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MSc Student Blog

Friday, March 20, 2020
Iona Henderson

After graduating from my undergraduate degree in Psychology I decided to apply for the Health Psychology masters in Stirling. At this point I had no strong interest in one particular aspect of Health Psychology but instead an overall interest in each of the topics covered.  I was recommended to apply for the MSc scholarship offered by the Digital Health and Care Institute (DHI) by my personal tutor at university. I read into the projects that were being offered and learnt more about the DHI and the work they do.

The broad project aim was to investigate digital resources for diabetes self-management in a new and settled immigrant population.  Initially I was quite apprehensive about applying for the projects as I felt I had limited knowledge of diabetes and particularly digital technology in a health context. Despite this initial doubt I applied as it felt too good an opportunity to miss. I felt working with the DHI, conducting research around diabetes self-management -which in itself is fairly limited- and being able to incorporate digital technology would allow me to expand my knowledge greatly.  Fortunately, I was accepted onto the DHI scholarship a few weeks later, which gave me time to prepare for the start of my course in September.

At the beginning of the new semester I had the chance to meet the other two students who had  been selected from Stirling and our project supervisor. The first few weeks of the teaching gave us a broad understanding of what Health psychology is, how it can be applied to different scenarios and different ways in which behaviour change interventions can be implemented. As a DHI funded student I had the opportunity to attend an induction day to learn more about the DHI and meet other funded students. I found this to be a great chance to learn more about the work DHI do first-hand and meet other students from all different backgrounds. It was reassuring to hear experiences of other students, ranging from GPs to business professionals. This diversity in experience within the group facilitated great discussion points about digital technology and the benefits it can have in conjunction with health. It also allowed me to look at topics from not just a health or psychology perspective which gave me a better understanding of other challenges from a business or technology point of view. These discussions really highlighted to me how everyone can not only contribute to help increase the use of digital technology in a health setting but also benefit from this.

Although the MSc in Health Psychology will provide me with knowledge and understanding of a wide range of long-term health conditions such as diabetes and different interventions which could involve digital technology in the form of fitness apps. The course modules do not have a particular focus on diabetes or digital health. The opportunity to build on learning from the MSc, by focusing on diabetes and how digital technology can be used in this context will help enhance my overall knowledge and understanding of health psychology.