Professor Colin Greaves PhD, C Psychol

Professor Colin Greaves

School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences
Professor of Psychology Applied to Health

Contact details

School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Professor Greaves conducts internationally recognised research on health behaviour change. He develops and evaluates practical behavioural interventions to prevent and treat chronic illnesses.


Having started life as a chemical engineer and following a brief fling with the construction industry (in industrial flooring), Professor Greaves rejected Mammon and retrained as a health psychologist. He completed a PhD on asthma self-care at the University of Exeter and since then has managed a NHS primary care research consortium and worked for 15 years in the University of Exeter Medical School. He has helped to develop over 15 health care interventions, 10 of which (to date) have attracted funding for full-scale randomised controlled trials to evaluate them.

Professor Greaves joined the University of Birmingham in January 2018 as a Professorial Research Fellow in the School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation. He is currently President of the UK Society for Behavioural Medicine.


Professor Greaves leads a masters module on Research Design and Service Evaluation, contributes to other modules and supervises UG, MSc dissertation projects as well as Postgraduate research students.  He has delivered numerous CPD /training courses to health professionals in the UK and internationally, including training on Supporting Health Behaviour Change and on Intervention Development.

Postgraduate supervision

Professor Greaves has supervised to completion eight PhDs, 12 MSc theses and two Stage 2 (Chartered Psychologist) Psychology trainees. He is currently supervising three PhDs and two MScs.

Professor Greaves welcomes enquiries from potential new postgraduate students, including self-funded students and those seeking funding for their own project ideas.


Professor Greaves has helped to develop and evaluate intervention programmes to support people in losing weight and reducing disease risk through changes in diet and physical activity (Waste the WaisteCOACHERWAKEUPNorfolk Diabetes Prevention StudyImpulsePalComPoD), stopping smoking (EARSTARS), improving self-care of heart failure (REACH-HF, REACH-HFpEF, D-REACH-HF), reducing the decline of physical functioning in ageing (REACT, ACE), managing depression (eMotion), reducing cardiovascular risk (CRISP) and multimorbidity rehabilitation (PERFORM). He has a strong interest in research to better understand the processes of behaviour change in behavioural interventions using both qualitative and quantitative methods. His systematic reviews of "what works for supporting changes in diet and physical activity" and “diabetes prevention in the real world” have informed a European evidence-based guideline (IMAGE) and NICE guidance on the prevention of diabetes, as well as the development of the English National Diabetes Prevention Programme.

He has ongoing interests in health behaviour change and in translating technical knowledge on physiology and nutrition into pragmatic interventions that can improve the wellbeing and health of people with long term illnesses.


Prof Greaves has published over 115 peer-reviewed articles. The following selection represents his field of expertise and ongoing research interests:-

