The Behaviour and Interventions Research Group (BIR) situated within the Centre for Technology Enabled Health Research (CTEHR), Coventry University, is one of the few applied groups of Health Psychologists who share joint roles in research and public health. This enables researchers to understand some of the real challenges facing local public health departments before applying knowledge gained from theories and methods in Health Psychology to support public health practice. As BIR sits within CTEHR, the majority of their projects focus on digital health interventions. For example, Dr Katherine Brown and Dr Kristina Curtis are leading on an eHealth project that specifically aims to embed behavioural science into the design and delivery of health improvement programmes such as local weight management services. This is no easy feat when we consider the complex array of interacting individual, organisational and environmental factors that influence public health working practices. Other projects that BIR have developed with Public Health Warwickshire include eHealth projects related to smoking (Stop-app), healthy eating (Health Heroes) and sexual health (Respect Yourself).
As well as paving the way for health psychologists working in public health, the BIR group is also at the forefront of using innovative methods to develop behavioural science interventions for health improvement. This is further exemplified by the CTEHR external seminar series that have included talks from leading experts in eHealth development (Dr Leanne Morrison) and innovative thinkers in behaviour change theory and health behaviour research (Prof Falko Sniehotta).
Member of the BIR group have also been working with digital media companies such as Evolyst to develop their interventions. It cannot be understated how important partnerships between academia, public health departments and industry are to advancing the field of eHealth. They provide huge opportunities to win funding, learn from each other, share resources and develop strong stakeholder relationships which support the longevity of projects. Indeed, interdisciplinary partnerships are fundamental to helping eHealth reach its true potential. Look out for an exciting research study in collaboration with Evolyst and Public Health Warwickshire that will begin in January 2017!
Guest blogger: Dr Kristina Curtis (Research Fellow, Centre for Technology Enabled Health Research, Public Health Warwickshire).