How can we measure Self-Directed Ageing Stereotypes in Older Adults?

Dr Sarah Dean and Dr Amy Burton tell us about their Staffordshire University REF 2020 research scheme funded project into self-directed ageing stereotypes in older adults. The research was carried out with research assistant Weyinmi Demeyin and graduate Jessica Reeves.

Dr Sarah Dean and Dr Amy Burton

The population is ageing, but while average life expectancy continues to increase, healthy life expectancy has not necessarily matched this. Health psychologists are interested in health across the lifespan and we wanted to explore health in older adulthood to identify some of the barriers to healthy ageing, specifically those relating to ageing stereotypes.

There are lots of stereotypes surrounding ageing, which are often very negative. If an older adult internalises these negative stereotypes, meaning that they believe them to be true for themselves, this may have a negative effect on their health and wellbeing.

To explore ageing stereotypes in older adults we needed a way of measuring if people had internalised these beliefs. We found that lots of different measures existed and it was unclear which was the best measure to use. Therefore, we carried out a systematic review to identify measures of self-directed ageing stereotype in older adults and to evaluate their quality.

We identified 109 papers for inclusion in our review. Over 25 different terms were used to describe internalisation of ageing stereotypes in older adults. We therefore suggest that for consistency the term “self-directed ageing stereotype” is used and we found 40 different measures of this existed.

The most commonly used measures were the Philadelphia Geriatric Centre Morale Scale Attitude Towards Own Ageing (ATOA) subscale, Ageing Perceptions Questionnaire (APQ) and Attitudes to Ageing Questionnaire. However, although it was the most frequently used, the ATOA was developed to measure morale in older adults and not self-directed ageing stereotypes.

Across measures, poor reporting of psychometric properties made it difficult to assess scale quality and more research is needed to fully assess measures before conclusions can be drawn as to the best tool; however, the Brief-APQ appears to hold most promise. Future research must address this issue before interventions to reduce negative self-directed ageing stereotypes can be developed and fully evaluated. Our research also highlighted the importance of researchers making sure that the measure they have chosen is suitable for their purpose.

We are really pleased that our article has been published in the European Journal of Ageing. The article can be accessed here if you would like to read about the research in more detail (DOI: 10.1007/s10433-020-00574-7).


Staffordshire University – The Home of Health Psychology

Staffordshire University has a history of excellence in teaching and research in Health Psychology, and is home to Staffordshire’s BPS Accredited Stage 1 MSc in Health Psychology and Stage 2 Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology. The Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research has active team of Health Psychologists who conduct research and provide consultancy in a range of health-related issues.

Keep updated with the latest Health Psychology news from Staffordshire University via following us on @StaffsPsych and via the #HealthPsychStaffs hashtag.

For further information about Health Psychology courses and research at Staffordshire University please visit the following webpages:


Experiences of lockdown during Covid-19: Recruiting for an online research study

Dr Jade Elliott and Dr Amy Burton would like to invite you to participate in a research project that is being conducted in the department of Psychology at Staffordshire Univeristy.

As a thank you, participants who complete the study will be entered into a prize draw to win one of 2 x £50 Amazon gift vouchers.

The research team are interested in the experiences of individuals (aged 18 years or over) during the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions that have been imposed across the UK.

The research will involve providing some information about yourself, answering a questionnaire online about your wellbeing and coping, before taking photographs (using a phone or digital camera) over one week that represent your experiences of life during the Covid-19 pandemic.

You will be asked to choose and send 4-7 of these photographs to the research team and complete a further questionnaire about your wellbeing.

A selection of participants will subsequently be invited to have an interview with a member of the research team to talk about your photographs and develop an understanding of your experiences.

To get further information and take part in this study please click: covid19 photo study. If you have any questions about the research, please contact the research team at covid19photostudy@staffs.ac.uk

Using photo-elicitation to understand experiences of quality of life, paraplegia & chronic pain

By Dr Robert Dempsey, Senior Lecturer in Psychology.

Together, working with one of our MSc in Health Psychology students and a fellow member of staff (Dr Amy Burton), we have just published a paper using a photo-elicitation approach to understand the lived experience of quality of life amongst a group of individuals experiencing paraplegia and chronic pain.

