Causes, Consequences and Modification of Health Behaviours
The overarching aim of this programme is to understand relationships between health behaviours and both physical and mental health outcomes, in order to develop a better understanding of the mechanistic pathways that underline these relationships and identify targets for novel individual and population level interventions.
Aims and Objectives
Our specific aims include: To identify novel genetic instruments relevant to health behaviours for use in Mendelian randomisation (MR) analyses. To understand the network of causal relationships between health behaviours and a range of physical and mental health outcomes. To interrogate the mechanistic pathways that underlie causal relationships between behaviour and health and identify targets for intervention.
This programme will provide a flow of work that will provide mechanistic insight into causal relationships between health behaviours and both physical and mental health outcomes, and support subsequent intervention development and testing, through existing relationships with other major research groupings and industry partners.
Two-sample MR for coffee and smoking cessation
We used two-sample Mendelian randomisation to show that heavier coffee consumption reduces the likelihood of successful smoking cessation, which suggests targeting coffee consumption may help people stop smoking.
Educational attainment and likelihood of smoking.
We used Mendelian randomisation to show that greater years spent in education reduces the likelihood of smoking, and among smokers reduces heaviness of smoking and increases the likelihood of smoking cessation.
We developed a smartwatch that can passively monitor smoking behaviour; this has the potential to be used in both epidemiological studies of smoking, and as a targeted intervention to prevent relapse in people attempting to stop smoking.
We are exploring how packaging characteristics influence behaviour. We have shown that standardised (“plain”) tobacco packaging increases the salience of health warnings, research that informed recent policies on standardised packaging. We are also investigating how glass shape influences alcohol consumption.
Lead researcher: Olivia Maynard
Key publication: Maynard OM, Attwood A, O'Brien L, Brooks S, Hedge C, Leonards U, Munafò MR. Avoidance of cigarette pack health warnings among regular cigarette smokers. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2014 Mar 1;136:170-4.