Research at the University of St Andrews School of Medicine


Professor Tim Newton will describe the joys and frustrations of working in dental settings to develop brief, effective and acceptable interventions to enhance oral health related behaviour.

Date: 1 April 2019
Venue: Seminar room 2
Time: 3 – 4 pm
Refreshments served from 2.45 pm

Tim Newton is Professor and Consultant in Psychology as Applied to Dentistry at King’s College London Dental Institute. He is also Honorary Consultant Health Psychologist to the Office of the Chief Dental Officer (England) and an Honorary Professor at University College London. An IADR distinguished scientist, he is a World authority on the application of psychological theory in dentistry. His particular interests include the management of dental anxiety and interventions to enhance oral health related behaviour.


Oral health is critically dependent on several behaviours which vary in their characteristics – some being largely automatic and habitual (toothbrushing) whereas others occur at low rates and require volitional interventions. Whereas dental research has accepted the finding that knowledge-based interventions have little impact on behaviour, there have been few studies which have evaluated theory-based interventions. This talk will describe the joys and frustrations of working in dental settings to develop brief, effective and acceptable interventions to enhance oral health related behaviour.

St Leonard’s Interdisciplinary PhD Studentship to Study Climate Change and Ethnic Inequalities in Health

We invite applications from qualified and highly motivated students for a 3-year PhD studentship to study the effect of climate change on ethnic inequalities in health. The PhD studentship is a joint initiative between the School of Geography and Sustainable Development (SGSD) and the School of Medicine (SoM) and supported by St Leonard’s College. The successful applicant will investigate effects of air pollution and extreme weather events on population health and mortality across ethnic groups and will project future health behaviour and mortality patterns as response to changes in weather and pollution (for further details, please see link. The project will be supervised by Prof. Hill Kulu (SGSD), Prof. Frank Sullivan (SoM) and Dr Urška Demšar (SGSD).

The scholarship will cover tuition fees, a yearly stipend of £14,777 per year (in the 2018/19 academic year, subject to increase annually), and a research training support grant (RTSG) of £750 per year. Applicants must meet the following eligibility criteria: 1) A first class or an upper secondary undergraduate or master’s degree in any area of social, environmental or health sciences (including statistics and applied mathematics); 2) Interest in application of advanced quantitative methods in social and/or health sciences; and 3) Interest in working with spatial and longitudinal data. Coding skills are an advantage (e.g. in R, Stata or SAS), but not required. The University of St Andrews strive for equal opportunities. Applications of any background are welcome.

Candidates must submit an online application by 10th May 2019. Please apply to the “School of Geography and Sustainable Development” and to the programme “PhD Geography (Arts)”. Please include a covering letter outlining your interest in environmental effects on human health and in applying advance quantitative methods in social and/or health science research. Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed in late May. Skype interviews are possible.

The successful applicant will become a member of two research groups. The research of the Population and Health Research Group at the SGSD covers a wide range of topics including the analysis of health and mortality; family and fertility dynamics; and migration. The group combines expertise in demographic, longitudinal and spatial data analysis. (For further details about the research group) The group is part of the ESRC Centre for Population Change (CPC). The research of the Population and Behavioural Science Division at the SoM focuses on health informatics and community based clinical trials. (Please see: http://med.st-andrews.ac.uk/populations/). The division is a partnership site for the MRC-led Health Data Research (HDR) UK.

This is an excellent opportunity for a highly motivated PhD student to work in two international teams of researchers on a cutting-edge social and health science topic and applying advanced quantitative methods to longitudinal and environmental data. The studentship starts in October 2019. For informal inquiries, please contact Prof. Hill Kulu or Prof. Frank Sullivan. For inquiries related to the online application procedure, please contact Mrs Helen Olaez in the SGSD Postgraduate Office. Please include ‘St Leonard’s PhD studentship’ in the subject line of your email.

Seminar – Using Intensive Longitudinal Methods to Study Fear of Breast Cancer Recurrence in Everyday Life


Presenter: Jean-Philippe Laurenceau, Ph.D.

