Institute of Health & Society

Staff Profile

Dr Bronia Arnott

Senior Research Methodologist


I am a Research Methodologist with the Research Design Service North East. My expertise is in Developmental Health Psychology.My research focuses on: 

  • understanding and explaining physical and mental health 
  • developing and evaluating interventions to improve mental and physical health 

in children, young people and families. 

I have worked on research projects with typically and non-typically developing young people and their families from infancy through to adolescence across a variety of topic areas including obesity, physical activity, breastfeeding, low mood and resilience. I have experience in longitudinal studies, feasibility and pilot studies, and cluster randomised controlled trials. I have worked in large, multidisciplinary teams and on projects from a variety of different funders (ESRC, EPSRC, MRC-NPRI). I have training in both qualitative and quantitative techniques.

In my role as the first Fellow of the UK Society for Behavioural Medicine (UKSBM) I promoted knowledge exchange, public engagement, and political advocacy in relation to behavioural medicine in the UK. I have also served as UKSBM Web and Communications Officer for 3 years.

I collaborate with a variety of research teams within Newcastle and across the UK on topics relating to developmental health psychology: including academic colleagues in: Newcastle and Cardiff (Repetitive behaviours in young children); Newcastle and Bradford (Children's active travel); York (Behavioural activation for young people); Swansea (Breastfeeding and parenting in early infancy). I am also a member of the international Attachment Synthesis Collaboration (Intergenerational transmission of attachment).  

To ensure impact I also work with professionals from a variety of backgrounds including Public Health practitioners and consultants in local NHS Trusts. 

I established the collaborative Methodology Matters Blog which aims to create discussions about methodology, research and funding. 




 'Reflect': A feasibility study in experienced utility and travel behaviour

Project Leader(s): Prof. Jennifer Roberts (Leader Investigator), Dr. Vera Araujo-Soares (co-investigator), Prof. Nigel Davies (co-investigator), Prof. Eddie Wilson (co-investigator), Dr. Mark Grimshaw (co-investigator); Dr. Rosemary Harris (co-investigator), Mrs Tracy Ross (co-investigator).

Sponsors: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

Project Brief Description

Travel behaviours have shown considerable resistance to change, but substantial change is needed because reduced emissions cannot be secured from technical innovation alone. Our focus is on a new way to engage with, and ultimately influence, travel behaviours. Instead of appealing to emission reduction (which can feel removed from our everyday experiences), we appeal to people's wish to improve their own subjective well-being and health outcomes (physical activity). Drawing on the behavioural economics concept of experienced utility and on psychological theory of behaviour change, we combine these perspectives with expertise from mobile computing, creative technologies, mathematics and user-centred design to explore an innovative solution to understanding and potentially influencing travel behaviour. We develop an experience sampling system via a smartphone platform for the collection and delivery of real-time information on subjective travel experience. In a series of small controlled trials we feedback information to individuals about their own experiences, and those of others, and we explore whether and how these interventions change behaviour. The idea is one of user-informed behavioural interventions to encourage self-motivated change, and here we draw on evidence from successful interventions in health.

For more details please see: http://


4 & UPP study:

How can we help parents recognise unhealthy body weight in their children?  

Sponsors: National Prevention Research Inititative (NPRI) Medical Research Council (MRC)

Investigators: Adamson, Parkinson, Pearce, Tovee, Jones & Ells 



BODY and mind Study

Project Leader(s): Dr. Bronia Arnott (Principal Investigator), Dr. Paul Tiffin (co-investigator)

Sponsor: HIEC NE

Project Brief Description

Obesity and depression among youth present significant public health issues. Obesity levels remain high and track through to adulthood. Obesity is also associated with significant health problems. Rates of mental health problems among youth are also high, with around one in ten children aged 5-16 years having a diagnosable condition. Further, the high levels of comorbidity of these two problems cause further concern. A recent study of the Health Survey for England data (2007) showed a significant relation between obesity and psychological adjustment in youth. Obese children and teens were more than twice as likely to be above the screening threshold for an emotional disorder compared to non-obese.


Further, evidence suggests that the relation between obesity and depression may be causative. This may be why previous treatments of obesity have been ineffective, as they have not addressed the links between mood, coping and eating. One treatment that addresses these links is Behavioural Activation. This brief intervention has been successful in reducing depression scores, body weight, and daily calorie intake, and an increase in physical activity in adults (Pagoto et al., 2008; Psychotherapy Theory, Research, Practice & Training, 45, 410-415), but has never been applied to young people before.


The primary aim of the project is to provide an evaluation study of the effectiveness of a brief intervention (behavioural activation) in obese and depressed youth. This is a feasibility study to develop and pilot a brief intervention for young people affected by obesity and emotional difficulties.

Previous projects include:

· Leekam, McConachie, Le Couteur, Meins, Fernyhough and Arnott. ESRC £46,000 (2008-2009) The Development of Repetitive Behaviours in Young Children.


· Meins, Fernyhough, de Rosnay, Arnott and Vittorini. ESRC £250,000 (2005-2007) Internal Working Models and Young Children’s Social-Emotional Development.


I have successfully co-supervised 1 PhD student to completion (Sam Ginja) on the topic of children's active travel. I am currently co-supervising another PhD student (Laura Cutler) on the topic of parental perceptions of childhood overweight. I am happy to be contacted by prospective PhD students interested in developmental health psychology topics. 

Currently I am also co-supervising 2 students completing their Doctorate in Clinical Psychology on the topic of the psycho-social impact and adherence in adolescents with thrombosis.

I have previously successfully co-supervised 2 Psychology MSc students on topics in relation to early years development and 1 Public Health and Health Services Research MSc student.

I also have experience in teaching at both undergraduate and post-graduate level. I currently contribute towards Health Psychology teaching on the MSc module: Public Health Interventions.