Dr Tom Thompson

Dr Tom Thompson

Senior Research Fellow

Peninsula Medical School (Faculty of Health)

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 Senior 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. The review is now completed and results are being prepared for publication.

I am now working towards original research in this area, to look at physical activity (in all forms) as a way to support reduction, overcome addiction, and prevent relapse associated with drug and alcohol use.

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 (The STRENGTHEN project). The pilot phase has been successfully delivered, with good engagement levels, across two sites, one in the Southwest and one in the Northeast.

I am a Co-Applicant and Intervention lead on an NIHR HTA funded definitive trial examining a Health Trainer led intervention to support increases in physical activity and smoking reduction among those not initially willing to quit (TARS). This trial is being delivered across four sites (Plymouth, London, Oxford, and Nottingham), and my main role is training and supervising the Health Trainers across all sites. To date, engagement levels with the intervention have been exceptional.

I am currently a co-applicant on a fellowship (Dr Leah Jayes, Nottingham University) with Cancer Research UK. It will examine theimpact on smoking of smoke free legislation in prisons, and how best tomaintain smoking abstinence post release. 

I am involved in completing a three year evaluation for Exeter Drugs Project of a program called 'Flourish in Nature' which is a volunteer/mentor training programme aimed at helping people struggling with addiction to engage in outdoor activities.

I have previously been involved in 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.

I also serve as the co-lead for the developing and evaluating complex interventions (DECI) group within the University.

I currently supervise one PhD student examining fidelity of complex interventions using the five domains of fidelity (Design, Training, Delivery, Receipt, and Enactment) as outlined by the Behaviour Change Consortium.


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.

Professional membership

UK Society of Behavioural Medicine (UKSBM)

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

Key publications

Key publications are highlighted

Callaghan L, Thompson TP, Creanor E, Quinn C, Senior J, Green C, Byng R, Wallace G, Sinclair J & Kane A 2019 'Individual Health Trainers to support health and wellbeing for people under community supervision in the criminal justice system: the STRENGTHEN pilot RCT' Public Health Research , DOI PEARL
Lindson N, Thompson TP, Ferrey A, Lambert JD & Aveyard P 2019 'Motivational interviewing for smoking cessation' Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews , DOI PEARL
Thompson TP, Lambert J, Greaves C & Taylor A 2018 'Intervention Delivery Fidelity Assessment of a Counseling-Based Intervention for Promoting Smoking Reduction and Increasing Physical Activity' Health Psychology , DOI PEARL
Thompson TP, Callaghan L, Hazeldine E, Quinn C, Walker S, Byng R, Wallace G, Creanor S, Green C & Hawton A 2018 'Health trainer-led motivational intervention plus usual care for people under community supervision compared with usual care alone: a study protocol for a parallel-group pilot randomised controlled trial (STRENGTHEN)' BMJ Open 8, (6) e023123-e023123 , DOI PEARL
Thompson TP, Taylor AH, Wanner A, Husk K, Wei Y, Creanor S, Kandiyali R, Neale J, Sinclair J & Nasser M 2018 'Physical activity and the prevention, reduction, and treatment of alcohol and/or substance use across the lifespan (The PHASE review): protocol for a systematic review' Systematic Reviews 7, (1) Author Site , DOI PEARL
Thompson TP, Greaves CJ, Ayres R, Aveyard P, Warren FC, Byng R, Taylor RS, Campbell JL, Ussher M & Michie S 2016 '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' Trials 17, (1) , DOI PEARL
Haasova M, Warren FC, Thompson T, Ussher M & Taylor AH 2016 'The association between habitual physical activity and cigarette cravings, and influence of smokers’ characteristics in disadvantaged smokers not ready to quit' Psychopharmacology 233, (14) 2765-2774 , DOI PEARL
Thompson TP, Greaves CJ, Ayres R, Aveyard P, Warren FC, Byng R, Taylor RS, Campbell JL, Ussher M & Green C 2015 'An Exploratory Analysis of the Smoking and Physical Activity Outcomes From a Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial of an Exercise Assisted Reduction to Stop Smoking Intervention in Disadvantaged Groups' Nicotine & Tobacco Research 18, (3) 289-297 , DOI PEARL
Lindson-Hawley N, Thompson TP & Begh R 2015 'Motivational interviewing for smoking cessation' Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews , DOI
Thompson TP, Greaves CJ, Ayres R, Aveyard P, Warren FC & Byng R 2015 'Lessons learned from recruiting socioeconomically disadvantaged smokes into a pilot randomized controlled trial to explore the role of Exercise Assisted Reduction then Stop (EARS) smoking' Trials 16, , DOI PEARL
Taylor AH, Thompson TP, Greaves C, Taylor RS, Green C, Warren F, Kandiyali F, Aveyard P, Ayres R & Byng R 2014 'A pilot randomized 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' HTA Final Report , DOI
Byng R, Thompson TP, Aveyard P, Ayres R, Taylor R, Warren F, Campbell J, Ussher M, Michie S & West R 2012 'Exercise Assisted Reduction then Stop (EARS): Strategies to recruit 'hard to reach' smokers into a pragmatic pilot RCT' The Lancet Online Publisher Site
Thompson TP, Aveyard P, Ayres R, Taylor R, Warren F, Campbell J, Byng R, Ussher M, Michie S & West R 2012 'Strategies to recruit hard-to-reach smokers into Exercise Assisted Reduction then Stop (EARS): a pragmatic pilot randomised trial' Lancet 380, Author Site
Budde H 2018 'The Exercise Effect on Mental Health' CRC Press , DOI

Additional information

Keen golfer, fisherman, amateur chef and gym goer.