Research

My research interests are quite broad. I’m mainly interested in health related cognitions, emotions, and behaviours. I told you it was broad!

Following are examples of the kind of work that I do:

1.Physical activity: community-led approaches

I have a personal interest in jogging. I have started jogging (not running!) with jogscotland and then started doing parkrun. We have had funding from Cancer Research UK and we studied accessibility of parkrun and parkrunners’ experiences in a study with 4 parkrun sites in the UK (see https://runresearch.wordpress.com/ for more info).

I have also recently got funding from NHS Fife Endowment Fund to do a study on how we can link jogscotland with primary care. We have just started recruiting so I look forward to sharing the results with you!

2. Fears of recurrence among cancer survivors

Fears of recurrence are quite common among survivors of cancer and may have further negative effect on their quality of life. We have completed a study that aimed at developing a short measure of fears of cancer recurrence in a clinical setting and a short psychological intervention  (AFTER -Adjustment to the Fear, Threat, and Expectation of Recurrence) intervention with breast and bowel cancer patients who have completed their treatment and whose cancer is in remission. To that end, we completed a prospective survey study, focus group discussions, and a feasibility study of the AFTER intervention. This project involves collaborations from University of St Andrews (Gerry Humphris & Evelyn Watson), University of Edinburgh (Michael Sharpe), and the clinical staff of Edinburgh Cancer Centre.

This project was funded by National Cancer Research Institute Supportive and Palliative Care Collaboratives

Check out our open access article that came out on the FCR4 and FCR7 scales: https://hqlo.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12955-018-0850-x

3. Appearance-based diet interventions

With a (now former!) PhD student, Dr. Ross Whitehead, and Prof. Dave Perrett (Perception Lab), we have developed and tested an appearance-based diet intervention among university students that uses the appearance-based benefits of increasing fruit and vegetable consumption (which increases the yellowness of skin – this is found attractive and healthy by participants). This is a very novel avenue of research as traditionally appearance-based interventions are used in the area of smoking and sun protection. We have recently published our findings in PLoS ONE which is freely available:

http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0032988. See also the News section for some of the media coverage on these findings.

4. Modern Health Worries

Interest in the previously unforeseen impact of technology and modern life on health is increasing in the general public. There is a paralleled increase in the media representation of stories depicting the dangers of modernity which disproportionately emphasise environmental causes of illness and discount lifestyle factors. It has been argued that this results in increasing perceptions of personal vulnerability while decreasing subjective feelings of health. Currently, in my lab we’re working experimental manipulations of these worries and their impact on symptom reporting. Also, we’re doing a systematic review on modern health worries and its consequences, so if you have anything relevant, please get in touch. Our most recent work on this has been published in Behavioral Medicine (see recent articles).

5. Medical education and student well-being

With my colleague, Dr. Anita Laidlaw (Medicine), we work projects that aim to look at anxiety in medical undergraduates and broadly student well-being. We also work with Student Services in these projects. We are particularly interested in help seeking behaviour for mental wellbeing issues.

6. DISPLAY study

This is a multi-component study that investigated the impact of point of sale display ban on young people’s smoking intentions and I had the chance to work with my colleague Dorothy Currie in St Andrews.

 

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