DrLou Atkinson

Lecturer in Psychology

School of Life & Health Sciences

Aston University
Birmingham B4 7ET

Phone:  0121 204 4541
Email:   l.atkinson1@aston.ac.uk
Room number:SW410f

I joined the Psychology Department at Aston in August 2017. Prior to joining Aston I was a Senior Researcher at Coventry University, having worked in the Applied Research Centre for Health & Lifestyle Interventions since 2008, and latterly in the Centre for Applied Biological & Exercise Science. During my time at Coventry I specialised in undertaking research and consultancy in applied settings, particularly community-based behaviour change interventions. I worked closely with a number of local public health teams and health-related charities, and was a member of several committees and special interest groups, including the Midlands Health Psychology Network, Warwickshire obesity forum & Coventry childhood obesity alliance. I also completed a one year secondment as an embedded health psychology specialist within Warwickshire Public Health, and taught on a range of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.

While at Coventry I completed my PhD via the publication route with a body of research into women’s engagement with weight management behaviours and services in pregnancy. Alongside my work on maternal weight management and physical activity in pregnancy I also undertook significant research around parental engagement with child & family weight management services, and developed a range of training for health professionals around childhood obesity and related behaviour change.
My most recent work at Coventry included working with Coventry City Council to embed theory- and evidence-based behaviour change techniques into their healthy lifestyle support services and increase staff competences around behaviour change.

In my current post I teach on the MSc Health Psychology programmes (both on campus and online) and provide tutorials and supervision for the BSc Psychology programme.
I am an expert advisor on healthy lifestyles in pregnancy for a national maternal health charity, Tommy’s.

I also undertake a variety of roles within the fitness industry, including devising and delivering education for instructors, delivering group exercise sessions and providing consultancy services to fitness operators.

  • BSc (Joint Hons) Psychology & Management, Aston University, 1997
  • MSc Health Psychology, University of Bedfordshire, 2007
  • PhD Health Psychology, Coventry University, 2017
  • Level 3 Advanced Instructor – Physical Activity & Exercise
  • Level 3 Pre- and Post-natal Exercise Instructor
  • 2017 – date: Lecturer in Psychology, School of Life & Health Sciences, Aston University.
  • 2010 – 2017: Senior Researcher/Research Fellow, Faculty of Health & Life Sciences, Coventry University.
  • 2008 - 2010: Research Assistant, Faculty of Health & Life Sciences, Coventry University.
I teach on the following programmes/modules:
  • MSc Health Psychology (on campus & online):
  • PYM703/733 Health Behaviours
  • PYM704/734 Health Inequalities Across the Lifespan
  • PYM706/736 Applications and Professional Issues

I also supervise MSc students for their research projects

  • BSc Psychology:
  • PY1129 Introduction to Psychology

I also supervise final years students for their research projects

My research is inspired by a desire to understand the complex determinants of human behaviour relating to health, and to develop interventions to empower and enable individuals to live healthier lives. Health behaviour during pregnancy and early childhood has such an influence on lifelong health and wellbeing that I am driven to find ways to support parents and health professionals in their desire to give children a healthy start and develop positive health behaviours for life. Therefore my main research topics are:

  • Maternal obesity and weight management in pregnancy
  • Physical activity and sedentary behaviour in pregnancy
  • Parental engagement in family weight management/healthy lifestyle services
  • Development and evaluation of theory- and evidence-based behaviour change interventions
  • Assessment and development of behaviour change competencies in health professionals

I am a member of the Applied Health Research Group. 
Recent completed projects:

  • 2015-2017  Behaviour Change Support Service – Coventry City Council, £43k (Principal Investigator)
  • 2017  Assessing physical activity, barriers and facilitators in three deprived wards – Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, £7k (Principal Investigator)
  • 2015  Obesity training for Early Years health professionals – Coventry City Council, £20k (Principal Investigator)
  • 2012-2013 Insight into the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) and engagement with family weight management programmes in Dudley – Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council, £23k (Principal Investigator)
  • 2010 - Qualitative evaluation of the Maternal and Early Years Healthy Weight Service (MAEYS) – NHS West Midlands, £33.5k (Principal Investigator)

Associate supervisor for:

Ian Garner (Aston University): Building Resilience: Malleability of Physical and Cognitive Frailty.

Nadja Willinger (Coventry University): Development and pilot testing of an intervention to increase adoption and adherence to a physical activity programme delivered in UK fitness centres.

Jorge Lopez (Coventry University): Development and pilot testing of an intervention to increase physical activity in inactive members of fitness centres in Spain.

Angela Hands (Coventry University): Parental perception of the built environment and children’s active travel to school.

I am interested in supervising research students in the areas of behaviour change relating to weight management or physical activity before, during or after pregnancy, and parental engagement with their child’s weight management.

 I am a member of the Register of Exercise Professionals.