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Psychology and Health Research Group

Conducting psychological research into illness, health and the delivery of healthcare

A group of academics, research staff and postgraduate students whose research covers a wide variety of health related research, affecting individuals, communities and populations.

We conduct psychological research into illness, health and the delivery of healthcare. The common thread that brings our research together is the application of psychological theories to health. We’re interested in preventative health and behavioural medicine, investigating questions such as:

  • What motivates people to be healthy?
  • How does the way people think, feel and behave in relation to health and other factors influence this?
  • What maintains health?
  • How do people adapt to illness or manage long-term conditions such as diabetes and chronic pain?


We have expertise in the development and validation of Patient Reported Outcome Measures (PROMs), design and evaluation of complex interventions to improve health behaviours, psychosocial aspects of healthcare delivery and long-term condition management, social cognitive models and their application to behaviour, facet theory and analysis of archived/historical health behaviour population datasets. Example topics include: screening behaviour; pain management; obesity prevention and management; appetitive behaviour; mindfulness, cardiac rehabilitation, diabetes management, alternative medicine and health and well-being in astronauts.

Case study

Research within this group contributes to the activities of the European Space Agency concerning the identification of the key factors needed to maintain operational skill in astronauts and reduce accident likelihood during long-duration space missions.

Read the case study: Going to Mars


We work together with health researchers across LJMU from pharmacy, nursing, computing, education, sports science and public health on multidisciplinary projects with an applied focus. In addition, we have active collaborations with other universities, NHS Trusts, primary care, local and national authorities and charities including:

  • University of Liverpool
  • University of Manchester
  • University of Lancaster
  • Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust
  • Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine
  • Clatterbridge Cancer Centre
  • St Helens and Knowsley NHS Trust
  • Liverpool Community Health Trust
  • The Royal Liverpool Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Liverpool Heart and Chest Foundation Hospital Trust
  • Liverpool City Council
  • Knowsley Council
  • Sefton Council
  • Cheshire West and Chester Council
  • UK Data Service/Office of National Statistics
  • Hospital Nacional de Parapléjicos
  • King Juan Carlos University

Our research and consultancy work has been funded by NHS Trusts, pharmaceutical companies, Kellogg’s, Pain Relief Foundation, Cheshire West and Chester Council, Imperial College of Science Technology and Medicine, The British Academy, Youth Justice Trust, Youth Offending Team of Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council, European Regional Development Fund and Liverpool City Council.

Teaching and learning

All staff in the group contribute to teaching modules on the undergraduate BSc (Hons) Psychology programme (appetitive behaviour, social cognition, health psychology and substance use modules) and the Health Psychology (MSc) programme. In addition, our research group includes three practitioner health psychologists (Dr Forshaw, Dr Newson, Dr Poole) who all contribute to the Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology.


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PhD students

Ben Gibson

Thesis title:
The Effects of Positive Emotional Feedback on Blood Sugar Control in Diabetes Patients

Supervisory team:
Dr Kanayo Umeh (Director of Studies), Dr Lisa Newson (2nd supervisor), Dr Ian Davies (3rd supervisor)

Summary of PhD:
Diabetes mellitus is a complex metabolic disorder characterised by persistent hyperglycaemia (higher than normal blood sugar levels) which is a result of defects in insulin secretion, insulin action, or both. It is one of the most common chronic conditions in the UK and represents a significant burden to health care systems such as the NHS. For those living with the disease, it poses a very personal, daily challenge with no respite or cure currently available. Controlling one’s diabetes therefore requires the individual to adopt and adhere to various self-management strategies. However, strategies are made complicated by the fact that anxiety, stress, depression, and a host of other negative emotional experiences influence personal coping behaviour and habitual responses in such a way that it directly influences important clinical markers such as HbA1c (an important measure of average blood sugar levels over a period of 3-4 months). The project aims to develop an intervention that will utilise the self-sustaining effects of positive emotions to help patients build their personal resources, develop realistic goals, and broaden their cognitive and behavioural repertoire so that they can better manage medical outcomes. As a collaborative project between the schools of psychology and health, we are hoping to produce something with significant clinical impact.

Future plans:
I am considering doing my stage 2 training as a Health Psychologist, which would be completed alongside my PhD and would allow me to be registered as a chartered Health Psychologist.

Ishfaq Vaja

Thesis title:
Prevention of Type 2 Diabetes: Development of cultural specific intervention for South Asian adults at risk

Supervisory team:
Dr Lisa Newson (Director of Studies), Dr Kanayo Umeh, Dr Julie Abayomi

LJMU PhD Studentship awarded to Dr Lisa Newson, with a stipend

Summary of PhD:
Diabetes is a metabolic disease that is diagnosed on the basis of sustained high concentration of glucose in the blood (Liu et al, 2016). Diabetes, particularly cases of Type 2 diabetes, is a growing health problem for people of South Asian descent in the UK. The likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes is reported to be as much as six times higher in South Asians than Europeans (Shah & Kanaya, 2014). In fact, South Asian people make up just 4% of the total UK population, but account for an estimated 8% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes (Diabetes UK,2017). With this in mind, diabetes costs the NHS approximately £10 billion/10% of the NHS budget (NHS,2014). Diabetes UK have claimed that if current trends continue than the number of people with diabetes will rise to five million by 2025, and the cost of treating diabetes will spiral out of control. Prevention is better than treatment for individuals health as well as the health of the NHS (Diabetes UK, 2015).

Given the elevated risk of diabetes in the South Asian population, there is a need to understand the underlying beliefs about diabetes in this population. My PhD has adopted mixed methodologies (quantitative and Qqualitative) to explore South Asian population's perceptions of diabetes risk and to investigate their knowledge, beliefs and experiences of engaging with health promotion behaviours to prevent the onset of diabetes.

Future plans:

  • Complete stage 2 doctorate training to become a Chartered Health Psychologist
  • Complete a post doctorate and aim to become a lecturer
  • Work in the field of diabetes


Search for a research paper

20 papers found

  • A participatory action research intervention to support health professionals improve communication with South Asian patients with Type 2 diabetes

    Newson L, Patel T and Kanayo U and Poole H

    Publish date:2017

  • A participatory action research intervention to support health professionals improve communication with South Asian patients with Type 2 diabetes

    Newson L, Patel T and Kanayo U and Poole H

    Publish date:2017

  • A qualitative study exploring midwives' perceptions and knowledge of maternal obesity: Reflecting on their experiences of providing healthy eating and weight management advice to pregnant women

    Mccann MT, Newson L, Burden C, Rooney JS and Charnley MS and Abayomi JC

    Publish date:2017

  • Adapting to Aging: Older People Talk About Their Use of Selection, Optimization, and Compensation to Maximize Well-being in the Context of Physical Decline

    Carpentieri JD, Elliott J and Brett CE and Deary IJ

    Publish date:2017

  • Adults with learning disabilities experiences of using community dental services: Service user and carer perspectives

    Lees C, Poole H and Brennan M and Irvine F

    Publish date:2017

  • Childhood intelligence in relation to major causes of death in 68 year follow-up: prospective population study

    Calvin CM, Batty GD, Der G, Brett CE, Taylor A, Pattie A and Cukic I and Deary IJ

    Publish date:2017