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Posted on Jan 21 2022 by Fiona Bailey

The first student to be jointly funded and supervised by St Andrew’s and Loughborough University has been awarded her PhD in spite of a number of Covid-related challenges.

Justine Anthony has dedicated the past three years on studying the impact of exercise and physical activity on mental health within the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) at our Northampton hospital.

She said: “My work involved exploring physical activity among teenagers who are in secure care and seeing how it might impact their overall health and particularly their mental health. Then we did some data analysis, looking at the physical health concerns that some of the patients already had and looking at the best way to reduce the amount of time that they were inactive.

“This was all the more challenging to conduct as much of the work was carried out during the pandemic, so encouraging the patients to become active was sometimes very difficult as for long periods of time the wards were on lockdown and I was unable to come on site to work with the patients.

"We conducted interviews with staff and patients in CAMHS, exploring their views on physical activity and looking at new ways to motivate people to get moving.  

“We also looked at access to leave during lockdown and the relationship between access to ground leave and the number of incidents that were recorded on the wards. We found that those who had access to leave were less likely to be involved in a serious incident.”

Despite the challenges the pandemic threw at Justine, she has now completed her PhD work and has already had one study published in the International Review of Sport and Exercise journal.

She is now working on another collaborative project between Loughborough University and St Andrew’s to further develop a training course for staff on the importance of physical activity for patients. This is funded by Loughborough but is jointly led by St Andrew’s staff and will be co-produced by the hospital’s patients.