Associate Professor Nicola Kayes

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Director, Centre for Person Centred Research and Senior Lecturer in Rehabilitation, School of Clinical Sciences

Phone: +64 9 921 9999 ext 7309


Physical Address:

Room AB109B,
AUT North Shore Campus,
90 Akoranga Drive, Northcote,
Auckland, New Zealand

Postal Address:

School of Clinical Sciences
Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences
AUT University, Private Bag 92006
Auckland 1142, New Zealand


Links to relevant web pages:

Twitter: @nickayes4

Centre for Person Centred Research Twitter: @PCR_AUT


PhD, MSc (Hons), BSc

Memberships and Affiliations:

Director, Centre for Person Centred Research

Principal Investigator, Brain Research New Zealand

Executive committee, New Zealand Rehabilitation Association

Expert reviewer, Rehabilitation Research Review

Member, Accident Compensation Corporation Scheme Customer Advisory Panel

External representative, Laura Fergusson Rehabilitation Quality Governance Group

Visiting Professor, University of Brighton, United Kingdom

Member, International Implementation Science in Rehabilitation Network Group


Nicola is Director of the Centre for Person Centred Research and Associate Professor of Rehabilitation in the School of Clinical Sciences. She graduated from the University of Auckland with her masters in health psychology in 2000 and her PhD from AUT in 2011. Nicola contributes to undergraduate and postgraduate teaching in rehabilitation in the School of Clinical Sciences. Her teaching and supervision are focused on applying what we know in health psychology to inform the way we work in rehabilitation and supporting students to critically examine core transdisciplinary rehabilitation processes and how they could be better. Nicola actively contributes to the rehabilitation industry in New Zealand, holding several formal roles across the sector, including as a member of the executive committee, New Zealand Rehabilitation Association. She holds a visiting professorship position in the School of Health Sciences, University of Brighton in the United Kingdom.

Teaching Areas:

  • Person-centred practice
  • Personalised goal planning in rehabilitation
  • Understanding human behavior in the context of injury or illness
  • Embedding behavioural strategies in rehabilitation practice
  • Developing therapeutic relationships
  • Supporting engagement in rehabilitation
  • Applied qualitative methodologies
  • Critically engaging with rehabilitation evidence

Research Summary:

Nicola’s specialist research area draws insights from the intersection between health psychology and rehabilitation, applying what we know about how people think, feel and behave in the context of injury and illness to optimise the impact of rehabilitation. This includes an interest in the role of the rehabilitation practitioner and their way of working as a critical factor in rehabilitation and whether shifting practice and the way we work with people can have improve outcome. More broadly, it includes an interest in health service delivery and the organisational and professional structures, cultures, policies and practices that can make possible or constrain ways of working and, therefore, impact on our ability to deliver the best outcomes. Her recent research has focused on better understanding aspects of person-centred practice, therapeutic relationship, behaviour change and engagement, and implementing related strategies into rehabilitation practice. This has led to some exciting collaborative opportunities with health, design and engineering colleagues which draw on person-centred, transdisciplinary approaches to knowledge exchange to increase the likelihood of uptake and impact.

Current Research Projects:

  • Connection and Collaboration in Rehabilitation: Developing a measure of therapeutic relationship in rehabilitation
  • Exploring what matters most to Māori in the therapeutic relationship following neurological injury or illness
  • Evaluating a sustainable model of peer mentoring in traumatic brain injury
  • Supporting knowledge and practice advance in person-centred rehabilitation
  • Personalised goal planning in rehabilitation: Using a person-based approach to app development
  • Embedding new ways of working in physiotherapy practice: Examining knowledge mobilisation in action
  • Exploring what helps or hinders uptake of rehabilitation technologies in practice
  • Developing an interactive website for people experiencing changes to their memory and thinking
  • Embedding principles of self-management into routine service delivery: A rapid realist review


