Reduced physical activity and increased sedentary behaviour: the damage on young people during the COVID-19 pandemic

Dr Alison Owen

Research carried out at Staffordshire University has looked at the impact in young people of a reduction in physical activity and an increase in sedentary behaviour during the COVID-19 pandemic. The research was carried out by Staffordshire University Health Psychology lecturer, Dr Alison Owen, alongside Dr Kathryn Bould, a lecturer in Psychology at Liverpool John Moores university.

The research involved looking at the results of studies published since the start of the pandemic, to bring together the findings of the pieces of research looking at physical activity and sedentary behaviour in young people during the pandemic. Stockwell et al. (2021) define physical activity as any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscle that results in energy expenditure, and can include exercising, walking, gardening and doing household chores. Sedentary behaviours can be defined as any waking behaviour with an energy expenditure of ≤1.5 metabolic equivalents while in a sitting or reclining posture, including watching TV, video gaming and computer use (Stockwell et al., 2021).

The studies showed that children’s physical activity behaviours have lessened significantly during these times, while their sedentary behaviours have risen significantly. For example one study (Moore et al., 2020), found that only 4.8% (2.8% girls, 6.5% boys) of children and 0.6% (0.8% girls, 0.5% boys) of youth were meeting combined movement behaviour guidelines during COVID-19 restrictions. They found that children had lower physical activity levels, less outside time, higher sedentary behaviours (including leisure screen time), and more sleep during the COVID-19 outbreak.

In their report, Dr Owen and Dr Bould made some suggestions for ways to encourage and foster physical activity in both children and their families, for example by showing people different ways of staying active and offering other opportunities for physical activity, as well as ensuring the feeling of staying safe and being protected.

The work has been published in the British Journal of Child Health. If you are interested in reading the full article, or have any questions about the study then please contact Dr Alison Owen – alison.owen@staffs.ac.uk

References

Moore, S., Faulkner, G., & Rhodes R (2020). Impact of the COVID-19 virus outbreak on movement and play behaviours of Canadian children and youth: a national survey. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 17(1), 85.

Owen, A. & Bould, K. (2021). Reduced physical activity and increased sedentary behaviour: the damage on young people during the COVID-19 pandemic.British Journal of Child Health, 2(2), 64-68.

Stockwell, S., Trott, M. & Tully, M. (2021). Changes in physical activity and sedentary behaviours from before to during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown: a systematic review. BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine. 7:e000960.


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 @HealthPsyStaffs and via the #HealthPsychStaffs hashtag.

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

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details and to book your place at an open day please click here.

Dr Amy Burton contributes to an edited collection of chapters on physical activity and visual impairment

Dr Amy Burton

Dr Amy Burton has contributed to an edited collection of chapters on physical activity and visual impairment. The book, entitled Movement and Visual Impairment: Research across Disciplines has been edited by Dr Justin Haegele and is an in-depth review of research spanning a range of disciplines including biomechanics, physical education and Paralympic sport.

Dr Burton’s chapter reviews the research evidence regarding physical activity interventions for older adults with vision impairment. The chapter includes an over view of her own work highlighting how engaging in physical activity in later-life can be particularly challenging for those with vision loss (Burton et al, 2016) with a number of psychological, social and societal factors contributing to low levels of engagement (Burton et al, 2018).

Visually impaired person walking

The chapter provides a detailed overview and critique of interventions designed to promote physical activity for older adults with sight loss. The majority of these have been dedicated to reducing falls risk and have shown limited success. In the chapter Dr Burton highlights how a focus on functional limitations in research has been at the expense of acknowledging other psychological, cultural, and societal barriers to engagement. The chapter ends with a call for researchers to further engage with the social motivators for exercise in older adults with sight loss and to pay greater attention to the potential for the psychological, in addition to physical, benefits of being more active.

To learn more or purchase a copy of this book visit: https://www.routledge.com/Movement-and-Visual-Impairment-Research-across-Disciplines/Haegele/p/book/9780367434397


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 @HealthPsyStaffs and via the #HealthPsychStaffs hashtag.

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

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details and to book your place at an open day please click here.

Research exploring body image in Female Athletes

Our Dr Alison Owen writes about her research exploring body image in female athletes.

