The Health Psychology research group has four broad research areas:
Health Behaviour and Behaviour Change
We investigate the processes influencing behaviours and behaviour change in health promoting contexts such as dietary habits, physical exercise, sleep, smoking cessation, and screening for genetic conditions. Our work focuses on evaluating the mechanisms of change and on generating evidence for effective behaviour change through interventions targeted at the individual, community and societal (policy) level.
Our research also investigates the role of environments in the restoring well-being as well as more traditional interventions. We closely interact with other research groups within the School of Psychology, drawing upon the recent developments in the areas of neuroscience, environmental psychology, perceptual judgments and performance, emotions and creativity.
Risk Appreciation, Governance and Policy Processes
Our risk processing research focuses on the relationship between risk estimates and associated behaviour in the context of health threats including food contaminants and toxicants, smoking, genetic conditions and STDs. We also examine public perception of risk related to technological advances, including those associated with mobile phones, nuclear power and genetic engineering, as well as natural hazards such as zoonotic diseases.
Our work aims to provide evidence based data for policy makers advising on risk communication and governance as well as public engagement processes and policy development. Recent projects have examined food labelling and implied health claims on packaging.
We investigate a number of chronic illnesses including obesity, diabetes, coronary heart disease and brain injury and address issues relating to both onset and management. We investigate responses to stress-inducing situations, including strategies for managing work-life balance and stress as experienced by members of the emergency services. We consider the relationship of perceived stress to individual and group identities and the importance of teamwork in stressful occupations. We also evaluate interventions to moderate pain and explore the psychology of symptom perception.
We examine these issues using various psychological and physiological measures to yield results applicable to different contexts. Current work includes a European funded project to develop a system which will provide objective information about Parkinson's patients’ health status to health professionals using mobile technology. Our work looks at the user requirements, policy implications and ethics of this system. The mHealth platform development for Parkinson's disease management (PD_Manager project) is being supported by the European Commission, which provided 4.4 million euros in funding.
Health, Stress and Fatigue
This group investigates responses to stress-inducing situations, including strategies for managing work-life balance and stress as experienced by members of the emergency services. We consider the relationship of perceived stress to individual and group identities and the importance of teamwork in stressful occupations.
Stress and fatigue are major issues and a global health phenomenon. The aim of our group is to understand what causes stress and fatigue in humans, the mechanisms that lead to negative health outcomes, and to identify factors that promote recovery from, or prevents the build-up of stress and fatigue. The group is particularly interested in how intrusive, ruminative thoughts impact health (e.g., cardiovascular disease, fatigue, sleep, and mood) and how intrusive thoughts affect recovery from stress. We examine these issues using a variety of psychological and physiological measures including cortisol and heart rate variability.