Dr Val Morrison


Illness beliefs, responses and patient-carer outcomes.

The impact of chronic physical illness upon both patients and their families is an area of intensive research study in health psychology. Drawing from Leventhal’s self-regulation of illness model and from Lazarus’s stress-coping theory we have good evidence that appraisals and illness perceptions influence emotional and social responses to illness and associated treatments, however fewer studies have explored factors which help shape these perceptions nor the factors which may mediate the psychosocial outcomes. To be effective our interventions need to address individual variation as well as sub-group differences.Using data from a range of studies from patient-only; carer-only; and spousal dyad samples, Iwill describe some influences on illness perceptions (e.g. ethnicity, gender), as well as possible mediators of their effect on outcomes (e.g. dyadic perceptions, relationship quality, motivations to care). The data described shall be both quantitative, drawing from longitudinal questionnairestudies, and qualitative, drawing from focus groups and interviews. Implications for future research and for more tailored interventions shall be discussed.


Dr Val Morrison, is a Senior Lecturer and chartered health psychologist at the School of Psychology, Bangor University, North Wales. A graduate of St. Andrews University, she subsequently worked in the Glasgow and Edinburgh
drugs field at the start of the HIV epidemic and completed her PhD at Edinburgh Faculty of Medicine on the  topic of predicting changing illicit drug use behaviours. Her postdoctoral years took her back to St Andrews where she spent 3 years working with Prof Marie Johnston on a study predicting physical and emotional outcomes of stroke which led onto the development of a stroke workbook intervention which continues to run today. A lectureship in Edinburgh followed where she continued to apply sociocognitive and self regulation theory to the study of cognitive, emotional and behavioural  responses to chronic disease  but where her interests grew to include the family members of those affected.

Since her current appointment in Bangor in 1998  she has conducted studies of both the patient and the informal caregivers responses, needs and outcomes following diagnoses of stroke, MS and cancer. The bulk of current projects are in psycho-oncology. She has published over 40 peer-reviewed papers, several book chapters and edited works, is author of a leading Health Psychology textbook, and has held or co-held research funding of over £800,000, is the  health psychologist collaborator in a 2.5million euro multicentre study of adherence to medicines, and has recently led a successful bid for £1.3 million  to develop health & wellbeing courses for the private health and leisure sector.

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