Dr Louise McDowall


I am a researcher in exercise and health psychology at the University of Leeds. My interest is in socially-engaged research which utilises qualitative research approaches; particularly ethnographic, to advance understanding of the body and the benefits of engagement in movement and physical activity upon quality of life within special populations (i.e. youth/elderly living in deprived communities; palliative/neurological patients, paediatric oncology patients and their families, learning and/or physically disabled adults) from multiple perspectives i.e. patient, family, and health care professionals, across the health-disease continuum. I have worked with several agencies as a researcher and dance artist including Arts Council England, Leeds and Bradford City Council, Northern Ballet, Sue Ryder, Leeds Children’s Hospital, Le CAACH France, and Yorkshire Dance.

I also hold an interest in the identification and development of quality pedagogical practice when delivering physical activity/movement interventions, particularly when considered through the psychosocial climate the provision creates. I have produced material around good practice when working with children and adults in the dance context including critical reviews for Yorkshire Dance and Arts Council England.

I also work as a community dance artist and dramaturg. I have an established community dance practice specialising in early years, adults with learning/physical disabilities, the elderly (including those living with dementia and/or in care home settings), and the development of cultural exchanges through performance projects between Alderney and France.


Research interests

Current projects I am working on:

·        Investigating the feasibility and acceptability of geocaching for promoting physical activity in childhood cancer patients and their families (CRUK funded project, PDR)

·        Physical activity in palliative and neurological care: Clinical practice recommendations (Phase I and II) (UoL funded project, PDR)

·        Identifying quality pedagogical practice when working with dancers with learning disabilities and its impact (Erasmus+ funded project, CoI/PDRF)

Prior to this I worked as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow on Investigating the impact of a community-based dance programme on the health and well-being of young people from deprived urban areas (ACE funded study, PDRF).

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://biologicalsciences.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD, University of Leeds
  • BA Hons, Bretton Hall

Professional memberships

  • People Dancing: Foundation for Community Dance
  • Fellow of Royal Anthropological Institute (RAI)
  • Dance Studies Association
  • British Psychosocial Oncology Society