Applied Health Research Group

We conduct research to support physical and mental health, prevent disease, and treat ill-health. Our work focuses on global health challenges across a range of conditions, and we work closely with clinical services, charities, and industry to translate our research into practice.

Our research focuses on a broad range of areas, including: 

  • Addiction 
  • Allergy 
  • Decision making 
  • Eating behaviour 
  • Epilepsy 
  • Hearing loss 
  • Mental health difficulties 
  • Memory  
  • Musculoskeletal pain 
  • Neuro developmental conditions 
  • Obesity 

The portfolio of research within the group includes themes from fundamental science to multi-disciplinary translational studies. The non-medical professional expertise of the group and links with the Aston Institute of Health and Neurodevelopment (IHN) makes our group internationally unique. Research within the group contributes to one of the College of Health and Life Sciences' four key multidisciplinary themes; health and disease across the lifespan.

Funders and collaborators 

Funding for our work comes from a range of sources including; the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Wellcome Trust. We also work with industrial partners and multiple charities. 

We collaborate on an international scale with leading groups from around the world. We also have strong links with local NHS trusts and services. We work directly with a diverse range of patients, to conduct research with outcomes that will make a real difference to clinical practice, and to the health of the communities we serve.

People and publications  

Our groups are internationally recognised in their fields; we hold multiple roles as journal editors, reviewers for major funding panels, and are members of national and international advisory bodies in our fields. We are also very active in the promotion of public engagement in science and contribute to television, radio interviews and events such as Big Bang, Thinktank and Cafe Scientifique. 

Professor Rachel Shaw

Director of Research: Professor Rachel Shaw

Prof Shaw is internationally renowned for the advancement of applied qualitative research in psychological and health sciences, which has contributed to the acceptance of qualitative research as a rigorous source of scientific evidence.

Her work has informed the World Health Organization's Guide to Qualitative Evidence Synthesis, mandated the teaching of qualitative methods on BPS accredited BSc Psychology programmes, and informed the development of quality appraisal strategies for qualitative research.


Staff within the research group utilise facilities within the Aston Institute of Health and Neurodevelopment (IHN).

Research Topics

Applied Audiology

This topic focuses on exploring the lived experience of people with hearing and balance conditions across the lifespan. We aim to improve healthcare for people with hearing and balance conditions through community-based, clinically-based and population health research. 

We research the experiences of people living with hearing and balance conditions, and use qualitative methods to understand what it is like to live with conditions such as tinnitus or hearing loss. At the population level, we work with cohort studies to research the impact of hearing and balance conditions on a range of outcomes, such as health and education. We also research how service users access, interact with and are supported by clinical services. We develop, evaluate and implement interventions to improve access and shared decision making in clinical services.

Hearing Loss and Patient Reported Experience (HeLP)


Using patient experience to improve audiology care.

We want to understand the work of living with hearing loss and the work of accessing and living with hearing aids. From this we will develop a Patient Reported Experience Measure (PREM) for use in Audiology.

Find out more.

Children’s and Young People’s Health

We conduct cross-disciplinary research that makes a real difference to clinical practice and to the health of the paediatric population and their families. We work with children and families with a range of different physical and mental health conditions, such as diabetes, allergies, obesity, attention disorders, psychosis, feeding and eating disorders, epilepsy, hearing loss, and rare genetic conditions. We also work closely with specialist children’s hospitals and charities to ensure that our research is clinically relevant and applied to practice.  

The portfolio of work within this topic includes research from fundamental science to multi-disciplinary translational studies, and focusses on:  

  • Supporting the development of children with chronic illnesses and conditions and their clinical, psychological and social sequelae. 
  • The prevention of illness, disorders and accidents in children and young people. 
  • Understanding children’s lives through innovative methodologies, which actively engage children and families in research.  
Phenomenology of Health and Relationships

This topic of research focusses on sharing and developing concepts and methods for understanding the role of relationships in health, via the lens of phenomenological inquiry.  

Interdisciplinary in nature, our work combines the academic specialities of psychology, philosophy and social policy, and includes both staff and postgraduate research students from Aston University and collaborators from the University of Birmingham, the London School of Economics, and London South Bank University. 

Psychology of Eating in Adults and Children (PEACh)

Within this topic, we investigate the psychology behind human eating behaviour from the earliest stages of life, through childhood and adolescence and into adulthood.  

Our projects exploit a wide range of methods, including experimental studies of responses to food stimuli and manipulations of eating behaviour, longitudinal designs, observational methods and intervention design and evaluation. 

Find out more.

Mental Health Research

Our work explores factors that influence mental health and wellbeing; focussing on resilience and protective factors; exploring people’s experiences of mental health conditions; and identifying ways to treat and support people with mental health conditions.  

We conduct research about a range of different aspects of mental health and take a diverse range of approaches, including neurological and neuropsychological research, the development of clinical assessment tools and interventions, phenomenological research, experience based co-design and intervention development.