Institute of Health & Society

Staff Profile

Dr Leah Avery

Senior Research Associate



I am a Chartered Health Psychologist and my research interests and expertise include the development and evaluation of complex behavioural interventions targeting a range of health/lifestyle behaviours (e.g., diet, physical activity, alcohol) in the context of:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Liver disease (NAFLD/ALD/PBC)
  • Surgical procedures (e.g., orthopaedics, liver transplantation)

My work also involves the development, delivery and evaluation of training programmes and resources for healthcare professionals to help optimise consultation behaviour in clinical settings. This work includes identifying ways to successfully translate/implement interventions into routine practice.

I use evidence-based behavioural techniques as part of my own practice in the context of Type 2 diabetes management.

I am willing to supervise PhD students and Stage 2 Qualification in Health Psychology trainees who wish to pursue training in any of the areas outlined above. 


PhD Health Psychology, Newcastle University

Stage 2 Qualification in Health Psychology?, British Psychological Society

PgCert Teaching & Learning in Higher Education?, Teesside University

MSc Health Psychology?, Teesside University

BSc (Hons) Psychology, University of Liverpool

Professional Registration

Chartered Psychologist (C.Psychol), British Psychological Society 

Practitioner Health Psychologist, Health & Care Professions Council

Current Role

Health Psychology Lead/Senior Research Associate

Current Projects:

Development of the first evidence based lifestyle service pathway for people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)

A systematic review assessing the effectiveness of lifestyle interventions on the gut microbiota in adults with type 2 diabetes and/or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease:

A systematic review assessing the effectiveness of behaviour change interventions that target a single behaviour versus multiple behaviours of adults with type 2 diabetes:

A systematic review and meta-analysis assessing the relationship between habit and healthcare professional behaviour in clinical practice:

Preoperative Behavioural Intervention for Risky Drinkers before elective orthopaedic Surgery (PreopBIRDS).

Changing Health: A weight loss and weight loss maintenance intervention targeting dietary and physical activity behaviour in adults with Type 2 diabetes.

Movement as Medicine for Type 2 Diabetes: A multifaceted behavioural intervention targeting consultation behaviour in primary care clinicians and physical activity behaviour in adults with Type 2 diabetes.

Development of a personalised home-based physical activity intervention in older adults with heart failure: advancing towards an effective clinical therapy.

Previous Positions

2010-2015 Research Associate/Project Lead, Newcastle University

2008-2010 Lecturer/Senior Lecturer in Research Methods, Teesside University

2007-2008 Junior Research Associate, Newcastle University

2006-2007 Research Assistant, Teesside University

2003-2006 Project Officer, Children's Rights Department, Commission for Social Care Inspection         


Diabetes UK?

Newcastle Health Psychology Group?

European Health Psychology Society

British Psychological Society, Division of Health Psychology

UK Society for Behavioural Medicine

Research Funding

Co-Investigator: Snowden CP, Avery L, Gerrand C, Prentis J, Haighton CA, Howell D, McColl E, Kaner E. Preoperative Behavioural Intervention for Risky Drinkers before elective orthopaedic Surgery (PreopBIRDS). NIHR-HTA (2016-18) £607,095.80.

Co-Investigator: Jakovljevic J, MacGowan G, Avery L, Skinner J, Bailey K, O'Brien N. Personalised home-based physical activity intervention in older adults with heart failure: advancing towards an effective clinical therapy (2015-16). NIHR-BRC £39,551.

Co-Investigator: Trenell MI, Avery L, Taylor L. Pharmacy enhanced services for people with Type 2 diabetes (2015). Medical Research Council, £28,000.

Co-Investigator: Kaner E, Avery L, Presseau J, Sniehotta F, Thomson R, Vale L. PhD awards for improvement science (2014-17). Health Foundation, £280,000.

