Professor Deborah Lycett, PhD

BSc (Hons), PGCHE, Professor

    Accepting PhD Students

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    Personal profile


    Prof. Deborah Lycett RD PhD is the Director of the Research Institute of Health and Wellbeing, previously Director of the Centre for Intelligent Healthcare, lead for Behaviour and Implementation Science, and holds a personal chair in Religious Health Interventions and Dietetic Practice with an international reputation for investigating the application of the biopsychosocial-spiritual model of health to improve the lives of those living with dietary and nutrition-related conditions.  

    Her research explores whole-person approaches to chronic disease management. She has investigated tobacco addiction, obesity and diabetes with particular emphasis on the psychological and spiritual aspects of eating behaviour. She has introduced the concept of spiritual care into dietetic practice and continues to explore this. She is also interested to see more generally what the role of faith-based interventions is on health and well-being. Her research partnerships span the NHS, public health departments, commercial and private health providers, as well as the third sector. Professor Lycett leads a large and diverse team of staff and PhD students all working together to improve and support the well-being and life quality of individuals, from biobehavioural, psychological, social and spiritual perspectives, fit for a digital world. Her methodological expertise ranges from randomised controlled trials to qualitative studies.


    Professor Lycett served for several years on the Education Board of the British Dietetic Association (BDA), and was Chair of the BDA Quality Standards Committee. She sits on the Scientific Committee for the European Institute for Religion, Spirituality and Health. She is a Fellow of the Association of Higher Education and has taught in medical and health science faculties. She has 20 years of clinical experience as a dietitian having worked for many years in the NHS and also privately, running her own Nutrition and Dietetic Consultancy. She has a PhD in Behavioural Medicine. 



    Holistic, person-centred and evidence-based healthcare is what all healthcare workers strive to achieve, however it is still hard to determine how to do this effectively. The research around some aspects of holistic health, such as the integration of spirituality, is still in its infancy, relatively speaking, but interest is growing around the globe, at an exponential rate.

    For example, my work on obesity shows that far from considering it can be solved simply by addressing physical energy balance, we need to also consider the psychological and spiritual factors that drive eating. As a society we need a compassionate and non-judgemental approach towards obesity, viewing it as a chronic, relapsing, remitting condition, where our aim is to reduce the harms associated with it; rather than view it as a lack of self-control and seek weight loss at all costs. So far, very little attention has been given to the spiritual or religious causes and consequences of those struggling with food and weight issues, or how faith-based organisations may help address these needs within the community. I have developed Taste & See: a church based programme to develop a healthy relationship with food, which I am currently testing in a multicentre cluster randomised controlled trial and building into a digital platform.

    Area of Expertise:

    • Research methods
    • Religion, Spirituality and Health
    • Religiously-integrated health interventions
    • Nutrition and dietetics
    • Behavioural Medicine
    • Psychology of Eating and Weight Control
    • Smoking Cessation and Weight Gain

    Research Interests

    Obesity; Spiritual Health; Emotional Eating; Religion and Health; Nutrition and Dietetics; Psychology of Eating and weight control

    Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

    In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

    • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

    Education/Academic qualification

    Doctorate, Behavioural Medicine

    Postgraduate Certificate, Higher Education

    Degree, Nutrition & Dietetics

    External positions

    Education Board Member, British Dietetic Association

    Chair of Education Quality Standards Commitee, British Dietetic Association

    Scientific Committee, European Conference of Religion, Spirituality and Health

    Research collaborator, Medical University of Lublin

    Research Collaborator, University of Bern

    Research collaborator, University of Birmingham

    Research Collaborator, University of Oxford

    Research collaborator, University of Warwick


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