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The Development of a Tailored Mindfulness Intervention for Spinal Cord Injury

School of Psychology and Wellbeing

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Dr Katherine Finlay , Dr Margaret Tilley Applications accepted all year round Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Applications are invited for a PhD research student to work on the development of a tailored mindfulness intervention for Spinal Cord Injury.

Project Rationale: Annually in the UK, approximately 1200 people will be diagnosed with SCI, due to traumatic injury or disease (cancer, infection, etc.) and treatment of SCI is estimated to cost the NHS around £1 billion each year. Uncontrolled SCI pain is associated with prolonged/repeat hospitalisation, significant costs of care and poor psychosocial outcomes. Brief psychoeducation and skills-based interventions are potentially a time- and cost-effective way to provide support. There is an urgent need to increase the repertoire of pain management techniques that can be used by patients with mobility and sensory limitations (e.g. SCI, multiple sclerosis or cauda equina syndrome). The restricted ability to use standard mindfulness approaches (e.g. body scanning and mindful walking) with SCI means that the significant health benefits which mindfulness has demonstrated for pain management are not accessible. This project aims to work towards the development, piloting, feasibility testing and full trialling of a tailored mindfulness intervention for Spinal Cord Injury.

Working in Health Psychology:
Health Psychology explores how psychology, biology, behaviour and social factors are involved in health and illness. It focuses on health promotion and the prevention of disease, as well understanding how people react to, cope with and recover from illness. The University of Buckingham is currently active on research projects covering a wide range of topics within Health Psychology. We collaborate on projects and activities with other universities and organisations, both in the UK and abroad. You would join the Centre for Health and Relationships (CHR) Research Hub (; a thriving research hub focusing upon research in five core areas: Pain, Social Support, Sexual & Reproductive Health, Spinal Cord Injury, and Health in Vulnerable Populations.

Your first supervisor would be Dr Katherine Finlay ( whose research focuses on spinal cord injury, pain and social support.

In terms of entry requirements, PhD applicants must have achieved a 2:1 or above in a BPS-accredited Psychology degree, or international equivalent (including at least a 2:1 in the dissertation). Candidates are expected to also hold or be reaching the completion of an MSc degree (or equivalent) although this may be waived in the case of an exceptional applicant. The candidate should be enthusiastic about the research area and have excellent written and oral communication skills along with experience of qualitative and quantitative methodologies. Experience of Mindfulness training or teaching would be beneficial.

Continuation on the PhD will be subject to suitable progress, assessed after one year.

Funding Notes

Candidates must be self-funded, but we are happy to work with prospective PhD students to apply for external funding. For suitable students, there may be teaching opportunities after progression is confirmed.

Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview once the application deadline has passed.


Applicants for this opportunity should upload a single document including a covering letter and brief CV, outlining (a) how their previous experience supports their application to pursue a PhD in Psychology and (b) how their experience/interests suit them for this particular study. The names of two academic referees should be included, but would only be approached in the event that the applicant was shortlisted. Please refer to the code: PHD-SCI-MINDFULNESS in your application.
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