Our paper, currently in press in the Journal of Health Psychology, details a novel study where we were interested in better understanding the factors which give and take away from the quality of life experienced by people living with paraplegia (who experience paralysis to their lower limbs due to a spinal cord injury) and chronic ongoing pain. Many people who are paraplegic also experience chronic pain but studies to date have tended to focus on self-report measures of pain experiences. Using self-report measures of pain experiences might not allow researchers to really understand the nature and quality of pain, as the experience of pain can be difficult to objectively measure, and may not help understand how individuals ‘make sense’ of these experiences.

It is well known that managing chronic pain when living with paraplegia, and being reliant on a wheelchair for mobility, can be a challenging experience for many people. We were particularly interested in understanding how people in this situation manage their pain and maintain a good quality of life, whilst maintaining a focus on their experiences as individuals. A lot of qualitative research into people’s experiences of physical health conditions uses researcher-led interview schedules focused on topics that the researchers are interested in – this can be problematic as it may not allow the participants to direct the interview discussions towards topics and issues they feel are important when making sense of their own experiences.

To help us ensure our study was focused on our participants’ experiences we used a form of interview technique referred to as photoelicitation, sometimes known as photovoice. Rather than just asking our sample of participants a series of questions about their experiences, we asked them to spend a week taking photos of things they felt took away from their quality of life or improved their quality of life. Six photographs from each participant were then chosen for discussion in the interviews, during which we only asked the participants some general questions about their photograph (such as: ‘what does this photograph represent in terms of your quality of life?‘). Our discussions based on these photographs produced some incredibly rich and complex data, showing some of the complexities of living with paraplegia, chronic pain and also using a wheelchair for mobility (which we wouldn’t have found if we just asked a series of set questions).

For example, one of our participants discussed a photo she took of a toy dinosaur, similar the one shown on the right. The participant explained that this toy dinosaur represented her experiences with healthcare staff, particularly doctors, who she saw as being old-fashioned, not understanding of her pain experiences and frustrating to deal with. These communication problems contributed to this participant’s worsening pain as she was often prescribed ineffective medications attributed to her pain experiences not being understood by healthcare staff. Discussions like this demonstrated the complexity of our participants’ experiences living with pain and paraplegia whilst attempting to maintain a good quality of life – often related to a sense of frustration that factors like medical professionals should help improve, not worsen, their quality of life.

Interestingly, using a wheelchair was viewed as a factor that both improved and worsened our participants’ quality of life. Some participants were grateful for the wheelchair giving them independence, to be mobile and not be over-reliant on others to get around. However, this sometimes came at the cost of the wheelchair preventing our participants from being fully mobile (e.g. by not being able to access parts of their own home or having difficulty using public transport) and even caused further pain and discomfort due to sitting in the chair.

Using photo-elicitation, and allowing our participants to be much more involved in directing the interview discussions, produced some rich data participant-focused data which demonstrated the complexity of living with both paraplegia and chronic pain. Had we just used a standard set of written questions we would not have uncovered such complexity in our participants’ experiences. The use of photographs to guide the interviews could be incorporated into healthcare communication practices as it may help healthcare professionals to better understand their patients’ experiences, particularly of chronic pain which can be difficult to communicate verbally.

It was a pleasure to work with one of our MSc in Health Psychology students (Melanie Hughes), who led the data collection, and one of our Health Psychologist colleagues (Dr Amy Burton) on this analysis. This project represents one of a number of published studies and papers produced with students as part of our BPS Accredited Stage 1 MSc in Health Psychology course here at Staffordshire University.

We have published two papers based on this research, including a commentary paper reflecting on the use of photo-elicitation as an interview tool and our recent paper detailing our analysis of the interviews (click here). Links to the papers can be found below:


Staffordshire University – The Home of Health Psychology

Staffordshire University’s Centre for Health Psychology is a centre of excellence for teaching and research in Health Psychology, and is home to Staffordshire’s BPS Accredited Stage 1 MSc in Health Psychology and Stage 2 Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology. The Centre for Health Psychology is part of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research.

