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  • Writer's pictureSPRINT project

A new Shepherd joins the flock...

I'm Dr Karen Shepherd, and I'm very pleased to introduce myself as a Research Fellow and new member of the SPRINT team.

I have a keen interest in the complex psychosocial effects of chronic health conditions which developed whilst undertaking an MSc in Health Psychology at Coventry University. Using Rogers Protection Motivation Theory (PMT) as a framework, my dissertation considered the motivation and intention to exercise by women diagnosed with osteoporosis. This led to a PhD in Health Psychology at the University of Nottingham under the supervision of Prof Neil Coulson.

My research used a mixed methods approach to investigate the psychological consequences of online support groups for parents of adolescents with type 1 diabetes. Exploring the lived experiences of these parents, in particular the coping strategies and support mechanisms used to improve their mental health and well-being was fascinating, although as a parent myself, could at times be emotionally challenging.

I've been fortunate to present my research at several annual conferences, including the Division of Health Psychology (DHP), the European Health Psychology Society (EHPS), DiabetesUK, and the CyberPsychology, CyberTherapy & Social Networking Conference (CYPSY22). I would encourage researchers (at whatever stage in their career) to attend conferences and share their research in what I have always found to be a supportive atmosphere - plus the last night disco is a bonus!

Alongside my academic journey, I've held a number of research positions, notably working with patients affected by autoimmune conditions as part of an evaluation of a psycho-educational intervention for people with MS in the West Midlands, and latterly as a Research Associate at the University of Wolverhampton. This project was funded by the Association for the Study of Obesity (ASO) to evaluate patient experiences of remote weight management services during the COVID-19 pandemic, and our first paper from the project was published recently here.

I'm looking forward to sharing my health psychology background, passion for qualitative research and experience of online research methods with the rest of the SPRINT team.

Running has been my exercise of choice for many years and helps me de-stress, but my favourite way to let off steam is attending live music gigs!


Photo credit: Dr Karen Shepherd and Google.

Written by Dr Karen Shepherd, Research Fellow in the SPRINT Project.


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