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Dr Helen Humphreys

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Dr Helen Humphreys





I am a researcher in physical activity and public health. My research interests include the impact of lifestyle interventions on quality of life and the use of exercise and physical activity in enhancing wellbeing and clinical outcomes.

I specialise in participatory research approaches that engage patients, professional stakeholders and members of the public in research and intervention planning, including a range of qualitative methods, realist evaluation and synthesis and co-design.

My work draws on a range of theories and I’m particularly interested in concepts from positive psychology including optimism, resilience and strengths-based approaches.

Current and past projects include the co-design of multimodal lifestyle interventions for people living with long-term conditions including cardiovascular disease, heart failure, cancer, musculoskeletal conditions, persistent pain, HIV, obesity and stroke. Based on my experience co-designing interventions with patients, I have provided advice to the Faculty for Sport and Exercise Medicine and Public

Specialist areas of interest

Human-centred design
Participatory approaches
Physical activity


Health And Wellbeing


Journal articles

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).

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

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

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.

Postgraduate supervision

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

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

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