PhD research

Laura Rees-Davies is interested in the area of eating disorders, particularly service provision from the service user perspective, including the relationship between service user expectations and satisfaction with treatment, and service user characteristics such as motivation to engage in treatment, self-efficacy of recovery and therapeutic alliance. She has explored the development and efficacy of health interventions aimed at healthcare professionals for anorexia nervosa. She is also interested in provision of services for students with mental health problems, especially the components and efficacy of mentoring support and its effect on student retention and achievement.


Maria Qureshi: PhD title ‘Evaluation of the effectiveness of ‘Parent Information/Training Booklet’ designed for Parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) living in Pakistan’
This research aims to examine the most appropriate methods of knowledge translation for parents of children with ASD in the context of Pakistan. Following the Knowledge-to-Action (KTA) model of Knowledge Translation (KT), the study encompassed several phases. As this was a multiple-staged study for developing best practice principles, different research instruments were used at different stages according to the needs of the study in order to collect necessary data.

To gain insight into the current attitudes and status in Pakistan, two questionnaires, a series of interviews and a focus group with parents of children with ASD living in Pakistan and professionals working with these families were administered at the beginning of the study. This allowed data to be collected on service provision, the satisfaction of parents with the services provided, as well as their needs regarding a potential parent support pack. Data were also collected regarding the type and level of information that should be provided to parents of children with ASD with reference to the Pakistani context and the best medium for the information to be provided, again with reference to the Pakistani context.


Brenda Wilson: PhD title ‘Exploration of Factors that Stimulate Best Practice in Developmental Coordination Disorder’
The overall aim of this study is to explore methods of knowledge translation (KT) which impact the use of best practice principles in the identification, diagnosis and management of children (up to 16 years) with DCD, in the UK and in Canada. The ultimate goal is to contribute to a body of knowledge which can be used internationally to guide best practice in the field of DCD, and to close the ‘gap’ between evidence and practice.

The study has two objectives: to identify written guidelines and protocols (available in English) that inform best practice in DCD which are in use in the UK and Canada, through a scoping review. And to study factors (both barriers and facilitators) that influence awareness, knowledge and utilization of Best Practice (BP) in the identification, diagnosis and management of children (up to 16 years) with DCD. In the Broadest sense, the question is ‘How can we measure the impact of KT in this child health field?’


Rosemary Decker-Thomas
Rosemary is a Counsellor and a part time PhD student. Her research is taking a qualitative and quantitative approach to defining the perceived qualities of a Voluntary Sector Counselling Service (VSCS), as opposed to a public funded service. One of the aims of the study is to help identify the perceived strengths and weaknesses of such services from a service user, counsellor and managerial perspective. These findings will then be used in order to further develop and maintain good quality VSCSs.


Mary Clare O’Connell
New-wave mindful based therapies are permeating all levels of life in Wales with patients being prescribed state funded mindful based therapies on the National Health Service and return to work packages including courses of mindfulness paid for by Social Services. The promises of cognitive enhancement and emotional regulation see the concepts of mindfulness increasing applied to education. Who, why, and how are just some of the questions considered in this candidates PhD proposal on mindfulness, pedagogy and practise (yes, that is an “s” in practise). Importantly, evidence based pedagogy is key to the Welsh Government’s educational provision in secondary schools across the principality. It is envisaged that this research will contribute both to that evidence base and critical evaluate present approaches.


John Chiltern
John is a Nurse Consultant, Dual Diagnosis, at the 2gether Foundation Trust in Gloucestershire. His PhD is under joint supervision by USW (Dr Philip Tyson) and University of Gloucestershire staff. The study is looking at the impact of a dual diagnosis group therapy programme on individuals who have mental health and substance misuse problems. A mixed methods approach is adopted here, with services users’ experiences, opinions and perspectives combining with rating scales and questionnaire methods in order to provide a full evaluation of the programme.


Paul Griffiths
Paul is a Lecturer in Health and Well Being at USW, and is beginning his PhD on a part time basis. He is looking at Mental and Physical health amongst undergraduate students over the long term, and in particular how the stresses and strains of academic life have an effect on students mental and physical health. For example, are there seasonal variations in mental health, or is mental health associated with key events during their studies, such as fresher’s week or exam time? Similarly, Paul will be considering physical health behaviour patterns amongst students. For example, are there seasonal variations in alcohol intake, unhealthy eating and engagement in physical activity?


