Health psychology research

Health psychology research at the University of Hertfordshire spans a wide range of interests and approaches. Some of these are clinical, working with hospitals, while others are more population-based.

Research includes both the understanding of psychological factors that influence health and health behaviours as well as the development of interventions that can address these issues. In particular, we are interested in both the cognitive and emotional factors that influence health, as these have major potential impacts on policy.

Research areas are:

Collaboration and grants

We have many collaborative partnerships both within the University of Hertfordshire and with outside organisations including:

  • The Institute of Psychiatry, KCL
  • Kings College London
  • The Haemophilia Society
  • The Royal London
  • University of Bedfordshire
  • Essex University

Health Grants Include:

  • Alzheimer’s Society Fellowship (2018-2021). Exploring how family carers experience and maintain continuing compassion in care: the relationship of compassion with psychological and behavioural outcomes, and co-design of an intervention to support it – £224,987
  • UCL-Marie Curie UBEL Doctoral Training Partnership (2018-2021). Emotional disclosure as a form of therapeutic intervention on health-related outcomes of people in progressive advanced chronic disease and their family carers - £71,560
  • Southern Academic Coagulation Consortium (2016-2018). Patient activation and quality of life in personalised treatment for haemophilia following pharmacokinetic testing - £86,710
  • Bayer AG Caregiver Award (2012-2015). Adherence to prophylactic treatment among adolescents and young adults with haemophilia - £14,700
  • University of Hertfordshire QR Small Grants Competitive Call (2010-2011). Adherence in adolescents and adults with haemophilia- £14,000
  • British Academy Small Grant SG100322 (2010-2012). Stress and weight regain in formerly overweight women – £7,298
  • MRC-ESRC Interdisciplinary Studentship (2009-2013). Stress and affect systems in problematic weight regulation - £82,670
  • Knowledge Transfer Partnership (2008-2010). Development of a Positive Health Intervention Toolkit for use in occupational settings - £99,044

Self compassion and body compassion

  • Nick Troop
  • Emily Beadle
  • Laura Jukonyte
  • Paula Felczak
  • Joyce Lennox
  • Rebecca Shashoua

With collaborators at UCL and Essex University.

Self-compassion refers to self-kindness rather than critical self-judgment in relation to negative psychological states. So, and in contrast to having a positive body image, body compassion refers to self-kindness rather than critical self-judgment in relation to having a negative body image.

We have been developing and evaluating trait and state measures of body compassion and evaluating the role of body compassion in body shame, eating and physical activity. We have also begun exploring interventions using expressive writing and guided imagery to develop self- and body compassion.

Projects include:

  • Development and validation of the Body Compassion and Criticism Scale
  • Body compassion and motives for physical activity
  • Body compassion and the psychological impact of sports injury
  • The impact of body compassion on the link between disability and mood
  • Expressive writing to improve body compassion
  • The effect of body compassion on gender role conflict and body image in men
  • Comparison between the effects of guided imagery to develop self-compassion and body compassion
  • Developing a model of Continuing Compassion in Care (with UCL)

Eating, weight and eating disorders

  • Nick Troop
  • Saskia Keville
  • Dixon
  • Ben Fletcher

We have carried out many studies exploring the effect of stress, emotions and emotion regulation on eating behaviour and symptoms. These have included work on eating disorders and disordered eating (studies on aetiology as well as evaluating interventions), food choice and dieting, and approaches to stimulating weight loss. In this we collaborate with colleagues at the Institute of Psychiatry and UCL as well as in the Weight and Obesity Research Group at the University of Hertfordshire.

Projects include:

  • The role of currently experienced and anticipated bodily shame in predicting changes in eating and eating disorder symptoms
  • The role of self-perceived social status in predicting eating disorder symptoms (including stress and socio-economic status)
  • Trajectories of changes in stress, weight, and disordered eating in a community sample
  • Cortisol and weight regain in formerly overweight women
  • Implementation intentions and fruit and veg intake
  • Experience of recovery from eating disorders and the role of self-help groups


  • Nick Troop
  • Helen Ellis-Caird
  • Nuala Ryder

This theme covers psychological factors in non-malignant blood disorders. We carry out primary research on psychological factors in disorders such as haemophilia, Sickle cell disease, Thalassemia and Von Willebrand disease.

Psychological factors that can play a role in these conditions include adherence to medicine or other medical advice, pain perception and management, beliefs about the condition, beliefs about the treatment, social support, quality of life and many other factors. We collaborate with centres that treat blood disorders to address issues that are raised by patients and health care professionals, ensuring that our work is meaningful, relevant and has clinical impact.

Collaborators include:

  • The Royal London Hospital Haemophilia centre
  • Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry
  • Queen Mary University of London
  • Guys and St Thomas NHS Foundation Trust
  • Southern Academic Coagulation Consortium
  • Whittington Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • The Haemophilia Society

Projects include:

  • UKPK: Evaluating an educational program for personalised prophylaxis in haemophilia
  • Adherence to prophylaxis in haemophilia (PhD)
  • Mindfulness-based pain management in haemophilia and Von Willebrand disease
  • Attitudes to testing for vCJD in haemophilia and Von Willibrand disease
  • How sickle cell disease patients experience, understand and explain their pain
  • Quality of Life of Patients over 30 with sickle cell disorder