Research carried out at Staffordshire University has looked into body image in a group of British female athletes, to look into how they feel about their appearance, and whether they feel that appearance pressures have impacted on their athletic careers in any way. The research was carried out by Staffordshire University graduate Tess Allen, alongside Staffordshire University Health Psychology lecturer, Dr Alison Owen.

British female athletes were interviewed individually, and asked to discuss their thoughts and feelings about their body. All of the athletes reported feeling the need to maintain a particular appearance. The women also all reported feeling pressure from outside influences, including the media, as well as from the uniforms they had to wear for their sports.

A number of suggestions and recommendations have arisen from the research findings, including a need for interventions to maintain a positive body image in female athletes, as well as considerations for factors such as uniform choice.

The work has been published in the Journal of Qualitative Research in Sports Studies. If you are interested in reading the full article, or have any questions about the study then please contact Dr Alison Owen – alison.owen@staffs.ac.uk


The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Psychology at the University’s £30 million Science Centre in Stoke-on-Trent. The department is home to the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research, a large and active group of psychologists, PhD students and researchers conducting work into a variety of psychological disciplines and topic areas.

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details and to book your place at an open day please click here.

Opportunity for Band 6 Health Psychology Trainee at Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital and place on Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology at Staffordshire University

An exciting opportunity has arisen through collaborations between the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital and the Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University for a Band 6 trainee health psychologist. The trainee will be based within the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital for two years and will undertake Stage 2 training as a full-time student on the highly successful Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology at Staffordshire University

The role includes outpatient psychological assessment and therapy contributing towards the psychological component of the inpatient pain management programmes at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital. The 0.8 w.t.e post presents a unique opportunity for a highly motivated and professional person who has already completed their Stage 1 health psychology training, to complete competences required for their Stage 2 training, directly supported by the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital. (Please note that the full-time fees of £6,300 per annum and writing up fees will be payable from the salary provided).

The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Trust (RNOH) is the largest orthopaedic hospital in the UK and is regarded as a leader in the field of orthopaedics both in the UK and world-wide. The RNOH provides a comprehensive range of neuro-musculoskeletal health care, ranging from acute spinal injury or complex bone tumour to orthopaedic medicine and specialist rehabilitation for people with chronic pain. This broad range of services is unique within the NHS.

Dr Rachel Povey, Co-Director of the Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology said:

Dr Rachel Povey

“We are very excited about this new collaboration between the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital and Staffordshire University.  The two-year Band 6 post at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital will be a unique opportunity for a trainee to complete their competences in an applied and stimulating environment, whilst studying with us on the Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology.”


For details of how to apply, please go to: https://www.jobs.nhs.uk/xi/vacancy/916050178

Please note that the closing date is: Thursday, 4th June, 2020.

For further information about this exciting opportunity please contact: Dr Rachel Povey, Co-Director of the Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology at Staffordshire University: r.povey@staffs.ac.uk; or Dr Andrew Lucas, Consultant Lead Health Psychologist at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital (Andrew.lucas3@nhs.net).


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:

The impact that lockdown might be having on body image

Dr Alison Owen appeared on BBC Radio Ulster on May 1st 2020 on the Evening Extra show with Devon Harvey and Julie McCullough to discuss the impact that lockdown may be having on people’s body image.

Dr Alison Owen

The discussion was based around the way that people are feeling about themselves during lockdown. For example, in terms of people not being able to get their hair cut or dyed or maintain their usual beauty regime.

Dr Owen talked about the fact that although many people are in lockdown at the moment, they are finding that they do still feel a lot of pressure on their appearance.

She discussed the impact that video calling may have on people’s body image. Many people are taking part in video calling, using applications such as Zoom and FaceTime, both for work and for keeping in touch with friends and family. This means that people are looking at their faces on a screen much more often than they usually would. This can really add to the pressure of maintaining a more polished appearance, so things like making sure that their hair looks presentable, or maybe feeling like they should apply makeup.

Another factor that was discussed during the programme was that video calling can bring attention to appearance-based flaws that people wouldn’t normally be focussing on. So, for example, wrinkles or imperfections that they can see whilst watching themselves on the screen.

Additionally, Dr Owen discussed how people may be spending more time on social media during lockdown, because they aren’t able to get out and see friends and family in person it’s a good way of feeling connected to them. However, this can also lead to pressures in terms of looking at more heavily filtered images of their friends and family as opposed to seeing them in person where they may not look so polished!

