Psychology and Me is a fun and interactive evening where you will be given the opportunity to get hands-on with some of our state-of-the-art research resources. You will also be able to hear about the latest research findings from a variety of experts working in psychology.
Some research suggests that
those who live with chronic pain are at higher risk of engaging in suicidal
Much work has explored how different psychological factors might influence suicidal behaviour in helpful as well as unhelpful ways. Similarly much work has looked at how different psychological factors might help as well as hinder those who are trying to cope with chronic pain. Very little work has compared both pain and suicidal behaviour research areas.
What did we focus on?
We wanted to explore this gap
and look closely at the research in the chronic pain and suicidal
behaviour fields to see if there were any common factors on which researchers
could focus their attention in future studies.
How did we conduct our searches?
Our search of the research
published between 2008 and 2018 produced 21,392 possible articles. After we had
screened the papers for their relevance we identified 52 to include in our
review. While we were reviewing them a further 17 papers were identified. This
meant that we looked in depth at total of 69 papers.
What were our findings?
We found that there were
three promising areas that cut across both the suicide and the chronic pain
Future Orientation: How people feel about their expected and imagined future
Mental Imagery: How certain kinds of images in our mind’s eye can impact on how we feel.
Psychological Flexibility: How our ability to accept our situation can impact on how we feel.
How you could use this research:
We suggest that greater cross
over between the chronic pain and suicide research fields is really important
if we are to increase our understanding of why some people with chronic pain
are at greater risk of engaging in suicidal behaviour. These three areas would
be a good place to start.
Katie is a critical social, health and community psychologist. Therefore, Katie draws upon a variety of perspectives when looking into different topic areas.
What kind of approaches does Katie take?
Drawing upon her perspectives
Katie uses social representation theory, qualitative measures and action
research approaches when designing and analysing her research.
But what does this mean?
The foundations to Katie’s
research enable her to:
understanding of the mechanisms behind health and social inequalities;
positive social change.
Katie’s bisexuality and health promotion research:
Katie approaches her research into the LGBTQ+ community with an apolitical stance. Katie worked alongside colleagues from other institutions on the research project she talked about. This was inspiring as it allowed people to work together to design and analyse the research project so that it was considered from many points of view. You can read national reports on bisexuality and health promotion from Stonewalland the Government.
How many participants?
840 individuals from around the globe participated in Katie’s research. This led to over a thousand pages of open-ended survey responses!
Key themes from the research:
Thematic analysis was used to analyse the data. This is the process of reading through people’s responses and drawing on commonalities and differences across the data set. These responses are explored to see whether any key messages can be found from within the data.
Katie is continuing to
analyse the dataset. To date she has found that sexual identities mostly hinge
upon the degree of empowerment or oppression experienced within the social
institutions in an individual’s life. She also found a strong theme across
participants that the pursuit of wellbeing was the ultimate goal.
Key messages from the talk:
Bisexuality and health promotion is a key area for research due to the findings from recent reports because:
Lower mental health compared with other LGBTQ+ groups.
Sense of isolation from LGBT and straight communities.
Working in research teams allows Psychologists to conduct research from a range of perspectives and approaches.
Thank you to Katie for sharing her research with us and we look forward to hearing more about the research in the future!
Dr Rachel Povey(Associate Professor of Health Psychology, Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research) has some FREE Resource Packs to give away which she has designed to help practice nurses to motivate their patients with type 2 diabetes to make dietary changes. The resource packs are based on Rachel’s research funded by the European Association for the Study of Diabetes with GlaxoSmithKline which explored the beliefs of people with type 2 diabetes about healthy eating. The packs were informed by studies with both patients and nurses and include nine useful resources which have been designed specifically so that they can be copied and given out to patients.
The Resource Pack that Rachel has developed consists of a number of psychological “tools” including resources which help patients in “weighing up the pros and cons” of eating more healthily, “estimating portion sizes”, “planning changes” and “useful techniques for keeping motivated”. Alongside the resources is a useful practical guide with suggestions and techniques for encouraging patients to make dietary changes from motivating change to making and maintaining the changes.
The Resource Pack has been used as the basis of a very successful training programme for practice nurses, and we are delighted to be able to give some away for FREE!