Keep updated with the latest Health Psychology news from Staffordshire University via following us on @StaffsPsych and via the #HealthPsychStaffs hashtag.

For further information about Health Psychology courses and research at Staffordshire University please visit the following webpages:

Third Year Running: 100% Student Satisfaction on the Staffordshire MSc in Health Psychology!

The Higher Education Authority’s annual Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES) is the only sector-wide survey to gain insight from taught postgraduate students about their learning and teaching experience. Staffordshire University are delighted that for the third year in a row students on the MSc Health Psychology have reported they are 100% satisfied with the quality of their course according to the survey.

MSc Students exploring health environments around the multi-million pound Staffordshire University Science Centre

MSc Student Laura Campbell presenting her work at the Midlands Health Psychology Network Conference 2017

In the recent PTES poll, overall satisfaction was 100% with all students stating that they would recommend the course to a friend or relative. The course also achieved 100% satisfaction in several other areas with students praising the level of staff support, the enthusiasm of tutors and their ability to deliver a stimulating learning experience, and the quality of feedback. Students were also pleased with how the course developed their skills and knowledge with all students agreeing 100% that that course developed their confidence to be independent learners and innovative and creative, in addition to developing research skills.

Staffordshire University is the Home of Health Psychology with our MSc being the first programme of its kind in the UK to be accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS).

Our students have access to top of the range facilities including a dedicated base-room within the multi-million pound Science Centre, a thriving psychology visiting speaker programme and journal club, as well as high-level teaching from academics who are active Health Psychology researchers.


MSc Health Psychology Open Afternoon (28th June 2017)

If you would like to learn more about the MSc Health Psychology we still have a few spaces on our upcoming Open Afternoon taking place between 2pm-4pm on the 28th June 2017.

Please contact course director Dr Amy Burton (amy.burton@staffs.ac.uk) to book your place.

 


Staffordshire University – The Home of Health Psychology

Staffordshire University’s Centre for Health Psychology is a centre of excellence for teaching and research in Health Psychology, and is home to Staffordshire’s BPS Accredited Stage 1 MSc in Health Psychology and Stage 2 Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology. The Centre for Health Psychology is part of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research.

Keep updated with the latest Health Psychology news from Staffordshire University via following us on @StaffsPsych and via the #HealthPsychStaffs hashtag.

For further information about Health Psychology courses and research at Staffordshire University please visit the following webpages:

#HomeOfHealthPsychology on Tour: Midlands Health Psychology Network Conference, Coventry

Dr Amy Burton (Senior Lecturer in Health Psychology & Course Director MSc in Health Psychology) blogs about a recent conference trip with staff and students from the Centre for Health Psychology at Staffordshire University.

Staff and students recently attended and presented at the Midlands Health Psychology Network Conference. The event, held at Coventry University on the 2nd March 2017, was attended by over 20 current staff and MSc, Professional Doctorate and PhD students from Staffordshire University.

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Poster contributions included: MSc Student Laura Campbell, who presented her Masters research investigating causal attributions towards people with familial Hypercholesterolaemia; Professional Doctorate student Dayyanah Sumodhee on her exploration of healthy eating in people attempting to quit smoking; and PhD students Sonia Begum, Sian Calvert and Claudia Lega. Staffordshire University also contributed to oral presentations with Professional Doctorate Student Meghan Linscott delivering a well-received talk on the benefits of applying Health Psychology to urban planning.

Meghan Linscott, Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology Student

Meghan Linscott, Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology Student

Meghan enjoyed the opportunity to deliver her first presentation at a local friendly conference: “For me, the conference was an excellent opportunity to deliver an oral presentation for the first time. Whilst I am pleased with how it went, I feel confident that my performance will be much better the next time I present at a conference, so this was a very valuable experience for me. For a relatively small conference, I am so pleased it attracts an audience from undergraduate students right through to the influential health psychology figures. I like how varied the talks were and I thought the talks about health psychology and public health were particularly insightful for the whole audience.”

