Sophia Quirke-McFarlane

PhD Candidate and Trainee Health Psychologist
BA (Hons), MSc
9am-5pm, Monday to Friday

Academic and research departments

School of Psychology.


I am a 3rd year PhD Candidate and Trainee Health Psychologist here at the University of Surrey. I plan to use both qualitative and quantitative research methods to explore the role of social support throughout patients' Bariatric Surgery journey. Alongside my PhD research, I am also working towards achieving the Stage 2 Qualification in Health Psychology and a Fellowship in the Higher Education Academy.


In 2019, I completed an MSc in Health Psychology at the University of St Andrews. Prior to that, I completed a BA (Hons) in Applied Psychology at University College Cork.


Prior to commencing my PhD, I worked as a Research Assistant at King’s College London and Imperial College London. At King’s College London, under the supervision of Professor John Weinman, I used a range of research methodologies to investigate the extent of and reasons underlying treatment adherence in chronic conditions, such as type 2 diabetes mellitus, asthma, psoriasis, as well as rare conditions, such as growth hormone deficiencies. At Imperial College London, using qualitative research methods, I explored differences in consultant orthopaedic surgeons’ pre-operative decision-making in total hip replacements.


My research interests include eating behaviours, obesity and weight management, communication in healthcare, and treatment adherence.

My qualifications

BA (Hons) in Applied Psychology
University College Cork
2018 - 2019
MSc in Health Psychology
University of St Andrews

Affiliations and memberships

Division of Health Psychology, British Psychological Society
Graduate member



Purpose of review: Whilst research indicates the positive impact of social support across a number of health domains, including weight management, not all social support is beneficial. Findings: This paper reviews the evidence for both positive and negative social support in the context of behavioural interventions and surgery for obesity. It then presents a new model of negative social support focusing on sabotage (‘active and intentional undermining of another person’s weight goals’), feeding behaviour (‘explicit over feeding of someone when they are not hungry or wishing not to eat’) and collusion (‘passive and benign negative social support to avoid conflict’) which can be conceptualized within the context of relationships as systems and the mechanisms of homeostasis. Summary: There is increasing evidence for the negative impact of social support. This new model could form the basis of further research and the development of interventions for family, friends and partners to maximise weight loss outcomes.  

Additional publications