  1. Sampson M, Clark A, Bachmann M, Garner N,  Irvine L, Howe A, Greaves CJ et al. Lifestyle Intervention With or Without Lay Volunteers to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes in People With Impaired Fasting Glucose and/or Nondiabetic Hyperglycemia: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Internal Medicine 2021;181(2):168-178.
  2. Dalal HM, Taylor RS, Wingham J, Greaves CJ, Jolly K, Lang CC, et al. A facilitated home-based cardiac rehabilitation intervention for people with heart failure and their caregivers: a research programme including the REACH-HF RCT. Programme Grants for Applied Research 2021;9(1):1-134.
  3. Taylor A, Taylor RS, Ingram WM, Dean S, Jolly K, Mutrie N, et al. A randomised controlled trial of an augmented exercise referral scheme using web-based behavioural support for inactive adults with chronic health conditions: the e-coachER trial. British Journal of Sports Medicine 2020; DOI: 10.1136/bjsports-2020-103121
  4. Poltawski L, Van Beurden SB, Morgan-Trimmer S, Greaves CJ. The dynamics of decision-making in weight loss and maintenance: a qualitative enquiry. BMC Public Health 2020;20(1):11.
  5. Hassett L, Tiedemann A, Hinman RS, Crotty M, Hoffmann T, Harvey L, Taylor NF, Greaves C et al. Physical activity coaching for adults with mobility limitations: protocol for the ComeBACK pragmatic hybrid effectiveness-implementation type 1 randomised controlled trial. BMJ Open 2020;10(11):e034696.
  1. Stathi A, Withall J, Greaves CJ, Thompson JL, Taylor G, Medina-Lara A et al. A randomised controlled trial and economic evaluation of a community-based physical activity intervention to prevent mobility-related disability in older adults: The REACT [REtirement in ACTion] study. In Press, Public Health Research 2021. 
  1. Smith JA, Greaves CJ, Thompson J et al. The Community-based Prevention of Diabetes (ComPoD) study: A randomised, waiting list controlled trial of a voluntary sector-led diabetes prevention programme. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2019;16(1):112.
  2. Borek A, Smith JR, Greaves CJ, Gillison F, Tarrant M, Morgan-Trimmer S, McCabe R, Abraham C. Developing and applying a framework to understand mechanisms of action in group-based interventions: The MAGI mixed-methods study. Efficacy & Mechanism Evaluation, 2019;6(3).
  3. Taylor RS, Sadler S, Dalal HM, Warren FC, Jolly K, Davis RC, Doherty P, Miles J, Greaves C et al. The cost effectiveness of REACH-HF and home-based cardiac rehabilitation compared with the usual medical care for heart failure with reduced ejection fraction: A decision model-based analysis. European Journal of Preventive Cardiology 2019 26(12) 1252–1261.
  4. Borek AJ, Abraham C, Greaves CJ, Tarrant M. Group-Based Diet and Physical Activity Weight-Loss Interventions: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomised Controlled Trials. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being. 2018;10(1):62-86.
  5. Thompson T, Lambert JD, Greaves CJ, Taylor AH. Intervention delivery fidelity assessment of a counselling based intervention for promoting smoking reduction and increasing physical activity. Health Psychology 2018; In Press.
  6. Lambert JD, Greaves CJ, Farrand P, Price L, Haase A, Taylor AH. A pilot randomized controlled trial of a web-based intervention using behavioural activation and physical activity for adults with depression: The eMotion study. Journal of Medical Internet Research. 2018; In Press.
  7. van Beurden SB, Simmons SI, Tang JCH, Mewse AJ, Abraham C, Greaves CJ. Informing the development of online weight management interventions: a qualitative investigation of primary care patient perceptions. BMC Obesity. 2018;5(1):7.
  8. Greaves CJ, Poltawski L, Garside R, Briscoe S. A synthesis of qualitative research on weight loss maintenance. Health Psychology Review 2017;11(2):145-63.
  9. Breeze PR, Thomas C, Squires H, Brennan A, Greaves CJ, Diggle PJ, et al. Cost-effectiveness of population based, community, workplace, and individual policies for diabetes prevention in the UK. Diabetic Medicine 2017; 2017;34(8):1136-44.
  10. van Beurden S, Greaves CJ, Smith J, Abraham C: Techniques for Modifying Impulsive Processes Associated with Unhealthy Eating: A Systematic Review. Health Psychology 2016;35(8):793-806.
