The Faculty offers an extensive portfolio of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, taught predominantly at the Chester Campus, but with provision in Public Relations and Policing taught at Warrington. A key feature of work in all four specialist subject areas below is the inter-relationship between social science and issues of everyday concern that have relevance for policy making.

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  • The Finding My Way UK Clinical Trial: Adaptation report and protocol for a replication randomised controlled efficacy trial of a web-based psychological programme to support cancer survivors

    Hulbert-Williams, Nicholas J; Leslie, Monica; Hulbert-Williams, Lee; Koczwara, Bogda; Watson, Eila K; Hall, Peter S; Ashley, Laura; Coulson, Neil S; Jackson, Richard; Millington, Sue; et al.
    Background: Cancer survivors frequently report a range of unmet psychological and supportive care needs; these often continue after treatment has finished, and are predictive of psychological distress and poor health-related quality of life. Online interventions demonstrate good efficacy in addressing these concerns and are more accessible than face to face interventions. Finding My Way is an online, psycho-educational and cognitive behaviour therapy intervention for cancer survivors developed in Australia. Previous trials have demonstrated Finding My Way to be acceptable, highly adhered to, and effective in reducing the impact of distress on quality of life, whilst leading to cost-savings through health-resource use reduction. Objectives: Our study will adapt the Australian Finding My Way website for a UK cancer care context, and then undertake a single-blinded, randomised controlled trial (RCT) of Finding My Way UK against a treatment-as-usual waitlist control. Methods: As much as possible, our trial design replicates the existing Australian RCT of Finding My Way. Following a comprehensive adaptation of the web-resource, we will recruit 294 participants (147 per study arm) from across clinical sites in North West England and North Wales. Participants will: (i) have been diagnosed with cancer of any type in the last six months, (ii) have received anti-cancer treatment with curative intent, (iii) be over 16 years of age, (iv) be proficient in English and (v) have access to the internet and an active email address. Participants will be identified and recruited through the NIHR Clinical Research Network. Measures of distress, quality of life, and health economic outcomes will be collected using a self-report online questionnaire at baseline, mid-treatment, post-treatment and both three- and six-month follow-up. Quantitative data will be analysed using intention-to-treat Mixed-Model Repeated Measures analysis. Embedded semi-structured qualitative interviews will probe engagement with, and experiences of using, Finding My Way UK and suggestions for future improvements. Results: Website adaptation work was completed in January 2021. A panel of cancer survivors and healthcare professionals provided feedback on the test version of Finding My Way UK. Feedback was positive overall, though minor updates were made to website navigation, inclusivity, terminology and the wording of the Improving Communication and Sexuality and Intimacy content. Recruitment for the clinical trial commenced in April 2021. We aim to report on findings from mid 2023. Conclusions: Replication studies are an important aspect of the scientific process, particularly in psychological and clinical trial literatures, and especially in different geographical settings. Prior to replicating the Finding My Way trial in the UK setting, some content updating was required. If Finding My Way UK now replicates Australian findings, we will have identified a novel and cost-effective method of psychosocial care delivery for UK cancer survivors.
  • Ambivalent storage, multi-scalar generosity, and challenges of/for everyday consumption

    Collins, Rebecca; Stanes, Elyse; University of Chester; University of Wollongong
    Storage plays an important role in domestic practices as a banal yet essential means of practically accomplishing ‘living together’ and caring for people and material ‘stuff’. However, storage and stored things also occupy a provocative and paradoxical place in debates around the sustainability of household consumption. Driven by renewed popular and scholarly attention to ‘decluttering’ and eschewing anything that does not ‘spark joy’, this paper considers the emotional and practical implications of generosity – as both concept and practice – in articulating the sustainability potential in storage and stored things. In so doing we problematise assumptions about ‘clutter’ as unsustainable. Drawing on vignettes from two projects concerned with material consumption in young adulthood, and drawing on – but going beyond – extant framings of geographies of care, we illustrate how shifting spatial and temporal liminalities of storage mediate opportunities to engage in and with different scales of generosity. We argue that spatialities of storage are often less about deferring acts of divestment than they are a space in which to situate materialisations of significant emotional, care-ful(l) connections. We reflect on the implications of storage for sustainable consumption in the home and suggest how future work drawing on geographies of generosity might usefully enrich our understanding.
  • The Neural Correlates of a Central Coherence Task in Young Women with Anorexia Nervosa

