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Studying in autumn 2020 during coronavirus

Applied Health Psychology Research Group

The group consists of health, clinical and social psychologists who make use of a wide variety of methodological approaches to address questions concerned with understanding how biological, psychological, behavioural and social factors influence aspects of physical and mental health and illness.

We also have a Health Psychology Lab which sits within this research group. It focuses on active collaborative projects and takes a biopsychosocial approach to understanding health and illness. We are keen to have Research Assistants, MSc and/or PhD students working with us in this lab so if you're interested in this opportunity, please get in touch.

Contact

Staff Profile: Professor Olga B.A van den Akker
Email: o.vandenakker@mdx.ac.uk
Phone: 020 8411 6953

Recent and present research students

  • Christina Constantinou
  • Kristina van Dam
  • Chineme Onyigbuo
  • Neelam Ghuman
  • Isabella Uruttia

Examples of projects

Reproductive Health Psychology

Staff: Professor Olga B.A van den Akker and Dr Nicky Payne

The effectiveness of persuasive communication strategies in elective Single Embryo Transfers

  • Surrogate motherhood practices in the UK and abroad
  • Attitudes to and experiences of Gamete donation
  • Professionals' practice of surrogacy and adjustment to parenthood
  • Post-traumatic stress following reproductive loss
  • Psychological factors affecting infertility outcome
  • Psychological impacts of fertility treatments

Chronic Conditions

Staff: Professor Arie Nouwen and Dr Lin Yu

  • Prevalence of depression in diabetes
  • Structural brain changes, emotional processing and cognitive functioning in depression
  • The role of family behaviours in dietary self-care
  • Cortical processing of food-related stimuli
  • Application of the Psychological Flexibility model and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for chronic pain
  • Sense of self and its role in functioning and wellbeing in people with chronic pain
  • Treatment mechanisms of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
  • Predictors of psychological treatment outcomes in chronic pain
  • Health Behaviour Change

    Staff: Dr Camille Alexis-GarseeDr Nicky Payne, Professor Olga B.A van den Akker and Jonathan Sigger

    • Evaluation of behaviour change interventions using qualitative and quantitative methodologies
    • Applied research on public health issues such as tobacco use, diet, exercise, and access to healthcare
    • eHealth: use of 'new' technologies such as e-cigarettes, computer tailored interventions and apps for behaviour change
    • Understanding hand hygiene in health care and developing interventions to improve efficacy
  • Occupational Health Psychology

    Staff: Dr Nicky PayneProfessor Olga B.A van den Akker, Dr Camille Alexis-Garsee and Neelam Ghuman

    • The impact of work-life balance and work stress on wellbeing and health behaviours
    • The impact of austerity on the work-life balance agenda and precarious work
    • Work-life balance in employees with different family structures
    • Combining employment and fertility treatments

Mental Health, Counselling, Psychotherapy and Clinical Psychology

Staff: Dr Fiona Starr, Karen Ciclitira, Dr Nicky Payne, Dr Camille Alexis-Garsee and Professor Olga van den Akker

  • Therapists' experiences of supervision and therapy
  • Women's therapy centre service evaluation
  • Experiences of Psychologists working in independent practice
  • The impact of fertility issues and treatment on mental health
  • Mental health in staff and students in the Higher Education sector

Example project details

Methods

  • Questionnaires and structural equation modelling
  • Daily diaries and multi-level modelling
  • Interviews and thematic or interpretative phenomenological analysis
  • Q-methodology
  • MRI, fMRI, EEG
  • Probabilistic reversal learning and implicit association tasks
  • Cognitive functioning experimental tasks
  • Systematic reviews and Meta analyses
  • RCTs

Examples of funding sources

  • British Academy
  • Human Fertilisation and Embryo Authority
  • UK Respiratory Research Foundation
  • Society for Reproductive and Infant Psychology
  • King's Fund
  • Diabetes UK
  • Economic and Social Research Council
  • Barnet Council (GLL)

Examples of impact

  • Support for dissemination by key advocacy organisations such as Working Families, Fertility Network UK, Diabetes-UK

  • Contribution to policy documents and advisory committees e.g. Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority Ethics & Law Advisory Committee (2009) Intergenerational family donation of gametes and embryos; The Centre for Social Justice (2008) Fathers not Included: A response to the HFEA Bill; Nuffield Council on Bioethics (2013). Donor conception: ethical aspects of information sharing.

  • Research reported on television (e.g. Professor van den Akker was interviewed about the psychological profile of surrogates on BBC South East Today), in magazines (e.g. Dr Starr was interviewed about managing child feeding problems for Right Start Magazine), and in national newspapers (e.g. Guardian, Telegraph, Observer, Independent) etc.

  • Supporting the development of psychological interventions for people with chronic pain in NHS trusts

Get involved

Research student applications and placements

Students wishing to undertake a PhD or those wanting to gain research assistant experience within any of our research teams should contact the staff directly (contact details available on individual staff profiles) or via Professor van den Akker.

Participating in research

If you would like to participate in any of our ongoing studies, please contact the research teams directly (contact details available on individual staff profiles) or via Professor van den Akker.

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