Health and Wellbeing

Health and Wellbeing - Michaelangelo colour man

The Health and Wellbeing theme covers the study, teaching and training of the psychological processes of health, illness and health care, and their application to the promotion and maintenance of health, the analysis and improvement of the health care system and health policy formation, and the prevention of illness and disability and the enhancement of outcomes of those who are ill or disabled.

Areas of expertise include the health psychology, and the study of health-related behaviour change (e.g. smoking cessation), pain, psychometrics, dementia, eating disorders and intellectual disabilities. For more details, see the links to the Health psychology research group, the Centre for health service research in intellectual disabilities and the Psychometric laboratory.

Teaching includes the Health Psychology unit within the department’s clinical psychology doctorate, the Clinical and Health Psychology undergraduate second year option and contributions to the Health Psychology MSc (hosted by the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health). Training includes UCL Partner’s course, Behaviour Change for Health Professionals: An introductory course.

The National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training (NCSCT)

Directors: Andy McEwen, Robert West (Dept Epidemiology and Public Health) and Susan Michie

The NCSCT was established in 2009 with a £3 million grant from the Department of Health to increase the quality and reduce variation in performance of the NHS Stop Smoking Services. It has:

  • established best practice in provision of stop smoking support
  • set up an evidence-based assessment and certification process for stop smoking practitioners
  • provided a low cost national training programme to bring practitioners up to the required standard
  • provided consultancy and key resources to the Department of Health, and local services to help them raise their quality of care

The NCSCT is now a Community Interest Company closely linked to University College London (UCL) through its directors and those senior members of NCSCT staff who have honorary contracts there. It currently receives funds from Public Health England and a range of service contracts.

The NCSCT has been successful in achieving its objectives: it established what specific behaviour change techniques (Michie et al, 2011), medication options, and service configurations were most closely associated with successful outcomes (Brose et al, 2011), and used these as the basis for assessment, training and guidance documents (including a set of national learning objectives and a standard treatment programme).

More than 18,000 people have registered with the NCSCT, 12,000 practitioners have undergone the online training and passed the Knowledge assessment, and 6,000 have gone on to pass the online Skills assessment to achieve full certification. More than 1,200 practitioners have also attended our face-to-face training programme on providing effective behavioural support.

See the NCSCT website for more detail on what the centre provides: www.ncsct.co.uk

A novel treatment for cannabis dependence?

PI: Professor Val Curran & Dr. Celia Morgan

Researchers standing in front of cannabis plants

Research Associates: Dr Tom Freeman & Chandni Hindocha

Collaborator: Dr. Paul Morrison, IoP

£1.3million Medical Research Council 

More people are dependent on cannabis than any other illicit drug – at least  18 million worldwide. In Europe, 1% of all adults and nearly 2% of 14-17 year olds are addicted to cannabis. Rates of cannabis dependence have increased markedly over recent years alongside changes in the ingredients of cannabis available on the. Among UK first-time drug treatment clients, cannabis is now the primary addiction in 28% of those entering drug treatment, second only to heroin (41%). 

The demand for cannabis treatment has more than doubled since 2001 (UNODC World Drug Report 2010). At present, clinicians rely on psychological treatments which have very limited effectiveness. If we found a safe, effective medicine this could improve treatment in a similar way that various medicines  have improved rates of stopping tobacco use. It would also impact on educational/vocational achievement and illegal behaviour, and reduce young people’s risks of cannabis-associated mental health problems (e.g. schizophrenia, depression).   

This project will first determine which dose of a novel pharmacological treatment is best in treating cannabis dependence before fully evaluating its efficacy.

We are inviting participants  to take part who are at least 16 years old, meet clinical criteria for cannabis dependence and would like to stop using the drug. 

Beard, E., McNeill, A., Aveyard, P., Fidler, J., Michie, S., & West, R. (2013) Association between use of nicotine replacement therapy for harm reduction and smoking cessation: A prospective study of English smokers. Tobacco Control, 22,118-122.

Tillmann, T., Krishnadas, R., Cavanagh, J., & Petrides, K. V. (2013) Possible rheumatoid arthritis subtypes in terms of rheumatoid factor, depression, diagnostic delay and emotional expression: an exploratory case-control study. Arthritis Research and Therapy, vol15(2) doi: 10.1016/j.ridd.2012.12.017. 

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