PhD Studentship Parenting & Family Support Programme at Glasgow Caledonian University

University PhD Research Studentship

School of Health & Life Sciences/Institute for Applied Health Research

Reference Number: SHLS-116S

Studentship Project Title: Social networks, social connectedness, and maternal mental health and well-being: the personal and social lives of vulnerable pregnant women when they are transitioning to motherhood and/or adapting to an additional child

Applications are invited for a full-time PhD research studentship at Glasgow Caledonian University within the School of Health & Life Sciences.  The studentship is for a period of three years, subject to satisfactory progress and provides payment of tuition fees at the UK/EU rate plus an annual stipend of £14,800 [please note that students from outside the EU are required to pay the difference between International and EU fees, currently this would amount to £7,100 per annum].  The successful candidate will carry out up to 6 hours of academic-related work per week as part of their research training.

Research Theme

Public Health

Research Project Summary

This PhD will examine the experiences of women identified as ‘vulnerable’ (i.e. complex social and health care needs) during pregnancy and beyond. The focus will be on women’s social networks, perceived social connectedness (sense of belonging), and impact on mental health, well-being and identities as mothers.

One of the ways that parenting interventions, such as Enhanced Triple P for Baby (ETPB) and Mellow Bumps (MB) are theorised to work is through their group delivery, which involves social engagement with other mothers-to-be in the group (who have a range of vulnerabilities and parenting experiences) and the formation of relationships with facilitator(s). The PhD will: 1) look closely at the processes through which relationships are formed during the delivery of intervention groups 2) examine the potential benefits, and any unintended effects, of the social support derived from participation in MB or ETPB and 3) explore how intervention support ‘fits’ within women’s broader social networks (e.g. does social support derived from the intervention strengthen other bonds (e.g. with other children) or weaken them (e.g. with a violent partner)? Recruitment of mothers-to-be, and randomisation to intervention groups, is likely to continue for the next 18months – 2 years, offering ample opportunity to engage directly with groups as part of qualitative fieldwork.

The successful candidate will join the Parenting and Family Support Programme at Glasgow Caledonian University, which has strong expertise in the evaluation of parenting interventions (e.g. Triple P for Baby, the Alba Project and MyLittleOne). The PhD project will contribute to the team by building on the realist process evaluation for THRIVE (Trial of Health Relationships Initiative for the Very Early years), which is being conducted at  GCU  in collaboration with colleagues at the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences, University of Glasgow. The PhD offers an excellent opportunity to become involved in an exciting programme of research that may help to improve maternal mental health and wellbeing and influence the life chances of some of the most vulnerable children in Scotland.

Supervisory Team

Dr Rosaleen O’Brien,  IAHR, SHLS, PSWAS, Glasgow Caledonian University

Drs Marion Henderson OR Katie Buston,

MRC/CSO Social & Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow

Dr Susan Kerr,  IAHR, SHLS, NCH, Glasgow Caledonian University

Staff Contact

Dr Rosaleen O’Brien

How to Apply

Applicants should complete the University Research Application Form, available from:

Please send the form, stating the studentship project title and reference number, with a CV, copies of academic qualifications, references, and any other required documentation to:

The closing date for applications is Monday 13 April 2015

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