Research themes

Health-Related Cognitions and Behaviours

A cross-cutting theme within the Health Psychology research group is the examination of health-related cognitions and behaviours. This work is concerned with developing ways to measure people’s beliefs, attitudes and responses to their symptoms/illness and to investigate the relationship between these variables and health-related behaviour. It is hoped that by changing maladaptive cognitions we are then able to improve health-related outcomes.

Researcher: Dr Ruth Howard

Coping and the Management of Chronic Conditions

Self management of treatmentsWork in this area focuses on how individuals cope with, adapt to and manage long-term or chronic conditions. This includes work examining depression and diabetes, diabetes control and self-care and psychosocial issues and dietary self-care among adults and children with diabetes and coeliac disease and their families. In addition, the group also examine the experiential and relational impact of symptoms for people with long-term conditions (e.g. fibromyalgia).

Researchers: Dr Ruth Howard, Professor David Booth, Dr Gary Law


Our work in Psycho-oncology encompasses patient delay behaviour (aiming to improve help-seeking in at risk groups); survivorship issues (including resilience and the management of long-term psychological and physical sequela following cancer treatment); work related behaviour (including intervention strategies to aid cancer survivors in their return to the workplace) and the impact of cancer on carers and partners (including couple-based interventions post cancer treatment).

Researcher: Dr Ruth Howard

Research students: Sara Tookey

Experience-based design (EBD)

EBD is an approach to service evaluation and development which has been championed by the NHS National Institute for Innovation and Improvement. We have been involved in two recent EBD projects; the first fed into the development and design of the new Outpatients Department at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Birmingham. The second, which is ongoing, is a collaboration with acute inpatient units in Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership Trust.

Researchers: Dr Elizabeth Newton, Dr Elizabeth Roxburgh (Northampton) 

Archive Research Group (enABLEr/s)

This Group specifies evidence-based calculations of culturally recognised and personally tailored information on feasible activities to improve health or to gain better services from consumer goods and potentially from other public or commercial services. Users of this education in self-described behaviour can become more ABLE to care for themselves as they wish. They may also, if they want, help to enable others like them. This is because we also analyse the research data volunteered by users of the educational service, and feed the extracted evidence back into the tailoring calculations. This approach also enables improvement in practice by professional providers of healthcare and in consumer goods, and strengthens the scientific evidence base through papers for international peer-reviewed research journals.

The Group aspires to develop a new sort of relationship between the universities research community and individual members of the public and is the base for “enABLEr/s” (evidence-networking Archive of Best Life Education research/services). The enABLEr/s system will also include a “Shopper’s Guide” for information where to obtain goods according to personal specification. This is built on the Personal Cognition software, CoPro, for multi-feature discrimination scaling of cognitive processes (including consumer products), currently being tested on food products in BBSRC-funded projects in the Food Quality & Nutritional Psychology Research Group.

Researchers: Professor David Booth, Phil Booth, Dr Sirous Mobini, Dr Oliver Sharpe

Research students: Antonio Laguna Camacho

Food Quality & Nutritional Psychology Research Group

Healthy food choicesWork on healthy eating (including within prevention of obesity and diabetic blood glucose control) is carried out also within the Nutritional Psychology wing of David Booth’s Food Quality & Nutritional Psychology Research Group

Researchers: Professor David Booth, Professor Suzanne Higgs

Feeding and eating behaviours in children

Work in Jackie Blissett's research group focuses on the characterisation of feeding interactions between infants, children, adolescents and their parents, with a view to understanding the development of eating behaviours such as poor fruit and vegetable consumption, and excessive weight gain that leads to obesity.

Understanding Functional Pain

Individuals who present with symptoms of pain that are not associated with observable or structural abnormalities are often described as suffering from a functional disorder. Prevalent functional disorders include fibromyalgia (FM), nonspecific low back pain (NSLBP) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). These disorders are common in the general population with estimates of chronic sufferers ranging from 5-20%. Although not life-threatening, these disorders considerably reduce quality of life, generate considerable health care costs and decrease work-related productivity. Our work is aimed at uncovering central mechanisms associated with functional pain as well as revealing social and psychological triggers that may exacerbate or cause functional pain.

Resilience and Long-term Outcomes

Our work on resilience is concerned with the cognitive, affective and social processes that influence behaviour and support adaptation to adversity, threat or change.

For further details of the resilience based research being conducted with the School of Psychology please see our Psychological Resilience webpage. We are also part of the Resilience and Urban Living Initiative at the University of Birmingham.

Researchers: Dr Theresa Powell