) https://doi.org/10.1186/s41927-018-0038-3
  2. Simons G, Lumley S, Falahee M, Kumar K, Mallen CD, Stack RJ and Raza K (2017). The Pathway to Consultation for Rheumatoid Arthritis: Exploring anticipated actions between the onset of symptoms and face-to-face encounter with a healthcare professional. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, 18(1); 258. DOI: 10.1186/s12891-017-1619-9
  3. Falahee, M., Simons, G., Buckley, C. D., Hansson, M., Stack, R. J. and Raza, K. (2016). Patients' perceptions of their relatives' risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis and of the potential for risk communication, prediction and modulation. Arthritis Care & Research. 69; 1558-1565. DOI:10.1002/acr.23179
  4. Falahee M, Simons G, Raza K and Stack RJ (2016) Healthcare professionals’ perceptions of risk in the context of genetic testing for the prediction of chronic disease: A qualitative metasynthesis. Journal of Risk Research. DOI: 10.1080/13669877.2016.1153503
  5. Stack R, Stoffer M, Englbrecht M, Mosor E, Falahee M, Simons G, Smolen J, Schett G, Buckley C, Kumar K, Hansson M, Hueber A, Stamm T and Raza K (2016) Perceptions of first degree relatives of patients with rheumatoid arthritis about their personal risk of, and predictive testing for, rheumatoid arthritis: A cross-European qualitative study. BMJ Open. 6(6): e010555
  6. Bayliss K, Raza K, Simons G, Falahee M, Hanson M, Starling B and Stack RJ (2016). Perceptions of predictive testing for those at risk of developing chronic inflammatory disease: a meta-synthesis of qualitative studies. Journal of Risk Research; DOI: 10.1080/13669877.2015.1119183
  7. Simons G, Belcher J, Kumar K, Falahee M, Mallen CD, Stack RJ and Raza K (2016) Symptom recognition and perceived urgency of help seeking for the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, compared with bowel cancer and angina: A mixed method approach. Arthritis Care and Research. 69; 633-31. DOI: 10.1002/acr.22979
  8. Simons G, Mason A, Falahee M, Kumar K, Mallen C D, Raza K and Stack R J (2016).Qualitative exploration of illness perceptions of rheumatoid arthritis in the general public. Musculoskeletal Care; 15; 13-22. DOI: 10.1002/msc.1135
  9. Parkinson, B., Simons, G. & Niven, K. (2016). Sharing Concerns: Interpersonal Worry Regulation in Romantic Couples. Emotion. DOI: 10.1037/a0040112
  10. Simons, G., Kumar, K., Mallen, C.D., Stack, R.J., &Raza, K. (2015). A Qualitative Investigation of the Barriers to Help-seeking Among Members of the Public Presented with Symptoms of New-onset Rheumatoid Arthritis. The Journal of Rheumatology  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3899/jrheum.140913 
  11. Stack, R.J., Simons, G., Kumar, K., Mallen, C.D. & Raza, K. (2013). Patient delays in seeking help at the onset of rheumatoid arthritis: the problem, its causes and potential solutions. Aging Health, 9(4):425-435. https://doi.org/10.2217/ahe.13.42 
  12. Simons, G., Bruder, M., van der Lowe, I. & Parkinson, B. (2013) Why Try (Not) to Cry: Intra- and Inter-Personal Motives for Crying Regulation. Frontiers in Psychology; 3:597. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00597
  13. Simons, G., & Bruder, M., (2012) Are you sure that big boys don’t cry? In Totterdell, P. and Niven, K. (Eds) Should I strap a battery to my head? (and other questions about emotion), Publisher: Createspace.
  14. Parkinson, B, & Simons, G. (2012). Worry spreads: Interpersonal transfer of problem-related anxiety. Cognition & Emotion, 26(3), 462-479 DOI:10.1080/02699931.2011.651101
  15. Parkinson, B., Phiri, N., & Simons, G. (2012, January 16). Bursting With Anxiety: Adult Social Referencing in an Interpersonal Balloon Analogue Risk Task (BART). Emotion. Advance online publication. DOI: 10.1037/a0026434
  16. Macht, M., Simons, G. (2011). Emotional eating. In I. Nyklicek, A. Vingerhoets & M. Zeelenberg (eds.) Emotion regulation and well-being. Heidelberg, Berlin, New York: Springer. 
  17. Simons, G. & Ellgring, H., Beck-Dossler, K., Gaebel, W. & Woelwer, W. (2010). Facial expression in male and female schizophrenia patients. European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience, 260 (3), 267-276. DOI:10.1007/s00406-009-0074-5
  18. Simons, G & Parkinson, B. (2009). Time-dependent observational and diary methodologies for assessing social referencing and interpersonal emotion regulation. Contemporary Social Science, 4(2), 175-186 
  19. Parkinson, B, & Simons, G. (2009). Affecting Others: Emotion Contagion and Social Appraisal in Everyday Decision- Making. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 35, 1071-1084. DOI:10.1177/0146167209336611
  20. Parkinson, B, Roper, A., & Simons, G. (2009). Reasonable and Unreasonable Anger in Everyday Life: A Prospective Diary Study. European Journal of Social Psychology, 39, 82-87. 
  21. Macht, M. Gerlich, C. Ellgring, H. Schradi, M. Bayés Rusiñol, A. Crespo, M., Prats, A., Viemerö, V. Lankinen, A., Ricci Bitti, P.E., Candini, L., Spliethoff-Kamminga, N. de Vreugd, J., Simons, G., Smith Pasqualini, M. C. , Thompson, S. B. N., Taba, P., Krikmann, U. & Kanarik, E. (2007). Patient education in Parkinson’s disease: Formative evaluation of a standardized programme in seven European countries. Patient Education and Counselling, 65 (2), 245-252. DOI:10.1016/j.pec.2006.08.005
  22. Simons, G., Thompson, S. B. N., & Smith Pasqualini, M. C. (2006). An innovative education programme for people with Parkinson’s disease and their carers. Parkinsonism and Related Disorders, 12 (8), 478-485. DOI: 10.1016/j.parkreldis.2006.05.003 
  23. Smith Pasqualini, M. C., & Simons, G. (2006). Patient education for people with Parkinson’s disease and their carers: A manual (edited book). Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons. 
  24. Simons, G., Smith Pasqualini, M. C., & Thompson, S. B. N. (2006). Session 2: Self-monitoring. In M.C. Smith Pasqualini & G. Simons (Eds.) Patient education for people with Parkinson’s disease and their carers: A manual (pp 47- 70). Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons1. 
  25. Simons, G., Smith Pasqualini, M. C., Reddy, V., & Wood, J. (2004). Emotional facial expressivity in people with Parkinson’s disease. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 10, 521-535. https://doi.org/10.1017/S135561770410413X
  26. Simons, G., Ellgring, J. H., & Smith Pasqualini, M.C. (2003). Disturbance of spontaneous and posed facial expressions in Parkinson’s disease. Cognition and Emotion, 17, 759-778. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02699930302280
  27. Macht, M. & Simons, G. (2000). Emotions and eating in everyday life. Appetite, 35, 65-71. DOI:10.1006/appe.2000.0325