Dr Ruth Hunter

Keywords: physical activity; social networks; built and social environment; complex interventions

Dr Ruth Hunter is a Lecturer in Physical Activity and Public Health at the UKCRC Centre of Excellence for Public Health Research, Queen’s University Belfast. She currently holds a Career Development Fellowship (2015-2017) from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) investigating social network interventions for health behaviour change. The Fellowship involves Visiting Fellow positions with the University of Southern California, Harvard University and the University of Cambridge.

She completed a BSc (Hons, 1st class) in Physiotherapy in 2005 (University of Ulster), and her PhD in physical activity and chronic low back pain in 2009 (University of Ulster). Ruth then began a Postdoctoral Research Fellow position in the Centre for Public Health at Queen’s University Belfast in January 2010, taking the role of Project Manager on the NPRI funded PARC Study.

Her research interests are in physical activity and public health, particularly regarding the development and evaluation of complex interventions for behaviour change at the individual, community and population level.  Ruth also has a particular interest in providing supportive environments (including built and social environments) for physical activity behaviour change. Projects include evaluating the public health impact of a large urban regeneration project, a review of green space access and environmental justice, and investigation of conflict and physical activity in public spaces involving collaborations with researchers in Columbia, South Africa and Mexico. She leads a work package on a Newton funded UK-Brazil collaboration investigating the association between the built environment, physical activity and older adults.

Most recently, Ruth has been commissioned to lead a review of evidence on green space interventions and their impacts on environment, health and equity for the WHO, and to develop a working paper for a WHO technical meeting on “Assessing Green Space Interventions”, September 2016, Bonn, Germany (invited member of the expert panel). Other research interests involve investigating the use of incentives for physical activity behaviour change including a large cluster RCT funded by NIHR and collaborative research projects with Deakin University, Melbourne and the University of Stirling. Finally, Ruth has won several awards for her research including the University’s Vice-Chancellors Early Career Research Impact Award 2013; ‘Best Paper’ and ‘Best Demonstration’ at the 4th ICST International Conference on eHealth, 2011.