Co-Investigator: Newbury-Birch D, Gilvarry E, McArdle P, Ramesh V, Stewart S, Walker J, Avery L, Beyer F, Brown, N, Jackson K, Lock C, McGovern R, Kaner E. The impact of alcohol consumption on young people: A review of reviews (2009). Department for Children, Schools and Families £50,977.

Co-Investigator: Kaner E, Avery L, Brown N, Jackson K, Mason H, Newbury-Birch D. A rapid review of evidence on liver disease epidemiology, treatment and services (2007). NIHR-CCF £28,327.

Esteem Indicators

Invited speaker: Changing behaviours: A better future for heart failure patients. Session entitled: How can we create real change in heart failure: A behavioural psychologist view. A Novartis sponsored symposium at the British Cardiovascular Disease Society Annual Meeting., Manchester, June 2016. 

Invited speaker: Motivation and behaviour change in Type 2 diabetes, Protected Learning Initiative, Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group, Sheffield, May 2015.

Invited speaker: Movement as Medicine. Primary Billiary Cirrhosis (PBC) Foundation annual meeting, Edinburgh, March 2015.

Symposium: How to deliver effective lifestyle change in diabetes. Diabetes UK Annual Professional Conference, Liverpool, Feb 2014.

Invited speaker: 'Physical activity, where it fits in to diabetes care and the practicalities of changing behaviour using behaviour change techniques'. Joint Diabetes Management & Education Group (DMEG) and Dietitians in Obesity Management UK (DOMUK) study day "The war on weight", Newcastle, Sept 2013

Invited speaker: 'Physical activity and Type 2 Diabetes: Changing behaviour using behavioural strategies'. Health Psychology Master class. Northumbria Healthcare Foundation Trust. July 2013.

Invited member of the Team Blood Glucose Professional Advisory Group (a not for profit social enterprise company) to provide expert opinion on the company website and associated materials for people living with diabetes. May 2013.

Invited speaker: 'Physical activity and exercise in Type 2 diabetes: Maximising glycaemic control'. 5th Annual Abracadabra Diabetes Nursing Conference; tackling the challenges of managing diabetes in Ireland: Pragmatic solutions for complex scenarios, Naas, Dublin, Feb 2013

Invited workshop: 'Using behaviour change techniques to increase physical activity behaviour'; Conference entitled: 'Helping people with diabetes better self-manage' hosted by NHS Grampian; Stirling Management Centre, University of Stirling, Scotland, Nov 2012

Interactive poster award winner: 'Systematic review to identify active ingredients in behaviour change interventions targeting physical activity behaviour in adults with type 2 diabetes'. 25th European Health Psychology Society (EHPS) Conference, Crete, Greece, Sept 2011

Invited manuscript reviewer for: BMJ, Diabetes Care, BMC Family Practice, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR), Annals of Behavioral Medicine, Health Psychology Review, Implementation Science.


Current Projects

  • Changing Health

This project involves the development of an online behaviour change programme and mobile phone app targeting dietary and physical activity behaviour to initiate weight loss and support weight loss maintenance in adults with Type 2 diabetes. To date the development process has involved early exploratory work and a literature search to identify intervention components associated with effectiveness.

Past Projects

Movement as Medicine for Type 2 Diabetes

This project has involved the development of a theory-based multifaceted intervention designed to support healthcare professionals in primary care to deliver a brief behavioural intervention targeting physical activity/exercise behaviour in adults with type 2 diabetes. The development process has involved early exploratory work; a systematic review of the evidence to inform intervention content, qualitative work and usability testing with healthcare professionals and adults with Type 2 diabetes in primary care; and an open pilot study with an in-built qualitative process evaluation to optimise acceptability, feasibility and fidelity ahead of a pilot RCT. 'Movement as Medicine for Type 2 Diabetes' is currently being evaluated via a pilot RCT to assess acceptability, feasibility and fidelity at 12 months follow-up in primary care practices in County Durham and Darlington.