Venue: Seminar room 2

Date: 14 January 2019  

Time: 3-4pm

Intensive longitudinal methods (also called experience sampling, daily diary, or ecological momentary assessment methods) allow researchers to study people’s health-related behavior, thoughts, and emotions as experienced in their natural contexts. Such data can reveal life as it is actually lived and provide insights that are not possible using conventional experimental or survey research methods. Dr. Laurenceau will review several findings from a study consisting of twice daily assessments of fear of cancer recurrence over 21 days obtained from breast cancer patients and their spouses/partners at key points in the cancer survivorship trajectory. This type of intensive longitudinal research design allows estimation of effects reflecting within-person change (versus between-person differences) in health-related outcomes and supports inferences that have high ecological validity, clinical relevance, and patient focus.

Refreshments will be served from 2.45pm.

Workshop – Introduction to Analysing Intensive Longitudinal Data


Presenter: Jean-Philippe Laurenceau, Ph.D.

Venue: Level 3 meeting room

Date: 14 January 2019

Time: 1-2pm


Intensive longitudinal methods (also called experience sampling, daily diary, or ecological momentary assessment methods) produce data that allow researchers to study people’s behavior, thoughts, and emotions as experienced in their natural contexts. The multilevel or mixed-effects model for longitudinal data is a flexible analytic tool that can take account of complexities stemming from the multiple levels of analysis and temporal dependencies in the data.  The goal of this workshop is to provide an overview of a full-cycle treatment of two fundamental research questions that can be addressed using intensive longitudinal methods: (a) What is the time course of the outcome variable, and (b) what is the within-person causal process that underlies the time course? A full-cycle treatment will take workshop participants through five stages of answering each research question: (1) Design study & collect data, (2) Visualize, (3) Analyze, (4) Write up results, and (5) Power the next study.  Material for this workshop will be drawn from introductory sections of the presenter’s 2013 Guilford Press book “Intensive Longitudinal Methods: An Introduction to Diary and Experience Sampling Research” (www.intensivelongitudinal.com).  Using SPSS and Mplus statistical software, attendees can follow along with the examples in the workshop handout or conduct analyses on their own laptops.


Dr. Jean-Philippe Laurenceau is Unidel A. Gilchrist Sparks III Chair in the Social Sciences and Professor of Psychological & Brain Sciences at the University of Delaware.  He is also Senior Research Scientist at CCHS’s Helen F. Graham Cancer Centre and Research Institute. He completed his B.A. cum laude at Cornell University and received his master’s and doctorate degrees from The Pennsylvania State University. Recently, Dr. Laurenceau has been studying how patients and spouses/partners cope with and maintain connection amid health-related adversity, including breast cancer and diabetes.  He was an appointed member of a social and behavioural sciences grant review panel of the National Institutes of Health and has been PI or co-I on several research projects funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the National Cancer Institute.  He regularly teaches methodological workshops at the University of Michigan’s Summer Program in Quantitative Methods of Social Research and at Penn State’s Summer Institute for Longitudinal Methods.  Dr. Laurenceau is co-author of the book “Intensive Longitudinal Methods: An Introduction to Diary and Experience Sampling Research” (2013, Guilford Press).

Electra project

The Electra project team is working to develop a Learning Health System for NHS Fife. The complexities surrounding data governance, IT infrastructure and sustainability planning have been priority areas of work for the team thus far. Claire Fernie from the Community Advisory Council recently joined the study team as Lay Adviser, and we are already seeing the benefits. For example, at our last meeting, Claire raised important considerations around consent from patients whose data is used in research.

Annual Away Day

The Population and Behavioural Sciences Division held their annual Away Day on 10 September 2018 at the Rufflets Hotel in St Andrews. The day was designed to encourage and promote open and collegiate working practices and offer an opportunity for information sharing and developing a better understanding of each other’s work, with an aim to improving a good working culture.  Erwin Lai from the Centre for Professional Development (CAPOD), did a fabulous job of facilitating the day.

We each spent two minutes sharing information on who we are, what we do, and what skills we have.  Highlights from the day included the webmaster team building activity and the delicious buffet lunch Rufflets provided.  We also had the opportunity to meet and get to know Dr Anne Haddow and Claire Fernie from the Community Advisory Council.