A trip to the conference was built in to the MSc Health Psychology teaching programme to ensure all current students had the opportunity to attend. MSc student Riana Mansfield really enjoyed the experience: “I found the conference was a fantastic opportunity to find out about real-life applications of health psychology in various fields, in some areas which I hadn’t considered before, such as audiology. I enjoyed hearing about the many different career paths health psychology can open the door to and it gave me food  for thought on my potential next steps following my degree. Thank you for the opportunity to attend the conference and to network with professionals and fellow students from different areas sharing the same interest in Health Psychology!”

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#HomeOfHealthPsychology on Tour

MSc student Sam Ridyard also valued the opportunity to learn about future possibilities for Health Psychology careers; I really enjoyed attending the conference. It was a good opportunity to see what others in our field are involved with and to communicate with others in Health Psychology, and I have come away with a number of ideas about post-MSc avenues to take”.  While MSc student Lucy Field valued the opportunity to network with other Health Psychologists and trainees: “The MHPN was a fantastic conference and we were very lucky to attend as part of our MSc course. It was great to listen to current researchers and connect with health psychologists”.

Once again, as MSc Course Director I was impressed by our Health Psychology students. They all presented extremely well and made sure they took every opportunity to network and discuss their research with others at the conference. I look forward to attending again next year.

The Midlands Health Psychology Network

The MHPN hold a one day conference in February every year which is attended by around 100 members from across the Midlands and is a forum for health psychologists to share clinical and research experiences, information, knowledge and training. Existing members include MSc students, doctorate students, chartered health psychologists based at local NHS sites and regional universities, third sector employees, senior and early career academics, health practitioners and pharmacists. To learn more about the MHPN please visit their website: www.mhpn.co.uk


Staffordshire University – The Home of Health Psychology

Staffordshire University’s Centre for Health Psychology is a centre of excellence for teaching and research in Health Psychology, and is home to Staffordshire’s BPS Accredited Stage 1 MSc in Health Psychology and Stage 2 Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology. The Centre for Health Psychology is part of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research.

Keep updated with the latest Health Psychology news from Staffordshire University via following us on @StaffsPsych and via the #HealthPsychStaffs hashtag.

For further information about Health Psychology courses and research at Staffordshire University please visit the following webpages:

Sarah Higgins wins the National BPS/ATSiP Technical Support in Psychological Teaching Award!

We are very pleased to announce that Sarah Higgins, Technical Sarah-HSkills Specialist in the Psychology Department at Staffordshire University, has won a National Award in recognition of her excellent contribution to teaching!

Sarah’s award is jointly recognised by the British Psychological Society and the Association of Technical Staff in Psychology (ATSiP), and has been announced as a joint-winner of this year’s award. Sarah has been invited to the BPS’s Annual Conference to be held in Brighton in May 2017 to receive her award.

Sarah’s award recognises her excellence in teaching, her contributions to teaching undergraduate and postgraduate students, supporting staff research projects, her advanced technical skills knowledge as well as her interactions with prospective students at Open Days where she demonstrates the state-of-the-art equipment housed in the £30 million Science Centre home to the Psychology Department. Sarah is also an active member of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research, home to Staffordshire University’s psychological research, and has previously won national prizes for her own research (click here for further details).

Judy David, Academic Group Lead for Psychology and one of the team who nominated Sarah for the award, commented:

“Psychology is so proud of Sarah, and we feel very lucky indeed to have her in our Technical Team.  The award is so richly deserved! Sarah works incredibly hard in teaching and supporting students and helping them learn new skills and knowledge. We are delighted this has been recognised with this prestigious award.  With two award winners now in our technical team, we know our students are getting the very best experience possible!”

Dr Amy Burton, Senior Lecturer in Health Psychology who was also part of the nominating team, said:

“Sarah is an irreplaceable member of the team having progressed from being an undergraduate student to MSc level and now actively contributing to our MSc Health Psychology. Sarah has shown a fantastic commitment to our students from assisting at open afternoons, giving applicants a taste of the equipment and inspiration on how it might be used, through to one-to-one tutorials facilitating the use of complex technical equipment.

In particular, Sarah plays an essential role in the learning and development of our MSc Health Psychology students and supports them to complete high quality, well-designed and innovative research using technology and equipment at the forefront of the discipline. Sarah fully deserves this award and we are very proud and lucky to have her as part of our team.”

