Dr Tom Thompson

Dr Tom Thompson

Research Fellow

Clinical Trials & Health Research - Institute of Translational & Stratified Medicine (Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry)


Having always had a keen interest in sport, physical activity, and the arts, I pursued a degree at Loughborough University studying an eclectic mix of Physical Activity, Sports Science, and English. With the knowledge and skills this gave me I began a career working for a third sector organisation with a working focus on youth and social work. It is from here where my interest in health inequality and the challenges presented by working with those with complex needs began to take root. My primary role over the 5 or so years I worked for the organisation was to plan and manage an educational programme for 16-19 year olds who were not in employment, education, or training (NEET) to achieve a variety of hard and soft outcomes relating to their academic and personal achievements.

Following the unfortunate demise of the organisation I returned to study for my MSc in Health Sciences at the University of Exeter. During my studies, and under the tutelage of Professor Adrian Taylor, I began working as the 'Physical Activity Facilitator' on the TREAD (TRial of Exercise And Depression) supporting those recently diagnosed with depression to become more physically active.

When this role (and my studies) came to an end, I was appointed as the trial manager for the NIHR HTA funded research project EARS (Exercise Assisted Reduction then Stop smoking). This project, aimed at supporting those from disadvantaged communities with an adapted Health Trainer role, brought all my interests together in one role within the rigorous setting of a pilot randomised controlled trial. It was during this time, again under the tutelage of Professor Adrian Taylor, that I completed my PhD.

Following on from the EARS project, I now work as a Research Fellow for Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, where I am involved in several successful grants covering various aspects of addiction and health behaviour research.

I am the Principal Investigator on an NIHR Research for Patient Benefit grant conducting a systematic review with stakeholder engagement of physical activity and alcohol and substance use disorders.

I am a Co-Applicant and Intervention Lead on an NIHR Public Health Research grant examining a Health Trainer led intervention for improving the physical health and mental wellbeing of those under community supervision.

I am a Co-Applicant on a bid to further investigate the effects of supported smoking reduction within a definitive trial setting.

I am involved with and completed a rapid review of alcohol interventions as part of an Outcomes Based Commissioning Demonstrator (Alcohol Pathways) working with multiple other agencies.

I am also a member of the Cochrane Tobacco Addiction group, and co-author the systematic review on Motivational Interviewing for Smoking Cessation.


PhD (University of Exeter) - The design and multi-method evaluation of a pragmatic randomised controlled trial of an exercise assisted reduction of smoking intervention among socioeconomically disadvantaged smokers. 2012-2015.

MSc (University of Exeter) - Sport and Health Sciences. 2008-2009

BA (Hons) (Loughborough University) - English, Physical Education, and Sports Science. 2001-2004.

Research interests

My research interests include:

Mental health and wellbeing
Physical activity
Physical health 
Psychology of behaviour change
Health inequalities
Complex needs
Mixed method evaluation of clinical trials
Process evaluation
Motivational Interviewing
Statistical analyses pertaining to missing data
Systematic review methodology 
Fidelity assessment 
Public and patient involvement in research

Research groups

  • Plymouth Inequalities Group

An exploratory analysis of the smoking and physical activity outcomes from a pilot randomised controlled trial of an exercise assisted reduction to stop (EARS) smoking intervention in disadvantaged groups (2015). Thompson TP, Greaves CJ, Ayres R, Aveyard P, Warren FC, Byng R, Taylor RS, Campbell JL, Ussher M, Green C, Michie S, West R, & Taylor AH. Nicotine and Tobacco Research.

Motivational interviewing for smoking cessation (2015). Lindson-Hawley N, Thompson TP, & Begh R. Cochrane database of systematic reviews.

Lessons learned from recruiting socioeconomically disadvantaged smokers into a pilot randomized controlled trial to explore the role of Exercise Assisted Reduction then Stop (EARS) smoking (2015). Thompson TP, Greaves CJ, Ayres R, Aveyard P, Warren FC, Byng R, Taylor RS, Campbell JL, Ussher M, Michie S, West R, & Taylor AH. Trials.

Patches and Plyometrics: Exercise and Smoking Cessation (2015). Taylor AH & Thompson TP. In Andersen MB & Hanrahan (eds) Doing Exercise Psychology. Human Kinetics: Champaign, IL.

A pilot randomised controlled trial to assess the methods and procedures for evaluating the clinical effectiveness and cost effectiveness of Exercise Assisted Reduction then Stop (EARS) among disadvantaged smokers (2014). Taylor AH, Thompson TP, Greaves CJ, Taylor RS, Green C, Warren C, Kandiyali R, Aveyard P, Ayres R, Byng R, Campbell JL, Ussher M, Michie S, & West R. Health Technology Assessment.

Strategies to recruit hard-to-reach smokers into Exercise Assisted Reduction then Stop (EARS): a pragmatic pilot randomised trial. Thompson TP, Aveyard P, Ayres R, Taylor RS, Warren FC, Campbell JL, Byng R, Ussher M, Michie S, West R, Green C, Greaves CJ, & Taylor AH. The Lancet (online abstract).

Factors associated with study attrition in a pilot randomised controlled trial to explore the role of Exercise Assisted Reduction to Stop (EARS) smoking in disadvantaged groups (under review). Thompson TP, Greaves CJ, Ayres R, Aveyard P, Warren FC, Byng R, Taylor RS, Campbell JL, Ussher M, Michie S, West R, & Taylor AH. Trials.

The relationship between habitual physical activity and cigarette cravings: exploratory analyses of potential predictors and moderators (under review). Haasova M, Warren FC, Thompson TP, & Taylor AH. Psychopharmacology.

The effects of a facilitated physical activity intervention for depressed patients on smoking and alcohol outcomes (under review). Taylor AH, Turner N, van den Bosch P, Chalder M, Campbell JL, Thompson TP, & Lewis G.

Intervention delivery fidelity assessment of a counselling based intervention for multiple behaviours (in preparation), Thompson TP, Lambert JD, Greaves CJ, Michie S, & Taylor AH.

Exercise and Addiction (alcohol, smoking, drugs) (in preparation). Thompson TP & Taylor AH. In Wegner M & Budde H (eds). Exercise and Mental Health: Neurobiological Mechanisms of the Exercise Effect on Depression, Anxiety, and Well-being. Taylor and Francis: New York.

Additional information

Keen golfer, fisherman, amateur chef and gym goer.