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 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.. 



  • Lead for Postgraduate Research Studies, LIHS

Research interests

Becca works on a number of studies focused on developing and trialling complex interventions to improve outcomes for people living with and beyond cancer. She currently co-leads a Cancer Research UK funded project (PI with Dr Fisher, University College London) 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 co-leads the Breast Cancer Now funded We Sure Can trial (PI with Dr Smith, University of Leeds), which is piloting a total diet replacement intervention to support weight loss in women with stage II-III breast cancer affected by excess weight. Additionally, she is a co-investgator on two Yorkshire Cancer Research funded studies in this area; the APPROACH study (PIs: Dr Fisher & Dr Lally, UCL) is exploring the potential of a mobile phone application to increase physical activity in Yorkshire cancer patients, and the CANVAS study (PI: Professor Velikova, University of Leeds) aims to develop, implement and evaluate satisfaction with an improved electronic system to engage breast and bowel cancer survivors to self-report symptoms/problems online from home and get immediate tailored advice for self-management or hospital contact.

Becca is also interested in the concept of 'teachable moments', and the potential for other cancer prevention interventions to be delivered as part of cancer screening programmes. She co-leads (PI with Dr Wonitza, UCLH) a Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation funded project to develop and pilot a radiographer-led smoking cessation intervention in the lung cancer screening setting, and she is an expert advisor and collaborator on an evaluation of a lifestyle intervention among participants of the French colorectal cancer screening program, funded by the French National Cancer Institute (PI: Dr Gunter, IARC). 

Becca is a co-investigator on several studies focused on developing and evaluating physical activity interventions for specific patient groups. This includes the NIHR-funded SPACES programme (PIs: Dr Peckham & Professor Gilbody, University of York) to support people with severe mental illness to be more physically active, and a feasibility study of a physical activity intervention to improve quality of life in parastomal hernia funded by IA and The Kingston Trust (HALT, PI: Professor Hubbard, University of the Highlands and Islands).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 weight management interventions in the general population. She is a trustee for the charity Weight Concern and a co-investigator on a EU-funded study exploring the integration of a habit-based intervention for weight management into antenatal care pathways (HHIPBE, PI: Professor McKinley, Queen’s University Belfast). 

Becca is the co-chair for the UK Society for Behavioural Medicine Cancer Prevention and Screening Special Interest Group (SIG), the Deputy Chair for the International Society for Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity Cancer Prevention and Management SIG, and a member of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Nutrition and Cancer Collaboration. She is also a core member of the Leeds Unit of Complex Intervention Development (LUCID). She was on the Scientific Committee for SAPC ASM 2021 and is on the Scientific Committee for UKSBM ASM 2022.



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

Professional memberships

  • International Society of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity, Cancer Prevention and Management Special Interest Group
  • NIHR Nutrition & Cancer Collaborative
  • UK Society of Behavioural Medicine

Student education

Becca is a personal tutor to students on the MBChB. She also delivers lectures and leads seminars and workshops on the topic of health behaviours and behaviour change. She is the Lead for Postgraduate Research studies in LIHS. Becca 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 8 PhDs to completion and is currently the primary supervisor for 2 PGRs at the University of Leeds, and 2 D.Clin.Psychol trainees. She is a co-supervisor for 1 PGR at University College London.

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>