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The use of self-disclosure in healthcare consultations

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  • Full or part time
    Dr J Carroll
    Dr C Clucas
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Research into healthcare has influenced the training and education of healthcare professionals across various disciplines. The focus on patient-centred consultations has emphasised the importance of rapport building and empathy, however the techniques used to establish these are unclear: one method may be through the use of self-disclosure. Defined as sharing “personal information and/or experiences” (McDaniel et al, 2007), self-disclosure is complex and involves both verbal and non-verbal cues (Sticker, 2003). McDaniel et al. (2007) suggest that repeated attempts at self-disclosure were not helpful to the patient and tended to serve the needs of the physician more than the needs of the patient, however, Beach et al (2004), found that patients were more satisfied with their consultation when doctors used self-disclosure. It remains unclear when, and in what way, self-disclosure can be useful during healthcare consultations.

Little is known about the factors that influence self-disclosure. It is more common during earlier consultations rather than later ones (McDaniel et al., 2007) but the impact of this on patients is unclear. Another issue is the type of disclosure. Beach et al (2004) suggested several types of self-disclosure used by doctors such as reassurance, counselling and rapport building. Each of these will have a different underlying purpose but it is unclear why or when they are used, and by which types of medical professional.

Furthermore, previous research has primarily focused on general practitioners with little research on other specialities, such as psychiatry. This PhD will explore the use of self-disclosure, using psychological frameworks and theories. It will use primarily qualitative methods to (i) explore the uses and purposes of self-disclosure and (ii) explore patients’ and professionals’ experiences of using self-disclosure and the impact this has on both groups. This might be followed by developing a psychological measure for self-disclosure using quantitative methods, which could help identify predictors of self-disclosure use.

Studying at Chester

As a postgraduate research student at the University of Chester, you will benefit from being part of one of the fastest-growing Graduate Schools in the UK. The University has almost 500 students studying towards a research degree, each of whom benefit from our excellent library and learning resources, including a dedicated postgraduate study space and regular programme of skills development workshops. Your work will be supervised by a team of experts in your specialist area of study, in addition to our faculty postgraduate tutor. The primary supervisor for this project is Dr Janine Carroll ([Email Address Removed]); prospective applicants are very welcome to contact Dr Carroll in advance of making an application to discuss this project in more depth.

Based within the Department of Psychology, you will also have access to our suite of research laboratories and a host of specialist equipment for your data collection, supported by a small team of psychology technicians. Our department supports an enthusiastic and active research community of which you will be part. This includes our monthly research seminar series, public lectures, and regular meetings of our research groups and journal clubs. For this particular project, you will join our Healthcare Delivery and Ethics Research Group, one of three work streams within the Chester Research Unit for the Psychology of Health (CRUPH).

You will be allocated a generous development fund to support your data collection and conference attendance. We are not able to provide any other financial support for your studies. This advertisement is for self-funded study only and you will be required at the point of application stage to detail how you will pay your fees (see You are encouraged to have a sensible plan in place for payment of your living expenses whilst you undertake this work.

General enquiries about PhD study in our department can be made by contacting Dr Sam Roberts ([Email Address Removed]).

How to apply

Applications should be made via our online application system ( please make it clear in your application which specific project you are applying for. The deadline for applications is Friday 29th April 2016, and we anticipate that the start date will be September 2016.

Funding Notes

This advertisement is for a self-funded PhD applicant only.

How good is research at University of Chester in Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 13.40

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

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