Cunningham, Kathryn


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Kathryn is a Lecturer (Teaching and Research) in the School of Health Sciences and a Chartered Psychologist with the British Psychological Society. She is a Full Member of the Society’s Division of Health Psychology. She has also been elected as an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society for her contribution to the field of psychology through the application of specialist knowledge.

Kathryn completed an M.A. (Hons.) in Psychology at the University of St. Andrews, an M.Sc. in Health Psychology at the University of Stirling, and a Ph.D. at the University of Dundee, Exploring Loneliness in the Context of Cancer: A Mixed Methods Study. She has held research positions in a variety of areas, including cancer care, palliative care, health behaviour change, primary care and NHS staff wellbeing, at the University of St. Andrews (Schools of Medicine and Psychology), the University of Dundee (Schools of Dentistry, Medicine and Nursing) and the University of Edinburgh (Edinburgh Cancer Research Centre).

Kathryn has expertise in the design and leadership/conduct of several different types of applied health and wellbeing research and evaluation, including:

  • evidence synthesis (mixed method, systematic, scoping and realist reviews and concept analysis);
  • intervention and service development/quality improvement, implementation and evaluation (mixed method and realist evaluation and feasibility and full Randomised Controlled Trials);
  • questionnaire development and validation;
  • qualitative research.

In addition to her research and evaluation experience Kathryn is experienced in teaching, training and supervision.

Kathryn has worked half-time since the birth of her first child in 2015 due to childcare commitment.


Kathryn’s primary research interest is loneliness in: i) people living with health conditions; ii) other health-related contexts.

Loneliness is increasingly-recognised as a serious problem due to its reported: a) prevalence; b) associations with low wellbeing, poor mental and physical health and premature mortality; c) economic costs.  Health conditions and other health-related contexts are acknowledged as particular risk factors for loneliness.

Kathryn is specifically interested in the following in: i) people living with health conditions; ii) other health-related contexts:

  • Exploring experiences, sources and consequences of loneliness;
  • Developing, implementing and evaluating conceptually-sound and contextually-sensitive methods to identify and assess loneliness;
  • Developing, implementing and evaluating targeted and tailored interventions to reduce loneliness.

Kathryn’s wider research interests include social prescribing and health/healthcare professional behaviour change.

Additionally, Kathryn is committed to conceptual and theoretical advancement and methodological innovation in research.

Kathryn is a member of the Living Well with Long-Term Conditions Research Group and the Mother, Infant and Child Health Research Group and is currently taking new self-funded PhD students.  Kathryn welcomes enquiries from prospective PhD students about projects focussing on:

  • Loneliness in people living with health conditions (e.g. cancer, chronic pain and stroke);
  • Loneliness in other health-related contexts (e.g. parenting in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and following perinatal loss). 

Please note that the examples provided are not exclusive and Kathryn welcomes enquires about projects focussing on loneliness in people living with any health conditions or in any other health-related contexts. 

Prospective PhD students can contact Kathryn directly by email on to discuss research ideas but should first visit the relevant Research Group webpage to see current topics of interest to supervisors:

Living Well with Long-Term Conditions Living Well with Long-Term Conditions (LWLTC) | University of Dundee, UK

Mother, Infant and Child Health (MIRU) Mother and Infant Research Unit | University of Dundee, UK


Kathryn currently teaches:

  • Professional and Academic Skills 2
  • Student Selected 1: Improving and Maintaining Health and Well-being
  • Student Selected 2: Managing Health Challenges
  • Student Selected 3: Prevention and Protection Against Disease and Ill-health
  • Leadership for Mentally Healthy Workplaces

She also supervises MSc dissertation students.

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

Doctor of Philosophy, Exploring loneliness in the context of cancer: A mixed methods study

Award Date: 3 Nov 2014

Master of Science, University of Stirling

Award Date: 30 Nov 2009

Master of Arts, University of St Andrews

Award Date: 26 Jun 2008

External positions

Senior Research Fellow, University of St Andrews

1 Apr 20215 Jan 2023

Research Fellow, University of St Andrews

15 Aug 20175 Jan 2023

Research Fellow, University of Dundee

1 Feb 20163 Oct 2017

Postdoctoral Research Assistant, University of Dundee

1 May 201431 Jan 2016

Research Assistant, University of Dundee

1 Jul 201330 Apr 2014

Research Assistant, University of Edinburgh

3 Sept 200931 Jul 2010

Research Assistant, University of St Andrews

4 Jun 200727 Jul 2007


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