    Leslie, Monica; Halls, Daniel; Leppanen, Jenni; Sedgewick, Felicity; Lang, Katie; Fonville, Leon; Simic, Mima; Mandy, William; Nicholls, Dasha; Williams, Steven; et al. (Wiley, 2021-07-18)
    Objective: Heightened detail-processing and low levels of central coherence are common in individuals with anorexia nervosa (AN) and predict poorer prognosis. However, it is unclear whether these processing styles predate the disorder or, rather, emerge during later stages of AN. The current study aimed to address this question by investigating central coherence, and the neural correlates of central coherence, in a sample of young women with AN with shorter duration of illness than previous studies recruiting adult samples. Methods: We recruited 186 participants, including: 73 young women with AN, 45 young women weight-recovered from AN, and 68 age-matched controls. Participants completed the Embedded Figures Task during an fMRI scan. Results: There were no significant differences between the participant groups in performance accuracy or reaction time. There were no other between-groups differences in neural response to the Embedded Figures Task. Conclusions: These findings contrast with evidence from older adults demonstrating differences in the neural underpinning of central coherence amongst participants with AN versus control participants. The current study adds to an increasing literature base demonstrating the resilience of neuropsychological traits and associated brain systems in the early stages of AN.
  • Brief Engagement and Acceptance Coaching for Hospice Settings (the BEACHeS study): Results from a Phase I study of acceptability and initial effectiveness in people with non-curative cancer.

    Hulbert-Williams, NJ; Norwood, S; Gillanders, D; Finucane, AM; Spiller, J; Strachen, J; Millington, S; Kreft, J; Swash, B; University of Chester; The University of Edinburgh; Marie Curie Hospice Edinburgh (BMC, 2021-06-25)
    Objectives: Transitioning into palliative care is psychologically demanding for people with advanced cancer, and there is a need for acceptable and effective interventions to support this. We aimed to develop and pilot test a brief Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) based intervention to improve quality of life and distress. Methods: Our mixed-method design included: (i) quantitative effectiveness testing using Single Case Experimental Design (SCED), (ii) qualitative interviews with participants, and (iii) focus groups with hospice staff. The five-session, in-person intervention was delivered to 10 participants; five completed at least 80%. Results: At baseline, participants reported poor quality of life but low distress. Most experienced substantial physical health deterioration during the study. SCED analysis methods did not show conclusively significant effects, but there was some indication that outcome improvement followed changes in expected intervention processes variables. Quantitative and qualitative data together demonstrates acceptability, perceived effectiveness and safety of the intervention. Qualitative interviews and focus groups were also used to gain feedback on intervention content and to make design recommendations to maximise success of later feasibility trials. Conclusions: This study adds to the growing evidence base for ACT in people with advanced cancer. A number of potential intervention mechanisms, for example a distress-buffering hypothesis, are raised by our data and these should be addressed in future research using randomised controlled trial designs. Our methodological recommendations—including recruiting non-cancer diagnoses, and earlier in the treatment trajectory—likely apply more broadly to the delivery of psychological intervention in the palliative care setting.
  • Laterality in Chimpanzees: Links with Behavioural Style and Social Networks

