Helen Quirk

Helen Quirk PhD., CPsychol

Researcher in Exercise Psychology


My interests are in the promotion of physical activity, exercise, health and wellbeing in clinical and non-clinical populations. 



My background is in psychology (BSc University of Sheffield, 2010) and sport and exercise psychology (MSc Sheffield Hallam University, 2012).

I joined Sheffield Hallam in September 2016 from the University of Nottingham, where I studied for a PhD exploring the promotion of physical activity in children with type 1 diabetes. I am a chartered member of the British Psychological Society and a member of the parkrun Research Board.


Within the broad area of physical activity for health, I work on a range of research projects from clinical studies, systematic reviews, programme evaluations and national survey studies. Previous and ongoing projects at SHU include:

  • parkrun - national health and wellbeing survey
  • parkrun - evaluation of the parkrun PROVE project
  • parkrun - evaluation of the parkrun Visual Impairment scheme
  • Sport England - various commissioned evaluations
  • Public Health England - evaluation of the Moving Health Professionals Pilot
  • Sheffield Children's Charity - clinical feasibility study of physical activity monitoring in paediatric type 1 diabetes
  • Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS FT - a review of community-based physical activity initiation for people living with serious mental illness
  • Urostomy Association - a literature review and Delphi survey to explore the experiences of patients who have undergone urostomy procedures
  • Health Education England - qualitative study to explore workplace health and wellbeing services in the NHS


Turner, R., Steed, L., Quirk, H., Greasley, R.U., Saxton, J.M., Taylor, S.J.C., ... Bourke, L. (2018). Interventions for promoting habitual exercise in people living with and beyond cancer. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2018 (9). http://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD010192.pub3

Quirk, H., Rosario, D., & Bourke, L. (2018). Supportive interventions to improve physiological and psychological health outcomes among patients undergoing cystectomy: A systematic review. BMC Urology, 18, 71. http://doi.org/10.1186/s12894-018-0382-z

Quirk, H., Glazebrook, C., & Blake, H. (2018). A physical activity intervention for children with type 1 diabetes- steps to active kids with diabetes (STAK-D): a feasibility study. BMC Pediatrics, 18 (37). http://doi.org/10.1186/s12887-018-1036-8

Quirk, H., Crank, H., Harrop, D., Hock, E., & Copeland, R. (2017). Understanding the experience of initiating community-based physical activity and social support by people with serious mental illness: a systematic review using a meta-ethnographic approach. Systematic Reviews, 6 (214). http://doi.org/10.1186/s13643-017-0596-2

Blake, H., Quirk, H., Leighton, P., Randell, T., Greening, J., Guo, B., & Glazebrook, C. (2016). Feasibility of an online intervention (STAK-D) to promote physical activity in children with type 1 diabetes : protocol for a randomised controlled trial. Trials, 17, 583. http://doi.org/10.1186/s13063-016-1719-0

Quirk, H., Glazebrook, C., Martin, R., & Blake, H. (2016). “We don’t worry about diabetes that much”: A qualitative study exploring perceptions of physical activity among children with Type 1 Diabetes. Advances in Pediatric Research, 3 (1), 2. http://doi.org/10.12715/apr.2016.3.2

Quirk, H., Blake, H., Dee, B., & Glazebrook, C. (2015). “Having diabetes shouldn’t stop them”: healthcare professionals’ perceptions of physical activity in children with Type 1 diabetes. BMC Pediatrics, 15, 68. http://doi.org/10.1186/s12887-015-0389-5

Quirk, H., Blake, H., Dee, B., & Glazebrook, C. (2014). “You can’t just jump on a bike and go”: a qualitative study exploring parents’ perceptions of physical activity in children with type 1 diabetes. BMC Pediatrics, 14, 313. http://doi.org/10.1186/s12887-014-0313-4

Quirk, H., Blake, H., Tennyson, R., Randell, T.L., & Glazebrook, C. (2014). Physical activity interventions in children and young people with Type 1 diabetes mellitus: a systematic review with meta-analysis. Diabetic Medicine, 31 (10), 1163-1173. http://doi.org/10.1111/dme.12531

Journal articles

Machaczek, K., Quirk, H., Firth, J., Carney, R., Copeland, R., Pollard, N., ... Goyder, E. (2022). A whole systems approach to integrating physical activity to aid mental health recovery – translating theory into practice. Mental Health and Physical Activity, 23. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.mhpa.2022.100480

Lowe, A., Myers, A., Quirk, H., Blackshaw, J., Palanee, S., & Copeland, R. (2022). Physical activity promotion by GPs: a cross-sectional survey in England. BJGP Open. http://doi.org/10.3399/BJGPO.2021.0227

Haake, S., Quirk, H., & Bullas, A. (2022). Parkrun as a tool to support public health: insights for clinicians. British Journal of General Practice. http://doi.org/10.3399/bjgp.2022.0001

Woodrow, N., Fairbrother, H., Crowder, M., Goyder, E., Griffin, N., Holding, E., & Quirk, H. (2022). Exploring inequalities in health with young people through online focus groups: navigating the methodological and ethical challenges. Qualitative Research Journal, 22 (2), 197-208. http://doi.org/10.1108/qrj-06-2021-0064

Cholerton, R., Butt, J., Quirk, H., & Breckon, J. (2022). Differences in older adults walking football initiation and maintenance influences across respondent characteristics: a cross-sectional survey. Journal of Aging and Physical Activity. http://doi.org/10.1123/japa.2021-0305