Many congratulations to Sarah on her fine achievement!


Staffs-Uni-Hi-Res_45-1024x683The School of Psychology, Sport and Exercise at Staffordshire University is a leading School in the UK for Psychology degrees and is situated in the heart of England.  We produce internationally recognized research which is driving knowledge in this area forward and we work with a variety of healthcare providers, charities, international sports teams and private sector organisations.

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details, and to book your place at an open day, please visit: http://www.staffs.ac.uk/openyourmind/

For more information or details of the wide range of Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit our website and our courses page.

Exercise for All! The beneficial effects of physical activity for all ages

Dr Sarah Dean (Senior Lecturer in Health Psychology & a Trainee Health Psychologist) and Dr Amy Burton (Senior Lecturer in Health Psychology & Health Psychologist) blog about ageing, health, stereotyping and physical activity in a piece reposted from the Stoke Sentinel newspaper:

If we were to ask you to describe your typical older person chances are we’d get a wide range of answers from “grey-haired, lonely, unable to work”, “frail, memory problems and declining health” to “wise, caring, happy and active”. What is clear is that there isn’t a ‘typical older person’ at all but there are lots of negative stereotypes that are linked to aging. Interestingly there are now many more older people alive than ever before and this number is set to rise dramatically in the coming years, with record numbers of people living into their 80s, 90s and beyond!

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Physical activity is really important for everyone and this doesn’t change as we get older. Exercising keeps us physically fit and helps protect us from developing a range of major illnesses including stroke, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer and dementia. It can help us to feel good about ourselves, be a great stress buster and be a fun way to socialise.

Even though many of us know taking exercise is good for us, some people find it difficult. There are many reasons people might have for not exercising. Some feel they are too busy or that it’s too expensive. Others feel nervous about starting a new activity or worry that they are too unfit or overweight to start exercising. People may even think that they are too old for exercise!

As they get older some people start to do much less exercise, others stay physically active and some take up new sports or activities when they retire. One reason for these differences is the extent to which people believe negative aging stereotypes and the extent they apply these to themselves. If someone believes the stereotype that “Aging means a decline in fitness and an increase in ill health” and also believes “I am an older person so I can expect to be less fit and have poorer health” they are much less likely to engage in physical activity than someone who doesn’t believe the stereotype at all or someone who doesn’t believe it applies to them and instead thinks “I am not your average older person, so I can run a marathon”. For example, in 2011 British national Fauja Singh became the first 100 year-old to complete a marathon! At Staffordshire University we are exploring ways of measuring aging self-stereotypes. Once we can accurately measure them we can explore ways of changing them, which should encourage more older adults to exercise!

So…what does all of this mean for you? Regardless of your age, engaging in some form of physical activity each week is likely to be good for you. With Stoke currently the European City of Sport there couldn’t be a better time to do a little more exercise or try something new! If you plan to regularly take exercise it’s a good idea to choose something you enjoy. You should also choose something suited to your current fitness level and your budget. A range of exercise classes are available at the local gyms, such as Zumba, circuit training, aqua aerobics and Osteo-Aqua (a low-impact class designed to combat the effects of conditions like osteoporosis and arthritis, as well as keeping the joints supple). You could try Walking Football or Tai Chi, join a Walking for Health Group or try out one of the 5k Parkruns at 9am every Saturday in Hanley Park.

If you are an older adult or are worried about getting older here are a few things for you to bear in mind:

  • While it’s true that physical changes do occur in us as we get older, a rapid decline in our health and physical functioning is not inevitable. Regular exercise can help to protect against decline and improve stamina and fitness.
  • The way we think about things can have a really big impact on the way that we behave and feel. Research has shown that simply encouraging older adults to think about negative aging stereotypes results in short term memory declines, slower walking speeds and poorer handwriting!
  • If you have a medical condition or have had an injury that makes certain activities difficult or unsuitable for you, try to find something that you can safely do.
  • If you have any doubts remember to discuss increasing your levels of physical activity with your GP first.

The take home message? In relation to exercise, we should put less focus on our age and more focus on our own abilities and goals!


