Examining mental health and wellbeing service provision for rugby players experiencing catastrophic injury (Ref: SSEHS/RFU)

   School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

   Sunday, June 30, 2024  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Spinal Cord Injuries (SCIs) and Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs) in rugby are rare, however the consequences are far-reaching: sustaining a catastrophic injury presents a rapid and life-altering shift in a rugby players’ personal and social identity and their day-to-day reality. Negotiating these transitions and changes poses significant challenges to mental health and wellbeing.

A recent report commissioned by the RFU Injured Players Foundation (IPF) identified that IPF clients are at a greater risk of experiencing poor mental health. However, effective, evidence-based interventions to support mental health and wellbeing of injured rugby players are lacking.

This PhD studentship has been match-funded by the IPF, who provide ongoing support to rugby players who experience catastrophic SCIs or TBIs while playing the game. The IPF have identified a need to better understand the mental health and wellbeing needs and support provision of their client-base, so that they can better tailor their mental wellbeing offers to their clients.

The aim of this unique PhD research is to explore mental health and wellbeing service provision for IPF clients, with the objective of co-creating bespoke evidence informed recommendations about mental health service provision, by working collaboratively with the IPF.

The specific objectives of this PhD are:

  1. To understand the mental health experiences of IPF clients through secondary analysis of qualitative data.
  2. To examine existing mental health service provision for individuals experiencing life-altering injury and identify gaps and opportunities for improvement.
  3. To develop co-produced recommendations for IPF which represent the mental health needs and service requirements of their client-base.

The successful candidate will be based within the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences and also be a part of the world-leading Peter Harrison Centre for Disability Sport. 

More information about the Para Sport research and Para Sport within the Sports Development Centre at Loughborough University.

94% of Loughborough’s research impact is rated world-leading or internationally excellent. REF 2021


Primary supervisor: Dr Janine Coates

Secondary supervisors: Dr Jamie BarkerDr Carolyn PlateauProf Vicky Tolfrey

Entry requirements

Applicants should have or expect to achieve a first-class or upper second-class undergraduate degree (or equivalent) in a relevant field for the PhD studentship (e.g. Psychology; Sport & Exercise Science; Sport and Exercise Psychology).

A relevant sport-related Master’s degree and/or professional experience or insight relating to mental health service provision and/or disability sport is desirable.

An interest in, or experience of rugby is also desirable.

English language requirements

Applicants must meet the minimum English language requirements. Further details are available on the International website.

How to apply

All applications should be made online. Under programme name, select School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences. Please quote the advertised reference number: SSEHS/RFU in your application.

To avoid delays in processing your application, please ensure that you submit the minimum supporting documents.

The following selection criteria will be used by academic schools to help them make a decision on your application.

Apply now

Psychology (31) Sociology (32) Sport & Exercise Science (33)

Funding Notes

The studentship is for 3 years and provides a tax-free stipend of £19,237 per annum for the duration of the studentship plus tuition fees at the UK rate. Due to funding restrictions, this is only available to those eligible for UK fees.

The opportunity is subject to external funding. In the event that the funder withdraws prior to recruitment the studentship would be withdrawn.

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