Quirk, H., Haake, S., Goyder, E., Bullas, A., Graney, M., & Wellington, C. (2022). Change in health, wellbeing and physical activity levels during the COVID-19 pandemic: a longitudinal cohort of parkrun participants in the United Kingdom. Health Promotion International. http://doi.org/10.1093/heapro/daac012

Haake, S., Quirk, H., & Bullas, A. (2022). The health benefits of volunteering at a free, weekly, 5 km event in the UK: a cross-sectional study of volunteers at parkrun. PLOS Global Public Health, 2 (2). http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgph.0000138

Dunne, A., Haake, S., Quirk, H., & Bullas, A. (2021). Motivation to improve mental wellbeing via community physical activity initiatives and the associated impacts—a cross-sectional survey of UK parkrun participants. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18 (24). http://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182413072

Quirk, H., Bullas, A., Haake, S., Goyder, E., Graney, M., Wellington, C., ... Stevinson, C. (2021). Exploring the benefits of participation in community-based running and walking events: a cross-sectional survey of parkrun participants. BMC Public Health, 21 (1). http://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-021-11986-0

Quirk, H., & Haake, S. (2021). Engaging people with long-term health conditions in a community-based physical activity initiative: a qualitative follow-up study evaluating the parkrun PROVE project. BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation, 13. http://doi.org/10.1186/s13102-021-00351-8

Myers, A., Quirk, H., Lowe, A., Crank, H., Broom, D., Jones, N., ... Copeland, R. (2021). The Active Hospital Pilot: a qualitative study exploring the implementation of a Trust-wide Sport and Exercise Medicine-led physical activity intervention. PLoS One, 16 (9). http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0257802

Smith, R.A., Schneider, P.P., Cosulich, R., Quirk, H., Bullas, A., Haake, S., & Goyder, E. (2021). Socioeconomic inequalities in distance to and participation in a community-based running and walking activity: A longitudinal ecological study of parkrun 2010 to 2019. Health and Place, 71, 102626. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.healthplace.2021.102626

Cholerton, R., Quirk, H., Breckon, J., & Butt, J. (2021). Experiences and strategies influencing older adults to continue playing walking football. Journal of Aging and Physical Activity. http://doi.org/10.1123/japa.2020-0058

Quirk, H., Heller, B., & Wright, N. (2020). Feasibility and acceptability of physical activity monitoring as an educational tool in the management of pediatric type 1 diabetes. Canadian Journal of Diabetes, 44 (8), 688-696. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcjd.2020.06.013

Schneider, P.P., Smith, R.A., Bullas, A.M., Quirk, H., Bayley, T., Haake, S., ... Goyder, E. (2020). Multiple deprivation and geographic distance to community physical activity events — achieving equitable access to parkrun in England. Public Health, 189, 48-53. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.puhe.2020.09.002

Quirk, H., Bullas, A., Haake, S., Goyder, E., Graney, M., Wellington, C., ... Stevinson, C. (2020). Exploring the Benefits of Participation in Community-Based Running and Walking Events: A Cross-Sectional Survey of Parkrun Participants. . http://doi.org/10.21203/rs.3.rs-122515/v1

Quirk, H., Hock, E., Harrop, D., Crank, H., Peckham, E., Travis-Turner, G., ... Copeland, R. (2020). Understanding the experience of initiating community-based group physical activity by people with serious mental illness: a systematic review using a meta-ethnographic approach. European Psychiatry, 63 (1). http://doi.org/10.1192/j.eurpsy.2020.93

Smith, R., Schneider, P., Bullas, A., Haake, S., Quirk, H., Cosulich, R., & Goyder, E. (2020). Does ethnic density influence community participation in mass participation physical activity events? The case of parkrun in England. Wellcome Open Research, 5, 9. http://doi.org/10.12688/wellcomeopenres.15657.2

Dash, K., Goyder, E.C., & Quirk, H. (2020). A qualitative synthesis of the perceived factors that affect participation in physical activity among children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes. Diabetic Medicine. http://doi.org/10.1111/dme.14299

Cholerton, R., Breckon, J., Butt, J., & Quirk, H. (2019). Experiences Influencing Walking Football Initiation in 55- to 75-Year-Old Adults: A Qualitative Study. Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, 1-13. http://doi.org/10.1123/japa.2019-0123

Knox, E.C.L., Quirk, H., Glazebrook, C., Randell, T., & Blake, H. (2019). Impact of technology-based interventions for children and young people with type 1 diabetes on key diabetes self-management behaviours and prerequisites: a systematic review. BMC endocrine disorders, 19 (7). http://doi.org/10.1186/s12902-018-0331-6

Conference papers

Bullas, A., Dunne, A., Haake, S., & Quirk, H. (2020). Can access to green spaces during parkrun events contribute to the positive mental health of the participants? A literature review. In Annual Health Promotion Conference; Promoting health and wellbeing: creating a more equitable and sustainable environment, Galway, Ireland.18th June 2020, Galway, Ireland, 18 June 2020. http://www.nuigalway.ie/media/healthpromotionresearchcentre/conference2020/2020-Health-Promotion-Conference-Booklet.pdf

Theses / Dissertations

Cholerton, R.C. (2021). Walking football initiation and maintenance in older adults: a mixed-methods investigation. (Doctoral thesis). Supervised by Breckon, J., Butt, J., & Quirk, H. http://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00390


Quirk, H. (n.d.). Feasibility of a physical activity intervention for children with Type 1 diabetes: Steps to Actve Kids with Diabetes (STAK-D). Presented at: Diabetes UK Professional Conference 2017, Manchester, 2017

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