Leah Avery

Professor of Applied Health Psychology, Professor

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Personal profile

Academic Biography

I joined the School of Health & Life Sciences in October 2018 as an Associate Professor, and was awarded my Chair in Applied Health Psychology in 2021. Prior to this I worked within the Faculty of Medical Sciences at Newcastle University for almost ten years, where I currently hold a visiting position.

I am a Chartered Health Psychologist and Behavioural Scientist. I lead a programme of research that involves the development and evaluation of interventions targeting health/lifestyle behaviours (e.g., diet, physical activity, alcohol) to promote weight loss predominantly in the context of long-term health conditions (e.g., type 2 diabetes; non-alcoholic fatty liver disease) and major surgical procedures (prehabilitation). My research also involves incorporating and testing specific dietary approaches (e.g., very low calorie diet), including supplements (e.g., whey protein) to suppress appetite and maximise weight loss to facilitate self-management.

I lead a multidisciplinary team that develops and evaluates interventions including those delivered digitally and in person that meet the needs of patient groups, that are suitable for integration into care pathways and organisations, at scale, that are effective for improving patient outcomes and the efficient running of care systems. I have developed a number of behavioural change interventions that have been commissioned, are accessed by people with long-term conditions across the UK and abroad, and have been nominated for and received several awards (e.g., winner of the Quality in Care Award for prevention and early diagnosis of type 2 diabetes; Diabetes Professional Care Awards - shortlisted patient education campaign of the year; and Bright Ideas in Health Awards, service improvement category).  

My research also involves identifying ways to successfully implement interventions. This involves collaboration with clinicians, patient groups, commercial partners, and voluntary sector organisations to better understand the barriers and facilitators to uptake and adherance, what works for whom, under which circumstances and why. To achieve this I also develop training programmes and resources for providers of healthcare to help optimise consultation behaviour and maximise the effectiveness of interventions (e.g., interventions designed to optimise referral behaviour and promote long-term engagement).

I am passionate about supporting students and early career researchers to reach their potential. I provide support and mentorship to colleagues from outside my discipline to use/integrate health psychology and behavioural science into their working practices, teaching and research.

Memberships and Professional Activities

Chair of the School of Health & Life Sciences Reseach & Innovation Sub-Committee

Member of the Teesside University Research Culture and People Committee

Member of the Teesside University Grant Board

School of Health & Life Sciences, Centre for Rehabilitation, Public Engagement Champion

Associate Member of Fuse, The Centre for Translational Research in Public Health

Past Academic member of the School of Health & Life Sciences Research Ethics Committee (2018-2020)

Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society 

Full member of the British Psychological Society, Division of Health Psychology

British Psychological Society accredited supervisor for the Stage 2 Qualification in Health Psychology

Member of the European Health Psychology Society

Peer reviewer and subject matter expert for the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) PRP, RfPB, and PgfAR, Medical Research Council and Diabetes UK.



MRC Funded PhD in 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

Research Funding

Hallsworth K, McPherson S, Avery L. Assessing the feasibility of an evidence-informed digital intervention to support self-management in people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Joint Research Executive Scientific Committee (JRESC), Newcastle Hospitals Charity, Aug 2022- Jan 2024.

Avery L, Barker J. Evaluation of the clinical support worker role in the context of mental health, Integrated Care System, Northeast and Cumbria, Aug 2022-July 2023.

Avery L, Danjoux G, Tew G, Gray J, Durrand J, Yates D. Digital prehabilitation before major surgery. Sport England, June 2021-May 2023.

Avery L, Teke Epse Che J, Flynn D, Haines R. Identifying the barriers and enablers to uptake and adherence to the low calorie diet programme for type 2 diabetes remission in people from ethnic minority groups. NIHR Research Capability Funding, Feb to Sept 2021.

Avery L, Birrell K, Ansari I, Andrews L, Morgan P, Flynn D. Development of digital prototype of REAL SDM. NHS England and Innovation, North East and Yorkshire Region - Personalised care team, Jan 2021 to Dec 2021.

Flynn D, Avery L, Birrell K, Gordon I, Ansari I, Andrews L, Morgan P. REAL general practice toolkit for Shared Decision Making (REAL SDM): Developing a skills development programme to prepare patients with type 2 diabetes and mental health difficulties to engage in person-centred discussions with clinicians to identify their priorities and options for living well. NIHR ARC NENC, Jan 2021 to 31st Dec 2021.

Bowden-Davies K, Taylor R, Avery L. A behavioural intervention targeting physical activity: Sustaining weight loss and type 2 diabetes remission following a very low calorie diet. Novo Nordisk Research Foundation, 2020-2021.

Hallsworth, K., Jakovljevic D., Cassidy, S., Charman, S., Houghton, D., Avery, L., Okwose, N., Taylor, R. An open non-randomised pilot study to assess acceptability and feasibility of an internet / mobile phone enhanced service pathway for the management of prediabetes. Changing Health Ltd, 2018-19.

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, 2016-19.

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, NIHR-BRC, 2015-16.

Trenell MI, Avery L, Taylor L. Pharmacy enhanced services for people with Type 2 diabetes (2015). Medical Research Council.

Kaner E, Avery L, Presseau J, Sniehotta F, Thomson R, Vale L. PhD awards for improvement science, Health Foundation, 2014-17.

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, Department for Children, Schools and Families, 2009.

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, NIHR-CCF, 2007.

PhD Supervision: Current

Oliver Bell, 2018-2023, Lifestyle intervention to target mental health and physical health in hard to reach men. NUFC Foundation Doctoral Award, Newcastle University.

Kirsten Ashley, 2019-2023, Development of a theory-based intervention targeting consultation behaviour of clinicians and physical activity/exercise behaviour of adults with chronic heart failure, Teesside University. 

Cara Jordan, 2019-2023, Evaluation of a theory-based intervention targeting physical activity/exercise behaviour of adults with chronic heart failure. Teesside University.

Matthew Cooper, 2019-2023, Development and evaulation of a social prescribing model for mental health. Teesside University.

Jeanette Morris, 2019-2024, The delivery and evaluation of COPD-specific pain education in pulmonary rehabilitation, Teesside University. 

Sandra Nwokoroku, 2021-2025, The development of an evidence-informed mental health toolkit to support people with mental health conditions during public health emergencies, Teesside University. 

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 2014-2017, Newcastle University.

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 2014-2017, Newcastle University.

Dr Nduka Okwose, A novel, home-based physical activity intervention for chronic heart failure; exploring safety, feasibility, effectiveness and patients experiences' 2015-2018, Newcastle University.

Dr Jadine Scragg, 'Lifestyle as therapy for liver disease' 2017-2021. Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) Doctoral Award, Newcastle University.


Stage 2 Qualification in Health Psychology (Doctoral) trainees


Rebecca Livingston, 2021-2023

Jeanette Morris, 2019-2022.


Miss Kirsten Ashley, Teesside University. Development and evaluation of behavioural interventions for people with type 2 diabetes, 2018-2021.

Dr Sebastian Potthoff, Northumbria University. Healthcare Professional Behaviour Change in the context of Type 2 Diabetes management and Alcohol consumption in primary and secondary care, 2015-2018.

External positions

Visiting Researcher, Newcastle University

1 Oct 201831 Dec 2022

Chartered Psychologist, British Psychological Society


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