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Peer online forums for people with bipolar experiences

Project Description

We are seeking applications from students interested in gaining experience of mixed methods (quantitative and qualitative) research to understand the experience and impacts of using peer online forums for people with bipolar experiences. Peer Online Forums (POFs) are increasingly used by people seeking support with mental health difficulties, and often recommended by clinicians, but with little understanding of the impacts, for who, and why. POFs are particularly relevant to people with Bipolar who often struggle to access other forms of healthcare support.

The project will include a scoping review to examine availability of forums, who uses them, and what evidence currently exists for their impacts (positive and negative). Primary data will be analysed to prospectively assess changes in key recovery focussed outcomes, and qualitatively explore how these impacts are realised.

This PhD would suit an ambitious, highly motivated, student with an interest in applied health research to improve mental health outcomes. The student will be a member of the Spectrum Centre at Lancaster University but work collaboratively with Bipolar UK (London) who host a peer forum.

Funding Notes

Applications should be made directly to Professor Fiona Lobban, and should include:

CV (max 2 A4 sides), including details of two academic references
A cover letter outlining your qualifications and interest in the studentship (max 2 A4 sides)


Naslund JA, Aschbrenner KA, Marsch LA, Bartels SJ. The future of mental health care: peer-to-peer support and social media. Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences. 2016;25(2):113-22.

Lawlor A, Kirakowski J. Online support groups for mental health: A space for challenging self-stigma or a means of social avoidance? Computers in Human Behavior. 2014;32:152-61.

Alvarez-Jimenez M, Gleeson J, Rice S, Gonzalez-Blanch C, Bendall S. Online peer-to-peer support in youth mental health: seizing the opportunity. Epidemiology and psychiatric sciences. 2016;25(2):123-6.

How good is research at Lancaster University in Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 64.40

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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