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Exploring multiple perspectives on trauma-informed care for women experiencing severe and multiple disadvantage

   Faculty of Health, Education, Medicine and Social Care

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  Dr Melanie Boyce, Dr S Burch  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

The project is based in a third sector organisation supporting women who experience severe and multiple disadvantage. It is a mixed methods case study design and will explore multiple perspectives on trauma-informed care using a range of predominantly qualitative approaches.

In recent years understandings of the prevalence and long-term effects of trauma have grown. In response trauma-informed care has gained greater credence as the most effective way to deliver services to avoid re-traumatisation (Wilton & Williams, 2019). The framing of trauma as a universal experience, whilst of value, ignores how it is often bound up with systems of power and oppression that tends to disproportionately affect those who are marginalised and experiencing multiple and severe disadvantages (Hodges & Burch, 2022). Furthermore, the universal framing of trauma overlooks its gendered nature as women are more likely to be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder than men. Hence, whilst interest in the principles and values of trauma-informed care have grown, in the UK its implementation and delivery remain fragmentary and largely underdeveloped (Asmussen et al., 2022). Differing interpretations and understanding of trauma-informed care typifies the situation with wide variations between geographical areas, services and professions (Emsley et al., 2022).

Project Aims

The aim of this project is to explore how differing interpretations and delivery of trauma-informed care impact women experiencing severe and multiple disadvantage. By doing so the project will contribute to the evidence-base on how trauma-informed care, in a UK context, is being interpreted and delivered in mainstream and voluntary sectors and provide insights on the impact of these different interpretations for women with severe and multiple disadvantage. The research will be based in a woman’s organisation who support women experiencing severe and multiple disadvantage and will utilise a case study design to examine understandings on trauma-informed care from the perspective of service users, staff, volunteers and external service provider partners. Utilising a predominately qualitative approach the successful applicant will collaboratively work with the host organisation to develop a detailed methodological approach. Indicative methods are likely to include documentary analysis, semi-structured interviews, observation and quantitative analysis of outcome data.

The student will be part of the Women and Girls Research Interest Group, which is a cross-faculty network at ARU. Both supervisors are part of the steering group, and the student would have access to the interest group meetings, which feature seminars, theoretical and methodological discussions. The Women and Girls Research Interest Group sits within the Communities and Social Inclusion group, which encompasses on a wide range of topics and perspectives, with a strong focus on participatory approaches within marginalised communities. This would ensure that the student becomes part of a supportive interdisciplinary network and research community.

Background Experience

  • Experience of qualitative and quantitative research methods
  • Competent in data collection and analysis
  • Good written and oral communication skills
  • Good time management
  • An interest in social justice, gender equality and social inclusion.

If you would like to discuss this research project please contact Dr Melanie Boyce: [Email Address Removed]

Candidate requirements

Applications are invited from UK home fee status only. Applicants should have (or expect to achieve) a minimum upper second class undergraduate degree (or equivalent) in a cognate discipline. A Master’s degree in a relevant subject is desirable.

Applicants must be prepared to study on a full-time basis, attending at our Chelmsford or Cambridge campus.

Application Procedures

Applications for a Vice Chancellor’s PhD Scholarship are made through the application portal on our website:

We will review all applications after the submission deadline of 19th March. We will contact shortlisted applicants in the week commencing 3rd April. Interviews will be held between 17th April to 2nd May.

If you have any queries relating to the application process or the terms and conditions of the Scholarships, please email [Email Address Removed].

Documentation required

You will need the following documents available electronically to upload them to the application portal (we can accept files in pdf, jpeg or Word format):

  • Certificates and transcripts from your Bachelor and Master’s degrees, (if applicable)
  • Your personal statement explaining your suitability for the project
  • Passport and visa, or evidence of EU Settlement Scheme (if applicable)
  • Curriculum Vitae

Please note the application form will ask you to upload a research proposal. You should upload your personal statement in this section, as proposals are not required for this scholarship.

Funding Notes

Applications are open to Home fee status students only. This successful applicant for this project will receive a Vice Chancellor’s Scholarship award which covers Home tuition fees and provides a UKRI equivalent minimum annual stipend for three years. The award is subject to the successful candidate meeting the studentship Terms and conditions which can be found on our website:
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