Meet the StaffsPsych Graduates – Szilvia (MSc & Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology)

As part of our series of StaffsPsych Graduate Success Stories, we are pleased to introduce Szilvia who completed her MSc in Health Psychology and her Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology here at Staffordshire University. Find out about Szilvia’s experiences at on her course and her plans for the future:


Before studying at Staffordshire, I had completed previous Psychology-related courses and obtained various certificates, such as a BSc in Psychology (in Hungary), PGDip in Psychodrama and Creative Counselling. I then worked as a health care assistant in Staffordshire before starting my Health Psychology studies here at Staffordshire.

What attracted you to studying Psychology at Staffordshire University?

I was interested in Health Psychology, and Staffordshire University offered the MSc and Professional Doctorate courses in Health Psychology which other universities in the region didn’t offer.

What were the best parts of your experience at Staffs?

I really loved the interactive aspects of teaching; we received a great amount of support from the lecturers. The lecturers were always friendly, very well prepared and made the sessions enjoyable. I learned a lot about research methods during the MSc in Health Psychology, and because of that I felt confident to continue with the Doctorate in Health Psychology. Thanks to these good foundations, my critical analytical thinking and problem-solving skills have further developed during the doctorate. I found that these things are super important for people who work in health-related jobs, as science and societies are changing constantly. Also, the other major ‘best part’ was being with like-minded students, I made some friends for life at Staffs.

What was the biggest challenge(s) that you overcame whilst studying at Staffs?

To work and study at the same time, but I was given lots of support and advice how to work with these difficulties (e.g. book blocks of time off), so it all worked out at the end.

What have you done since leaving Staffs?

Because I became very interested in health behaviour interventions and I worked with insomnia patients during the doctorate, I enrolled into a graduate part-time course in Sleep Medicine at Oxford. Through this course I met Prof. Colin Espie (who is one of the directors of the Sleep Medicine Centre at Oxford) who developed the evidence-based CBTi – cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia patients. We talked about a possible research project in which I could utilise his CBTi approach and apply it to develop a new form of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for insomnia patients. Also, I’ve spent a week training retreat in Massachusetts with Jon Kabat-Zinn (the developer of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction programme). In terms of work, currently I’m working bank hours for an agency, which is part of the NHS, I’m in the process of relocating to New York.

What are your plans for the future?

In about five years I would like to take the ‘somnologist’ exam (sleep medicine specialist). Also, I would like to write a book about how to use Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for sleeping difficulties.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about applying to study Psychology at Staffordshire University?

There are lots of different kinds of support to help with literally anything. For example, there are lots of materials and even seminars to help with academic writing. Make sure to use those and listen to tips about time management and so forth.


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:

Student Blog: Presenting our MSc Health Psychology research at the 6th Staffordshire Health Psychology Conference

Two of our MSc Health Psychology students, Andrew and Jess, blog about their experiences presenting their MSc research, delivering workshops and attending the 6th Annual Staffordshire Health Psychology Conference.


Before I write about the conference, I just want to acknowledge all of the hard work me and my course mates have done over the past year, on the MSc Health Psychology course. It has been a struggle, but I am so proud of us for everything we’ve accomplished. We made it!

A few weeks ago, the 6th Annual Staffordshire University Health Psychology Conference took place, coinciding with my dissertation hand in. As you can imagine, it was quite the day! Not only was I looking forward to seeing all the people I had interacted with over the year, I was nervous about handing over something I had worked so hard on. Fingers crossed I get the grades I need.

As my postgraduate journey was coming to an end at Staffs, the opportunity to present at the annual Health Psychology Conference presented itself. I of course took that opportunity. When we all received the schedule for the day, it did occur to me that I was the only Masters student doing an oral presentation, and this did worry me at first. What if I was not going to be taken seriously, as someone who is not at the same professional level as most of the audience? Nerves did build up, but the support of my fellow course mates during the day really calmed me down. I am so glad we were all there to support each other at the end.

