Faculty of Medical Sciences

Staff Profile

Dr Leah Avery

Senior Research Associate & Health Psychologist



I am a Chartered Health Psychologist and my research interests and expertise include the development and evaluation of complex interventions targeting a range of health/lifestyle behaviours including physical activity/exercise and diet in the context of type 2 diabetes, liver disease and surgical procedures (e.g., liver transplantation and orthopaedics), and to improve health and wellbeing in healthy populations.

My work also involves identifying ways to successfully implement/translate lifestyle interventions in to clinical and non-clinical settings. This includes in depth work with patient groups and the development, delivery and evaluation of training programmes and resources for healthcare professionals to help optimise consultation behaviour.


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

Current Projects:

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

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

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

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. http://www.teambloodglucose.com/TeamBG/Home.html

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.

 Google scholar: Click here. 



Past Projects

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: Current

Primary supervisor to Miss Jadine Scragg, 2018 - 2021 (Exercise and liver disease)

PhD Supervision: Completed

Dr Sebastian Potthoff, 'Making good quality care habitual: An exploration of the concept of habit in relation to healthcare professional behaviour' Health Foundation Doctoral Fellowship 2017 (Health Psychology - Primary supervisor)

Dr Rebecca Brown, 'The effect of vitamin D and physical activity on knee osteoarthritis symptoms in older obese adults: A mixed methods study' MRC Doctoral Fellowship 2017 (Human Nutrition - Co-supervisor)

Dr Nduka Okwose, A novel, home-based physical activity intervention for chronic heart failure; exploring safety, feasibility, effectiveness and patients experiences' 2018 (Exercise and heart failure - Co-supervisor)

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)

Co-oordinating supervisor to Miss Kirsten Ashley (2018-2020)


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