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    Dr Riya Patel, is a psychologist and behavioural scientist, within the Centre for Intelligent Healthcare researching the intersectionality of religion, spirituality, culture and health. She is involved with several projects that explore the role of religion and spirituality in a wide range of health conditions (e.g., breast cancer, obesity, disordered eating, domestic violence). She has an international reputation for her research into religion spirituality and health, and has just developed a taxonomy of religious practices that have been empirically tested within healthcare. Riya is passionate about delivering holistic healthcare and is a huge advocate for improving health inequalities among culturally and linguistically diverse populations.        

    She joined Coventry University in January 2019, after being awarded a research fellowship from the John Templeton Foundation where she is developing the Religious Health Interventions in Behavioual Sciences (RHIBS) Taxonomy. Riya previously worked at City University of London and University College London.  

    Riya obtained her BSc (Hons) Psychology and MSc in Health Psychology from De Montfort University. She then went on to complete her PhD in Health Psychology at Coventry University. Her PhD focused on exploring the role of addressing religious needs as part of a weight management programme. Her PhD involved conducting a mixed-methods feasibilty trial of the Taste & See intervention. 

    Research Interests

    I have two key areas of interest in terms of my reserach. The first is the role of religion and spirituality in health and well-being. Religion and spirituality are often  perceived as a 'black box' that should be ignored and not explored in health and healthcare research, yet there is a growing evidence base that highlights religion and spirituality can have both a positive and negative influence on health outcomes. I am keen to investigate the mechanisms and functions that underpin religiously integrated health interventions, which led me to my current research project the RHIBS Taxonomy

    Closely related to this, religious beliefs and practices are often intertwined with cultural beliefs and practices. To have a truly holistic understanding of health, illness and associated behaviours we need to better understand this link. I am interested in how we can better understand the influence of cultural beliefs and practices around health and well-being within ethnically diverse communities. If we can develop this understanding, we can work collaboratively with individuals belonging to these communities to begin reducing the barriers that exist with intentions to reduce health inequalities that affect culturally and linguisitcally diverse communities.


    Areas of Expertise: 

    • Qualitative Research Methods
    • Intervention Evaluation
    • Religiously-Integrated Health Interventions
    • Psychology of Eating
    • Ethnicity and Health
    • Process Evaluations

    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
    • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
    • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

    Education/Academic qualification

    Health Psychology, Doctorate, Coventry University

    Award Date: 11 Jan 2018

    Health Psychology, MSc, De Montfort University

    Award Date: 30 Sept 2014

    Psychology, Degree, De Montfort University

    Award Date: 13 Aug 2013


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