Dr Samantha van Beurden

Research Topic Title: Taking back control: dealing with impulsive processes in digital health behaviour change.
Dr Samantha van Beurden Profile Picture

Many of us value our health, but we often behave in ways that undermines it. Poor diet, smoking, alcohol consumption, and lack of exercise can cause a large number of diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. Successfully changing these behaviours can help prevent, and in some cases treat such conditions. However, our behaviours are complex and influenced by biological, psychological, social and environmental factors. To be able to facilitate change, a good understanding of the behaviour and the influences on it, is imperative.

Traditional methods of behaviour change have focused on providing information about the negative consequences of an unhealthy behaviour to increase motivation and instructions on how to perform a behaviour. However, much of human behaviour is guided by impulsive, non-conscious processes that are triggered by contextual cues. Essentially, in many instances we act without thinking. These processes help us to be fast and efficient beings – but can also lead to the relapse to, and maintenance of, unhealthy, but (often) rewarding, automatic and habitual behaviours. My work focusses on better understanding the processes of behaviour change and developing and evaluating interventions that target these mechanisms. In my work I place a big emphasis on engaging with the people who are meant to benefit from these interventions. I do this through stakeholder involvement and mixed-methods research, to ensure the interventions I help develop are appropriate for and acceptable to the target population, increasing the likelihood of uptake and adherence and ultimately for better outcomes.

Mentors: Professor Natalia Lawrence


van Beurden, S.B., Greaves, C. J., Lawrence, N. S., Abraham, C.,& Smith, J. R. (in review). ImpulsePal: Developing a smartphone app to manage food temptations using Intervention Mapping. Digital Health.

van Beurden, S. B., Smith, J. R., Lawrence, N. S., Abraham, C., & Greaves, C. J. (2019). Feasibility randomized controlled trial of ImpulsePal: Smartphone app–based weight management intervention to reduce impulsive eating in overweight adults. JMIR Formative Research, 3(2), e11586.

van Beurden, S. B., Simmons, S. I., Tang, J. C. H., Mewse, A. J., Abraham, C., & Greaves, C. J. (2018). Informing the development of online weight management interventions: A qualitative investigation of primary care patient perceptions. BMC Obesity, 5, 7.

Meade, L., Gatting, L., & van Beurden, S. (2017). Planning health promotion programmes: An intervention mapping approach. The European Health Psychologist, 19(5), 344-349.

van Beurden, S. B., Greaves, C. J., Smith, J. R., & Abraham, C. (2016). Techniques for modifying impulsive processes associated with unhealthy eating: A systematic review. Health Psychology, 35(8), 793-806.

Bardus, M., van Beurden, S. B., Smith, J. R., & Abraham, C. (2016). A review and content analysis of engagement, functionality, aesthetics, information quality, and change techniques in the most popular commercial apps for weight management. International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity, 13-35

Book chapters

Denford, S., Abraham, C., van Beurden, S., Smith, J., & Morgan-Trimmer, S. (2018) Health behaviour change interventions. In Llewellyn, C., Ayers, S., McManus, C., Petrie, K., Revenson, T.A., & Weinman, J. (Eds.) Cambridge Handbook of Psychology, Health and Medicine. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Denford, S., Abraham, C., van Beurden, S., Smith, J. R., & Morgan-Trimmer, S. (2017) Behaviour Change Interventions for Public Health.In Tsekleves, E., & Cooper, R. (Eds.) Design for Health. London: Routledge

E-mail: s.b.vanbeurden@exeter.ac.uk

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/samantha-van-beurden-6611088b/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sbvanbeurden

Website: http://www.impulsepal.co.uk/