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Groups, Identities and Health

Unit(s) of assessment: Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience

Research theme: Health and Wellbeing

School: School of Social Sciences


The Groups, Identities and Health research group investigates the ways in which social identities impact upon the health and wellbeing of group members. We examine groups across a wide range of community, healthcare and educational contexts to examine how social identities can shape group members’ perceptions and experiences, how identities facilitate or impede helping behaviour and how groups serve to support or undermine individual and collective resilience.

Our research falls into four broad categories:

Groups and health

  • How online and face-to-face support groups improve health
  • ‘Social Prescribing’ by the NHS: how it works and for whom
  • How stigmatized group identities prevent people from seeking help
  • How group dynamics affect people’s ability to cope with stress and trauma

Families, communities and wellbeing

  • Community identity and coping with stress, mental ill-health, and loneliness
  • Residential mobility and the stress of moving
  • The impact of population diversification on local community identity
  • The lived experience of families facing financial hardship
  • Mental and physical health within communities

Volunteering and inter-/intragroup helping

  • The predictors and health benefits of volunteering
  • The dynamics of giving and receiving help in foodbanks and soup kitchens
  • Empowering community groups and support groups to help themselves
  • The dynamics of mutual aid groups during COVID-19, and how to maintain these helping dynamics after the pandemic

Media and Technology

  • The group-related effects of sexting on people’s mental health
  • The group-related dynamics of harmful product promotion (e.g., cigarettes) in the media
  • Developing digital interventions to reduce loneliness in the elderly
  • Digital solutions for coping with health conditions and diagnoses


Past and current collaborators include:

  • Ms Jaqueline Allan, Birkbeck, University of London
  • Dr Jo Barnes, Loughborough University
  • Ms Kate Beckett, University of Bristol
  • Dr Leda Blackwood, University of Bath
  • Prof Mary Bosworth, University of Oxford
  • Dr Nicola Christie, UCL
  • Dr Taya Cohen, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Prof Carol Coupland, University of Nottingham
  • Prof Imelda Coyne, Trinity College Dublin
  • Dr Tegan Cruwys, University of Queensland
  • Professor David de Cremer, University of Cambridge
  • Dr Pieter Desmet, Erasmus University Rotterdam
  • Dr John Drury, University of Sussex
  • Dr Sarah Earthy, University of Surrey
  • Prof Tamsin Ford, University of Exeter
  • Prof Brendan Gough, Leeds Beckett University
  • Prof John Garry, Queens University Belfast
  • Dr Debra Gray, University of Winchester
  • Dr. Ronni Michelle Greenwood, University of Limerick
  • Dr Marina Herrera, University of Valencia
  • Prof Nick Hopkins, University of Dundee
  • Prof Stephen Joseph, University of Nottingham
  • Professor Denise Kendrick, University of Nottingham
  • Professor Fiona McNicholas, University College Dublin
  • Prof Richard Morris, University of Nottingham
  • Dr. Fhionna Moore, University of Dundee
  • Dr Barbara Nevicka, University of Amsterdam
  • Dr Moli Paul, University of Warwick
  • Prof Steve Reicher, St Andrews University
  • Dr Chris Reinders, Erasmus University Rotterdam
  • Dr Anca Roberts (University of Staffordshire)
  • Dr Hannes Rusch, Free University Amsterdam
  • Dr Fabio Sani, University of Dundee
  • Prof Constantine Sedikides, University of Southampton
  • Dr Gillian Shorter, Ulster University
  • Dr Ian Shuttleworth, Queens University Belfast
  • Jude Sleney, University of Surrey
  • Prof Swaran Singh, University of Warwick
  • Dr Sarah Turnbull, University of Oxford
  • Professor Marius van Dijke, Erasmus University Rotterdam
  • Professor Mark van Vugt, Free University Amsterdam
  • Dr Tim Wildschut, University of Southampton
  • Dr Emma Cohen, University of Oxford
  • Prof Ophelia Deroy, Ludwig-Maximillian University of Munich
  • Dr Guillaume Dezecache, Université Clermont Auvergne, LAPSCO, CNRS
  • Dr Inge-Marie Eigsti, University of Connecticut
  • Dr Marwa El Zein, University College London
  • Dr Maddie Groom, University of Nottingham
  • Dr Stefanie Hoehl, University of Vienna
  • Dr Lauren Marsh, University of Nottingham
  • Dr Martha Newson, University of Kent
  • Dr Stewart Mostofsky, Kennedy Krieger Institute
  • Prof Katie Slocombe, University of York
  • Dr Justin Sulik, Ludwig-Maximillian University of Munich
  • Prof René Vidal, Johns Hopkins University
  • Dr Yi Zhao, Indiana University
  • Dr. Jade Kettlewell, University of Nottingham
  • Dr. Rebecca Knibb, Aston University
  • Dr. Louise Thomson, University of Nottingham
  • Dr Juliane Lloess, University of Birmingham
  • Prof John Garry, Queens University Belfast
  • Dr Eerika Finell, Tampere University
  • Dr Ian Shuttleworth, Queens University Belfast
  • Prof Thoroddur Bjarnason, University of Akureyri
  • Prof Mark Levine, Lancaster University
  • Prof Blaine Price, Open University
  • Dr. Rebecca Stack, University of Birmingham
  • Dr. Sebastiano Costa, Università Degli Studi della Campania Luigi Vanvitelli
  • Prof. Dan Frings, London Southbank University
  • Dr. Sandra Obradovic, Open University

