The Health Behaviours Team works on interventions to prevent or treat ill-health by intervening on diet, obesity, and smoking.
Our focus is on improving public health through high-reach individual behavioural interventions to help people who have poor diets, are overweight, or who smoke. However, we also research policy-level interventions and we are active in advocacy and in policy-making and we have an active programme of public engagement on diet and tobacco control.
Our research is or has been funded by National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Applied Research Collaborative Oxford and Thames Valley (ARC OxTV), NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre, NIHR School for Primary Care Research, the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, and the Medical Research Council.
Who we are
Our research groups comprise:
- The BRC group: developing and testing behavioural interventions to treat obesity and disease caused by excess weight,
- The ARC group: understanding priorities in weight and obesity research, developing and testing interventions to promote diet quality through working with retailers, and finding ways to implement what works in weight management in routine practice.
- The smoking group: developing and testing interventions to support smoking cessation and harm reduction.
- The Cochrane Tobacco Addiction Group: leading and conducting definitive reviews on the effectiveness of tobacco control interventions.
- The LEAP group: developing and testing interventions to improving the sustainability of our diets by shifting from meat-based to plant-based diets.
- ORCA: Oxford Research in Conversation Analysis
- Sustainable, Healthy Food Group (formerly the Diet, Data and Interventions Group): developed a unique data and model infrastructure to monitor the UK food system and evaluate interventions aimed at improving the healthiness and sustainability of diets.
We work collaboratively with the department's Primary Care Clinical Trials Unit and together we develop the trials we conduct. We value working closely with and for members of the public in our research. We run a public panel for people interested in weight loss research and who have had personal experience of trying to control their weight and always welcome new members.
We aim to produce high impact research that makes a difference to public health and healthcare provision. Here are some links to previous major studies from our group where we have prepared dissemination materials:
- A trial showing that stopping smoking abruptly was more effective than quitting by cutting down
- BWeL: A trial testing the effectiveness of brief opportunistic weight loss interventions by GPs
- WRAP: A trial testing the effectiveness of referral to commercial weight management services and the optimum length of the referral
- Preloading: A trial testing the effectiveness of nicotine patch preloading - wearing a patch for four weeks before quitting
- DROPLET: A trial testing the effectiveness of GP referral to a low energy total diet replacement programme
- POWER: asking members of the public, researchers, doctors, nurses, and policy makers to tell us what is are their priorities for research about body weight and obesity.
- PREVAIL: People regulating themselves to achieve weight loss
We work with some private companies where we are happy that doing so is in the public interest. We seek to manage the perceived and actual risk of bias by ensuring that we design the protocol independently of the company and the analysis is done to a pre-registered protocol and analysis plan and done by an independent statistician. We do not take personal income from private companies.