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Kristina Curtis: Behavioural Change for Healthcare

What was your background and what made you decided to study for a PhD
at WMG?

My background is in the digital marketing industry, however, I decided to return to studying after completing a MSc in Health Psychology.

Tell us a about your research project - what were you working on and in what area?

My research focused on improving the quality of mobile health (mHealth) apps so that they are grounded in theory and evidence, whilst being engaging for the target audience. I therefore combined the fields of Health Psychology and Design and used the case study of childhood weight management, which is an area I am passionate about addressing.
The aim of my project was to find out how an evidence based user-centred app could be implemented in practice. I also wanted to explore parents’ internal and external barriers to providing a healthier diet for their children. My project involved several industry partners, including a start-up company, Public Health Warwickshire (who commissioned the work) and UCL.
Exploring the issue of childhood weight management provided an opportunity to conceptualise potential approaches to supporting parents’ portion behaviours in the home environment. In addition, my research was the first to fully explain the systematic approach applied in developing a family-oriented mHealth app. Furthermore, it provided a detailed case study on translating theory into practice for the development of other mobile public health interventions.

How did you find the experience of studying for your PhD? Was it what you expected? Any advice for future students?

As I was coming from a Health Psychology background, I enjoyed meeting other students from the engineering field and learning about their research. My recommendation to other students would be to sign up to the courses offered within WMG and the wider university. A course on presentation skills was particularly useful and helped to build my confidence in giving oral presentations at conferences.

Where are you now? What are you plans?

I have a joint role as a Research Fellow for Public Health Warwickshire and the Centre for Technology Enabled Health Research, Coventry University. I enjoy working in such an applied and varied role. My project focused on embedding behavioural science into public health practice and I hope to continue working in this field, as it is vital for improving the effectiveness of public health programmes.

Kristina Curtis