You can catch up on the radio interview, which is available up to June 1st. Dr Owen’s discussions are from around 55 minutes in.


The Science Centre

The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Psychology at the University’s £30 million Science Centre in Stoke-on-Trent. The department is home to the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research, a large and active group of psychologists, PhD students and researchers conducting work into a variety of psychological disciplines and topic areas.

Understanding suicidal ideation and behaviour in individuals with chronic pain

Our Professor Karen Rodham explains the background, findings and future directions for her recent published review.

Why did we conduct our review?

Some research suggests that those who live with chronic pain are at higher risk of engaging in suicidal behaviour.

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.

Professor Karen Rodham

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.

Table with the word research written on with people sat around working together.

What were our findings?

We found that there were three promising areas that cut across both the suicide and the chronic pain research fields:

  1. Future Orientation: How people feel about their expected and imagined future
  2. Mental Imagery: How certain kinds of images in our mind’s eye can impact on how we feel.
  3. 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.


The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Psychology at the University’s £30 million Science Centre in Stoke-on-Trent. The department is home to the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research, a large and active group of psychologists, PhD students and researchers conducting work into a variety of psychological disciplines and topic areas.

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details and to book your place at an open day please click here.

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:

Student Blog: My Stage 2 Health Psychology Bursary & Training at Staffordshire University and Stoke-on-Trent City Council

By Meghan Linscott, Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology Trainee

In July 2016, I learned about a Health Psychology Professional Doctorate bursary opportunity at Staffordshire University and Stoke-on-Trent City Council (working across Public Health and Planning). I was excited immediately as I knew I wanted to progress to Stage 2 training but I was not in a position that supported me to do so. I had no experience in planning but after doing some research, I knew I had to apply.

I was invited for an interview at the end of July. The panel was large (with six people round the table from both Staffordshire University and the Council) but very friendly, which helped settle my nerves. One thing that stood out to me was the opportunity for a tour of the Science Centre with the Psychology Technicians following the interview. I took up this opportunity and was impressed with the facilities available. I also got a better feel for the University and knew I could be happy studying there.

Staffordshire University’s Science Centre

I learned I had been successful on the same day as my interview and had no doubt in my mind that I would accept the offer!

Prior to starting my placement, I had always worked with individuals and small groups in roles that provided me with an opportunity to get out and about in the community. Therefore, initially, a desk based role came as a small shock! However, it did not take long for me to settle in and I was treated like an employee from the word “go”. My placement role is wide ranging. I act as a consultant, policy writer and researcher within the planning department to embed health into planning and the built environment. I also support Public Health initiatives such as suicide prevention, dementia friendly communities/cities and asset-based community development. Looking back, very few of the proposals I put forward at interview have been a part of my Prof Doc journey. This is largely because my placement role has been very forthcoming with opportunities to complete the competences whilst also going about my day job.

I am very grateful to have gained experience working at the population level and I could not have anticipated how valuable my bursary experience has been; it has widened my skill set and opened my eyes to the breadth of the health psychology discipline. I can confidently say health psychology and planning go hand in hand and I hope we see health psychology training opportunities as highly regarded as those available for clinical psychology, in the very near future.


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:

New Funded Bursary Opportunity for a Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology trainee at Staffordshire University

The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University is delighted to announce a further funded student bursary for the highly successful Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology programme.

The two-year bursary is for £14,000 per annum for a full-time trainee, which is inclusive of course fees and a contribution towards living and study costs. The bursary is in partnership with Leicester City Primary Pupil Referral Unit, working within the Primary Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) Team. The role at the PRU will be combined with training at Staffordshire University on the Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology course.

Dr Rachel Povey, Co-Director of the Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology said:

“We are very excited about this new collaborative partnership with Leicester City Primary Pupil Referral Unit. This represents another exciting opportunity for a Trainee Health Psychologist to work in an applied environment and complete their competency training.

Further details about the bursary is available via this link. Applicants should be due to be awarded their BPS Accredited Stage 1 Health Psychology training by 19th September 2018 (further details about the eligibility criteria for this exciting opportunity can be found via the bursary advert). For further information about this exciting opportunity, please contact Dr Rachel Povey (r.povey@staffs.ac.uk).

Please note that the closing date for applications for the bursary is noon on Thursday 14th June 2018.


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: