Heather Semper

Dr Heather Semper CPsychol AFBPsS SFHEA

Senior Lecturer in Health Psychology


I started working at Sheffield Hallam in May 2019 and currently responsible for teaching and leading modules on the MSc Health Psychology and the Undergraduate psychology courses. I am a member of the Centre for Behavioural Science and Applied Psychology (CeBSAP). As a health psychologist, my research interests lie in both theoretical and practical applications of health psychology. In particular, I am interested in self-regulation in the management of health conditions, technology, and health behaviours. This includes research examining eating and weight, food allergies, cancer, exercise, smoking, antimicrobial resistance and alcohol consumption.


I completed my Undergraduate degree and MSc Health Psychology at the University of Derby, then went on to a research associate post at the University of Nottingham. I took up my first lecturing post at DeMontfort University in Leicester in 2006, and then moved to a senior lecturer role at Staffordshire University in 2014. I completed my Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology at Staffordshire University in 2015 under the supervision of Rachel Povey. My Masters research explored parental experiences of caring for severely food allergic children. My doctoral research focussed on self-regulation in weight management. I used qualitative methodology to examine how people manage their eating and exercise behaviours. My systematic review explored how smartphone apps that employ self-regulatory strategies can be effective in supporting weight management. I used quantitative methodology to examine self-regulatory failure and how optimism and resilience relate to compensatory health beliefs. 

I am a member of the Sheffield Hallam University Health Psychology Research Group, and the Centre for Behavioural Science and Applied Psychology. I am a Chartered Psychologist in the UK and Europe, an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, a member of the Institute for Health Promotion and Education and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.


I am currently working on a number of projects relating to self regulation and health behaviours including a funded project examining coping with severe food allergy, lay perceptions of antimicrobial resistance, and how food labelling may be used as an intervention to improve food choice.

MSc Health Psychology

MSc Psychology 

BSc Psychology programmes


Journal articles

Semper, H. (2021). What behavior change techniques are associated with effective interventions to reduce screen time in 0–5 year olds? A narrative systematic review. Preventive Medicine. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.pmedr.2021.101429

Dugdale, S., Elison-Davies, S., Semper, H., Ward, J., & Davies, G. (2019). Are Computer-Based Treatment Programs Effective at Reducing Symptoms of Substance Misuse and Mental Health Difficulties Within Adults? A Systematic Review. Journal of Dual Diagnosis. http://doi.org/10.1080/15504263.2019.1652381

Matthews, H., & Semper, H. (2017). ‘Dropped from the system’: the experiences and challenges of long-term breast cancer survivors. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 73 (6), 1355-1365. http://doi.org/10.1111/jan.13237

Semper, H.M., Povey, R., & Clark-Carter, D. (2016). A systematic review of the effectiveness of smartphone applications that encourage dietary self-regulatory strategies for weight loss in overweight and obese adults. Obesity reviews : an official journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity, 17 (9), 895-906. http://doi.org/10.1111/obr.12428

Ferguson, E., Semper, H., Yates, J., Fitzgerald, J.E., Skatova, A., & James, D. (2014). The ‘Dark Side’ and ‘Bright Side’ of Personality: When Too Much Conscientiousness and Too Little Anxiety Are Detrimental with Respect to the Acquisition of Medical Knowledge and Skill. PLoS ONE, 9 (2), e88606. http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0088606

Knibb, R.C., & Semper, H. (2013). Impact of suspected food allergy on emotional distress and family life of parents prior to allergy diagnosis. Pediatric allergy and immunology : official publication of the European Society of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology, 24 (8), 798-803. http://doi.org/10.1111/pai.12176

Coulson, N., Aubeeluck, A., Buchanan, H., Semper, H., & Rooney, E. (2004). Exploring the provision of social support within a computer-mediated huntington's disease support network. Psychology and Health, 19 (SUPPL. 1), 35.

Conference papers

Knibb, R., Semper, H., & Screti, C. (2021). Coping strategies of parents of children with food allergy are more adaptive than parents of children with no long-term conditions: a multi-national study. CLINICAL AND EXPERIMENTAL ALLERGY, 51 (1), 162.

Knibb, R.C., & Semper, H. (2009). Can attendance at allergy clinic reduce psychological distress in parents of food allergic children? CLINICAL AND EXPERIMENTAL ALLERGY, 39 (12), 1957-1958.

Other activities

External examiner for the University of Bath MSc Health Psychology

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