Past and current external partners include:

  • Bedfordshire Police
  • Bodywhys Ireland
  • Diabetics with Eating Disorders
  • Implementing Recovery though Organisational Change (ImROC)
  • International Centre for Health and Human Rights (ICHHR)
  • The National Centre for Cyberstalking Research, University of Bedfordshire
  • Northern Ireland Community Relations Council
  • Nottingham City Clinical Governance Group
  • Nottinghamshire County Council
  • Self-Help UK
  • Trussell Trust
  • Radius Housing Association


Selected papers

BAILLIE, H.A., TICKLE, A. and RENNOLDSON, M., 2016. "From the same mad planet": a grounded theory of service users' accounts of the relationship within professional peer support. Mental Health Review Journal, 21 (4), pp. 282-294. ISSN 1361-9322

BALIOUSIS, M., RENNOLDSON, M., DAWSON, D. and MILLS, J., 2017. Perceptions of haematopoietic stem cell transplantation and coping predict emotional distress during the acute phase. Oncology Nursing Forum, 44 (1), pp. 96-107. ISSN 0190-535X

CRUWYS, T., WAKEFIELD, J.R.H., SANI, F., DINGLE, G.A. and JETTEN, J., 2018. Social isolation predicts frequent attendance in primary care. Annals of Behavioral Medicine. ISSN 0883-6612

GOUGH, B., SEYMOUR-SMITH, S. and MATTHEWS, C.R., 2016. Body dissatisfaction, appearance investment, and wellbeing: How older obese men orient to "aesthetic health". Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 17 (1), pp. 84-91. ISSN 1524-9220

HARKIN, L.J., BEAVER, K., DEY, P. and CHOONG, K., 2017. Navigating cancer using online communities: a grounded theory of survivor and family experiences. Journal of Cancer Survivorship, 11 (6), pp. 658-669. ISSN 1932-2259

KELLEZI, B., COUPLAND, C., MORRISS, R., BECKETT, K., JOSEPH, S., BARNES, J., CHRISTIE, N., SLENEY, J. and KENDRICK, D., 2016. The impact of psychological factors on recovery from injury: a multicentre cohort study. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology. ISSN 0933-7954

KENDRICK, D., DHIMAN, P., KELLEZI, B., COUPLAND, C., WHITEHEAD, J., BECKETT, K., CHRISTIE, N., SLENEY, J., BARNES, J., JOSEPH, S. and MORRISS, R., 2017. Psychological morbidity and return to work after injury: multicentre cohort study. British Journal of General Practice, 67 (661), e555-e564. ISSN 0960-1643

MCNAMARA, N., COYNE, I., FORD, T., PAUL, M., SINGH, S. and MCNICHOLAS, F., 2017. Exploring social identity change during mental healthcare transition. European Journal of Social Psychology. ISSN 0046-2772

MCNAMARA, N. and PARSONS, H., 2016. "Everyone here wants everyone else to get better": the role of social identity in eating disorder recovery. British Journal of Social Psychology, 55 (4), pp. 662-680. ISSN 0144-6665

SEYMOUR-SMITH, S., BROWN, D., COSMA, G., SHOPLAND, N., BATTERSBY, S. and BURTON, A., 2016. "Our people has got to come to terms with that": changing perceptions of the digital rectal examination as a barrier to prostate cancer diagnosis in African-Caribbean men.Psycho-Oncology, 25 (10), pp. 1183-1190. ISSN 1057-9249

