MSc Health Psychology, University of Stirling; (2013).
Supervisors:1) Dr Vivien Swanson, University of Stirling.2) Professor Ronan O'Carroll, University of Stirling.3) Dr Rhonna McInnes, University of Stirling.
Developing Asset-Based Approaches to Support Behaviour Change Among People During Times of Stress
My PhD is looking at the possibility of using resilience (the ability to bounce back from stress) to maintain positive health behaviours. To enable me to do this project I was awarded a doctoral training fellowship from the Chief Scientist Office in Scotland.
Life events, such as the diagnosis of cancer in a loved one, or becoming a parent are times when people become more willing and want to improve their health behaviours. These times, however, are frequently stressful. Maintaining positive health behaviour becomes a challenge. This project aims to increase an individual’s resilience to cope better during these times of stress so individuals can maintain the desired positive behaviour. Resilience is the process of negotiating and bouncing back from stress. It is not a personality characteristic; however, innate personality characteristics, such as optimism, contribute to the process of resilience as do acquired resources such as coping skills and external assets from the social and physical environment.
In this project the maintenance of breastfeeding will be the behaviour targeted. It will look at how women overcome breastfeeding problems. I will identify behaviour change techniques (BCTs) that could increase resilience and coping skills. The aim is to carry out a feasibility trial with young mothers in Tayside testing the chosen BCTs.
I gained my undergraduate degree in Psychology (with First Class Honours) from the Open University (2010) and my Master’s Degree (with Distinction) in Health Psychology at the University of Stirling (2013). Before making the career change to applied health research I was a secondary school teacher, having gained an undergraduate degree in Medical Biochemistry at the University of Surrey (1991) and PGCE at University College of North Wales, Bangor (1992). I have over 20 years experience of teaching science and then latterly Childcare and Psychology before starting my PhD in October 2013. I am particularly interested in how strengths or assets-based approaches rather than deficit models of health can be used to reduce health inequalities and how people maintain positive health behaviours.