Staffordshire University – The Home of Health Psychology

Staffordshire University’s Centre for Health Psychology is a Psy1centre of excellence for teaching and research in Health Psychology, and is home to Staffordshire’s BPS Accredited Stage 1 MSc in Health Psychology and BPS Accredited Stage 2 Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology.

The Centre for Health Psychology is part of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research and the School of Psychology, Sport and Exercise, one of the leading research-active academic schools for Psychology and Sport degrees situated in the heart of England.

For further information about Health Psychology courses and research at Staffordshire University please visit the following webpages:

Health Psychologist, Dr Amy Burton, reports on her Change Exchange visit to Uganda

Health Psychology in Action: Global Health

Our Health Psychologist, Dr Amy Burton, spent some time working in Africa at the beginning of April. Amy was selected by The Change Exchange to work as a Behaviour Change Consultant for the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology partnership with Kitovu Hospital, Uganda. The Change Exchange is funded by The Tropical Health and Education Trust (THET) in association with the Department for International Development (DFID) and The Global Health Exchange. The project places behavioural scientists into health partnerships to evaluate and seek to improve projects aimed at changing healthcare practice in low and middle income countries.

Amy blogs on her experiences:

I heard about The Change Exchange project in two ways: a recent issue of The Psychologist and a visit to Staffordshire University by Jo Hart, one of the project leads. As a recently qualified and HCPC registered Health Psychologist I was keen to put my skills into practice and was excited about the challenge of taking myself out of my comfort zone by working in a low income country (something I have never done before!). Over 45 psychologists applied for the project and I was one of the lucky few to be chosen to take part.

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The Change Exchange Team

My first encounter with the rest of the team was a group meeting on a rainy March day in Manchester. This was my first opportunity to hear about the project I would be working on and to meet my colleagues Nisha Sharma and Fiona Gillison. We were appointed to work with an RCOG project based in the Masaka region of Uganda. The Excellence in Obstetric Skills Course trains local health workers in essential skills with the aim of improving care for mothers and babies and reducing the incidence of obstetric fistula (the development of a hole between the vagina and rectum or bladder often caused by prolonged obstructed labour that results in women being incontinent).

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Kitovu Health Care Complex

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The Fistula Ward

As behavioural scientists, Nisha and I were keen to understand how behaviour change techniques were being employed within the course. We therefore spent some time observing the RCOG obstetric skills course and the “train the trainer” course (to teach Ugandan health care professionals how to teach their colleagues obstetric emergency skills) and coding them for known behaviour change techniques. We had the opportunity to be ‘practice’ patients and learnt a lot about obstetric care!

We were also interested in how the Ugandan health care professionals perceived the course and what barriers they felt they would experience when putting their new knowledge and skills into practice. To explore this we conducted four focus groups with the course delegates to learn about their experiences and ideas.

Amy and Nisha with the RCOG Faculty and 'Train-the-Trainer' Graduates

Amy and Nisha with the RCOG Faculty and ‘Train-the-Trainer’ Graduates

In addition, I travelled with Nisha and the RCOG clinical lead to visit several previous delegates in their health centres and witness how the behaviours learnt on the course were being put into practice. This was an eye opening experience and gave me the opportunity to see first-hand how health centres work in Uganda.

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A Health Centre in the Masaka District

I am currently working with my colleagues at The Change Exchange to produce an interim report for the RCOG based on the data we collected during our visit. Nisha and Fiona will be returning to Kitovu in June to conduct more work with the RCOG and hopefully put some of our report recommendations into practice. I am sad to not be returning to Kitovu but I will continue to be involved with the project from the UK.

Working on this project has been an exciting, enlightening and eye opening experience and I very much hope to have more opportunities to put my health psychology and behavioural science knowledge into practice in low income countries in the future.


Interested in Health Psychology?

Come along to one of our MSc in Health Psychology Open Afternoons (Click here for details) or visit one of our Undergraduate Open Days (Details & book your place here).


