Dr Ainslea Cross

Academic Lead for Health Psychology


I am Academic Lead for Health Psychology (University of Derby online learning) and an active scientist-practitioner Health Psychologist.

After completing a BSc (Hons) Psychology and MSc Health Psychology at Staffordshire University (2002), I took psychology research roles at University College London (Health Behaviour Unit) and Loughborough University (Centre for Child and Family Research). I completed my doctoral studies at the University of Leicester (Department of Health Sciences) on a National Institute for Health Research funded study of continuity of care, clinical decision-making and self-management following the establishment of intermediate care clinics for diabetes.

I am a Chartered Psychologist with the British Psychological Society (BPS), a full member of the Division of Health Psychology and Registered Health Psychologist with the Health Care Professions Council. Following my doctoral training, I successfully completed the BPS Qualification in Health Psychology (stage 2) through the completion of training in health psychology therapeutic approaches, foundations of health psychology practice, motivational interviewing and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). My involvement in health psychology applied practice and research has seen me work with clinical and non-clinical populations on long term conditions management and preventative health.

Alongside my continued applied work, I actively research health psychology techniques and interventions and am involved in a number of collaborative projects external to the University, funded by Cancer Research UK (All Together Active) and ERASMUS Knowledge Alliance (Co In Care). My external commitments include Head Editor for the Practical Health Psychology Blog (European Health Psychology Society) and Associate Editor of the Health Psychology Update section for Health Psychology Practice, Consultancy and Training (British Psychological Society).

Teaching responsibilities

I am the Programme Director for MSC Health Psychology (UDOL) and am responsible for the strategic leadership and delivery of innovative and creative online stage one health psychology training. 

Current teaching responsibilities on MSc Health Psychology include module leadership for the Research Project in Health Psychology module, including the supervision of postgraduate and doctoral research projects. I also module lead the Professional Skills in Health Psychology module, which introduces students to the ethical-legal, therapeutic, foundations of practice, research management and dissemination aspects of professional health psychology practice.

Professional interests

My background contains experience of working with a range of populations, health behaviours and conditions, such as cancer, dementia, smoking cessation, diabetes and physical activity. My research interests investigate the use of mental imagery health behaviour change interventions, as well as the role of psychophysiology in motivation, effort and stress. My current research involves working closely with cancer charities (e.g. World Cancer Research Fund, MOVE, 5k Your Way) and organisations. I work also work closely with Team Derby to advise on behaviour change in physical activity projects and research within the University.

Research interests

My current research interests include experiences of health care services and self-management, health behaviour change, psychophysiology and psycho-oncology.  My research expertise also includes social aspects of health and caregiving, health care services research and exercise psychology. 

Membership of professional bodies



Applied Health Psychology

Recent conferences

How can the cancer diagnosis be a teachable moment for physical activity for young people, friends and family? European Health Psychology Society (2019), Dubrovnik, Croatia, 2-7 September. 

Mental imagery for stress self-management: A series of n-of-1 studies examining the interrelationships between mental contrasting and stress appraisals. University Research Scholarship Scheme annual Conference (2019), University of Derby.

Developing a psychological model to support young people recently diagnosed with cancer and their social networks with physical activity. International Exercise Oncology Twitter Conference (2019).

What is the role of cardiovascular reactivity in health behaviour change? European Health Psychology Society (2018), Galway, Ireland, 25-29 August.

Psychosocial interventions to increase physical activity for children and young people living with and beyond cancer. European Health Psychology Society (2018), Galway, Ireland, 25-29 August and BPS Division of Health Psychology Annual Conference, Newcastle, UK.


In the media

Recent media:

Refinery 29

Recent publications