  1. Czuba K, Kayes NM, McPherson KM (In press). Support workers’ experiences of work stress in long-term care settings: a qualitative study. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Health & Well-being.
  2. Kayes NM, Martin RA, Bright FAS, Kersten P, Pollock A (2019) Optimising the real-world impact of rehabilitation reviews: increasing the relevance and usability of systematic reviews in rehabilitation. European Journal of Physical Rehabilitation and Medicine. doi: 10.23736/S1973-9087.19.05793-9.
  3. Sezier A, Saywell N, Terry G, Taylor D, Kayes NM (2019). Working age adults perspectives on living with persistent postural-perceptual dizziness: A qualitative exploratory study. BMJ Open doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2018-024326
  4. Gibson BE, Terry G, Setchell J, Bright F, Cummins C, Kayes NM (2019) The micro-politics of caring: Tinkering with person-centred rehabilitation. Disability and Rehabilitation. doi: 10.1080/09638288.2019.1587793.
  5. Morris JH, Bernhardsson S, Bird ML, Connell L, Fisher R, Lynch E, Jarvis K, Kayes NM, Miller K, Mudge S. (2019). Implementation in rehabilitation: A roadmap for practitioners and researchers. Disability and Rehabilitation. doi: 10.1080/09638288.2019.1587013
  6. Terry, G., Kayes, NM. (2019). Person centered care in neurorehabilitation: a secondary analysis. Disability and Rehabilitation. Doi: 10.1080/09638288.2018.1561952
  7. Czuba K, Kersten P, Anstiss D, Maheswaran R, Kayes NM, Gabbe B, Civil I, Henshall K, Kool B, Terry G, Smith G, Siegert R (2019) Incidence and outcomes of major trauma in New Zealand: findings from a feasibility study of New Zealand’s first national trauma registry. New Zealand Medical Journal, 132 (1494)
  8. Kersten, P., Cummins, C., Kayes, NM., Babbage, D., Elder, H., Foster, A., Weatherall, M., Siegert, R., Smith, G., McPherson, KM. (2018). Making sense of recovery after traumatic brain injury through a peer mentoring intervention: a qualitative exploration. BMJ Open. 8 (10). doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-020672
  9. Carroll, P., Witten, K., Calder-Dawe, O., Smith, M., Kearns, R., Asiasiga, L., Kayes, N., Mavoa, S. (2018). Enabling participation for disabled young people: study protocol. BMC Public Health, 18, 712.
  10. Bright, F. A., Kayes, N. M., McPherson, K. M. and Worrall, L. E. (2018), Engaging people experiencing communication disability in stroke rehabilitation: a qualitative study. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders. doi:10.1111/1460-6984.12409
  11. Sezier, A., Mudge, S., Kayes, N., Kersten, P., Payne, D., Harwood, M., McPherson, K. M. (2018). Development of a toolkit to enhance care processes for people with a long-term neurological condition: a qualitative descriptive study. BMJ Open, 8(6). doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2018-022038
  12. Bright, F. A., Kayes, N. M., Cummins, C., Worrall, L. M., & McPherson, K. M. (2017). Co-constructing engagement in stroke rehabilitation. Clinical Rehabilitation, 31(10), 1396–1405.
  13. Bright FAS, Kayes NM, Worrall L, McPherson KM (2017). Exploring relational engagement practices in stroke rehabilitation using the Voice Centred Relational Approach. International Journal of Social Research Methodology.
  14. McPherson, K., Fadyl, J.K., Theadom, A., Channon, A., Starkey, N., Levack, W. M. M., Kayes, N., Wilkinson-Meyers, L. (2018). Living life after traumatic brain injury: Phase 1 of a longitudinal qualitative study Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, 31(1), E34-E52.
  15. Cummins, C., Kayes, N. M., Reeve, J., Smith, G., MacLeod, R. and McPherson, K. M. (2016), Navigating physical activity engagement following a diagnosis of cancer: A qualitative exploration. European Journal of Cancer Care, 00: 1–9. doi: 10.1111/ecc.12608
  16. Signal N, McPherson KM, Lewis G, Kayes NM, Saywell N, Mudge S, Taylor D (2016). What influences acceptability and engagement with a high intensity exercise programme for people with stroke? A qualitative descriptive study. Neurorehabilitation. 39(4), 507-517.
  17. Stretton C, Mudge S, Kayes NM, McPherson KM (2016) Interventions to improve real world walking after stroke: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Clinical Rehabilitation. DOI:
