Woman running along boardwalk

Health Psychology: Research Group for Health Behaviour Promotion

Our research group aims are to understand, and fundamentally improve, our community’s engagement in positive health behaviours. As a group we have particular expertise in the areas of experimental health research, behaviour change theory, individual differences and health, translation of evidence into practice and randomised controlled trials of health behaviour change interventions. Our research contributes to the development of theory, but also has significant impact on policy and clinical practice.

About us

All of our members are actively involved in conducting nationally and internationally focused work in the areas of applied health behaviour change research. We have secured over $18 million in external competitive funding in the last 5-years and have very high publication rates.

We're really interested in doing research that has just strong applicability to people living in the community, our endeavour is to try and have a strong impact and hopefully improve their way of life or their well-being. 

My name is Peter Kelly I'm the coordinator of the Health Psychology Research group. 

So our research group is really interested in understanding that the health behaviours of people and really thinking about ways that we can improve their health behaviours, we're endeavouring and we're trying to have a meaningful impact for people in the community, so if people are accessing mental health treatment or accessing drug and alcohol treatment that they're getting the highest level

of care, we’re more often than not working with people from more socially disadvantaged populations, so people you know with quite severe mental health or homelessness or drug and alcohol, so thinking about how we can better understand why people might be using substances and probably more importantly how we can go about helping to improve treatment for people who are accessing those programs. 

We're really interested in trailing interventions or using different strategies where it'll have a positive outcome on their life and their overall well-being. 

What's been really nice working in the health psychology research group is working with colleagues from areas where we haven't traditionally collaborated, likewise you know kind of learning from people around you using different research approaches or different research skills. It all sounds sort of a little little nerdy but it's nice bringing those groups of people together because that's how you come up with new ideas and interesting approaches to your research. 

There's some exciting work happening around mobile phone technology that's that's being conducted by the group likewise there's another program of research that's really focused on sports participation and potential benefits of implementing mental health strategies within an organised sport. A large majority of our research doesn't just happen here on campus it happens sort of out in the world and with a range of partner organisations I think PhD students really appreciate that getting some some real-world experience 

What I really enjoy and I as cherish it with my role is, I got the ability to help improve those services and help improve the level of treatment for people that are accessing those programs and really hopeful that's having a positive impact. 


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Dayle Raftery - Exploring Insight in Active Methamphetamine Users
Isabella Ingram - Loneliness does not discriminate-an examination of loneliness in a treatment-seeking substance dependent population
Carol Keane - Exploration of the Nature and Impact of Complex Trauma within an Urban Poverty Context: A Resources Perspective Examination
Melvin Goh - Type 2 Diabetes Risk Perception and the Engagement of Healthy Lifestyle Behaviours Within People Attending Residential Substance Abuse Treatment
Elizabeth Dale - Understanding the mechanisms of SMART Recovery
Briony Osborne - Improving health screening in alcohol and other substance use treatment
Adam Verrender - The Determinants of Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity
Ian Evans - The Psychological Effects of Magnetic Fields on Occupationally-Exposed Individuals
Sheridan Findlay - Radiofrequency Electromagnetics Fields and Sleep
Tayla Degan - Continuing Care in Specialist Alcohol and other Drug Services
Johanna Myer - Beliefs about Safety Behaviours
Tanya Buchanan - Engaging the disengaged in health behaviour change: Tobacco use and physical activity
Sarah Liddle - A Trial of a Sports-Based Mental Health Literacy Program to Promote Help Seeking in Young Males
Diarmuid Hurley - A Sports-Based Family Intervention to Promote Mental Health among Adolescent males
Matthew Schweickle - The Experience and Occurrence of Optimal Performance States in Sport
Krystal Sattler - Do Stigma, Emotional Eating and Motivation to Exercise Predict Weight Loss and Physical Activity in People Who Are Overweight?
Kristy Dawson - The Influence of Attitudes, Stigma, and Perceived Function on Students' Help-Seeking Intentions for Others' Deliberate Self Harm
Elizabeth Dowsell - The creation of a mindfulness-based mobile application for HSC students (and teachers): A feasibility and evaluation study
Carol Manns - The predictive validity of the observer rating of medication Taking Scale: Do impatient ratings predict community adherence tenure?
Jing Wang - Criteria and Assessment of Outcomes of Drug and Alcohol Withdrawal Management Services
Atanas Janackovski - The antecedents of effective psychological interventions for young people at risk of suicide: A longitudinal mixed methods approach
Douglas Kerr - A complex adaptive system perspective of the reconstruction of narrative identity in recovery from mental illness
Jason Nunes - Improving the Mental Health of Informal Caregivers of People with Dementia - Caring for the Carer
Sandra Daley - The position of physical education within the primary school curriculum: perceptions attitudes and realities
Louise Turner - Applying a self-regulation framework to an ageing context: The role of psychosocial mechanisms in relationships between self-perceptions of ageing and mental health
Elly Bailey - Interpersonal problems and experiential avoidance in mental health carers
Keren Wolstencroft - Factors Associated with Sustaining Recovery Oriented Mental Health Services


Improving the health of people living with mental illness (Kelly, Deane, Robinson, Caputi, Magee)
We have been conducting an integrated program of behaviour research focused on improving the health of people accessing mental health and substance use treatment programs. Our research in this area has received over $3.5 million dollars in external competitive funding (NHMRC, Cancer Institute, NSW Ministry of Health, Heart Foundation) and over $1.5 million in research consultancies. It has also resulted in a range of UOW, State and National awards for research excellence.

Sport-based interventions for physical and mental health (Vella, Deane, Allen, Swann, Magee)
We have used organised sports as a pathway to behaviour change and improved health. By leveraging our significant partnerships with the governing bodies of the most popular sports in Australia (as well as the Australian Sports Commission, Black Dog Institute and the Australian Drug Foundation) we have sought to use sport as an engaging and innovative intervention vehicle for positive health behaviour. Our work in this area has received over $2million in Category 1 funding, postdoctoral fellowships and internal funding from the UOW Global Challenges program.

Mobile communication-related health (Croft, Loughran, Verrender)
The unprecedented update of mobile telecommunications has led to extensive concern relating to potential health effects on the community. These range from direct impacts of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) to indirect impacts such as self-reported hypersensitivity to EMFs (EHS) and effects of usage patterns on well-being. Croft and Loughran have been awarded two consecutive NHMRC Centres of Research Excellence (CRE) in this area ($5M), the only NHRMC CREs led by UOW. This research involves close collaboration with community, government and industry within Australia, and internationally and the World Health Organisation. It has also resulted in several international awards for research excellence.