Faculty of Health

Behavioural and Situational Research Group (BSRG)


The Behavioural and Situational Research Group (BSRG) conduct research that examines how social and situational factors influence health risk behaviour such as smoking or high calorie snacking. The results of this research are used to inform behaviour change strategies, such as quit smoking programs and obesity prevention programs.

The Behavioural and Situational Research Group (BSRG) conduct research that examines how social and situational factors influence health risk behaviour such as smoking or high calorie snacking. To explore this topics we often utilise data collected from participants in real-time as they go about their daily lives. The results of this research are used to inform behaviour change strategies, such as quit smoking programs and obesity prevention programs.

The majority of our work focuses on helping smokers to quit. Cigarette smoking remains one of the leading causes of preventable death and disease worldwide resulting in >5m deaths/year and >100m deaths in the 20th century alone. Developing efficacious treatments that are accessible to a wide range of smokers will reduce tobacco-related deaths.

Social and situational factors are important for understanding relapse. During a quit attempt, smokers can experience periods of intense craving; situations referred to in the literature as 'temptation episodes'. There is strong evidence that these periodic 'spikes' of craving are due to exposure to situational stimuli that have become associated with smoking over a period of time. These cue-induced cravings have been shown to be one of the main causes of relapse during a quit attempt. Together with national and international collaborators our group a strong history of exploring how such factors contribute to smoking relapse. Work in this area is ongoing.

An improved understanding of the factors that contribute to smoking relapse is fundamental to the second objective of our teams work: improving treatment outcomes. Numerous studies have been conducted over the last two decades aimed at developing new smoking cessation methods and treatments, with some notable successes. An often over-looked approach, however, is to optimise the use of existing smoking cessation methods and treatments: improvements in quit rates can come from innovations in the way currently available treatments are used. Our group has a strong track record of theory-driven exploration of treatment efficacy, and, in particular, exploring behavioural factors (e.g., treatment compliance) that moderate treatment outcome. This research theme has strong translational potential; indeed some of our previous findings have already contributed to changes to the clinical treatment of nicotine dependence.

Specialist Fields and Areas of Investigation

  • Health psychology
  • Behaviour change
  • Nicotine Dependence
  • Real-time data collection
  • Ecological momentary assessment (EMA)

Major achievements or grants

View more information about research grants and achievement  on Stuart Ferguson's research profile.

Key Information


Name: Behavioural and Situational Research Group (BSRG)

Established: 2010

Research group head:
Other staff and collaborators:
Contact details:

Assoc. Prof Stuart Ferguson
School of Medicine
Stuart.Ferguson@utas.edu.au

Research theme areas: