UCL School of Pharmacy



Behavioural Medicine and Treatment Optimisation

The aim of the Behavioural Medicine and Treatment Optimisation cluster is to provide new knowledge to make healthcare more efficient and sustainable by understanding and addressing the psychosocial and behavioural factors explaining variation in response to treatment.

The development of evidence-based interventions to optimise treatment-related behaviours (e.g. practitioner prescribing and patient adherence) will be a core part of our work but we will also consider the role of psychosocial factors in determining the physiological effects of treatment. Through studies of placebo and nocebo effects we will develop methods for enhancing the non-specific beneficial effects of treatments (‘placebo’ responses) and minimising the non-specific adverse effects (‘nocebo’ responses).

Research within the cluster is underpinned by health psychology but also draws on a wide range of disciplines including epidemiology, sociology, anthropology, health economics, medical law and ethics, engineering and art and design.

The cluster has its base in the SOP Centre for Behavioural Medicine, comprising health psychologists, epidemiologists, clinicians and pharmacists, but has extensive collaborations throughout UCL, particularly within the SLMS Faculty of Population Health Sciences. Through these links and a range of national and international collaborations the cluster will provide new knowledge to facilitate the cost effective use of medicines and other treatments. Research areas include:

  • The development of evidence-based interventions to support optimal adherence and persistence to appropriately prescribed treatments for long-term conditions.
  • Developing valid and reliable methods for assessing user perspectives of illness, treatment and healthcare.
  • Assessing public perceptions of medicines and how perceptions (and other factors) influence the use and effects of medicines.
  • Applying new technologies (e.g. e-communication) and interfaces (e.g. social media) to enhance patient engagement with care and to improve patient-practitioner communication.
  • Developing interventions to improve the outcomes of treatments by enhancing nonspecific positive effects (‘placebo’ responses) and reducing nonspecific negative effects (‘nocebo’ responses).
  • Understanding prescribing behaviour and developing interventions to optimise prescribing
  • Applying pharmacoepidemiologial techniques to understand patterns of prescribing and adherence, and so to identify priorities for interventions to optimise medication-related behaviour (prescribing and adherence.
  • Mind-body interactions in health and illness.
  • Positive psychology in health and illness

Funding: Researchers in this cluster receive funding from: National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), MRC, Welcome Trust, BUPA Foundation, Asthma UK, Crohn’s & Colitis UK and the Health Foundation.