Feedback from practitioners who have used this resource include:
“The resources will be very useful for patients. Clear advice for them …very useful for me when talking to patients”.
“Just to let you know have seen 3 people with diabetes since Wednesday and we have used the tools and set realistic goals in dietary change”.
By Dr Sarah Dean (Health Psychologist & Senior Lecturer in Health Psychology).
A large amount of research has shown that breastfeeding has several health benefits for both the parent and the child. For example, mothers who breastfeed are less likely to develop conditions such as ovarian cancer, breast cancer and diabetes, and breastfeeding protects infants from a range of health problems and illness. Benefits can continue across the lifespan with breastfed individuals having lower rates of obesity and diabetes when they are adolescents and adults (WHO, NHS).
Breastfeeding can also help with bonding and attachment and when women have positive experiences with breastfeeding it can support their mental health.
Lots of people are surprised to learn that the World Health Organisation recommends exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months and that breastfeeding continues alongside appropriate complementary food until the child is aged 2 years and beyond!
Unfortunately, even though a lot of new mums would like to breastfeed their babies, many find it difficult. There are various different things that can make breastfeeding hard, for example, finding it painful, being unsure if baby is getting enough milk, not wanting to breastfeed in public, having a lack of support, feeling worried that other people might have negative views towards breastfeeding and not being able to carry on breastfeeding when going back to work.
At the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research, here at Staffordshire University, we are carrying out research to try and understand more about people’s experiences of feeding their children so that we can work towards removing some of these barriers. This will hopefully mean that more women, who want to, can breastfeed for longer and more women could consider breastfeeding as a realistic option.
Staffordshire University Psychology Breastfeeding Research:
We have a growing number of staff and students carrying out research into breastfeeding.
Dr. Amy Burton, Dr. Jenny Taylor, Dr. Alison Owen and myself are currently involved in a study exploring the experiences of mums who are breastfeeding a child over the age of 1 year. In this exciting research mums took pictures of their breastfeeding experiences and were then interviewed about these. So many people wanted to take part that we are also collecting additional pictures and information online! We are currently planning the next phase of the research, where we will develop and evaluate an intervention to help change and improve people’s attitudes towards breastfeeding.
Sarah is working on a joint project with Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology graduate Dr Sarah Thurgood, to explore the experiences that new Mums in Stoke have of feeding their babies. This research is important because the UK has some of the lowest rates of breastfeeding in the world and Stoke-on-Trent has low rates compared to other areas of the country. Sarah Thurgood is also working with Jenny and Amy to publish her doctorate research that explored the breastfeeding support experiences of first time mothers.
Alison and MSc by Applied Research Graduate Alex Morley-Hewitt recently published a paper that reviewed research into body image and breastfeeding (click here to view the published paper). They found that women who had negative feelings towards their bodies were less likely to start breastfeeding and those who did were less likely to carry on breastfeeding compared to women with more positive feelings towards their bodies.
Another Masters student, on our MSc Foundations of Clinical Psychology course, Lucy Pudsey, is working with Sarah and Jenny to write up her dissertation research that explored the experiences of women who breastfeed a child for over 12 months.
We are keen for more of our UG and PG students to join us in researching breastfeeding!
“I really enjoyed attending the Midlands Health Psychology Conference in Derby this year and am grateful to the University for providing me with the opportunity. I found the research presentations most beneficial, as they were a great way of demonstrating the breadth of topics covered by Health Psychology and helped me to understand the research process from beginning to end. The presentations gave me some exciting ideas for my own project next year. It was a great opportunity to network with fellow students and Health Psychologists, who offered tips and peer support whilst completing my own professional training. This conference is a must if you are considering a career in Health Psychology. I will look forward to returning again next year hopefully to present some of my own work!”
“We really enjoy attending the MHPN conference each year. For many of our MSc students it is their first experience of an academic conference and they gain a lot from listening to the presentations and chatting to the delegates. This year former MSc student Jess Boot presented a poster of her dissertation work, which was well received and has hopefully encouraged some of our current students to consider presenting their work next year. We are already looking forward to next year’s conference!”
