New study seeking participants for an alcohol-related appearance intervention

Dr Alison Owen

Dr Alison Owen, a lecturer in Health Psychology and a member of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research has carried out a series of pieces of research looking at the impact of appearance-focussed interventions on a person’s health choices. Previous research has found that health-focussed campaigns can often fail to motivate many young people to change their behaviour, with many people feeling that health-related threats are too long- term to concern them and not relevant to them. However, it is known that for many young men and women, their appearance is a key priority for them (Grogan, 2012).

For her PhD, carried out at Staffordshire University, Dr Owen therefore decided to focus on interventions that showed people the impact of health choices on a person’s appearance, as opposed to the more traditional health-focussed interventions. Dr Owen used a piece of computer software called AprilAge, which shows participants projected images of themselves up to the age of 72 years, and allowed them to compare images of themselves after exposing their skin to the sun without using protection with those where they have been protecting their skin from the sun. Dr Owen and her PhD supervision team (Professor Sarah Grogan, Professor David Clark-Carter and Dr Emily Buckley) found some really positive findings, with participants reporting significantly higher intentions to use sun protection after viewing the intervention. The software has also been used at Staffordshire University by Dr Keira Flett and Prof. Clark-Carter, showing people the impact that smoking can have on a persons’ appearance, again with very promising findings.Dr Owen and Dr Flett, alongside Professor Grogan (Manchester Metropolitan University) have now expanded their research to look at another health behaviour – drinking alcohol. Along with software designer Auriole Prince, the researchers came up with a piece of software called Change My Face, that like AprilAge, is able to show people from their current age up to the age of 72, but this time, showing them the impact that moderate and high alcohol consumption can have on their skin, compared to if they have been drinking within the recommended limits.

The researchers are currently recruiting participants for a study investigating the effectiveness of the software, in comparison with an intervention that informs people of the possible health impacts of alcohol consumption. If you have any questions about the research or are interested in taking part in the study then please email Dr Alison Owen at or research assistant Alex Morley-Hewitt at

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