Centre for Health and Relationships

About us

The Centre for Health and Relationships (CHR) is a thriving research hub focusing upon research in five core areas: Pain, Social Support, Sexual & Reproductive Health, Spinal Cord Injury, and Health in Vulnerable Populations. The research hub aims to draw together research from clinical and non-clinical populations, based in the School of Psychology and School of Medicine at The University of Buckingham, Stoke Mandeville Hospital Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, Milton Keynes University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, and health and social care-related organisations based in Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire.

Research Aims:

  • To evaluate the determinants of and interactions between health and well-being in the context of living well with acute and chronic health conditions.
  • To study the impact of the interpersonal world and support structures on health and well-being, both in those living with chronic conditions and the wider population.
  • To design, evaluate and promote effective health-related interventions to enhance well-being in the community.

Studying with us

We welcome expressions of interest from potential collaborators and postgraduate students (MSc and PhD), across a wide range of relevant topic areas. We would be delighted to invite you to continue your education by studying with us.

Find our more about our taught MSc Health Psychology programme.

Current areas of interest

Spinal Cord Injury: We have specific and extensive research interests within the field of spinal cord injury (SCI), which aim to foster adjustment to spinal cord injury. These interests include biopsychosocial factors involved in the mediation of chronic pain after SCI, the lived experience of chronic pain after SCI, paediatric SCI, management of urinary tract infections and their associations with quality of life, mindfulness, and medication adherence. We work extensively with The National Spinal Injuries Centre, Stoke Mandeville Hospital, and the charity Stoke Mandeville Spinal Research, and are involved with The European Spinal Psychologists Association, which aims to share knowledge amongst psychologists working with Spinal Injuries.

Pain: Working across acute and chronic pain, we have strong research interests in factors predicting the ability to live well with pain, including social support, adherence to pain medications, quality of life, mindfulness, motivation, pain behaviours, acceptance-based approaches and audio-analgesia. We also have research interests in biopsychosocial predictors of chronic pain. We have developed extensive research links with clinical and non-clinical groups across Milton Keynes and Stoke Mandeville Hospitals, alongside community-based support groups. We have a well-equipped experimental pain research laboratory, with EEG, cold-pressor and thermal pain assessments, endocrinological research (such as cortisol), and welcome experimental research within areas of pain associated with psychology.

Social Support: Social support is considered within all of our research areas, and specific focus is given to the impact of social support in young people, people with diabetes, and chronic long-term health conditions including pain. Importantly, we research the person in context, seeking to understand the impact on carers, spouses and families in addition. We are interested in the make-up, prevalence, functioning and success of on-line and community-based support groups, and the role which healthcare professionals can play in enhancing and supporting group interactions. We have particular expertise in mixed-methods research and the implementation and evaluation of social support interventions, and a growing interest in the role of support in preventative health behaviours.

Sexual & Reproductive Health: Working alongside the Department of Blood Borne Viruses, Sexual Health & Family Planning at Milton Keynes University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, we have projects ongoing exploring factors motivating and preventing disclosure of HIV serostatus, with a long-term aim to target these factors and encourage disclosure. Other research interests in this area include social determinants of cervical cancer screening and HPV vaccination uptake, adherence to medication following HIV diagnosis, and factors affecting uptake of and continuation with breastfeeding. Long-term goals within this area include the development of risk screening tools and social interventions to facilitate improved health behaviours.

Health in Vulnerable Populations: We are very interested in health and health promotion for people from vulnerable populations, including the homeless, excluded young people and older adults. Currently, we are working closely with a number of homeless shelters investigating persecution and subclinical paranoia, alcoholism and drug use, and methods for supporting strategies for exiting homelessness. We continue to work with healthcare and support-service professionals who are involved with vulnerable populations, offering high level motivational interviewing training and research support in rehabilitation and adherence-based projects.

For more information