The IDEA Trial

Led by Dr Justin Presseau, the IDEA trial aims evaluate the effectiveness and cost of an intervention targeting primary healthcare professionals to improve the behaviours involved in high quality type 2 diabetes care. A two-armed cluster randomised controlled trial in 44 general practices in the North of England will be conducted to evaluate a theory-based behaviour change intervention. Six underperformed clinical behaviours highlighted in the NICE quality standards for type 2 diabetes (prescribing for hypertension and glycaemic control, providing self-management, physical activity and weight advice, and general education, and examination of feet) will be targeted by the intervention. The intervention will be delivered in group sessions by a clinician with expertise in diabetes and an interventionist with expertise in heath psychology. My role as the latter involves training primary care professionals to use a range of behaviour change techniques to improve use of the pre-specified behaviours.

An RCT to investigate the reversibility of Type 2 diabetes. Participants followed an 8-week very low calorie diet and were subsequently randomised to a Mediterranean diet or to continue with their usual diet. Both participant groups were randomised for the second time prior to the 6 month 'weight loss maintenance phase' to receive a behavioural intervention targeting physical activity/exercise or no intervention. My role involved the delivery of the 6 month behaviour change intervention. Institute of Cellular Medicine, Newcastle University. 

A multi-centre RCT of three screening and brief intervention approaches targeting increased and high risk alcohol use in adults in primary care, A&E and probation settings (SIPS Alcohol Project). This project also involved training healthcare professionals and probation managers in the delivery of arm 2 of the study: brief behavioural advice. Institute of Health & Society, Newcastle University.

Obesity prevention in primary school children in Teesside. A feasibility study of a diet and physical activity intervention (TeesCAKE). School of Health & Social Care, Teesside University.

Psychological therapies scoping project to assess the potential need for psychological therapies in the workplace. School of Health & Social Care, Teesside University.

Focus group and survey work covering a variety of topics with looked after children and their carers from a range of residential care settings. Commission for Social Care Inspection.

Other expertise

I have trained a number of NHS healthcare and public health professionals in the delivery of behaviour change interventions targeting health and lifestyle behaviours.







Research Supervision:

PhD Supervision

Academic supervisor to Mr Sebastian Potthoff, Health Foundation Doctoral Fellowship 2014-17 (Health Psychology)

Co-supervisor to Ms Rebecca Brown, MRC Doctoral Fellowship 2013-17 (Human Nutrition)

Co-supervisor to Mr Nduka Okwose, 2014-17 (Exercise Physiology and Cardiology)

MSc Supervision

Primary supervisor to Mr Babak Mostafaee - MSc Psychology, Foundations in Clinical and Health Psychology (2015). Assessing fidelity of delivery of a behavioural intervention targeting physical activity behaviour of adults with type 2 diabetes in the primary care setting. Awarded Distinction

Stage 2 Qualification in Health Psychology

Co-ordinating supervisor to Mr Sebastian Potthoff (2015-17)


Newcastle University (present)

MSc Foundations of Clinical and Health Psychology

- PSY8040 Research Apprenticeship Module

- PSY8037 Dissertation Module

- PSY8039 Physical Activity and Health Module

MSc Public Health and Health Services Research

-HSC8055 Introduction to Systematic Review Module


Teesside University (2008-2010)

Postgraduate: Designing Research Projects - systematic review, quantitative and qualitative research methods (Module Leader); Dissertation Preperation (Module Leader); and Health Psychology (Introduction to Health Psychology and Models/Theories of Behaviour Change). Undergraduate: Appraising Evidence for Practice and Dissertation Preparation for Allied Health Professionls.

Newcastle University (2008-2010, Part-time)

Essential Junior Rotation in Public Health. 'Public Health Intervention: Alcohol as case study' delivered as part of the MBBS Degree Programme (Year 3 medical students). 

Student supervision (2008-2010)

I have successfully supervised 3 undergraduate and 2 masters level students through their final year degree projects as primary supervisor.