Klara Sabolova: PhD title ‘Family relations and young children’s well-being: A cross cultural study in Wales and Czech Republic’
The purpose of this research is to examine the degree to which young children’s psychosocial well-being is shaped by family setting across two cultures – Wales and the Czech Republic. Namely, how the child’s current circumstances such as psychological adjustment, parent-child attachment, anxiety, emotional intelligence, coping skills, and academic achievement are subjected to external influence of parental marital status and family economy. This longitudinal study will involve two waves of data collection with a one year gap in between. The findings of this study will potentially highlight the psychosocial well-being of young children as a part of family relations circumstances which will bring important implications for practice. The findings may yet bring a psychosocial perspective to theories of family relations.


Diana Callaghan
Personality and Other Factors in the On-Line Disinhibition Effect
Early research into on-line communication suggested more personal and sensitive information is shared between strangers in on-line communication than would normally occur in face to face dialogue. Possible explanations for this tendency focused on the specific affordances of on-line communication that are different from face to face conversation, including anonymity of identity and the physical separation of those communicating. However, more recent research has concluded that the evidence for greater self-disclosure in on-line settings is inconclusive and that experimental methodologies for examining self-disclosure on-line have been inconsistent. This research is therefore exploring factors that contribute to on-line disclosure of personal and sensitive information and to compare whether the psychological processes involved in on-line self-disclosure are different from those involved during direct, face to face self-disclosure. Methods of analysing on-line disclosure content are also being evaluated.


Janet Mundy
Methods to encourage optimal cognitive strategy selection and usage to alleviate individual differences in performance on mental rotation and verbal ability tasks
The ability to visualise and to mentally rotate two-dimensional (2D) representations of images in three dimensions (3D) is a cognitive skill that has been shown to be extremely important for success in the disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Also, the identification of wide variation between individuals in 3D spatial skills, and associated gender differences (with males typically outperforming females), has been a topic of research interest for nearly a century. Recent research has focused on identifying practical methods for improving 3D spatial skills in STEM students, aimed for example at reducing the rate at which students with lower spatial skills drop out of STEM degree programmes. These spatial skills may however also be important in non-STEM programmes such as creative based subjects (including: Photography, Fashion, and Animation) or non-traditional STEM subjects with a high scientific content (including: Psychology, Radiotherapy, Sports Science, and Nutrition).

Given the above and many practical and theoretical applications of this research area, this PhD is being conducted with three broad aims:

1. To explore whether some tests, measures and tools traditionally used to assess spatial and mental rotation skills in STEM subjects are effective for subject populations outside of these fields;
2. To establish whether exposure to and training in different types of strategies (including cognitive, motor, etc.) can enhance the application of mental rotation and visuo-spatial skills with generalised application to untrained skills;
3. To explore whether any improvements identified following training and/or intervention are fleeting or retained and transferred, in order to determine whether spatial skills are sufficiently malleable to make training effective and economically feasible.


Phillip Hartland (starting Jan 2014)
It’s about being in the right frame of mind: The role of self regulation on the performance of seemingly simple yet complex and seemingly complex yet simple cognitive tasks

Al Said Tagharid
Exploring the Effectiveness of a Play-Based Educational Programme in Increasing Children’s Emotional Intelligence and Reducing Behavioural Problems

Hayley Bartlett
A combined quantitative and qualitative comparative analysis of the psychological well-being and general quality of life of office-based workers in comparison to home-working (telecommuting).

Terri Bolton
Developing low carbon behaviour in the workplace utilising technology with psychology.

Daniel Bowers
“Let’s Stick Together?” Social Identity, Music Fans and Group Membership.

Narcisa Draghici
What explains people’s preference of one media figure (movie character) over another?

Lenira Ferreira Semedo
Development of a screening/outcome measure for patients with pernicious anaemia.

Joanne Higgins
The Effects of Parental Involvement and Expectations of Education Upon Children’s Motivation.

Sarah Taylor-Jones
Online Persuasion: The Influence of Message Cues and Source Characteristics

Stuart Jones
Assessing the relationship and test the applicability of the transtheoretical model with regards to sports injury rehabilitation adherence.

Laura Rees Davies
Anorexia nervosa in Wales: Patient treatment experience and healthcare professional awareness.

Leanne Watson
Working with Sexual Offenders: The effects of staff training and contact on attitudes towards sexual offenders?

Jodie Watts
An Analysis of the Effects of Parametric Variables on Functional Analysis Outcomes.