  18. Kitt, C., Wang, V., Harvey-Fitzgerald, L., Kayes NM, Saywell, N. (2016). Gaining perspectives of people with stroke, to inform development of a group exercise programme: a qualitative study. New Zealand Journal of Physiotherapy, 44(1): 58-64.
  19. Jesus T, Bright FAS, Kayes NM, Cott C (2016) Person-Centered rehabilitation – what exactly does it mean? Protocol for a scoping review with thematic analysis towards framing the concept and practice of person-centered rehabilitation. BMJ Open. 6:e011959. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2016-011959
  20. Czuba K, Kersten P, Kayes NM, Smith G, Barker-Collo S, Taylor W, McPherson KM. (2015). Measuring neurobehavioral functioning in people with traumatic brain injury: Rasch analysis of Neurobehavioral Functioning Inventory. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation. doi: 10.1097/htr.0000000000000170
  21. Mudge S, Kayes NM, McPherson KM. (2015). Who is in control? Clinicians' view on their role in self-management approaches: a qualitative metasynthesis. BMJ Open. 5(5)
  22. Kersten P, McPherson KM, Kayes NM, Theadom A, & McCambridge A. (2014).Bridging the goal intention-action gap in rehabilitation; a feasibility study of if-then implementation intentions in neurorehabilitation. Disability and Rehabilitation. 37(12), 1073-81.
  23. Bright FAS, Kayes NM, Worrall L, McPherson KM (2014). A conceptual review of engagement in healthcare and rehabilitation. Disability and Rehabilitation. 37(8), 643-54
  24. Kersten P, McCambridge A, Kayes NM, Theadom A, McPherson KM (2014). Bridging the gap between goal intentions and actions: a systematic review in patient populations. Disability and Rehabilitation. In press.
  25. Levack WMM, Boland P, Taylor WJ, Siegert RJ, Kayes NM, Fadyl JK, McPherson KM. (2014). Establishing a person-centred framework of self-identity after traumatic brain injury: a grounded theory study to inform measure development. BMJ Open. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2013-004630
  26. Van Lit A, & Kayes NM. (2014). A narrative review of hope after spinal cord injury: Implications for physiotherapy. New Zealand Journal of Physiotherapy. 42(1): 33-41.
  27. MacDonald G, Kayes NM. & Bright F. (2013). Exploring engagement in rehabilitation for people with stroke. New Zealand Journal of Physiotherapy. 41(3): 112-121.
  28. Mudge S, Kayes NM, Stavric VA, Channon AS, Kersten P, McPherson KM. (2013). Living well with a disability: needs, values and competing factors. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. 10:100  doi:10.1186/1479-5868-10-100.
  29. McPherson KM, Kayes NM, Moloczij N, Cummins C. (2013). Improving the interface between informal carers and formal health and social services: A qualitative study. International Journal of Nursing Studies. 51(3):418-29
  30. Stretton C, Mudge S, Kayes NM, Taylor D, McPherson KM. (2013). Activity coaching to improve walking is liked by rehabilitation patients but physiotherapists have concerns: a qualitative study. Journal of Physiotherapy. 59(3):199-206.
  31. Mudge S, Stretton C, Kayes NM. (2013). Are physiotherapists comfortable with person-centred practice? An autoethnographical insight. Disability and Rehabilitation. 36(6): 457-463.
  32. Bright, F., Kayes NM, McCann, C., & McPherson, K.M. (2013). Hope in people with aphasia. Aphasiology, 27 (1), 41-58.
  33. McPherson KM and Kayes NM (2013). "Response to commentary on: Qualitative research: its practical contribution to physiotherapy." Physical Therapy Reviews 18(3): 227-228.
  34. McPherson K M and Kayes NM (2012). "Qualitative research: its practical contribution to physiotherapy." Physical Therapy Reviews 17(6): 382-389.
  35. Bright, F., Boland, P., Rutherford, S., Kayes NM, & McPherson, K.M. (2012). Implementing a Client-Centred Approach in Rehabilitation: An Autoethnography. Disability & Rehabilitation, 34(12), 997-1004.
  36. Kayes NM. & McPherson. (2012). Human technologies in rehabilitation: 'Who' and 'How' we are with our clients. Disability & Rehabilitation, 34(22):1907-11.
  37. Bright, F., Kayes NM, McCann, C., & McPherson, K.M. (2011). Understanding hope after stroke: A systematic review of the literature using concept analysis. Topics in Stroke Rehabilitation, 18 (5), 490-508.