STEVENSON, C., EASTERBROOK, M., HARKIN, L., MCNAMARA, N., KELLEZI, B. and SHUTTLEWORTH, I., 2018. Neighbourhood identity helps residents cope with residential diversification: contact in increasingly mixed neighbourhoods of Northern Ireland. Political Psychology. ISSN 0162-895X

STEVENSON, C., MCNAMARA, N. and MULDOON, O., 2014. Stigmatised identity and service usage in disadvantaged communities: residents', community workers' and service providers' perspectives. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 24 (6), pp. 453-466. ISSN 1099-1298

STEVENSON, C. and SAGHERIAN-DICKEY, T., 2016. Collectively coping with contact: the role of intragroup support in dealing with the challenges of intergroup mixing in residential contexts. British Journal of Social Psychology, 55 (4), pp. 681-699. ISSN 0144-6665

WAKEFIELD, J.R.H., SANI, F., HERRERA, M., KHAN, S.S. and DUGARD, P., 2016. Greater family identification – but not greater contact with family members - leads to better health: evidence from a Spanish longitudinal study. European Journal of Social Psychology, 46 (4), pp. 506-513. ISSN 1099-0992

WILSON, I., MCDERMOTT, H. and MUNIR, F., 2016. The role of working hours, work environment and physical leisure activity on the need for recovery following a day's work among UK white-water raft guides: a within-subjects multilevel approach. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 23, pp. 123-131. ISSN 1469-0292

WILSON, I., MCDERMOTT, H., MUNIR, F. and HOGERVORST, E., 2013. Injuries, Ill-Health and Fatalities in White Water Rafting and White Water Paddling. Sports Medicine, 43 (1), pp. 65-75. ISSN 0112-1642

BRIDGER, K., KELLEZI, B., KENDRICK, D., RADFORD, K., TIMMONS, S., RENNOLDSON, M., ... & ROWTATE Team. (2021). Patient perspectives on key outcomes for vocational rehabilitation interventions following traumatic injury. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health18(4), 2035.

BOWE, M., GRAY, D., STEVENSON, C., MCNAMARA, N., WAKEFIELD, J. R. KELLEZI, B., WILSON, I. CLEVELAND, M., MAIR, E., HALDER, M., & COSTA, S. (2020). A social cure in the community: A mixed-method exploration of the role of social identity in the experiences and well-being of community volunteers. European Journal of Social Psychology, 50(7), 1523-1539

BOWE, M., WAKEFIELD, J. R., KELLEZI, B., STEVENSON, C., MCNAMARA, N., JONES, B. A., SUMICH, A., & HEYM, N. (2021). The mental health benefits of community helping during crisis: Coordinated helping, community identification and sense of unity during the COVID‐19 pandemic. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology.

BRIDGER, K. M., BINDER, J.F., & KELLEZI, B. (2019). Secondary traumatic stress in foster carers: Risk factors and implications for intervention. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 29, 482-492.

DOBAI, A. & HOPKINS, N. P. (2021). Ethnic identity concealment and disclosure: Contexts and strategies. British Journal of Social Psychology.

HARKIN, L. J., BEAVER, K., DEY, P., & CHOONG, K. A. (2020). Secret groups and open forums: Defining online support communities from the perspective of people affected by cancer. Digital health, 6, 2055207619898993.

HARKIN, L. J., BEAVER, K., DEY, P., & CHOONG, K. (2017). Navigating cancer using online communities: a grounded theory of survivor and family experiences. Journal of Cancer Survivorship, 11(6), 658-669.

HUGHES, E., MITCHELL, N., GASCOYNE, S., MOE-BYRNE, T., EDMONSON, A., COLEMAN, E., ... & WATSON, J. (2020). The RESPECT study: a feasibility randomised controlled trial of a sexual health promotion intervention for people with serious mental illness in community mental health services in the UK. BMC Public Health, 20(1), 1-13.

JONES, B. A., BOWE, M., MCNAMARA, N., GUERIN, E., & CARTER, T. (2021). Exploring the mental health experiences of young trans and gender diverse people during the Covid-19 pandemic. International Journal of Transgender Health, 1-13.

JONES, B. A., PIERRE BOUMAN, W., HAYCRAFT, E., & ARCELUS, J. (2019). Mental health and quality of life in non-binary transgender adults: A case control study. International Journal of Transgenderism, 20(2-3), 251-262.

KELLEZI, B., GUXHOLLI, A., STEVENSON, C., WAKEFIELD, J. R., BOWE, M., & BRIDGER, K. (2021). ‘Enemy of the people’: Family identity as social cure and curse dynamics in contexts of human rights violations. European Journal of Social Psychology, 51(3), 450-466.

KELLEZI, B., WAKEFIELD, J. R., BOWE, M., STEVENSON, C., & MCNAMARA, N. (2021). Healthcare provision inside immigration removal centres: A social identity analysis of trust, legitimacy and disengagement. Applied Psychology: Health and Well‐Being, 13(3), 578-601.

KELLEZI, B., WAKEFIELD, J. R., STEVENSON, C., MCNAMARA, N., MAIR, E., BOWE, M., WILSON, I., & HALDER, M. (2019). The social cure of social prescribing: a mixed-methods study on the benefits of social connectedness on quality and effectiveness of care provision. BMJ Open, 9(11), e033137.

MCNAMARA, N., STEVENSON, C., COSTA, S., BOWE, M., WAKEFIELD, J., KELLEZI, B., WILSON, I., HALDER, M., & MAIR, E. (2021). Community identification, social support, and loneliness: The benefits of social identification for personal well‐being. British Journal of Social Psychology, 60(4), 1379-1402.

NEWMAN, K. L., JEVE, Y., & MAJUMDER, P. (2021). Experiences and emotional strain of NHS frontline workers during the peak of the COVID19 pandemic. International Journal of Social Psychiatry.

SEYMOUR-SMITH, S., BROWN, D. J., BURTON, A., SHOPLAND, N., KHAN, M., THOMPSON, R., ... & ALLEN, R. (2021). Joint allies: Benefits and tensions of co-producing a prostate cancer app for, and with, the Black British African-Caribbean community. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 18(4), 498-517.

SEYMOUR-SMITH, S., GOUGH, B, MATTHEWS, C. & RUTHERFORD, Z. (2020). Food assessment: A discursive analysis of diet talk in interviews with older men who are obese. Psychology & Health, 35(8), 946-967.

SEYMOUR-SMITH, S., & KLOESS, J. A. (2021). A discursive analysis of compliance, resistance and escalation to threats in sexually exploitative interactions between offenders and male children. British Journal of Social Psychology, 60(3), 988-1011.

STEFANIDOU, T., HUGHES, E., KESTER, K., EDMONSON, A., MAJEED-ARISS, R., SMITH, C., ... & LLOYD-EVANS, B. (2020). The identification and treatment of mental health and substance misuse problems in sexual assault services: A systematic review. PloS one, 15(4), e0231260.

STEVENSON, C., COSTA, S., EASTERBROOK, M.J., MCNAMARA, N., KELLEZI, B. (2020) Social cure processes help lower intergroup anxiety among neighbourhood residents. Political Psychology, 41(6), 1093-1111.

STEVENSON, C., COSTA, S., WAKEFIELD, J.R., KELLEZI, B.& STACK, R. (2020) Family identification facilitates coping with financial stress: A social identity approach to family financial resilience. Journal of Economic Psychology, 78, 102271.

STEVENSON, C., TURNER, R., & COSTA, S. (2020). “Welcome to our neighbourhood”: Collective confidence in contact facilitates successful mixing in residential settings. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations.

STEVENSON, C., WAKEFIELD, J. R., FELSNER, I., DRURY, J., & COSTA, S. (2021). Collectively coping with coronavirus: Local community identification predicts giving support and lockdown adherence during the COVID‐19 pandemic. British Journal of Social Psychology, 60(4), 1403-1418.

STUART, A., STEVENSON, C., KOSCHATE, M., COHEN J., LEVINE. M., (2021) “Oh no, not a group!” The factors that lonely or isolated people report as barriers to joining groups for health and wellbeing. Journal of Health Psychology.

TUNCGENC, B., EL ZEIN, M., SULIK, J., NEWSON, M., ZHAO, Y., DEZECACHE, G., & DEROY, O. (2021). Social influence matters: We follow pandemic guidelines most when our close circle does. British Journal of Psychology.

TUNCGENC, B., TRAVERS, E., & FAIRHURST, M. (2021) Leadership and tempo perturbation affect coordination in medium-sized groups. Nature: Scientific Reports, 11:4940.

