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Changing behaviour and culture to prevent or treat serious disease.

Behavioural medicine © University of Oxford

Behavioural medicine is the integration of biological, psychological and sociological knowledge to prevent and treat disease and to aid rehabilitation. The aim is to look at changing people’s behaviour and the culture to either prevent or treat serious disease.

Research in the Behavioural Medicine Group focusses on:

  • Smoking cessation
  • Weight management by adopting a healthier life style and following different weight loss interventions.


The Behavioural Medicine Group conduct research studies looking at how different interventions introduced to smokers by their GPs can help them stop smoking. These include cutting down on their cigarette consumption, using nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) compared to temporary abstinence (TA), financial incentives and smoking during pregnancy.

It has been found that people who stop smoking have put on weight and the group’s research is looking into the best ways to prevent this from happening without affecting the chance of stopping smoking.


Previous research shows that overweight and obese adults who are referred to commercial weight management providers such as Weight Watchers, Slimming World and/or Rosemary Conley, lose more weight than those who attempt to lose weight without support. Research in the Behavioural Medicine Group has also found that patients who visit their GP or practice nurse for weight management support do no better than the people trying to lose weight without support.

Current research in our group focuses on how GPs can support patients to manage their weight through brief interventions. Our aim is to provide a weight of evidence to support the introduction widespread weight loss interventions in primary care, akin to the NHS Stop Smoking Service. Such an intervention, if successful, could be introduced in the Quality and Outcomes Framework and influence weight management practice worldwide.

Our team

Selected publications:

More publications

Related research themes