Dr Sarah Beck

Research Fellow
PhD, MSc, BSc

Academic and research departments

School of Health Sciences.


My qualifications

September 2013- July 2017
BSc (Hons) Psychology, First Class
Loughborough University
September 2018 - September 2019
MSc Health Psychology, Distinction
University of Surrey
October 2019 - March 2023
PhD Health Psychology
University of Surrey


Sarah Beck, Katriina Whitaker, Mark Cropley (2023)Is rumination associated with psychological distress after a cancer diagnosis? A systematic review, In: Journal of psychosocial oncologyahead-of-print(ahead-of-print)pp. 1-26 Routledge

Objective: The aim of this work was to review evidence on the association between psychological rumination and distress in those diagnosed with cancer. Methods: Six databases were searched for studies exploring rumination alongside overall assessments of psychological distress, depression, anxiety, or stress. Results: Sixteen studies were identified. Rumination was associated with distress cross-sectionally and longitudinally. However, once baseline depression was controlled for, the association was no longer seen. The emotional valence of ruminative thoughts and the style in which they were processed, rather than their topic, was associated with distress. Brooding and intrusive rumination were associated with increased distress, deliberate rumination had no association, and reflection/instrumentality had mixed findings. Conclusions: This review highlights that it is not necessarily the topic of content, but the style and valence of rumination that is important when considering its association with distress. The style of rumination should be the target of clinical intervention, including brooding and intrusion.

Jenny Harris, Sarah Beck, Nicola Ayers, Debra Bick, Benjamin W. Lamb, Mehrnoosh Aref-Adib, Tony Kelly, James S. A. Green, Cath Taylor (2022)Improving teamwork in maternity services: A rapid review of interventions, In: Midwifery Elsevier

Background Teamwork is essential for providing safe, effective and women-centred maternity care and several high profile investigations have highlighted the adverse conseqences of dysfuntional teamwork. Maternity teams may need support to identify the most relevant intervention(s) for improving teamwork. Objective To identify and describe current ‘off-the-shelf’ teamwork interventions freely or commercially available to support improvements to teamworking in UK maternity services and conduct a gap analysis to identify areas for future development. Design Rapid scoping review Methods A multi-component search process was used to identify teamwork interventions, comprising: (1) bibliographic database search (Medline, PsycINFO, CINAHL, MIDRS, NICE evidence research database); (2) identification of relevant policies and UK reports; and (3) expert input from key stakeholders (e.g., maternity service clinicians, managers, policymakers, and report authors). Data were extracted including the scope and content of each intervention and a gap analysis used to map interventions to the integrated team effectiveness model (ITEM) and structure level (macro, meso, micro) and results presented narratively. Findings Ten interventions were identified. Interventions were heterogeneous in their purpose and scope; six were classified as training courses, three were tools involving observational or diagnostics instruments, and one was a programme involving training and organisational re-design. Interventions were focused on teamwork in the context of obstetric emergencies (n=5), enhancement of routine care (n=4) or understanding workplace cultures (n=1). Users of interventions could vary, from whole organisations, to departments, to individual team members. All interventions focused on micro (e.g., team leadership, communication, decision-making, cohesion, and problem solving), with two also focused on meso aspects of teamwork (resources, organisational goals). Evidence for intervention effective on objective outcomes was limited. Conclusions Interventions that address key aspects of teamworking are available, particularly for improving safety in obstetric emergency situations. Most interventions, however, are focused on micro features, ignoring the meso (organisational) and macro (systems) features that may also impact on team effectiveness. Evidence-based team improvement interventions that address these gaps are needed. Such interventions would support team ownership of quality improvement, leading to improvements in outcomes for service users, staff and organisations.

Mark Cropley, FRH Zijlstra, Dawn Querstret, S Beck (2016)Is Work-related Rumination Associated with deficits in Executive Functioning?, In: Frontiers in Psychology71524 Frontiers Media

Work-related rumination, that is, perseverative thinking about work during leisure time, has been associated with a range of negative health and wellbeing issues. The present paper examined the association between work-related rumination and cognitive processes centred around the theoretical construct of executive functioning. Executive functioning is an umbrella term for high level cognitive processes such as planning, working memory, inhibition, mental flexibility; and it underlies how people manage and regulate their goal directed behaviour. Three studies are reported. Study I, reports the results of a cross-sectional study of 240 employees, and demonstrates significant correlations between work-related rumination and three proxy measures of executive functioning: cognitive failures (.33), cognitive flexibility (-.24) and situational awareness at work (-.28). Study II (n = 939), expands on the findings from study 1 and demonstrates that workers reporting medium and high work-related rumination were 2.8 and 5 times, respectively, more likely to report cognitive failures relative to low ruminators. High ruminators also demonstrated greater difficulties with ‘lapses of attention’ (OR = 4.8), ‘lack of focus of attention’ (OR = 3.4), and ‘absent mindedness’ (OR = 4.3). The final study, examined the association between work-related rumination and executive functioning using interview data from 2460 full time workers. Workers were divided into tertiles low, medium and high. The findings showed that high work-related rumination was associated with deficits in starting (OR = 2.3) and finishing projects (OR = 2.4), fidgeting (OR = 1.9), memory (OR = 2.2), pursuing tasks in order (OR = 1.8), and feeling compelled to do things (OR = 2.0). It was argued that work-related rumination may not be related to work demands per se, but appears to be an executive functioning/control issue. Such findings are important for the design and delivery of intervention programmes aimed at helping people to switch off and unwind from work

Victoria Perry, Katherine Ellis, Jo Moss, Sarah R. Beck, Gursharan Singla, Hayley Crawford, Jane Waite, Caroline Richards, Chris Oliver (2022)Executive function, repetitive behaviour and restricted interests in neurodevelopmental disorders, In: Research in Developmental Disabilities122104166 Elsevier

Background Individuals with genetic syndromes show unique profiles of repetitive behaviours and restricted interests (RRBs). The executive dysfunction account of RRBs suggests that in autistic (AUT) individuals executive function impairments underpin RRBs, but not communication and social interaction autistic characteristics. Aims To 1) describe profiles of behavioural manifestations of executive function (EF behaviours) and 2) explore the relationship between EF behaviours and autistic traits across individuals with Cornelia de Lange (CdLS), fragile X (FXS) and Rubinstein-Taybi syndromes (RTS), and AUT individuals. Method Carers completed the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function – Preschool Version and the Social Communication Questionnaire. Data reporting on 25 individuals with CdLS (Mage = 18.60, SD = 8.94), 25 with FXS (Mage = 18.48, SD = 8.80), 25 with RTS (Mage = 18.60, SD = 8.65) and 25 AUT individuals (Mage = 18.52, SD = 8.65) matched on chronological age and adaptive ability were included in analyses. Results All groups showed impairments across EF behaviours compared to two-to-three-year-old typically developing normative samples with no differences between groups. Different EF behaviours predicted RRBs in the syndrome groups with no associations found in the AUT group. Conclusions Syndrome related differences should be considered when developing targeted interventions that focus on EF behaviours and/or RRBs in these groups.