Professor Katie Thirlaway


Dean of School

Email address:​

Katie is a British Psychological Society (BPS) chartered psychologist and Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) registered health psychologist and Dean of the Cardiff School of Sport and Health Sciences.  Katie is a strong advocate for gender equality and inclusion and chairs the university Athena SWAN committee.

Katie has made a significant contribution to the development of applied psychological learning, teaching and research including publishing 2 health promotion textbooks. Katie is a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Her current research projects are focused on student wellbeing, flexible working and the role of physical activity in the wellbeing of young people who are at risk of homelessness.

Katie has worked as an advisor/assessor for the BPS, the HCPC and the Welsh Government.  She is a registrant member of the Council of the HCPC and a member of the governing body of Cardiff Metropolitan University. 

Research / Publications

My research interests are in risk communication and lifestyle behaviours.


Thomas, J., Thirlaway, K., Bowes, N., & Meyers, R. (2020).  Effects of combining physical activity with psychotherapy. A systematic review. Journal of Affective Disorders 265 475-485.

Prior, A., Woodward, D., Hoefkens, T., Clayton, D., Thirlaway, K., & Limbert, C. (2017).  Telephone helplines as a source of support for eating disorders: Service user, carer and health professional perspectives. Eating Disorders: The Journal of Treatment & Prevention   1-21.  Published online 1st Dec 2017.

Kammin T, Fenton A, Thirlaway K (2014).   A Genetic Lung Cancer Susceptibility Test may have a Positive Effect on Smoking Cessation Journal of Genetic Counselling. DOI 10.1007/s10897-014-9766-8

Street R, Mercer J & Thirlaway K (2014) "Experiences of Physical Activity: A Phenomenological Study of Individuals with Cystic Fibrosis" Journal of Health Psychology.

Thirlaway K and Davies L ( 2014) Lifestyle Responses to Genetic Susceptibility to Type 2
Diabetes. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd: Chichester. DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902 .a0025377

Thirlaway K & Davies L  ( 2014).  Lifestyle responses to genetic susceptibility to type 2 diabetes In: eLS. John Wiley &Sons, Ltd: Chichester DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902 .a0025377

Davies, L. &   Thirlaway K (2013) The Influence of Genetic Explanations of Type 2 Diabetes on Patients' Attitudes to Prevention, Treatment and Personal Responsibility for Health.   Public Health Genomics: DOI: 10.1159/000353459

Thirlaway, K; and Davies, L (2013) Lifestyle Behaviours and Personal Responsibility for Health. In: eLS. John Wiley &Sons, Ltd: Chichester. DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0025159 eLS

Brookes, K ; Limbert, C ; Deacy, C ; O'Reilly, A ; Scott, S ; Thirlaway, K (2013) Systematic Review: Work-related stress and the HSE Management Standards. Occupational Medicine; DOI: 10.1093/occmed/kqt078 

Hawkins, J. L., Mercer, J., Thirlaway, K., & Clayton, D. (2013) ‘Doing’ Gardening and  ‘Being’ at the Allotment Site: Exploring the benefits of allotment gardening for stress reduction and healthy ageing. Ecopsychology, 5

Clement C, Smith A, Williams J and Thirlaway K (2013)  Vulnerable young people and alcohol use: a qualitative exploration. Journal of Substance Use. Online first 1 – 6.

Hilgart J, Mercer J & Thirlaway K (2013) Individuals' experiences of, and responses to, a negative genetic test result for Familial Hypercholesterolaemia. Journal of Health Psychology 18(3) 339 – 349.

