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Dr Felicity Bishop MSc, PhD

Associate Professor, Programme Director, MSc Health Psychology

Dr Felicity Bishop

Dr Felicity Bishop is a health psychologist leading an interdisciplinary programme of mixed methods research around complementary therapies and placebo effects in health care within Psychology at the University of Southampton.


Placebo effects are real and powerful. Can we harness them ethically to improve healthcare?

I am a Chartered Psychologist and Health Psychologist. I have an MA in Experimental Psychology from the University of Oxford (The Queen’s College) and an MSc in Health Psychology from the University of Southampton. In 2006 I obtained my PhD in Psychology from the University of Southampton. Following some postdoctoral work I moved to Primary Care and Population Sciences within the Faculty of Medicine to take up an Arthritis Research UK Career Development Fellowship. From 2008 to 2011 I undertook a programme of research, funded under the Fellowship, using mixed methods to investigate psychosocial aspects of acupuncture for low back pain. During this period I was also a visiting researcher at Harvard University, developing a programme of work around lay perspectives on placebo effects. In 2012 I returned to Psychology at the University of Southampton to take up a Lectureship in Health Psychology. In 2015 I was promoted to Associate Professor.

Research interests

I have an interdisciplinary programme of mixed methods research around contextual effects in health care, encompassing topics including: ethical, scientific and lay perspectives on use of placebos in clinical practice and research; uptake and adherence to treatments for back pain; applications and elaborations of the common-sense model of illness perception; utilisation of complementary and alternative medicines and psychosocial mediators of their effectiveness; mixing qualitative and quantitative methods.

My work on complementary and alternative medicines led to my selection through international open competition as 1 of 12 international complementary medicine research fellows at the Australian Research Centre for Complementary and Integrative Medicine, University of Technology Sydney.  I continue as an Honorary Visiting Research Fellow, at the University of Technology Sydney.


  • NIHR HTA. 2018-22. Amitriptyline at low-dose and titrated for irritable bowel syndrome as second-line treatment (The ATLANTIS study): A double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Ford, Everitt (co-PI), Alderson, Farrin, Guthrie, Foy, Tubeuf, Ridd (Co-Is), Bishop (Co-I, Qualitative lead). £1,787,888.
  • NIHR National School for Primary Care Research. 2018-2021. Expectation Management for Patients in Primary Care: Developing and Feasibility Testing a New Digital Intervention for Practitioners. Hazel Everitt (PI), Jeremy Howick, Paul Little, Christian Mallen, Leanne Morrison (Co-Is). Lucy Yardley, Felicity Bishop (collaborators). £394,262.
  • NHS Solent Research Capability Funding. 2016-17. PI: Felicity Bishop. £25,819.
  • University of Southampton FSHS, Strategic Interdisciplinary Research Development Fund. 2016-17. Hush the quacks. Exploring health fraud scams in the UK. PI: Anita Lavorgna. Co-investigator: Felicity Bishop. £5460
  • Arthritis Research UK, Special Strategic Award. 2014-17. Non-specific Mechanisms in Orthodox and CAM management of back pain (MOCAM). PI: Felicity Bishop. Co-investigators: George Lewith, Katherine Bradbury, Janine Leach, Hugh MacPherson, Borislav Dimitrov, Lisa Roberts, Lucy Yardley. £124,988.
  • Arthritis Research UK, Research Progression Award. 2014-15. Acupuncture for back pain: modifying the psychological determinants of patient outcomes. PI: Felicity Bishop. £51,966.
  • NIHR Health Technology Assessment Programme. 2013-17. ACTIB (Assessing Cognitive behavioural Therapy in Irritable Bowel): A randomized controlled trial of clinical and cost effectiveness of therapist delivered cognitive behavioural therapy and web-based self-management in irritable bowel syndrome. PI: Hazel Everitt. Co-applicants: Rona Moss-Morris, Trudie Chalder, Paul McCrone, Paul Little, Sabine Landau, Felicity Bishop (Qualitative Lead), Robert Logan, Nicholas Coleman. £1,232,554.
  • NIHR National School for Primary Care Research. 2012-13. PIs: Felicity Bishop & George Lewith. Co-applicants: Hazel Everitt, Adam Geraghty, Paul Little. “Creating a Taxonomy to Harness the Placebo effect in UK primary care. £45,179.
  • Faculty of Social & Human Sciences, Strategic Interdisciplinary Research Development Fund. 2012. PI: Felicity Bishop. Co-applicants: Cynthia Graham, George Lewith. “Placebo effects and informed consent”. £3500.
  • Arthritis Research UK, 2008-12. PI: Felicity Bishop. Co-applicants/Mentors: George Lewith, Lucy Yardley, Paul Little, Cyrus Cooper. Career Development Fellowship "Acupuncture for Back Pain: Evaluating Patient Outcomes and Their Determinants." £300,745
  • NIHR National School for Primary Care Research, 2010-12. PI: Felicity Bishop, Co-applicants: Paul Little, George Lewith, Rona Moss-Morris, Nadine Foster. "Treatment beliefs in back pain." £57,568.