The Home of Health Psychology – Staffordshire University

Staffordshire University’s Centre for Health Psychology is a Psy1centre of excellence for teaching and research in Health Psychology, and is home to Staffordshire’s BPS Accredited Stage 1 MSc in Health Psychology and BPS Accredited Stage 2 Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology. The Centre for Health Psychology is part of the School of Psychology, Sport and Exercise, one of the leading research-active academic schools for Psychology and Sport degrees situated in the heart of England.

For further information about Health Psychology courses and research at Staffordshire University please visit the following webpages:

Follow the Psychology Department’s latest research news via @StaffsPsych and clicking on the #StaffsPsyRes hashtag.

New paper exploring the effectiveness of mindfulness for reducing stress in health care professionals

Dr Amy Burton and Dr Sarah Dean (Senior Lecturers in Health Psychology) have been working in collaboration with an MSc Health Psychology graduate, Catherine Burgess, and researchers at the University of Leeds to explore the effectiveness of mindfulness interventions for reducing stress in health care professionals.

With the proposal of a move to a 7 day Mar16 AB Mindfulness Review 1NHS service hitting the headlines there are growing concerns about the impacts this may have on the quality of patient care. Many health care professionals already feel overworked, stressed and at risk of burnout with a recent survey highlighting that 81% of doctors and specialists are considering early retirement due the impact of stress on their sleep, relationships and physical health (Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association, 2015). It is therefore vital that we identify successful ways to reduce stress levels in the caring professions.

Mindfulness is one approach to reducing stress and is a simple form of meditation that encourages the stressed person to focus on the present moment and acknowledge and accept their thoughts and feelings. For this research the team identified and reviewed nine published studies that have tested the value of using mindfulness interventions to reduce stress in health care professionals. The results of this review indicated that mindfulness interventions significantly reduced stress levels in this group.

Mar16 AB Mindfulness Review 2However, there were problems with the studies that indicate the need for more work in this area. Many of the interventions were very time intensive and drop out was common due to work, family and other pressures. This suggests that the mindfulness approach is not always possible within current health care environments without additional support. Furthermore, the quality of some of the reviewed studies was poor and very few explored whether the reduced stress levels reported were maintained long term. The team propose that more high quality research is needed before clear conclusions about the value of this type of intervention for reducing stress in health care professionals can be drawn.

Details of the full paper:

Burton, A. E., Burgess, C., Dean, S., Koutsopoulou, G., & Hugh-Jones, S. (2016). How effective are mindfulness-based interventions for reducing stress among healthcare professionals? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Stress and Health.


The Home of Health Psychology – Staffordshire University

Staffordshire University’s Centre for Health Psychology is a centre of excellence for teaching and research in Health Psychology, and is home to Staffordshire’s BPS Accredited Stage 1 MSc in Health Psychology and BPS Accredited Stage 2 Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology. The Centre for Health Psychology is part of the School of Psychology, Sport and Exercise, one of the leading research-active academic schools for Psychology and Sport degrees situated in the heart of England.

Follow the Psychology Department’s latest research news via @StaffsPsych and clicking on the #StaffsPsyRes hashtag.

For further information about Health Psychology courses and research at Staffordshire University please visit the following webpages:

Health Psychology staff, students and graduates present their research at the 2016 MHPN Conference

Staffordshire University has once again illustrated why we are the #HomeOfHealthPsychology at the Midlands Health Psychology Network Conference. The event, held at Kings Hall in Stoke-on-Trent on the 25th February 2016, was attended by 3 members of staff and over 20 current students and graduates from Staffordshire University’s Centre for Health Psychology. Our Health Psychologists and trainees made a huge impact at the conference presenting in half of the talks and displaying several research posters.

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Our current MSc in Health Psychology students enjoying the MHPN Conference

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Aimee Cooke with her poster at the MHPN Conference

Contributors included: current MSc Students, such as Aimee Cooke who presented her poster on vestibular rehabilitation interventions; Professional Doctorate students, including Katrin Hulme who presented the experience of chronic cough; and graduates, including Rebecca Rushton who presented on her MSc research exploring the effectiveness of personality and the theory of planned behaviour for predicting intentions to attend for cervical screening. Rebecca found the conference a fantastic opportunity to put into practice the skills developed during her time studying for the MSc Health Psychology: “Having the opportunities to develop my presentation skills during the MSc prepared me to present at the conference. Although I was apprehensive it has provided me with invaluable experience”.

