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Centre for Clinical and Community Applications of Health Psychology

Our research

Learn more about our current themes and priorities.

Research priorities

Our priorities are:

  • basic research to establish the mechanisms underlying the psychological aspects of health and health problems, and how to manage and measure them
  • translational research testing theory-based psychological interventions and the psychological aspects of medical and public health interventions
  • the synthesis of topical and important health and illness-related research literatures through systematic reviews
  • the provision of psychological services to help or advise with health promotion or the management of health problems at individual and community level
  • training health professionals and psychologists in communication and the use of psychological interventions
  • increasing understanding of factors related to health and wellbeing in specific populations, such as sexual and gender minority people

Research themes

There are 4 main themes to our work:

Digital interventions

We have an £80m-plus research programme to develop and evaluate digital behavioural interventions to improve health.

Our members pioneered the person-based approach for developing health interventions and co-created the LifeGuide software platform to support the iterative development, evaluation and dissemination of interventions.

These include digital tools to:

  • help people self-manage health conditions including hypertension, cancer-related fatigue, disability following stroke, dizziness, irritable bowel syndrome, diabetes, flu and eczema
  • support people to lose weight, stop smoking, practice hand hygiene, improve nutrition and increase physical activity
  • support children, young people and their families to manage chronic pain, including cancer-related pain and pain at the end of life and in survivors
  • help improve the uptake of condom use and reduce sexually transmitted infections
  • enhance clinicians’ communication skills

Understanding pain

We research paediatric and adult pain in our pain research laboratory. We aim to increase understanding of the psychological aspects of acute and chronic pain throughout the lifespan, and improve how pain is managed by addressing its psychological aspects.

Our research in this area focuses on 3 related themes:

  • the cognitive and affective neuroscience of pain, in particular the emotional modulation of attention in chronic pain
  • the development of theory-driven psychological interventions for the management of acute and chronic pain in children and adults
  • the evaluation of the efficacy and effectiveness of psychological interventions in paediatric and adult pain management

Sexual and reproductive health

Current and recent research includes:

  • sexually transmitted infections
  • interventions to improve uptake, and experience of, condom use
  • young people’s sexual activity
  • variations by area in the rate of teenage conceptions 
  • the role of pleasure in sexual development and relationships
  • challenges and opportunities associated with increases in pornography access
  • factors affecting conception outcome decisions in young people
  • sexual health among older adults
  • development of innovative sex education programmes
  • understanding sexual health and behaviour in couple relationships
  • mental, physical, and sexual health and wellbeing among sexual and gender minority individuals
  • HIV prevention strategies, including the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)
  • sexual orientation and identity

Understanding patient experiences

We use mixed methods to explore, understand, and improve patients’ experiences in areas including:

  • supporting informed treatment decision-making and adherence to treatment, enhancing treatment outcomes through psychological pathways
  • patients’ experience of the use of placebos in randomised clinical trials and associated ethical procedures
  • innovative and ethically acceptable ways to harness contextual components of healthcare and improve patients’ experiences and clinical outcomes
  • complementary, alternative and integrative medicine, including the role of these approaches in supporting health behaviour change