Current PhD Research Students

Contextual Factors in Low Back Pain Consultations. Dima Ivanova. (Funding: ESRC SCDTP 1+3 studentship)

Expanding models of health behaviour change: A critical evaluation of health promotion in traditional acupuncture.  Jonquil Pinto.  (Funding: Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarship, British Acupuncture Council)

Reconceptualising Patient-Reported Outcome Measures as Active Components of Complex Interventions.  Michelle Holmes. (Funding:  Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarship, Royal College of Chiropractors, Anglo-European College of Chiropractic, and Southampton Complementary Medicine Research Trust)

Healthy Sexual Aging: A mixed-method Study of Sexual Function and Sexual Well-being in Older European Adults.  Lauren Towler. (Funding: Norwegian Research Council)

Patient and health professionals’ attitudes, behaviours, and intentions towards long-term depression management in primary care. Rachel Dewar-Haggart.  (Funding: NIHR National School for Primary Care Research)

Completed PhD Research Students

2016-2019.  From inert pills to subjunctive medicine: an exploration of the placebo effect in general practice. Doug Hardman. (Funding: NIHR National School for Primary Care Research)

2014-2018.  Peer support and homelessness.  Stephanie Barker. 

2009-2013.  Exploring illness representations and management of multimorbidity in people with diabetes and depression.  Jenny McSharry. 

2008-2013.  How do experiences of physiotherapy and osteopathy vary between the NHS and private practice?  Katherine Bradbury. 

Research group

Centre for Clinical and Community Applications of Health Psychology (CCCAHP)

Affiliate research group

Primary Care, Population Sciences and Medical Education

Research project(s)

Mechanisms in Orthodox and Complementary Alternative Medicine Management of Back Pain (MOCAM study)

Creating a taxonomy to harness the placebo effect in UK primary care

Acupuncture for Back Pain: Evaluating Patient Outcomes and Their Determinants

Placebo effects and informed consent

Treatment Beliefs in Back Pain

Assessing Cognitive behavioural Therapy in Irritable Bowel Syndrome (ACTIB)

Talking in Primary Care 2: Testing the effects of communication skills e-learning for practitioners on patients’ musculoskeletal pain and enablement (TIP2)

University of Southampton - Current Responsibilities

  • Director of Programmes, Psychology (2020 – present)
  • Director MSc Health Psychology (2015 – present);
  • Admissions Tutor: MSc Health Psychology

External – Current and Recent Education Roles

  • External examiner for BSc Psychology, Aston University
  • External examiner for MSc Research Methods, University of Nottingham
  • External examiner for PhDs at Monash, Plymouth, Sydney, RMIT, KCL.
  • External examiner for MScs at University of Oxford, Private Universität Witten.
  • Opponent for PhD student at Karolinska Institutet
  • Guest lecturer on mixed methods research at University of Oxford and Catholic University of Louvain.

External – Research and Scholarship Roles

  • Associate Editor British Journal of Health Psychology
  • Elected member of the Board of Directors, International Society of Traditional, Complementary & Integrative Medicine Researchers. 
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Book Chapters




I lead these modules:

  • PSYC6002 Psychology and the Delivery of Health Care
  • RESM6012 Applied Research Methods (ARM): Qualitative Methods
  • PSYC6128 Apprenticeship in Health Psychology

I also teach on these modules:

  • PSYC2026: Introduction to Health Psychology
  • PSYC6001 Biopsychosocial aspects of health
  • PSYC6003 Psychosocial Aspects of Illness & Disability
  • RESM6012 Applied Research Methods (ARM): Planning and Designing

And I supervise and act as personal academic tutor for undergraduate, MSc, professional doctorate, and PhD students.

Dr Felicity Bishop
Building 44 Highfield Campus University of Southampton SO17 1BJ

Room Number : 44/3067

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