MSc Course Co-Directors Dr Sarah Dean & Dr Gemma HURST
Staffordshire University – The Home of Health Psychology
Love Island, a reality TV series, has attracted controversy over its suggested negative effects on body image amongst men and women, as well as media reports of poor mental health and deaths by suicide amongst former contestants.
Dr Owen discussed what body image is, how it may be influenced by social media and representations of body shapes presented on popular media, and discussed some of her ongoing studies researching the effects of positive and negative body image ideals on a variety of health-related behaviours.
You can listen to Dr Owen’s interview via the BBC Sounds website and app – a link to the programme can be found below:
It is well known that men are less likely to seek professional help for a range of health related issues, inclusive of mental and physical health (e.g. Men’s Health Forum), but the reasons for this disparity is not well known. Dr Dempsey’s research focuses on how individual’s perceptions of the social environment influence their mental and physical wellbeing, and he has conducted a number of studies into mental health, experiences of living with diagnoses of various mental health conditions (particularly bipolar disorder), the role of appraisals of the social environment on experiences of suicidality, predictors of substance use behaviours, and how individuals live with and ‘make sense’ of living with complex long-term health conditions. Dr Dempsey’s research is starting to focus on men’s experiences of mental health issues, starting with understanding the factors associated with men’s accessing (or not) of support for ongoing health issues.
Men aged 18 years and above sought for a new study!
The new study by Jessie and Dr Dempsey aims to address a gap in the literature by identifying the role of masculine social norms, self-perceptions and personality traits in the likelihood of seeking help from a variety of sources (ranging from healthcare professions to friends). The researchers are seeking volunteers, men aged 18 years and above, to take part in an anonymous online survey study, and answer a series of validated questionnaires measuring perceptions of masculinity, personality and help-seeking. A summary of the findings from this initial study will be posted on the InPsych once the findings have been published (check back for more details later this year!).
The Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research is home to research activity in the Psychology Department at Staffordshire University. The Centre is home to a number of research-active psychologists who are engaged in research across a wide range of psychological subdisciplines.
For more details about the Centre, its research activities, events and consultancy, please visit our website (click here).
Dr Owen has conducted a number of studies into people’s experiences of positive and negative body image, the impact of appearance-focus on health-related behaviours (e.g. smoking tobacco, drinking alcohol), and the relationship between social media use and body image esteem. You can listen to Dr Owen’s interview via the below BBC Sounds link:
As the course directors for the MSc Health Psychology, we are delighted to announce that former Staffordshire University student Sophie Phillips has been awarded the Division of Health Psychology’s MSc Research Project Prize for the best MSc dissertation in the UK!
Her dissertation titled “Do Physical Activity Calorie Expenditure (PACE) Food Labels Help Increase Healthier Food Choices? An Eye-Tracking Investigation” beat off strong competition from candidates at other institutions. Sophie’s prize is £200 toward the registration fee for this year’s Division of Health Psychology Conference and an oral presentation to be delivered at the conference in July at Manchester.
It is really exciting that Sophie has won because our graduate Sarah Higgins was a recipient of this prize in 2016 (click here for details of Sarah’s prize). Having two wins in the past four years is brilliant and really highlights the high quality of work that our students are able to achieve!
“working with Sophie on her dissertation has been an absolute pleasure, her study was interesting and used novel innovative methodology. The findings of her study have real world implications and could be used to influence decisions about food label content. I am sure she is a rising star – one to watch in the health psychology research field”
“I am delighted to have been awarded the DHP MSc research project prize. I am very grateful to the Health Psychology team at Staffordshire University for their support throughout the whole of the masters, and for providing me with this wonderful opportunity. I am really looking forward to attending and presenting my work at the DHP conference!”
Sophie is currently carrying out her PhD research at Durham University. This primarily involves exploring options for the measurement of movement-related behaviours (physical activity, sedentary behaviours and sleep) of pre-school children from socio-economically deprived communities. The aim of this research is to develop and evaluate a measurement tool that can be used to assess the movement related behaviours of pre-school children at a population/public health level. As part of her research, Sophie is working alongside the ‘A Better Start’ team, a programme and evaluation with a focus on reducing inequalities and improving the outcomes of children from low socio-economic status backgrounds.