Hawkins, J; Clayton, D; Thirlaway, K; Mercer, J; Backx, K; & Milbourne, P (2012). Evaluating the impact of allotment and community gardening for older people’s health and well-being. Journal of Aging and Physical Activity; 20; S101-S101

Davies L & Thirlaway K (2012) Effect of Genetic Explanations of Type 2 Diabetes on Patients' Attitudes to Treatment Efficacy.  Journal of Diabetes Nursing. 16(4):132-139

Demery R, Thirlaway K & Mercer J (2012) The experiences of university students with a mood disorder. Disability and Society. 27

Hawkins JL., Thirlaway K. Backx, K, & Clayton D (2011). Allotment Gardening and Other Leisure Activities for Stress Reduction and Healthy Aging. HortTechnology   21:577-585

Hobbis S, Hendry L, Sanders L & Thirlaway K (2011).  Retirement and lifestyle behaviours: A thematic Analysis   Health Psychology Update 20(2): 2- 8.

Clarke A and Thirlaway K (2011). Genetic Counselling for Personalised Medicine. Human Genetics: 130 (1) 27-31.

O’Shea R, Murphy AM, Treacy E, Lynch SA, Thirlaway K & Lambert D (2011). Communication of Genetic Information by Other Health Professionals: The role of the Genetic Counsellor in Specialist Clinics. Journal of Genetic Counselling: 20 (2) 192-203

Thirlaway K (2011).  Lifestyle Change. Welsh Chemist Review. Winter 2011: 18 – 19.

Clarke  A and Thirlaway K (2011). ‘Genomic Counselling’? Genetic Counselling in the Genomic Era. Genomic Medicine:3(1):7

Upton D and Thirlaway K (2010). Promoting Healthy Behaviour.  London: Pearson Educational

Thirlaway K & Upton D (2009). The Psychology of Lifestyle:  Promoting health behaviour.  London: Routledge.

Bennett L, Thirlaway K & Murray A (2008). The stigmatising implications of presenting schizophrenia as a genetic disease. Journal of Genetic Counselling 17: 550-559

Thirlaway K & Heggs D (2005).  Interpreting risk messages: Women’s responses to a health story.  Health, Risk and Society 7: 107-121.

Thirlaway K & Lukman H (2003).  Meningitis C Vaccination Uptake in British Undergraduates.  Communicable Diseases and Public Health 6: 157-160.

Thirlaway K, Howell A & Evans G (2000).  Identifying and counselling of those at high risk of developing breast cancer. In New Horizons in Breast cancer. Editors TobiasJ, Henderson C & Houghton J. Thomson Science LONDON

Thirlaway K & Benton D (1996).  Exercise and Mental Health: The Role of activity and fitness.  In Workplace health: Employee Fitness and exercise.  Editors Kerr J, Griffiths A & Cox T.  Taylor & Francis Ltd. LONDON.

Thirlaway K, Fallowfield L, Powles T, & Nunnerley H (1996).  Anxiety in women “at risk” of developing breast cancer.  The British Journal of Cancer 73: 1422-1424.

Thirlaway K, Fallowfield L & Cuzick J (1996).  The sexual activity questionnaire: A measure of women’s sexual functioning. Quality of Life Research 5: 81-90.

Thirlaway K, Fallowfield L, Evans G & Howell A (1995).  Entry into the tamoxifen prevention trial depends on women’s estimates of the population risk of breast cancer.  The Breast 4: 203-204.

Thirlaway K & Benton D (1994).  Activity, fitness, mental health and mood.  In Set.  Editor: Richards L, Vol 1, item 2. Victoria: New Zealand & Australian Councils for Educational Research.

Thirlaway K & Benton D (1993).  Physical Activity in primary and seconday school children in West Glamorgan.  Health Education Journal 52: 37-41.               

Thirlaway K & Benton D (1992).  Participation in physical activity has different effects on mental health and mood.  Journal of Psychosomatic Research 36:657-665.

Thirlaway K & Benton D (1992).  Different effects of activity and fitness on mood.  Scottish Journal of Physical Education 20: 5-9.

Authored Books

Upton, D. and Thirlaway, K. (2014). Promoting Healthy Behaviour: A practice Guide (2nd Edition). London: Routledge.