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Rebecca Rushton presenting her research in the Kings’ Hall, Stoke

A trip to the conference was built in to the MSc Health Psychology teaching programme to ensure all current students had the opportunity to attend. MSc student Suha Ahmed really enjoyed the experience: “I learnt a lot from the conference and particularly enjoyed learning about all the different areas where Health Psychologists work and conduct research. I also found it useful to watch the presentations and pick up tips to help me develop my own presentation skills and enjoyed having the opportunity to talk to other health psychologists in person and ask questions about their research. I absolutely loved it!”.

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Rebecca Lawrence-Higton presenting her research at the MHPN Conference

The MSc students also valued the opportunity to learn about research conducted by our own Professional Doctorate students. For example, Mike Oliver particularly enjoyed the presentation by current Professional Doctorate student Alison Killen: “I thought Alison’s presentation was really thought provoking.  The points about gratitude as a means to promote wellbeing was interesting, and the ‘gratitude diaries’ sounded like a practical way to take the theory into practice.  Set in the context of ageing and loneliness which are receiving more and more attention, I think the work provides an example of how health psychology could make a big difference in society”.

Some of our current and past Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology students

Some of our current and past Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology students

Our MSc Health Psychology Course Director, Dr Amy Burton, was impressed by the professionalism, confidence and health psychology knowledge shown by our current and past students: “three of my current and graduate project students presented at the conference this year and all were passionate about their research. They used skills developed throughout the MSc to network with, and answer questions from, other health psychologists and trainees from throughout the Midlands – I’m confident they all have an exciting career in Health Psychology ahead of them”

Current MSc Student presentations:

Cooke, A., & Burton, A. Vestibular Rehabilitation: Impact upon Quality of Life and Physical Daily Tasks. A Mixed Methods Approach. (Poster)

Current Professional Doctorate Student presentations:

Killen, A., & Macaskill, A. Using a gratitude intervention to enhance well-being in older adults.

Highton, F., C., O., & Clark-Carter, D. The experience of vision impairment diagnosis and its prognosis on health related quality of life.

Hulme, K., Dogan, S., Parker, S., & Deary, V. “Chronic cough, cause unknown”: A qualitative study of patient perspectives of idiopathic cough.

Sumodhee, D., & Payne, N. Healthy eating beliefs and intentions of mothers and their adult children: An intergenerational transmission perspective. (Poster)

Health Psychology MSc Graduates and Staff presentations:

Higgins, S. J., & Semper, H. The effects of nutrition label format on healthier dietary choices: A forced choice eye-tracking study. (Poster)

Hope, K., & Sherman, S. Perceptions of cervical cancer and screening among older women – A work in progress. (Poster)

Hughes, M., Burton, A., & Dempsey, R. Using photo elicitation to explore quality of life in people with paraplegia and chronic pain.

Rushton, R., & Dean, S. Predicting cervical screening intentions using personality and the Theory of Planned Behaviour

Lawrence-Highton, R., & Burton, A. Looking at things from a positive point of view: an IPA on the exercise experience of individuals with positive body image

The Midlands Health Psychology Network

The MHPN hold a one day conference in February every year which is attended by around 100 members from across the Midlands and is a forum for health psychologists to share clinical and research experiences, information, knowledge and training. Existing members include MSc students, doctorate students, chartered health psychologists based at local NHS sites and regional universities, third sector employees, senior and early career academics, health practitioners and pharmacists. To learn more about the MHPN please visit the website: www.mhpn.co.uk.


The Home of Health Psychology – Staffordshire University

Staffordshire University’s Centre for Health Psychology is a centre of excellence for teaching and research in Health Psychology, and is home to Staffordshire’s BPS Accredited Stage 1 MSc in Health Psychology. The Centre for Health Psychology is part of the School of Psychology, Sport and Exercise, one of the leading research-active academic schools for Psychology and Sport degrees situated in the heart of England.

For further information about Health Psychology courses and research at Staffordshire University please visit the following webpages: