Institute of Health & Society

Staff Profile

Dr Kirby Sainsbury

Research Associate


I am a clinical psychologist with a background in the design of health behaviour change interventions (research) and the treatment of eating disorders, depression, and emotion regulation difficulties (clinical). I have worked as a researcher at Newcastle University since April 2015, and previously at the University of Sydney and Curtin University, and as a clinical psychologist in private practice and inpatient and outpatient hospital settings in Australia. I completed my undergraduate and post graduate studies at the University of Sydney.


PhD: The University of Sydney, 2013

Doctor of Clinical Psychology: The University of Sydney, 2011

Bachelor of Arts (Psychology Honours I): The University of Sydney, 2007

Bachelor of Education (Secondary Humanities and Social Sciences): The University of Sydney, 2007





My current research interests include the development of weight management interventions in obese and overweight individuals. As a researcher, I am passionate about using evidence-based interventions to support sustained behaviour in people at risk of chronic disease, particularly considering the role of emotions and emotion regulation difficulties as barriers to such change.

I am currently involved in three major projects: a UK Medical Research Council (National Prevention Research Initiative) funded study of the only UK-based RCT of a weight loss maintenance intervention (NULevel); a European-based, Horizon 2020 funded study on weight loss maintenance (NoHoW); and an NIHR funded study on the psychological factors associated with ultraviolet protection behaviour in patients with xeroderma pigmentosum.

My PhD research was focused on understanding the characteristics of adults with coeliac disease who are currently struggling to adhere to a gluten free diet, and the subsequent development of a theory-based intervention to improve gluten free diet adherence, coping, and quality of life. I continue to collaborate with other researchers in this field both in the UK and Australia.


I am co-running PSYC3033: Eating and Weight Disorders in the 2016-2017 academic year. My other teaching commitments include guest lecturing on health psychology and behaviour change modules for the Masters of Clinical and Health Psychology degree at Newcastle University. I am also involved in student supervision on this degree for dissertations and research apprenticeships. 

I have taught various psychology subjects at undergraduate, honours, and masters levels while at the University of Sydney.