Upton, D. and Thirlaway, K. (2010). Promoting Healthy Behaviour.  London: Pearson Educational

Thirlaway, K. & Upton, D. (2009). The Psychology of Lifestyle:  Promoting health behaviour.  London: Routledge.

Other Publications

Thirlaway, K. (2019) "Met taking giant strides towards equality in sport". A University View. Western Mail (25th July 2019) 

Diabetes National Specialist Advisory Group; Task and Finish Group (2nd edition) (2016).  Advice for people newly diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.  NHS Wales.

Thirlaway, K. (2011).  "Lifestyle Change". Welsh Chemist Review. Winter 2011: 18 – 19.


Thirlaway K & Brown D (2020). Advocating for equal benefits for shared parental leave.  Advance HE Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Conference

Thirlaway K & Brown D (2020). Creating the conditions to support working flexibly: codifying policy into practice. Advance HE Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Conference

Lord R & Thirlaway K (2020). Representation of sex differences in the physiology curriculum: room for improvement? Advance HE STEM Conference: STEM Graduates for a changing world.

Thompson J, Meyers R, Bowes N, Maybury E & Thirlaway K. Health by Stealth (2018).  Llamau Community Conference, Llamau.

Thirlaway K. (2018). Universities promoting physical activity in the community. Civic Mission Summit, Welsh Government.

Street, R.; Mercer, J.; O'Leary, C.; Mills, R. & Thirlaway, K. (2013) Experiences of Physical Activity: A Phenomenological Study of Individuals with Cystic Fibrosis" 36th, European Cystic Fibrosis Conference.

Hawkins, J.; Backx, K.; Thirlaway, K.; Mercer, J.; Milbourne, P.; Clayton, D. (2013) 'Allotment and Community Gardening for Health and Well-being in Later Life'. Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research, Data and Methods, WISERD.

Thirlaway, K. (2012) The Psychology of Obesity (Invited speaker). Wales Obesity Epidemic: Institute of Welsh Affairs.

Seckam A.M., Cooper, R., A., Thirlaway, K., and Mercer, J.  (2012) "Attitudes towards using topical antimicrobial interventions in wounds "It's not the hole in the patient but the whole of the patient", CAM-STRAND Conference.

Davies, L. & Thirlaway, K. (2011) "The influence of genetic explanations of type 2 diabetes on patients' attitudes to the efficacy of preventative behaviours and treatment and personal responsibility for the condition" Cym Taf Research and Development Conference (prize winning presentation).

Thirlaway, K. (2011). Life is a risky business. Invited lecture to Welsh branch of British Psychological Society.

Hensman, J., Edwards, A., Thirlaway, K. (2011). An Investigation into the Perceptions of Individuals with Turner Syndrome & their Parents, British Society of Human Genetics.   

    Teaching and Supervision

    I have delivered health psychology, health sociology, media psychology, risk communication, survey methods, research methods, statistics and behavioural change theories to undergraduate and postgraduate students on a range of psychology, health professional and sport programmes. Furthermore, I have been involved in the design and development of a number of  new programmes at Cardiffmet including the BPS accredited MSc programmes in Health and Forensic Psychology and more recently HND Sport Coaching provision with our FE franchise partner Cardiff and the Vale College (CAVC). 

    More recently , I am increasingly involved in mentoring female colleagues as part of the university's commitment to promote and encourage the academic careers of women from STEM backgrounds.

    PhD Completions

    Gary Mendosa (2003) The transtheoretical model of change and its application to the treatment of  obesity.  Student registered at UIC and co-supervised by Dr Lalage Sanders and Mary Barasis.

    Shirley Hobbis (2011) Lifestyle change over the lifecourse. Student registered at UWIC and co-supervised by Dr Lalage Sanders and Professor Leo Hendry.

    Gemma Hawkins (2012) The role of the environment in the well-being of older people. Student registered at UWIC and co-supervised by Dr Debbie Clayton and Dr Karianne Backx.

