Dr Rebecca Beeken

Dr Rebecca Beeken


Becca is an Associate Professor supported by a Yorkshire Cancer Research University Academic Fellowship. Her academic background is in behavioural science and health psychology, and her primary research interest is in behaviour change for cancer prevention and control.

Becca completed her PhD at the University of Sheffield, where she was awarded a ESRC 1+3 studentship to explore the variables that impact health-related quality of life in cancer patients who have undergone haematopoietic stem cell transplants. Upon completion of her PhD she was appointed to a postdoctoral position with the late Professor Jane Wardle at University College London, working across several projects related to cancer prevention, with a focus on obesity and weight management interventions. These included a pilot trial of a weight management intervention for people with intellectual disabilities, a randomised controlled trial of obesity in primary care (10 Top Tips), and a programme of work exploring the impact of weight loss on cancer risk and the effectiveness of behaviour change interventions for improving health behaviours in people living with and beyond cancer. During this time, she was also seconded to the MRC as a Clinical Trials Coordinator and Research Design Service Advisor. Becca joined the University of Leeds in 2017 as a Yorkshire Cancer Research University Academic Fellow focusing on behaviour change for cancer prevention. She was awarded an Australian Endeavour Award to spend 6 months as a Visiting Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Research in Evidence-Based Practice, Bond University (Australia). She holds an honorary contract with the Department of Behavioural Science & Health, University College London and is a trustee for the charity Weight Concern.


  • Lead for Postgraduate Research Studies, LIHS

Research interests

Becca currently co-leads a Cancer Research UK funded project exploring the efficacy of a brief, habit-based intervention for improving dietary and physical activity behaviours in people living with and beyond cancer (ASCOT). She also leads a stream of work exploring the concept of 'teachable moments', with a focus on cancer prevention in the cancer screening context. She is the principal investigator on a Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation funded project to develop and pilot a radiographer-led smoking cessation intervention in the lung cancer screening setting.  

Becca is a co-investigator on a series of studies developing and evaluating physical activity interventions for specific patient groups (including patients with a stoma and patients with multiple myeloma) and the Yorkshire Cancer Research funded APPROACH study, exploring the potential of a mobile phone application to increase physical activity in Yorkshire cancer patients. She is also a co-investigator on a EU-funded study exploring the integration of a habit-based intervention for weight management into antenatal care pathways. Other research interests include eating behaviours, the psychological and biological consequences of obesity and weight loss (particularly the impact of weight change on cancer risk), and supporting behavioural change in ‘at risk’ groups. She uses a range of quantitative and qualitative methods within her research. 



  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • PhD Psychology
  • MSc Psychological Research Methods
  • BA Psychology & Sociology

Professional memberships

  • Secretary for the International Society of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity, Cancer Prevention and Management Special Interest Group
  • NIHR Nutrition & Cancer Collaborative
  • UK Society of Beahvioural Medicine
  • Association for the Study of Obesity

Student education

Becca is a personal tutor to students on the MBChB. She also delivers lectures and leads tutorials on the topic of health behaviours (MBChB), and on illness beliefs (BSc Applied Health). She delivers external lectures at University College London. She supervises undergraduate students and postgraduate researchers on a range of courses and topics, mostly in the areas of behaviour change and cancer.  She has supervised 7 PhDs to completion and is currently the primary supervisor for 1 PGR at University College London (Claire Stevens) and 1 PGR at the University of Leeds (William Goodman).  

Research groups and institutes

  • Breast Cancer Research Group
  • Division of Primary Care, Palliative Care and Public Health
  • Leeds Institute of Health Sciences
  • Primary Care Oncology
  • Cancer

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>