Prestigious behavioural medicine role for Professor Annie Anderson

Annie Anderson, Professor of Public Health Nutrition at the University of Dundee, has been elected President of the UK Society for Behavioural Medicine (UKSBM).

Professor Anderson officially took up the role at the UKSBM’s Annual Scientific Meeting in Birmingham on 12-13 December. The election reflects her position as one of the UK’s foremost authorities in behavioural medicine, an interdisciplinary field that draws together experts in psychology, social science, behavioural science, public health and medicine.

The Society acts as a forum for presenting research on both public health policy, such as minimum unit pricing for alcohol, as well as individual level preventive/therapeutic approaches. Professor Anderson’s work at the University is focussed on lifestyle changes that reduce the occurrence and recurrence of cancer through positive health behaviours. She is also the co-director of the Scottish Cancer Prevention Network.

Professor Anderson said, “Behavioural Medicine is an increasingly important field as we face up to major health challenges. We know more than ever before about what is good and bad for us but very often this does not translate to positive health outcomes.

“Understanding the role of human behaviours, whether positive like physical activity or negative like alcohol consumption, in disease prevention and management is only the first step in changing health outcomes. To make an impact, the translation of knowledge to practice is crucial as simply transferring information is rarely enough. Behavioural science offers the opportunity to explore theoretical approaches and test or model practical applications in both public health and individual level settings.

“Initially, much of this work was in a patient context, such as looking at adherence to recommended medication, but increasingly it is recognised that cost-effective disease prevention is a priority. For example, multiple diabetes prevention programmes have demonstrated beneficial impact of physical activity and dietary interventions in delaying the onset of the disease.”

The UKSBM aims to develop integrated environmental, behavioural and biomedical knowledge relevant to health and disease and apply this to prevention, treatment and rehabilitation. In recent years, the society has increasingly embraced public health approaches to facilitating behaviour change, such as the impact of policy and regulations.

At this year’s meeting, Professor Anderson and her team made presentations on several projects that illustrate the global reach of the behavioural management expertise at Dundee, including:

  • Supporting health behaviour change in patients at increased risk of colorectal cancer
  • The impact of cancer prevention communication in breast screening 
  • Findings from a trial to increase physical activity in adults with Type 2 diabetes in Oman