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Feasibility of delivering group psychological support to stroke survivors in community settings

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  • Full or part time
    Dr Emma Patchwood
    Prof A Bowen
    Dr S Knowles
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round

Project Description

Supporting people to come to terms with persisting disability and life after stroke is a high priority for stroke research. There is an urgent need for evidence-based, clinically and financially effective psychological interventions that can be feasibly delivered for community-based stroke survivors.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a third wave cognitive-behavioural therapy that encourages clients to adjust to – and accept – current experiences and ‘commit’ to behaviours that are congruent with their personal values, in order to promote psychological well-being. Living Well with Neurological Conditions (LWNC) is an ACT-based psychological support intervention for groups. It has been used in NHS settings and has good proof-of-principle for improving well-being in clinical populations experiencing psychological distress.
This project is funded by the Stroke Association to begin in March 2019 and will:

1) Develop the existing LWNC course for stroke survivors, as well as a workforce training programme for course facilitators;
2) Conduct a feasibility randomised controlled trial (RCT), exploring acceptability and defining the design specifications for a phase 3 RCT that will robustly test LWNC effectiveness for treating psychological distress.

All stages will involve service user collaboration with stroke survivors and carers, as well as collaboration with the Stroke Association, Clinical Neuropsychologists and expert researchers. Outcomes will be the production a co-developed group psychological intervention and workforce training programme that has potential to enhance stroke survivors’ well-being.

We are interested in supervising an innovative, committed PhD student to be part of this exciting project. PhD projects will be embedded within the work and have a particular emphasis on understanding intervention fidelity and acceptability through process evaluation and qualitative methodologies, respectively.

The PhD student will be co-located with the experienced supervisory team to ensure a supportive environment that is responsive to training needs. The supervisory team will support training in research methodologies including systematic reviewing, interviewing, process evaluations and participatory approaches to qualitative and quantitative data collection. The supervisory team will also support training and developing of competencies with regards to both quantitative and qualitative data analysis.

Practical skills training will be available e.g. critically appraising papers; statistical analysis; writing papers; presentation skills. The successful PhD candidate will also gain invaluable experience in approaches to service user collaboration; an important component of this project.

Opportunities for development of dissemination skills will be available through presentation at local research and interest groups, and attendance at conferences.

Through the PhD there will be opportunities to actively participate in the thriving research culture at the University of Manchester.

Candidates are expected to hold a minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject area (e.g. psychology; neuroscience; medicine). Candidates who hold or are due to attain a relevant Master’s degree (e.g. research methods, clinical and health psychology) will be preferred. We are interested in candidates who have an understanding of qualitative and quantitative research methods, including process evaluations. Candidates with experience in stroke research or clinical practice (including voluntary work) are encouraged to apply.

Funding Notes

This project has a Band 1 fee. Details of our different fee bands can be found on our website ( For information on how to apply for this project, please visit the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health Doctoral Academy website (

Potential funding sources are also being sought by the supervisory team

Informal enquiries may be made directly to the supervisor.


1. Rudd, AG, Bowen, A, Young, G & James, MA 2017, 'National clinical guideline for stroke: 5th edition 2016' Clinical Medicine.

2. Hill, G., et al. (2017). Living well with neurological conditions: Evaluation of an ACT-informed group intervention for psychological adjustment in outpatients with neurological problems. The Neuropsychologist, 3, 58 – 63.

3. Craig P., et al (2008). Developing and evaluating complex interventions: the new Medical Research Council guidance BMJ; 337 :a1655

4. Moore G.F., et al (2015). Process evaluation of complex interventions: Medical Research Council guidance BMJ; 350 :h1258

5. Hoffmann, T.C., et al., [Better Reporting of Interventions: Template for Intervention Description and Replication (TIDieR) Checklist and Guide]. Gesundheitswesen, 2016. 78(3): p. 175-88.

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