After it was all said and done, I felt amazing! I had many people congratulating me on a great presentation, and I really enjoyed the experience. If anyone is thinking about attending or presenting at a conference, I would highly recommend it. The networking, presenting, workshopping etc., are all valuable experiences that I feel are definitely helping me in my career journey. Maybe they may help you too.

Andrew.


The 6th Annual Staffordshire University Health Psychology Conference was such a lovely round off to the academic year. As an MSc Health Psychology student, this conference was also where we handed in our dissertation and closed the chapter on a challenging but rewarding year.

The presentations consisted of topics ranging from; promoting physical activity in sedentary office workers to MukBang (online eating behaviour) to experiences of Professional Doctorate students. These topics were also presented by a range of people at different stages in their careers such as MSc students, Professional Doctorate students and professionals working in their field. I feel that the range of talks given at the conference highlight the numerous areas that Health Psychology can be applied to.

The day was organised so well by Meghan and Stephanie and there was plenty of chances to network in between the talks. The conference consisted of oral presentations, poster presentations and workshops. I was lucky enough to present a poster presentation about online health seeking behaviours and facilitate a workshop on mindfulness and its application to health.

One of the activities from the mindfulness workshop

If you have the opportunity to attend this conference, then I wholeheartedly recommend it and if you get the chance to present at this conference, go for it! This conference was so enjoyable and allowed individuals of all levels to showcase the innovative Health Psychology research that is currently taking place at Staffordshire University, in a respectful and encouraging atmosphere.

I would just like to finish this post by saying, if you are thinking about doing the MSc in Health Psychology at Staffordshire University, you will not be disappointed. This year, I feel I have gained so much confidence in my abilities and have had the opportunity to explore so many different avenues of Health Psychology that I didn’t even know existed.

Jess.


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:

Meet the StaffsPsych Graduates – Laurna (BSc Psychology & MSc Health Psychology)

As part of our series of StaffsPsych Graduate Success Stories, we are pleased to introduce Laurna who graduated from our MSc Health Psychology course in 2016 after studying her BSc (Hons) Psychology here at Staffordshire University.

Find out about Laurna’s experiences at Staffordshire University and her career after completing her Master’s course:


I grew up in Staffordshire and studied down the road at Newcastle-under-Lyme College. I studied Psychology at GCSE and A-Level, and loved the subject so much that completing a psychology degree was a no brainer!

What attracted you to studying Psychology at Staffordshire University?

After my A Level results I entered Clearing. During this uncertain time, I knew that my first choice of potential universities was Staffordshire University. Throughout the clearing process I had an excellent experience talking to the staff in the Psychology Department, and they made the process so easy and straight forward. The helpfulness of the staff, in addition to the open day confirmed my decision that Staffs was for me.

Following my undergraduate degree, completing the Health Psychology Master’s degree at staffs, the home of health psychology, was an easy decision. The excellent teaching staff, with research and practice experience in various areas of Health Psychology affirmed my choice!

What were the best parts of your experience at Staffs?

The whole university experience was great, especially living with my friends and spending many hours in the Ember Lounge and LRV for gobble on a Wednesday night. During the Health Psychology Master’s Degree I was fortunate to be around a bunch of lovely people that over the year became great friends! The highlight of the whole experience was graduating with a First Class honours at undergraduate, and a Distinction at Master’s degree in the Italian Gardens at the Trentham Estate surrounded by my fellow students, friends, and family.

What have you done since leaving Staffs? How did your course help you with this?

During my undergraduate degree, I realised my passion for improving the quality of life of those living with neurodegenerative conditions. I volunteered at a dementia charity during my Master’s degree, and worked as a Clinical Studies Assistant at South Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, where I helped with many mental health and neurodegenerative research projects.

Following the Master’s degree I started my PhD in pain for people living with dementia at Keele University. Both my undergraduate and Master’s degree gave me the perfect foundation to start a PhD, both in relation to the research skills that I learnt, but also the encouragement and support provided from my tutors in the Psychology Department.

What are your plans for the future?

Following the PhD, I wish to work on research projects in the domain of health psychology, focusing upon those living with a neurodegenerative condition. At the moment however, I intend to focus on my PhD!

What advice would you give to someone thinking about applying to study Psychology at Staffordshire University?

I would advise to all of those that are interested in either a psychology degree or health psychology Master’s degree should attend one of the Staffordshire University open days. This day will allow you to talk to the psychology staff, and look at the facilities on offer.


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:

MSc Health Psychology students attend the 2018 Midlands Health Psychology Network Conference

Dr Gemma Hurst (Lecturer in Psychology & Co-Course Director MSc in Health Psychology) blogs about a recent conference trip with staff and students from the Health Psychology courses at Staffordshire University.

Staff and students recently attended the Midlands Health Psychology Network Conference. Three members of staff and five current MSc students from Staffordshire University attended the event, held at the Kettering Conference Centre on the 24th May.

A trip to the conference was built into the MSc Health Psychology teaching programme to ensure all current students had the opportunity to attend. One of our MSc students, Jessica, really valued the experience, commenting:

“A really engaging day showcasing many of the innovative ideas happening right now in Health Psychology in the Midlands

Students also valued the opportunity to meet and discuss the PhD research of Staffordshire University MSc Health Psychology Alumni, Lorna (pictured to the right).

The programme included oral and poster presentations covering a wide range of topics and methodologies, including: systematic reviews; quantitative and qualitative research; and intervention development and evaluation. Both staff and students also enthusiastically engaged in a co-creation workshop exploring creative data collection methodologies, including the use of Lego:

‘The MHPN conference provides an opportunity for our MSc students to experience an academic conference in a friendly and supportive environment. Our students took a keen interest in the wide variety of health psychology topics being presented and were able to network with other health psychologists and trainees to discuss their own research and career aspirations. Attendance at this conference will continue to be built into the MSc Health Psychology teaching programme and I look forward to future visits where I can introduce our new students to our graduates”

Dr Gemma Hurst, Co-Director MSc Health Psychology.


The Midlands Health Psychology Network

The MHPN hold a one day conference 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 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:

Successful BPS Accreditation Visit for Health Psychology at Staffordshire University

By Dr Rachel Povey, Associate Professor in Health Psychology.

Staffordshire University’s Health Psychology team are delighted to announce that their postgraduate Health Psychology programmes have been accredited for a further five years by the British Psychological Society (BPS), and were awarded nine commendations with no conditions. The British Psychological Society visited the University for two days in March, where they interviewed students, staff, placement providers, service users, and the senior management team.

“We had the first accredited Health Psychology programmes at both Stage 1 and 2, and so it is fantastic to have confirmation from the BPS that we continue to provide first class training in this area”.

Dr Emily Buckley, Head of the Department of Psychology

In particular, the Health Psychology programmes were commended for having a positive and strong ethos of developing reflective practice in students and for providing exemplary support to help foster positive and professional relationships with students.  The senior management team was also commended for their commitment and understanding of health psychology.

Health Psychology has a long and successful history at Staffordshire University with both programmes being the first to be accredited by the BPS in the UK, and being consistently commended for good practice. The MSc in Health Psychology (directed by Dr Gemma Hurst and Dr Sarah Dean) was also commended for embedding employability, developing applied skills and using real world assessments.

Some of our Health Psychology team celebrating after the recent BPS accreditation visit

The Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology (directed by Professor Karen Rodham and Dr Rachel Povey) provides applied training for students wanting to become Health Psychologists. All students gain professional skills in health-related placements, varying from NHS pain management services, to public health settings, to pupil referral units. The Professional Doctorate was commended for its widening access agenda (including providing training bursaries), the constructive engagement with placement providers, and the positive relationship with service users and carers.

