Areas of specialism

Behaviour change psychology; Healthcare; Organisational psychology; Realist methods; Qualitative research

University roles and responsibilities

  • Early Career Researcher representative - SHS

    My qualifications

    PhD; Behavioural Science applied to Health
    University of Birmingham
    Bachelor of Arts (Honours)
    Maastricht University

    Previous roles

    15 October 2019 - 30 September 2021
    Research Fellow - How, why and for whom do inter-organisational collaborations in healthcare work?
    University of Birmingham
    01 September 2016 - 31 August 2019
    Research Fellow while conducting PhD in a Horizon 2020 Funded Innovative Training Network called PANINI:
    University of Birmingham


    Research interests

    My publications


    JUSTIN AVERY AUNGER, Ross Millar, Anne Marie Rafferty, Russell Mannion, Joanne Greenhalgh, Deborah Faulks, Hugh McLeod (2022)How, when, and why do inter-organisational collaborations in healthcare work? A realist evaluation, In: PloS one.17(4)e0266899 PLOS

    BackgroundInter-organisational collaborations (IOCs) in healthcare have been viewed as an effective approach to performance improvement. However, there remain gaps in our understanding of what helps IOCs function, as well as how and why contextual elements affect their implementation. A realist review of evidence drawing on 86 sources has sought to elicit and refine context-mechanism-outcome configurations (CMOCs) to understand and refine these phenomena, yet further understanding can be gained from interviewing those involved in developing IOCs.MethodsWe used a realist evaluation methodology, adopting prior realist synthesis findings as a theoretical framework that we sought to refine. We drew on 32 interviews taking place between January 2020 and May 2021 with 29 stakeholders comprising IOC case studies, service users, as well as regulatory perspectives in England. Using a retroductive analysis approach, we aimed to test CMOCs against these data to explore whether previously identified mechanisms, CMOCs, and causal links between them were affirmed, refuted, or revised, and refine our explanations of how and why interorganisational collaborations are successful.ResultsMost of our prior CMOCs and their underlying mechanisms were supported in the interview findings with a diverse range of evidence. Leadership behaviours, including showing vulnerability and persuasiveness, acted to shape the core mechanisms of collaborative functioning. These included our prior mechanisms of trust, faith, and confidence, which were largely ratified with minor refinements. Action statements were formulated, translating theoretical findings into practical guidance.ConclusionAs the fifth stage in a larger project, our refined theory provides a comprehensive understanding of the causal chain leading to effective collaborative inter-organisational relationships. These findings and recommendations can support implementation of IOCs in the UK and elsewhere. Future research should translate these findings into further practical guidance for implementers, researchers, and policymakers.

    JUSTIN AVERY AUNGER, Ross Millar, Joanne Greenhalgh, Russell Mannion, Anne Marie Rafferty, Hugh McLeod (2021)Building an initial realist theory of partnering across National Health Service providers, In: Journal of integrated care (Brighton, England)29(2)pp. 111-125 Emerald Publishing Limited

    PurposeThe National Health Service (NHS) is facing unprecedented financial strain. These significant economic pressures have coincided with concerns regarding the quality and safety of the NHS provider sector. To make the necessary improvements to performance, policy interest has turned to encouraging greater collaboration and partnership working across providers.Design/methodology/approachUsing a purposive search of academic and grey literature, this narrative review aimed (1) to establish a working typology of partnering arrangements for improvement across NHS providers and (2) inform the development of a plausible initial rough theory (IRF) of partnering to inform an ongoing realist synthesis.FindingsDifferent types of partnership were characterised by degree of integration and/or organisational change. A review of existing theories of partnering also identified a suitable framework which incorporated key elements to partnerships, such as governance, workforce, leadership and culture. This informed the creation of an IRF of partnerships, which proposes that partnership “interventions” are proposed to primarily cause changes in governance, leadership, IT systems and care model design, which will then go on to affect culture, user engagement and workforce.Research limitations/implicationsFurther realist evaluation, informed by this review, will aim to uncover configurations of mechanisms, contexts and outcomes in various partnering arrangements and limitations. As this is the starting point for building a programme theory, it draws on limited evidence.Originality/valueThis paper presents a novel theory of partnering and collaborating in healthcare with practical implications for policy makers and practitioners.

    Ethnic minorities have a high prevalence of non-communicable diseases relating to unhealthy lifestyle practices. Several factors have been identified as influencing unhealthy lifestyle practices among this population; however, there is little evidence about how these factors differ among a heterogeneous sample living in a super-diverse city. This study aimed to: (1) identify and compare factors influencing eating behaviours and physical function among ethnic older minorities living in Birmingham, United Kingdom; and (2) understand how these factors and their association with healthy eating and physical function changed over 8-months. An in-depth interviewing approach was used at baseline ( = 92) and after 8-months ( = 81). Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed using directed content analysis. Healthy eating was viewed as more important than, and unrelated to, physical function. Personal, social and cultural/environmental factors were identified as the main factors influencing eating behaviours and physical function, which differed by ethnicity, age, and sex. At 8-month interviews, more men than women reported adverse changes. The study provides unique and useful insights regarding perceived eating behaviours and physical function in a relatively large and diverse sample of older adults that can be used to design new, and adapt existing, culturally-tailored community interventions to support healthy ageing.

    JUSTIN AVERY AUNGER, C Greaves, Edward T Davis, Evans A Asamane, Anna C Whittaker, Carolyn Anne Greig (2020)A novel behavioural INTErvention to REduce Sitting Time in older adults undergoing orthopaedic surgery (INTEREST): results of a randomised-controlled feasibility study, In: Aging clinical and experimental research32(12)2585 Springer

    Osteoarthritis is a prevalent condition in older adults that causes many patients to require a hip or knee replacement. Reducing patients' sedentariness prior to surgery may improve physical function and post-operative outcomes. We conducted a pragmatic randomised-controlled feasibility study with 2:1 allocation into intervention or usual care groups. The intervention, based on Self-Determination Theory, involved techniques to reduce sedentary behaviour, including motivational interviewing, setting of behavioural goals, and more. The primary outcome was feasibility, assessed using mixed methods. We included exploratory measures to inform a future definitive trial, such as ActivPal3 accelerometry to measure movement, the Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB), Basic Psychological Needs, and cardiometabolic biomarkers. Assessments were at baseline, 1-week pre-surgery, and 6-week post-surgery. We recruited 35 participants aged ≥ 60 years approximately 8 weeks before hip or knee arthroplasty. Participant uptake rate was 14.2%, and retention rate 85.7%. Participants were very satisfied with the study which was found to be feasible with some modifications. Exploratory within-group comparisons found that the intervention has potential to improve SPPB by 0.71 points from baseline to pre-surgery, a clinically significant increase, and reduce sedentary time by up to 66 min d . In this older surgical population, it is feasible to use behavioural techniques to displace sedentary time to activity and to conduct a trial spanning the period of surgical intervention. This may improve physical function and surgical outcomes. The INTEREST intervention is now ready for evaluation in a full-scale randomised-controlled trial. This trial was registered on on 13/11/2018. ID: NCT03740412.

    JUSTIN AVERY AUNGER, Ross Millar, Joanne Greenhalgh, Russell Mannion, Anne Marie Rafferty, Hugh McLeod (2021)Why do some inter-organisational collaborations in healthcare work when others do not? A realist review, In: Systematic reviews10(1)82 BMC

    Inter-organisational collaboration is increasingly prominent within contemporary healthcare systems. A range of collaboration types such as alliances, networks, and mergers have been proposed as a means to turnaround organisations, by reducing duplication of effort, enabling resource sharing, and promoting innovations. However, in practice, due to the complexity of the process, such efforts are often rife with difficulty. Notable contributions have sought to make sense of this area; however, further understanding is needed in order to gain a better understanding of why some inter-organisational collaborations work when others do not, to be able to more effectively implement collaborations in the future. Realist review methodology was used with the intention of formulating context-mechanism-outcome configurations (CMOCs) to explain how inter-organisational collaborations work and why, combining systematic and purposive literature search techniques. The systematic review encompassed searches for reviews, commentaries, opinion pieces, and case studies on HMIC, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, and Social Policy and Practice databases, and further searches were conducted using Google Scholar. Data were extracted from included studies according to relevance to the realist review. Fifty-three papers were included, informing the development of programme theories of how, why, and when inter-organisational collaborations in healthcare work. Formulation of our programme theories incorporated the concepts of partnership synergy and collaborative inertia and found that it was essential to consider mechanisms underlying partnership functioning, such as building trust and faith in the collaboration to maximise synergy and thus collaborative performance. More integrative or mandated collaboration may lean more heavily on contract to drive collaborative behaviour. As the first realist review of inter-organisational collaborations in healthcare as an intervention for improvement, this review provides actionable evidence for policymakers and implementers, enhancing understanding of mechanisms underlying the functioning and performing of inter-organisational collaborations, as well as how to configure the context to aid success. Next steps in this research will test the results against further case studies and primary data to produce a further refined theory. PROSPERO CRD42019149009.

    JUSTIN AVERY AUNGER, Janelle Wagnild (2022)Objective and subjective measurement of sedentary behavior in human adults: A toolkit, In: American journal of human biology34(1)e23546 John Wiley & Sons, Inc

    Objectives Objectives: Human biologists are increasingly interested in measuring and comparing physical activities in different societies. Sedentary behavior, which refers to time spent sitting or lying down while awake, is a large component of daily 24 hours movement patterns in humans and has been linked to poor health outcomes such as risk of all‐cause and cardiovascular mortality, independently of physical activity. As such, it is important for researchers, with the aim of measuring human movement patterns, to most effectively use resources available to them to capture sedentary behavior. Methods This toolkit outlines objective (device‐based) and subjective (self‐report) methods for measuring sedentary behavior in free‐living contexts, the benefits and drawbacks to each, as well as novel options for combined use to maximize scientific rigor. Throughout this toolkit, emphasis is placed on considerations for the use of these methods in various field conditions and in varying cultural contexts. Results Objective measures such as inclinometers are the gold‐standard for measuring total sedentary time but they typically cannot capture contextual information or determine which specific behaviors are taking place. Subjective measures such as questionnaires and 24 hours‐recall methods can provide measurements of time spent in specific sedentary behaviors but are subject to measurement error and response bias. Conclusions We recommend that researchers use the method(s) that suit the research question; inclinometers are recommended for the measurement of total sedentary time, while self‐report methods are recommended for measuring time spent in particular contexts of sedentary behavior.

    JUSTIN AVERY AUNGER, C Greaves, Edward T Davis, Carolyn Anne Greig (2019)A novel behavioural INTErvention to REduce Sitting Time in older adults undergoing orthopaedic surgery (INTEREST): protocol for a randomised controlled feasibility study, In: Pilot and feasibility studies5(1)pp. 54-54 BioMed Central
    Paul Doody, JUSTIN AVERY AUNGER, Evans A Asamane, Carolyn Anne Greig, J Lord, AL Whittaker (2019)Frailty Levels In Geriatric Hospital paTients (FLIGHT)-the prevalence of frailty among geriatric populations within hospital ward settings: a systematic review protocol, In: BMJ open9(8)e030147 BMJ

    Frailty is a common and clinically significant condition in geriatric populations, associated with adverse health outcomes such as hospitalisation, disability and mortality. Although there are systematic reviews/meta-analyses assessing the prevalence of frailty in community-dwelling older adults, nursing home residents, and cancer and general surgery patients, there are none assessing the overall prevalence of frailty in geriatric hospital inpatients. This review will systematically search and analyse the prevalence of frailty within geriatric hospital inpatients within the literature. A search will be employed on the platforms of Ovid, Web of Science and databases of Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL) Plus, SCOPUS and the Cochrane Library. Any observational or experimental study design which utilises a validated operational definition of frailty, reports the prevalence of frailty, has a minimum age ≥65 years, attempts to assess the whole ward/clinical population and occurs in hospital inpatients, will be included. Title and abstract and full-text screenings will be conducted by three reviewers. Methodological quality of eligible studies will be assessed using the Joanna Briggs Institute critical appraisal tool. Data extraction will be performed by two reviewers. If sufficient data are available, a meta-analysis synthesising pooled estimates of the prevalence of frailty and pre-frailty, as well as the prevalence of frailty stratified by age, sex, operational frailty definition, prevalent morbidities, ward type and location, among older hospitalised inpatients will be conducted. Clinical heterogeneity will be assessed by two reviewers. Statistical heterogeneity will be assessed through a Cochran Q test, and an I test performed to assess its magnitude. Ethical approval was not required as primary data will not be collected. Findings will be disseminated through publication in peer reviewed open access scientific journals, public engagement events, conference presentations and social media. 79202.

    JUSTIN AVERY AUNGER, Paul Doody, Carolyn Anne Greig (2018)Interventions targeting sedentary behavior in non-working older adults: a systematic review, In: Maturitas116pp. 89-99

    Sedentary behavior has been found to be associated with negative health outcomes independently of physical activity in older adults. This systematic review collates interventions to reduce sedentary behavior in non-working older adults, assessing whether they are effective, feasible, and safe. A systematic search identified 2560 studies across five databases. Studies were included where participants were ≥60 years on average with none younger than 45, and participants did not work >2 days per week. A total of six studies were identified, three of which included control groups, while the other three were repeated-measures pre-post designs. Only one study randomised participants. The overall level of quality of included studies was poor. A narrative synthesis was conducted, as the level of heterogeneity in outcomes and outcome reporting were too high for a meta-analysis to be performed. The narrative synthesis suggested that interventions have the potential to reduce sitting time in non-working older adults. Included studies reported feasible and safe implementations of their interventions in most samples, except for one subsample from a study of people in sheltered housing. Objectively measured reductions in sitting time were between 3.2% and 5.3% of waking time, or up to 53.9 min per day. Future studies should employ more rigorous designs to assess the effects of reducing sedentary behavior on health and physical function, and should include follow-ups to measure the duration of behavior change.