  11. Greaves CJ, Wingham J, Deighan C, Doherty P, Elliot J, Armitage W et al. Optimising self-care support for people with heart failure and their care givers: development of the Rehabilitation Enablement in Chronic Heart Failure (REACH-HF) intervention using Intervention Mapping. BMC Pilot and Feasibility Studies 2016;2:37.
  12. Tang JCH, Abraham C, Greaves CJ, Nikolaou V: Self-directed interventions to promote weight loss: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Health Psychology Review 2016;10(3):358-372.
  13. Greaves CJ, Gillison FB, Stathi A, Bennett P, Reddy P, Dunbar J, Perry R, Messom D, Chandler R, Francis M, Davies M, Green C, Evans PH, Taylor G. Waste the Waist: A pilot randomised controlled trial of a primary care based intervention to support lifestyle change in people with high cardiovascular risk. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2015;12(1):1-23.
  14. Evans PH, Greaves CJ. Helping people at high risk of type 2 diabetes: Using the WAKEUP materials. Diabetes and Primary Care 2015;17(4):175-179.
  15. Wingham J, Frost J, Britten N, Jolly K, Greaves C, Abraham C, Dalal H: Needs of caregivers in heart failure management: A qualitative study. Chronic Illness 2015, 11(4):304-319.
  16. Gillison F, Stathi A, Reddy P, Perry R, Taylor G, Bennett P, Dunbar J, Greaves C. Processes of behavior change and weight loss in a theory-based weight loss intervention program: a test of the process model for lifestyle behavior change. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2015;12(2):1-15.
  17. Dunkley AJ, Bodicoat DH, Greaves CJ, Russell C, Yates T, Davies MJ, Khunti K: Diabetes Prevention in the Real World: Effectiveness of Pragmatic Lifestyle Interventions for the Prevention of Type 2 Diabetes and of the Impact of Adherence to Guideline Recommendations: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Diabetes Care 2014, 37:922-933.
  18. Denford S, Taylor RS, Campbell JL, Greaves CJ. Effective behaviour change techniques in asthma self-care interventions: systematic review and meta-regression. Health Psychology 2014;33(7):577-87.
  19. Schwarz PEH, Greaves CJ, Lindström J, Yates T, Davies M. Non-pharmacological interventions for the prevention of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Nature Reviews Endocrinology 2012;8(6):363-373.
  20. Dickens AP, Richards SH, Hawton A, Taylor RS, Greaves CJ, Green C, et al. An evaluation of the effectiveness of a community mentoring service for socially isolated older people: a controlled trial. BMC Public Health 2011;11:218.
  21. Lloyd J, Logan S, Greaves C, Wyatt K. Evidence, theory and context - using intervention mapping to develop a school-based intervention to prevent obesity in children. Int J Behavior Nutrition & Physical Activity 2011;8(1):1-15.
  22. Hawton A, Green C, Dickens A, Richards S, Taylor R, Edwards R, Greaves C, Campbell J. The impact of social isolation on the health status and health-related quality of life of older people. Quality of Life Research 2011;20(1):57-67.
  23. Dickens A, Richards S, Greaves C, Campbell J. Interventions targeting social isolation in older people: a systematic review. BMC Public Health 2011;11:647.
  24. Greaves CJ, Sheppard K, Abraham C, Hardeman W, Schwarz P, Roden M, The IMAGE Study Group. Systematic review of reviews of intervention components associated with increased effectiveness in dietary and physical activity interventions. BMC Public Health 2011;11(119):1-12.
  25. Lindström J, Neumann A, Sheppard K, Gilis-Januszewska A, Greaves CJ, Handke U, et al. Take Action To Prevent Diabetes: A toolkit for the prevention of type 2 diabetes in Europe. Hormone and Metabolic Research 2010;42:S37-S55.
  26. Paulweber B, Valensi P, Lindström J, Lalic NM, Greaves CJ, McKee M, et al: A European Evidence-Based Guideline for the Prevention of Type 2 Diabetes. Hormone and Metabolic Research 2010;42:S3-S36.
  27. Greaves CJ, Daly M, Middlebrooke A, O’Loughlin L, Holland S, Piper J. Motivational interviewing for modifying diabetes risk: a randomised controlled trial. British Journal of General Practice 2008:58;535-540.
  28. Greaves CJ, Campbell J. Supporting Self Care in General Practice. British Journal of General Practice 2007;58:814-821.
  29. Evans PH, Greaves C, Winder R, Fearn-Smith J, Campbell J. Development of an educational toolkit for health professionals and their patients with pre-diabetes: The WAKEUP study. Diabetic Medicine 2007;24:770-777.

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