PhD Students

Ejalal Jalal

Enhancing Service delivery in Saudi Arabia: Evaluation of a National Family Safety Programme for Child Protection Multidisciplinary Training 


In 2005, the National Family Safety Programme (NFSP) was developed by the Royal Decree of the King. Between 2007 and 2008, the NFSP established a child protection centre in one of the major hospitals. This project received the full support and approval of the National Health Council (NHC), the highest health service authority in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The centre offers several basic training courses annually in collaboration with other agencies. The objective of these training courses is to provide participants with basic skills to identify signs, causes and consequences of child abuse and neglect, and in managing child protection within their professional remit.


To establish participants’ views on the impact of this training on their practice.


Stage1: Quantitative component containing pre- and post-training questionnaire, assessing knowledge, attitudes and competence in dealing with abuse cases.

Stage2: Qualitative component of interviewing a sub-sample of participants.


John Hoffman, Lecturer, School of Social Work

A critical examination of the associations between foster carer attachment style and disruption

The study will undertake a critical examination of the associations between foster carer attachment style and disruption.  Secondary analysis of key demographic characteristics, adolescent attachment style, and developmental factors will also be considered as well as their implications for social work practice. The study will focus on looked after children thought most likely to experience placement disruption, i.e. children in middle childhood through to adolescence.


Tania Morris, Senior Lecturer, University of Northampton

A qualitative study exploring how young people with mental health difficulties can be better supported in mainstream education

This study explores how young people with mental health difficulties can be 'better' supported in mainstream education. It focuses on the school experiences of young people, aged 14 to 16 years of age, who are attending CAMHS.

Limited evidence is available into how young people with mental health difficulties view and interpret their school experiences. This study recognises the intrinsic link made between a young person's academic achievement and mental health wellbeing, noting the research, which suggests that young people with mental health difficulties are more likely to underachieve, placing them more at risk of social exclusion, unemployment and adverse mental health outcomes.

Data will be obtained from three groups: young people, their parents, and their teachers, using a semi-structured interviewing technique. Consenting young people and their parents were recruited via Northamptonshire Specialist CAMHS. Parents and children were interviewed in order to explore their perspectives of how learning can be 'better' supported. Permission was also requested from the young person to contact a supporting teacher.  Their teacher was then interviewed to ascertain their perspectives on how they felt children with mental health difficulties can be best supported. Eighteen participants from each sample group were be interviewed. The data has been collected and is being analysed with the aid of specialist software (NVivo).

 The research findings will be disseminated, and it is hoped that this information will be used by specialist CAMHS practitioners and teachers to enable them to better support the education of young people with mental health difficulties.


Pallab Majumder, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (looked -after team), Nottingham

Experiences of Unaccompanied Refugee Minors of their Contact with a Specialist Mental Health Service

This qualitative study aims to fill the gap in the knowledge on the experiences of unaccompanied asylum seeking young persons of their contact with specialist mental health services.  The research questions are:

  1.  What are the unaccompanied refugee minors’ experiences of specialist mental health services?
  2.  Are these experiences perceived to influence the overall effectiveness of the service provided?
  3. What are the factors perceived to influence these experiences?
  4. Is there anything that this population believe needs to be changed in services to make their experience and contacts more effective?

 Children are a unique research group who are particularly vulnerable. This applies even more in unaccompanied children seeking asylum, many of whom will have been persecuted by authorities in the past, making a careful ethical consideration ever more important for this group. This project has a full ethical approval by the NHS Research Ethics Committee.

 The sample consists of refugee children and young people who are unaccompanied. The initial piloting of the interview schedule, as well as the data collection by interviewing the study participants, have been completed. Data has been collected by interviewing 15 young people and their carers from consecutive referrals to a Tier 2/3 Children and Adolescent Mental Health (CAMHS) team for looked after children. Young people and their carers were interviewed using a semi structured schedule. All interviews were audio taped, transcribed verbatim, and are currently being analysed by a thematic framework. QSR NVivo software is being used to analyse the data.


Victoria Stafford, Research Associate at Greenwood 

The organisation of access in child mental health assessments: A conversation analysis of initial assessment appointments in a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service

The purpose of this study is to explore communication between families and clinicians at initial assessment (triage) appointments at the Leicester Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), with a conversation analytic focus. In particular, the study will look at how families and clinicians ‘negotiate’ access to the service through their interactions.