  38. Besley, J., Kayes NM, & McPherson, K. M. (2011). Assessing the measurement properties of two commonly used measures of therapeutic relationship in physiotherapy. New Zealand Journal of Physiotherapy, 39(2), 75-80.
  39. Besley, J., Kayes NM, & McPherson, K. M. (2011). Assessing therapeutic relationships in physiotherapy: Literature review. New Zealand Journal of Physiotherapy, 39(2), 81-91.
  40. Kersten, P., & Kayes NM. (2011). Outcome measurement and the use of Rasch analysis, a statistics-free introduction. New Zealand Journal of Physiotherapy, 39(2), 92-99.
  41. Kayes NM, McPherson, K. M., Taylor, D., Schluter, P. J., & Kolt, G. (2011). Facilitators and barriers to engagement in physical activity for people with multiple sclerosis: a qualitative investigation. Disabil Rehabil, 33(8), 625-642.
  42. Kayes NM, McPherson, K. M., Schluter, P. J., Taylor, D., Leete, M., & Kolt, G. S. (2011). Exploring the Facilitators and Barriers to Engagement in Physical Activity for People with Multiple Sclerosis. Disability and Rehabilitation, 33(12), 1043-1053.
  43. Fadyl, J., McPherson, K. M., & Kayes NM. (2010). Perspectives on quality of care for people who experience disability. BMJ Quality and Safety, 20(1), 87-95.
  44. Kayes NM, & McPherson, K. M. (2010). Measuring what matters: does ‘objectivity’ mean good science? Disability and Rehabilitation, 32(12), 1011-1019.
  45. Levack, WMM, Kayes NM, & Fadyl, J. K. (2010). Experience of recovery and outcome following traumatic brain injury: a metasynthesis of qualitative research. Disability and Rehabilitation, 32(12), 986-999.
  46. Kayes NM, Schluter, P. J., McPherson, K. M., Leete, M., Mawston, G., & Taylor, D. (2009). Exploring Actical accelerometers as an objective measure of physical activity in people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 90(4), 594-601.
  47. Kayes NM, Schluter, P. J., McPherson, K. M., Taylor, D., & Kolt, G. S. (2009). The Physical Activity and Disability Survey – Revised (PADS-R): An evaluation of a measure of physical activity in people with chronic neurological conditions. Clinical Rehabilitation, 23(6), 534-543.
  48. McPherson, K. M., Kayes NM., & Weatherall, M. (2009). A pilot study of self-regulation informed goal setting in people with traumatic brain injury. Clinical Rehabilitation, 23(4), 296-309.
  49. Moloczij, N., McPherson, K. M., Smith, J. F., & Kayes NM. (2008). Help-seeking at the time of stroke: stroke survivors' perspectives on their decisions. Health and Social Care in the Community, 16(5), 501-510.
  50. Ylvisaker, M., McPherson, K., Kayes N, & Pellett, E. (2008). Metaphoric identity mapping: Facilitating goal setting and engagement in rehabilitation after traumatic brain injury. Neuropsychological Rehabilitation, 18(5/6), 713-741.
  51. Kayes NM, McPherson, K. M., Taylor, D., Schluter, P. J., Wilson, B. K., & Kolt, G. S. (2007). The Physical Activity and Disability Survey (PADS): reliability, validity and acceptability in people with multiple sclerosis. Clinical Rehabilitation, 21(7), 628-639.
  52. McNaughton, H., Kayes N., & McPherson, K. (2006). Interferon beta, PHARMAC, and political directives: in the best interests of people with multiple sclerosis? The New Zealand Medical Journal, 119(1232), U1939.
  53. Jopson NM, & Moss-Morris, R. (2003). The role of illness severity and illness representations in adjusting to multiple sclerosis. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 54(6), 503-511. (Note: this publication is in maiden name)


  • 2018 - AUT Vice Chancellors Research Team Excellence Award – Centre for Person Centred Research
  • 2013 - Best Poster Presentation, New Zealand Rehabilitation Association Biennial Conference
  • 2012 - AUT Vice Chancellors Established Research Team Excellence Award – Centre for Person Centred Research
  • 2011 - AUT Vice Chancellors Emerging Researcher Excellence Award
  • 2011 - Best Presentation in Stroke and Applied Neurosciences, New Zealand Rehabilitation Association Biennial Conference
  • 2007 - AUT Vice Chancellors Research Team Excellence Award – Person Centred Research Team
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