Imperial College London Featured PhD Programmes
Imperial College London Featured PhD Programmes
The Chinese University of Hong Kong Featured PhD Programmes

Exploring self perception of size in childbearing women with an increased BMI

   School of Health and Social Care

  Dr Gail Norris, , Dr Yvonne Greig  Tuesday, November 30, 2021  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

This exciting proposal will provide opportunity for a midwife with an interest in obesity, with the opportunity to study a full time/ part time PhD.

The number of pregnant women with a BMI>35kg/m2 in the UK is on the increase, with associated complications for both mother and infant. Health policies in the UK  label pregnant women with a BMI>35kg/m2 as high-risk of developing obstetric complications and are  responding to the obesity problem through introducing policies designed to regulate the obese pregnant body. Captured within this viewpoint, is an assumption that women will accept that having a BMI > 35kg/m2 is harmful and as such they will respond positively to advice and recommended interventions. Pregnancy is thought to offer “teachable moments” and is considered an ideal opportunity for behaviour change. Yet, randomized controlled trials (RCT’s) that have examined behavioural change interventions offered to obese women, generally report poor uptake . Also, lack of risk communication by health care professionals may indicate that size and pregnancy are normal.  This can lead to disparity between actual clinical diagnosis of being obese and an inability to self-identify with the label, with many women refusing to associate themselves with the biomedical obesity label, or the culturally imposed image of obesity. This questions how public health iniatives can be successful in this context. Potential disconnection between perceptions of size and reality could be relevant for developing maternity care strategies that are designed to raise awareness of self as obese and reduce risk for pregnant women with high BMI’s. A limited body of work has looked at pregnant women’s with a BMI>35kg/m2  self-perceptions of size. How to overcome this incongruence between ‘ideal self’ and ‘real self’ in relation to having a high BMI and how to improve outcomes requires further research attention.


Academic qualifications

A first degree (at least a 2.1) ideally in midwifery and with evidence of post graduate study.Required to be a midwife currently registered with the Nursing and Midwfery Council (NMC), with a good fundamental knowledge of  obesity.


English language requirement

IELTS score must be at least 6.5 (with not less than 6.0 in each of the four components). Other, equivalent qualifications will be accepted. Full details of the University’s policy are available online.


Essential attributes:

·        Experience of fundamental clinical research, ideally in the area of childbirth and obesity

·        Competent in computer skills and academic writing skills

·        Knowledge of childbirth and obesity

·        Good written and oral communication skills

·        Strong motivation, with evidence of independent research skills relevant to the project

·        Good time management

Desirable attributes:

Evidence of post graduate study

Please quote reference SHSC0025 on your application


• Completed application form

• CV

• 2 academic references, using the Postgraduate Educational Reference Form (Found on the application process page)

• A personal research statement (This should include (a) a brief description of your relevant experience and skills, (b) an indication of

what you would uniquely bring to the project and (c) a statement of how this project fits with your future direction.)

• Evidence of proficiency in English (if appropriate)


Funding Notes

This is a self -funded full time/ part time PhD study


Norris,G,. Hollins Martin,C,. and Dickson, A,. (2020 ) An exploratory Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) of childbearing women’s perceptions of risk associated with having a high Body Mass Index (BMI) Midwifery: an international journal vol 89.p.102789.

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