Dr Nigel Thomas, Dean of School of Life Sciences and Education commended both teams for their hard work and commitment and stated:

“I’m delighted to see the health psychology programmes at Staffordshire University receiving such high praise from the BPS, this is a result of the level of dedication and commitment of the team”


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:

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:

Fifth Staffordshire Health Psychology Conference held in June 2017

Staffordshire University’s 5th Health Psychology Conference took place at the end of June 2017 in the University’s Science Centre. My name is Meghan Linscott and as a funded first year Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology student (working at Stoke-on-Trent City Council across Public Health and Planning) I was not only a delegate, I delivered a poster presentation and the Digital Health workshop (alongside my peer Stephanie Dugdale).

The conference was very well organised and run by health psychology trainees (I assisted the conference organising team). The conference was a great way to bring the University’s health psychology community together to network, share our hard work, gain experience and confidence in a conference setting and celebrate the end of the academic year! Overall, the conference is one of the ways the University enables its budding health psychologists (and those researching and working in health psychology, such as PhD students) to enhance their personal and professional development.

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The quality and range of presentations was fabulous and included a number of ‘double act’ oral presentations, posters and co-facilitated workshops. I was pleased the programme included a good mix of both academic and applied content. I would love to see the conference include a symposium and panel session in the years to come; I think the potential to grow this conference is great.

Professor Daryl O’Connor

Unforeseen circumstances resulted in a last minute change in our keynote speaker. Initially the keynote was a former Professional Doctorate student from the University. I feel this demonstrates the high standard to which students graduate. Furthermore, we were able to secure a fantastic alternative – Professor Daryl O’Connor who delivered a fascinating presentation about the Japanese concept of ’karoshi’ and the effects of stress on health and wellbeing. I believe this is a testament to the excellent connections and networks the University has developed, as well as the positive reputation Staffordshire University holds.

The turn-out was heart-warming and I would like to thank staff from both the University and all of our placement settings, as well as my peers for their attendance and continued support. The atmosphere both within the Science Centre and on Twitter was inspiring. You can find me on twitter @MeghLins

I am looking forward to being more heavily involved in the organisation of Staffordshire University’s 6th Health Psychology Conference next year and have no doubt it will once again be a huge success.


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.

MSc Health Psychology Graduates Talk at the Stoke-on-Trent Health Literacy Group Meeting

The Health Literacy Group (Stoke-on-Trent) hosted an event on 24th June 2016 at Keele Hall. The event was organised by Mike Oliver from the Stoke-on-Trent Council Public Health Team who is also a current MSc Health Psychology student at Staffordshire University.

Jul16 HL story

Mike Oliver facilitating discussions during the Health Literacy event

From Ideas to Action: Update and Moving Forward’ encouraged attendees to share ideas and good practices for promoting health literacy for people living in Stoke-on-Trent.

Jul16 HL story 2

Jo Protheroe, delivering her keynote speech

Jo Protheroe, Chair of Health Literacy UK, and Lesley Mountford, Director of Public Health for Stoke-on-Trent, were keynote speakers at the event. They shared health literacy statistics and examples of how health literacy can influence a person’s ability to maintain good health.

After the keynotes there were eight presenters who showcased examples of health literacy initiatives and good practice in Stoke-on-Trent. One of these presenters was our Sarah Higgins, who shared her findings on nutrition label health literacy from her research conducted whilst on the MSc Health Psychology course.

Sarah commented: ‘It was wonderful to hear about so many successful health literacy projects in Stoke-on-Trent and to share my research findings with the group. The passion and motivation to influence health literacy in the area is truly inspiring!’

After the presentations group discussions took place to discuss the examples of good practice as well as feedback on future actions to promote health literacy. For more details please follow the Stoke-on-Trent City Council Twitter account (@SoTCityCouncil) and the #HLStoke hashtag.

Jul16 HL story 3


 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 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:

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: