Dr Heather Semper

Job Title and Responsibilities

  • Senior Lecturer in Health Psychology



  • Employability lead for Psychology: I am responsible for embedding the psychology employability strategy throughout the undergraduate programmes. I deliver sessions on employability in psychology to Level 6 students, and organise the annual spring careers fair for psychology.


  • Honorary Treasurer for the British Psychological Society Division of Health Psychology

About Me

I completed my undergraduate degree as a ‘mature’ student at the University of Derby in 2002. I then stayed there to complete my MSc Health Psychology for which I obtained a distinction. I then undertook a research associate position at the University of Nottingham examining psychosocial factors that predict medical student ‘success’. This work mainly focussed on the influence of personality, learning styles and trait motivation on academic performance. I then gained a post at DeMontfort University in Leicester as a lecturer in Psychology in 2006. I stayed at DeMontfort for seven happy years during which time I helped to develop the MSc health psychology provision and the undergraduate psychology programmes. During my doctoral studies at Staffordshire University, I developed my interest in mHealth and eHealth, specifically how smartphones can be used to monitor health behaviours such as eating and exercising. I took up my Senior Lecturer in Health Psychology post in the Centre for Health Psychology at Staffordshire in January 2014.


  • DHealthPsych 2015                mHealth and self regulation            Staffordshire University

  • MPhil 2009                             Medical Education                         University of Nottingham

  • MSc Health Psychology         Distinction                                      University of Derby

  • BSc (Hons) Psychology         2:1                                                 University of Derby


Professional Memberships and Activities

  • Chartered Membership of the British Psychological Society and full member of the Division of Health Psychology

  • Registered Psychologist with the Health Care Professions Council (application in process)

  • Registered Psychologist with EuroPsy

  • Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

  • Committee Member for the Midlands Health Psychology Network

  • Member of the European Health Psychology Society

  • Member of the Institute of Health Promotion and Education


My expertise lies in the application and use of technology in health illness and healthcare. Specifically I am interested in smartphone technology and wearables in health psychology (mHealth). I am particularly interested in how these can be used to support people with weight management.

Research Interests

I am a member of the Institute for Individual and Cultural Wellbeing. My key research focus is in the area of MHealth. I specifically focus on the following areas:

  1. The efficacy of technology in psychological and behavioural interventions

  2. What people think about when they use smartphone technology and wearable technology for monitoring health

  3. The theoretical explanations for use of smartphone technology in weight management

  4. How smartphone and wearable technology can be used to support self-management in chronic illness

Selected Publications

Journal papers:

Matthews, H., & Semper, H.M. (2017). In ‘Dropped from the system’ exploring the experiences of breast cancer survivors throughout the survivorship phase Journal of Advanced Nursing 73, DOI: 10.1111/jan.13237

Semper, H.M., Povey, R., & Clark-Carter, D., (2016). A systematic review of the effectiveness of smartphone applications that encourage self-regulatory strategies for weight loss in overweight and obese adults. Obesity Reviews DOI: 10.1111/obr.12428

Knibb, R.C. & Semper, H.M. [2014] Impact of suspected food allergy on emotional distress and family life of parents prior to allergy diagnosis. Paediatric Allergy and Immunology 4 (8)798-80

Ferguson, E., Semper, H.M., Yates, J., Fitzgerald, J.E., & James, D. [2014] The ‘Dark Side’ and ‘Bright Side’ of Personality:  When Too Much Conscientiousness and Too Little Anxiety Are Detrimental to the Acquisition of Medical Knowledge and Skill. PLOS One 9 (2), e88606

Knibb, R.C. & Semper, H.M. [2009] Can attendance at allergy clinic reduce psychological distress in parents of food allergic children? Clinical and Experimental Allergy 39, 1957

Coulson, N.S., & Semper, H.M. [2004] Communicating social support online:  a qualitative analysis of an Irritable Bowel Syndrome support network. Health Psychology Update. 13 (2), 45-46

Conference presentations:

Semper, H.M., Povey, R., & Cowap, L. (2016). A qualitative investigation of the experiences of monitoring diet and weight. Presented at the European Health Psychology and Division of Health Psychology Joint Annual conference Aberdeen August 2016

Higgins, S., & Semper, H.M. (2016). The effects of nutrition label format on healthier dietary choices: A forced choice eye-tracking study. Presented at the European Health Psychology and Division of Health Psychology Joint Annual Conference Aberdeen August 2016- invited prize winning paper

Patel, R. & Semper, H.M. (2014). The relationships between beliefs about obesity and antifat attitudes in men and women of different ethnicities. Paper presented at the 2nd International Weight Stigma Conference: Canterbury UK August 2014.

Semper, H.M. (2012) How do resilience and optimism influence compensatory health beliefs? Interactive poster presentation at the European Health Psychology Society’s Annual Conference Prague Czech Republic August 2012

Semper, H.M., Parmar, N., & Parker, N. (2012) Do resilience and optimism influence perceived stress and alcohol consumption in undergraduates? Interactive poster presentation at the European Health Psychology Society’s Annual Conference Prague Czech Republic August 2012

Semper, HM. & Quincey, K. (2012) Exploring sex differences in the relationships between compensatory health beliefs and health beliefs about obesity. Interactive Poster presented at the British Psychological Society Division of Health Psychology Annual Conference Liverpool UK.

Quincey, K., & Semper, H.M. (2012) The relationship between obesity beliefs and attitudes: differences in healthy weight, overweight and obese individuals. Interactive poster presentation at the European Health Psychology Society’s Annual Conference Prague Czech Republic August 2012

Find more information on research at http://www.staffs.ac.uk/research/centre-for-psychological-research/

Current Teaching


I contribute to Health Psychology, Childhood Theory to Practice, Psychological Interventions, and People Behaving Badly. I supervise Undergraduate dissertations on a variety of health psychology topics.


I am module leader for Applications of Health Psychology, and co-module leader for Psychological Research Methods and I contribute to Core Issues in Health Psychology. I supervise MSc Theses on a variety of health psychology topics with a main focus on mHealth.

I am module leader for the Teaching in Health Psychology module and Advanced Research Methods modules on the Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology.  I currently supervise Professional Doctorate students and PhD students, and I am interested in supervising Ph.D students on topics related to mHealth.


Heather Semper
R246 Science Centre
School of Psychology, Sport and Exercise
Staffordshire University
Science Centre
Leek Road
t: +44 (0)1782 29 4271
e: heather.semper@staffs.ac.uk
twitter: @hetha2009