Despite a wealth of research into communication in health related settings, there is very little that has focused specifically on CAMHS. Triage appointments provide a particularly rich environment in terms of the discursive strategies employed. The main purpose of the appointment is to act as a screening process for non-emergency cases referred to the service. After hearing from the family regarding the child’s medical history and the problems they are encountering that have led to their attendance at CAMHS, the clinician has to determine whether CAMHS is the right service to be treating the child, or whether another outside service would be more applicable, or indeed, whether the family’s concern about the child warrants any form of treatment.

From the perspective of this research, the fact that the clinician is making a decision relating to the child’s future course of treatment based on the perceived severity of their problem and how the family presents this is of particular interest. The notion that many families are attending CAMHS seeking a particular diagnosis and further help through the service changes the dynamic of the appointment, leading to particular interactional techniques being employed.


The purpose of this research is to gain a better understanding of the interactional and conversational processes involved in these initial appointments, particularly exploring the ways clinicians manage their responsibility with regards to access to future treatment and services. The research will also look to the needs of the family, and the mechanisms they use to achieve what they feel is best for their child.


Video recordings of the appointments were collected with consent from the families and clinicians involved. The recordings were then transcribed verbatim and had Jeffersonian transcription conventions added to them. The transcripts will be subject to conversation analysis to look further into the objectives outlined above.


Lisa Anderson, Senior Teaching Fellow and Training Co-Ordinator in Child Mental Health

Childrens’ and Adolescents’ Understanding of Different Mental Health Therapeutic Interventions

 a)      Main Research

Despite recent interest in children’s participation, perceptions and understanding of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), this is limited to service opinions, consent and aiding in development of services. In contrast, there is limited evidence of their understanding of the treatment options and therapeutic approaches, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Family Therapy, Psychodynamic Therapy or Interpersonal Therapy. This would have a significant impact on their ability to provide informed consent and engage in the therapeutic process.

This study aims to investigate children’s and adolescents’ understanding of different mental health therapeutic interventions. This will be achieved through semi-structure interviews with a non-clinical sample cohort (not currently involved with CAMHS) of children selected from Schools and Youth clubs.

b)     Service Evaluation

Evaluation of a five-day introduction to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for Tier one staff.

The CBT course was developed for the local Improving Access to Psychological Therapies Initiative (IAPT) in Leicestershire, which is a government initiative to improve the skills of workers in therapeutic interventions across all services. The course has been piloted twice in 2012, for a total of 27 participants. Three more courses are to be run during 2013, with 20 participants per course.

The learning outcomes for the course are.

By the end of the course, participants should:

  • Have a general understanding of the basic fundamentals of CBT
  • Be able to carry out a basic assessment
  • Be able to produce a conceptualisation
  • Be able to formulate a treatment plan
  • Demonstrate a sound understanding of behavioural techniques and be able to apply these with children and adolescents
  • Demonstrate a sound understating of cognitive techniques and be able to apply these with children and adolescents
  • Demonstrate the ability to apply CBT principles to low level anxiety and depression


Pre- and post-training questionnaires to measure their understanding of CBT and relevance to practice and training feedback questionnaires will be administered to all applicants immediately before and after completion of the course. A subsample of 40 participants will then be contacted at six months for a semi structured telephone interview to measure the impact of the training, asking for examples of how the training has changed their current practice


Elizabeth Hale, Chartered Health Psychologist, Department of Rheumatology, Dudley Group of Hospitals NHS Trust

Children of parents with chronic inflammatory musculoskeletal diseases: Experiences, needs and resources

The aim is to establish how a parent’s musculoskeletal condition is perceived to impact upon individual and family life from the perspectives of the child(ren), parent and partner. Also to ascertain what kind of information the child(ren) would like to have about their parent’s condition, the format this should take, how and when they would like it given to them, and who should give them this information. 

This will use a qualitative methodology to conduct semi-structured interviews with adult patients (>18) attending a hospital rheumatology service who have children aged between 7 and 11 years. The researcher will interview the patient, partner (if there is one) and child(ren). The children will also have the opportunity to produce artwork such as posters and storyboards.

The results of the project will be made available to the funding organisation Arthritis Research UK and will be disseminated via peer reviewed journals and at conferences. It is hoped that future work will develop relevant materials which can then be piloted and assessed in an appropriate sample.


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