Research is very highly valued at the University of East Anglia and we aim to provide a research environment which is encouraging and testing.
Our aim amongst the staff and trainees of the clinical psychology group is to conduct theoretically based research which complements clinical work and which informs and enhances clinical skills. Significantly, we aim for that research to contribute to the development of health service practice and policies. We aim to train clinical psychologists in critical evaluation of research, in summarising and integrating research findings, and in drawing out the clinical implications of research. We particularly welcome applicants with a strong interest in research and those who want to develop a clinical research career. Therefore accepting a place at the University of East Anglia means that you must be willing to commit yourself to undertake research at a high standard and expect to publish the research that you complete.
Research Training on the Doctoral Programme
Research in Clinical Psychology is an essential part of professional practice. Applied clinical research is a key part of the Programme and constitutes around half of the content of training, teaching and study. Trainee clinical psychologists are postgraduate research students at the University. Practising clinical psychologists are expected to remain appraised of the most recent and relevant clinical research, as well as adding to the evidence-base and applying a critical understanding of psychological research methods and models across both clinical and research activities. As such, we are both critical consumers and producers of research. The two main research activities within the doctoral programme are the Doctoral Research Thesis, and the Service Related Project.
Doctoral Research Thesis
We have recently adopted a portfolio model for the final year thesis. The benefit of this is that trainees will learn key research competencies, with the resulting research outcomes in a format which will facilitate publication of the research. We believe this gives our trainees a “real life” experience of research and allows them to complete the research process (i.e. dissemination of their research) in a more efficient way which will also enhance career and employment prospects. The research training on the doctoral programme at UEA is therefore aimed at teaching ways and means of conducting ecologically valid, high quality and generalisable research of direct clinical relevance to the NHS.
The doctoral thesis portfolio offers trainees the opportunity to engage in a significant piece of research, supported by an academic supervisor. The thesis is based on research carried out by trainees in partnership with staff within the specific research programmes, and sometimes with clinical supervisors in the region. As research is rarely carried out by individuals in isolation, collaboration between trainees and staff is encouraged to embed skills as competent scientist-practitioners. Dedicated days for research and academic study are allocated in each year of training. There are good library and computing facilities within the University and in NHS departments around the region. There are opportunities for collaborative and team research including opportunities for working with colleagues in other disciplines within the School.
Planning for the thesis starts early in the first year with a Research Fair where staff provide information about the programmes of research and outlines of potential projects in the format of a conference poster session. We plan to involve patients and the public in these early discussions from 2016. Trainees then have the opportunity to develop ideas and present them for feedback in the Spring term. Following this, trainees submit their thesis proposal in June of Year 1. The portfolio thesis is submitted in March of Year 3 (giving candidates up to 21 months to complete their research) and are assessed via oral examinations (vivas). The thesis is submitted in a publication-friendly portfolio format, normally comprising a systematic review, chapters on methodology, results and discussion, and a chapter in the format of a journal article highlighting the main findings.
Service Related Project
This is usually a small scale service evaluation or clinical audit project, driven by service needs, with the aim of making a difference to service users, carers and or service provision. It is usually carried out in the trainee's clinical base, with local dissemination of findings and recommendations an integral part of the project. The Service Related Project is completed and submitted at the end of Year 2. Trainees develop their Proposal in Year 1 with a Clinical and UEA Supervisor and work on this concurrently whilst carrying out work on the thesis. The service related project is submitted in the format of a journal article or professional practice report for the purposes of dissemination. Both the thesis proposal and the service related project are submitted for examination during training, prior to completion of the doctoral thesis. These assignments facilitate the development of research competencies in preparation for the larger doctoral thesis project.
Programmes of Research Within Clinical Psychology
There are four main research programmes within the Department of Clinical Psychology, and the programme staff are members of these programmes, along with other members of the Department of Clinical Psychology:
- Psychological distress and disorders in adult populations which includes psychosis, anxiety and depression (Sian Coker, Jo Hodgekins)
- Psychology of childhood and adolescence including PTSD in young people, eating disorders, paediatric diabetes, childhood brain injury and paediatric pain (Sian Coker, Imogen Rushworth, Jo Hodgekins, Kiki Mastroyannopoulou, Richard Meiser-Stedman, Fergus Gracey, Laura Pass and Judith Young)
- Clinical health psychology across the lifespan which includes psychosocial adaptation to chronic illness (Catherine Ford, Imogen Rushworth, Kiki Mastroyannopoulou and Judith Young)
- Vulnerable populations including older people, dementia, stroke and acquired brain injury (Catherine Ford, Paul Fisher, Fergus Gracey, Niall Broomfield and Adrian Leddy).
Across these clinical areas there is an interest in the development and evaluation of preventative and psychological interventions, embedded in primary empirical research. There is also an interest in novel interventions and approaches including ‘3rd wave’ interventions, positive psychological processes such as well-being, growth, creativity and wisdom in vulnerable groups, and in critical and qualitative approaches to understanding experience of health conditions. Staff within the department have experience and expertise with a number of methodological approaches including single case series designs, qualitative studies, group comparison studies and clinical trials, survey and experimental designs. Further details of staff research interests are available on the MED people pages where you can search all staff members across the school. Staff research interests are also provided for short-listed candidates prior to interview.
Patient and Public Involvement
Involvement of patients and the public in all stages of healthcare research contributes significantly to the value of healthcare research by enhancing the insights of researchers into the specific health conditions being studied, ensuring research topics and methods are relevant and acceptable and improving dissemination and impact. Research funded by the Department of Health through the NIHR must demonstrate involvement of patients and the public throughout the development and conduct of the research. There is a strong ethos of involving experts by experience within the doctoral programme at UEA, and there is wider expertise on involvement and PPI within the Medical School and School of Health Sciences. We are currently building on existing opportunities for patient and public involvement in research through links with experts by experience and other patient groups locally and regionally such as the Youth Council.