Kavita did her first degree and PhD in the Department of Psychology at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. Her PhD research was concerned with the role of psychological stress in the progression of HIV infection. Her first post-doctoral position was in the Department of Medicine at the University of Wales in Cardiff. Here she examined emotional, cognitive and immunological responses to polio vaccination (an enterovirus) in patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Her interests in the role of psychological factors in health and disease outcomes continued in subsequent postdoctoral positions at the University of Bristol where she examined the effects of upper respiratory illness on mood and cognitive performance and the effects of chronic caregiver stress on vulnerability to infectious disease in older people.
In 1998 she was appointed as a Lecturer in the Department of Psychology at the University of Bristol. In 1999 she joined the MRC's Health Services Research Collaboration (HSRC) as a Career Track Scientist and was later promoted to a Senior Scientist. During her time with the HSRC she led a behavioural medicine research group which conducted experimental and applied research into the diverse ways psychological factors influence health and disease outcomes and the development of psychological interventions to improve these outcomes. The research at this time included: investigations into the effects of emotional disclosure on disease activity in patients with autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis; the role of psychosocial factors in the healing of chronic wounds (diabetic foot ulcers and venous leg ulcers); the effects of psychological distress on primary and secondary immunity; the role of early life experiences on stress reactivity in adolescence and studies investigating the emotional responses of men undergoing screening for prostate cancer and the relationship between psychological distress and the diagnosis of prostate cancer. In March 2009, Kavita was appointed as Professor of Health Psychology at the University of Nottingham.