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Dr Helen Humphreys

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I am a senior research fellow in the Centre for Behavioural Science and Applied Psychology. My PhD, awarded in 2018, used a human-centred design approach to develop physical activity pathways for NHS services across a number of long-term health conditions. I subsequently worked as a researcher in the Physical Activity, Wellbeing and Public Health group at Sheffield Hallam University where I explored the impact of lifestyle interventions on quality of life for people living with long-term conditions, and the role of exercise in enhancing wellbeing and clinical outcomes.

I joined the Centre for Behavioural Science and Applied Psychology as a senior research fellow in 2022. Here I lead a variety of research projects applying behavioural science theory to explore factors and design interventions that influence behaviour. I specialise in participatory research approaches that engage professional stakeholders and members of the public in research and intervention planning, including a range of qualitative methods, realist evaluation and co-design. My work draws on behaviour change theory and concepts from positive psychology, human-centred design and circular design. I am particularly interested in the role of behaviour change within innovation and undertake research consultancy related to innovation in elite sport.

Specialist areas of interest

Human-centred design
Participatory approaches
Physical activity


Department of Psychology, Sociology and Politics

College of Social Sciences and Arts


Journal articles

Saxton, J.M., Pickering, K., Wane, S., Humphreys, H., Crank, H., Anderson, A.S., ... Wilson, C. (2022). Co-designed weight management intervention for women recovering from oestrogen-receptor positive breast cancer. BMC Cancer, 22 (1).

Robinson, R., Crank, H., Humphreys, H., Fisher, P., & Greenfield, D.M. (2022). Time to embed physical activity within usual care in cancer services: a qualitative study of cancer healthcare professionals' views at a single centre in England. Disability and rehabilitation.

Shearn, K., Brooks, A., Humphreys, H., & Wardle, C. (2022). Mixed methods Participatory Action Research to inform service design based on the Capabilities Approach, in the North of England. Children and Society: the international journal of childhood and children's services, 36 (4), 450-471.

Fowler Davis, S., Humphreys, H., Maden-Wilkinson, T., Withers, S., Lowe, A., & Copeland, R. (2022). Understanding the Needs and Priorities of People Living with Persistent Pain and Long-Term Musculoskeletal Conditions during the COVID-19 Pandemic—A Public Involvement Project. Healthcare, 10 (6).

O'Doherty, A.F., Humphreys, H., Dawkes, S., Cowie, A., Hinton, S., Brubaker, P.H., ... Nichols, S. (2021). How has technology been used to deliver cardiac rehabilitation during the COVID-19 pandemic? An international cross-sectional survey of healthcare professionals conducted by the BACPR. BMJ Open, 11 (4).

Humphreys, H., Kilby, L., Kudiersky, N., & Copeland, R. (2021). Long COVID and the role of physical activity: a qualitative study. BMJ Open, 11 (3).

Speake, H., Copeland, R., Breckon, J., & Till, S. (2019). Challenges and opportunities for promoting physical activity in health care: a qualitative enquiry of stakeholder perspectives. European Journal of Physiotherapy.

Humphreys, L., Crank, H., Frith, G., Speake, H., & Reece, L. (2017). Bright spots, physical activity investments that work: Active Everyday, Sheffield’s physical activity service for all people living with and beyond cancer. British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Speake, H., Copeland, R., Till, S., Breckon, J., Haake, S., & Hart, O. (2016). Embedding physical activity in the heart of the NHS: the need for a whole-system approach. Sports Medicine, 46 (7), 939-946.

Conference papers

Ioannou, E., Humphreys, H., Homer, C., & Purvis, A. (2022). A systematic review using the socio-ecological model for physical activity interventions aiming to prevent type 2 diabetes after gestational diabetes (abstract only). Journal of Sports Sciences, 40 (Sup 1), 7.

Pickering, K., Wane, S., Speake, H., Crank, H., Anderson, A., Cain, H., ... Saxton, J. (2021). The new normal; adjusting to remote ways of providing bespoke weight management support to breast cancer survivors during the COVID-19 global pandemic. CANCER RESEARCH, 81 (4).

Theses / Dissertations

Speake, H. (2018). Exploring the user-centred design of aphysical activity pathway in NHS care. (Doctoral thesis). Supervised by Copeland, R.

Internet Publications

Humphreys, H., Kilby, L., Kudiersky, N., & Copeland, R. (2020). Long Covid and the role of physical activity: a qualitative study.

Postgraduate supervision

PhD - Natalie Grinvalds - Development of realist theory of the co-location of health and leisure facilities to promote physical activity (completed 2022)

PhD - Nik Kudiersky - Feasibility and effects of early-initiated aerobic exercise in stroke patients

PhD - Gabbi Frith - Optimising Secondary Prevention in Early Cardiac Rehabilitation

PhD - Alex Bugg - Sarcopenia in patients with Chronic Heart Failure PhD

PhD - Elysa Ioannau - Preventing Diabetes after Gestational Diabetes: A co-produced qualitative study in minoritised communities

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