    Honor Young (2014) Attitudes of teenagers towards unprotected sex and pregnancy. Student registered at UWIC and co-supervised by Dr Caroline Limbert and Dr Jenny Mercer.

    Amy Prior (2015) Investigation of the Optimum Requirements and Practical Possibilities for a Telephone Helpline for Patients with Anorexia Nervosa co-supervised by Dr Dr Caroline Limbert and Dr Debbie Clayton

    Seckham (2016) The Effect of Complimentary and Conventional Medicine on Wound Healing co supervised by Professor Rose Cooper and Dr Jenny Mercer

    Current PhD Supervisions

    2016-  Ameira Bahadur-Kutkut: "Women and Wellbeing in Islamic Ethics: A feminist theological critique". Registered at Cardiff Metropolitan University, co-supervised by Paul Fitzpatrick and Dr Katherine Brown.

    2016 - Bradley Woolridge: "What demands are university students facing, and how is this affecting their wellbeing?"  Registered at Cardiff Metropolitan University, co-supervised by Dr Owen Thomas and Dr Mikel Mellick.

    2016 - Peter Green: "Community mental health and resiliency support groups for emerging adult males within a South Wales convergence area: a mental wellbeing impact assessment." Registered at Cardiff Metropolitan University, co-supervised by Dr Mikel Mellick and Dr Harry Bowles.

    2018 -  Jennifer Thomas: "Health by Stealth: An evidenced-based intervention to evaluate exercise as a vehicle to engage homeless young men interventions to improve their health and wellbeing".  Registered at Cardiff Metropolitan University, co supervised by Dr Nicola Bowes and Dr Robert Meyers.


    2011   Erica Thomas: "Habit, Cognition & the Environment: The influence of psychosocial environmental factors on children's physical activity". Registered at Worcester University. Director of Studies, Professor Dominic Upton.

    2012   Deborah Kwan: "Talking Healthy Eating: Dietary practices and perceptions of mothers and grandmothers". Registered at UWIC, Director of Studies, Dr Caroline Limbert.

    2012   Adrian Phillips: "Physical Activity in the management of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus". Registered at UWIC, Director of Studies, Dr Karianne Backx.

    2016   Rachel Dodge: "Enhancing Wellbeing: Evaluating an intervention for further education students". Registered at UWIC, Director of Studies, Dr Lalage Sanders.

    Qualifications and Awards

    Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education., Open University  

    Ph.D: Physical Activity and Psychological Functioning Swansea University

    Certificate in Counselling Skills ​and Theory, Central School of Counselling and Therapy

    BSc Honours Psychology and Biology Swansea University

    ILM level 7 Certificate in Leadership and Management.

    Chartered Psychologist, British Psychological Society
    Full member, Division of Health Psychology, British Psychological Society
    Health Practitioner Psychologist, Health and Care Profession Council
    Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

    External Links

    I have provided expertise advice as a health psychologist for a number of external organisations and I have been involved in quality assurance and quality enhancement processes for a number of professional bodies and regulators. 

    Committee and Board Roles

    2010-2018       Member, Diabetes National Specialist Advisory Group (NSAG), Welsh Government. 

    2012-               Member, Scientific Review Committee, Cardiff and the Vale Health Board.

    2012-2018       Member, Advisory Committee, Public Health Wales Physical Activity and Nutrition Network.

    2013-2014       Member, Advisory Board, Wales Public Health Improvement Research Network (PHIRN).

    2015-2019       Member, Welsh Rowing National Governing Body. (Representing the Education Sector, leading on Equality & Diversity).

    2018-               Academic Board representative, Cardiff Metropolitan Board of Governors.

    2019-               Registrant Member, Council of the Health and Care Professions Council.

    2019-               Independent Chair Welsh Bowls Performance Committee.

    Other appointments

    2009-              Stage Two Supervisor, British Psychological Society.

    2012-              Honorary Lecturer, Cardiff University.

    2018-              QAA Reviewer, Quality Assurance Agency.