TUNCGENC, B., PACHECO. C., ROCHOWIAK, et al., MOSTOFSKY, S. H. (2020). Computerised Assessment of Motor Imitation (CAMI) as a scalable method for distinguishing children with autism. Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging.

WAKEFIELD, J. R, BOWE, M., & KELLEZI, B. (2021). Thy will be done: Exploring the longitudinal rewards of religious group membership enactment during volunteering. British Journal of Social Psychology.

WAKEFIELD, J. R., KELLEZI, B., STEVENSON, C., MCNAMARA, N., BOWE, M., WILSON, I., HALDER, M., & MAIR, E. (2020). Social prescribing as ‘social cure’: A longitudinal study of the health benefits of social connectedness within a social prescribing pathway. Journal of Health Psychology

WAKEFIELD, J. R., & KHAUSER, A. (2021). Doing it for us: Community identification predicts willingness to receive a COVID‐19 vaccination via perceived sense of duty to the community. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 31(5), 603-614.

Related projects

Selected Research Projects

  • BPS Research Seminar Series 2018: The Social Psychology of Social Prescribing. (£3,000, British Psychological Society). PI: Dr Niamh McNamara; CIs: Dr Dan Frings & Dr Eleini Vangeli, (London South Bank University); Dr Debra Gray, (University of Winchester).
  • Towards a Better Understanding of the Poor Prognostic Outcomes for Prostate Cancer in the African-Caribbean Community (£2,500, Nottingham City Clinical Governance Group) 2018. PI: Sarah Seymour-Smith.
  • Researching the Impact of Rushcliffe Selfcare Pathway (£46,000 ImROC). Oct 2017 – Mar 2019. PI: Dr Clifford Stevenson; CIs: Dr Mhairi Bowe, Dr Blerina Kellezi, Dr Niamh McNamara, Dr Juliet Wakefield, Dr Iain Wilson.
  • Researching the Impact of Age-Friendly Nottinghamshire (£30,000, Nottinghamshire County Council). Oct 2017 – Sept 2018. PI: Dr Clifford Stevenson; CIs: Dr Mhairi Bowe, Dr Blerina Kellezi, Dr Niamh McNamara, Dr Juliet Wakefield, Dr Iain Wilson.
  • The UK/Ireland Border and the Stability of Peace and Security in Northern Ireland: Evidence from two Deliberative Democratic Exercises (ESRC £286,000) Apr 2017– Mar 2018.PI: Dr John Garry; CIs: Dr Clifford Stevenson; Prof Rhiannon Turner; Prof Brendan O’Leary; Prof John Coakley; Prof David Farrell.
  • Cyberharassment: Platform for evidence gathering, assessing risk and managing policing. (£800,000 Police Innovation Fund). June 2016 – March 2018. Lead Applicants: Bedfordshire Police, the National Centre for Cyberstalking Research (University of Bedfordshire), Co-Applicants: Dr Niamh McNamara (Nottingham Trent University).
  • Power-Sharing and Voting: Conflict, Accountability and Electoral Behaviour at the 2015 Northern Ireland Assembly Election (ESRC £507,000) Nov 2014 – Oct 2016. PI: Dr John Garry; CIs: Dr Clifford Stevenson; Prof Brendan O’Leary; Prof John Coakley.
  • Randomly Selected “Politicians”: Transforming Democracy in the Post-Conflict Context. (ESRC Transformative Research Grant £186,000) Jul 2014 – Dec 2015. PI: John Garry CIs: Adele Marshall, Cillian McBride, Brendan O'Leary, Fabian Schuppert & Clifford Stevenson.
  • Exploring the Quality of Shared Housing in Belfast (Community Relations Council, £10,000). Mar 2014 – May 2014. PI: Dr Clifford Stevenson.
  • Towards a Better Understanding of the Poor Prognostic Outcomes for Prostate Cancer in the African-Caribbean Community (£50,000 Awarded by Nottingham City Clinical Governance Group) 2018. CI Sarah Seymour-Smith.
  • Increasing the uptake of bowel cancer screening in MBE communities in Nottingham City (£50,000 Awarded by Nottingham City Clinical Governance Group) 2018. CI Sarah Seymour-Smith.
  • The Impact of Stigma on the Detection, Treatment and Management of Eating Disorders in Ireland (STEDI). (€62,414/£45,000), St John of God Charitable Foundation). May 2013 – February 2015.  PI: Prof Fiona McNicholas; CI: Dr Niamh McNamara