    Murray, Lindsay; Rodway, Paul; Díaz González, Sergio (University of Chester, 2021-01)
    This thesis presents a series of studies investigating laterality in chimpanzees and its links with personality examined as behavioural style and social networks. The studies presented in this work were conducted by observing a group of 19 chimpanzees in captivity and present new findings in this species. However, this thesis has a broad evolutionary perspective, addressing important questions regarding personality and laterality that could prove helpful to the understanding of the evolution of laterality in vertebrates. Chapter 1 offers a general review of the three main areas of knowledge investigated: laterality, animal personality and primate social networks. Then, the first study of this project, presented in Chapter 2, began by exploring hand preference in the chimpanzee group, investigating spontaneous actions and unimanual tasks and expanding previous research by studying posture, between-task consistency and temporal stability. Chapter 3 investigated additional measures of motor laterality and proposed a novel way of measuring laterality in primates. Together, Chapters 2 and 3 directly examine laterality in chimpanzees and serve as the base from which to explore the links between laterality, personality and social networks in the subsequent studies. If lateralization is rooted in emotional processing and hemispheric lateralization, then individual differences in behaviour (particularly those that reflect emotional expression) would show a relationship with individual laterality. In order to address this question, Chapter 4 studies behavioural style in chimpanzees and its possible link with laterality. Simultaneously, if intraspecific coordination plays a role in the development of population level laterality, similarly lateralised individuals would likely have strong bonds to coordinate with each other. Chapter 5 introduces the approach and techniques of social network analysis and uses them to explore and describe the social structure of the group while describing the integration of a new adult chimpanzee. Chapter 6 applies social network analysis to explore if laterality plays a role in the way the group is structured. Lastly, Chapter 7 integrates all empirical chapters and presents the final discussion and conclusions of the thesis.
  • Tears from the void: The arts, the spiritual and the therapeutic

    Egeli, Cemil; University of Chester
    Cemil Egeli has an autoethnographic conversation about a night at the theatre, posing questions to himself to challenge and explore his thinking further.
  • OVPSYCH2: A randomized controlled trial of psychological support versus standard of care following chemotherapy for ovarian cancer

    Frangou, E; Bertelli, G; Love, S; Mackean, MJ; Glasspool, RM; Fotopoulou, C; Cook, A; Nicum, S; Lord, R; Ferguson, M; et al.
    Background: Fear of disease progression (FOP) is a rational concern for women with Ovarian Cancer (OC) and depression is also common. To date there have been no randomized trials assessing the impact of psychological intervention on depression and FOP in this patient group. Patients and methods: Patients with primary or recurrent OC who had recently completed chemotherapy were eligible if they scored between 5 and 19 on the PHQ-9 depression and were randomized 1:1 to Intervention (3 standardized CBT-based sessions in the 6 -12 weeks post-chemotherapy) or Control (standard of care). PHQ-9, FOP-Q-SF, EORTC QLQ C30 and OV28 questionnaires were then completed every 3 months for up to 2 years. The primary endpoint was change in PHQ-9 at 3 months. Secondary endpoints were change in other scores at 3 months and all scores at later timepoints. Results: 182 patients registered; 107 were randomized; 54 to Intervention and 53 to Control; mean age 59 years; 75 (70%) had completed chemotherapy for primary and 32 (30%) for relapsed OC and 67 patients completed both baseline and 3-month questionnaires. Improvement in PHQ-9 was observed for patients in both study arms at three months compared to baseline but there was no significant difference in change between Intervention and Control. A significant improvement on FOP-Q-SF scores was seen in the Intervention arm, whereas for those in the Control arm FOP-Q-SF scores deteriorated at 3 months (intervention effect= -4.4 (-7.57,-1.22), p-value = 0.008). Conclusions: CBT-based psychological support provided after chemotherapy did not significantly alter the spontaneously improving trajectory of depression scores at three months but caused a significant improvement in FOP. Our findings call for the routine implementation of FOP support for ovarian cancer patients.
  • Exploring the 'talk' of suicide: Using discourse-informed approaches in exploring suicide risk

    Reeves, Andrew; University of Chester
    This chapter considers how discourse-based approaches can help facilitate mental health work with clients/patients who present at risk of suicide. This is discussed in the context of a predominant and traditional risk assessment questionnaire approach, increasingly acknowledged as having low predictive quality.
  • The impacts of the drop in staffing provision in the transition between the youth custody estate and young adult/adult estate

    Price, Jayne; University of Chester
    This article offers a critical view of the differences in staffing provision between the YCE and young adult/adult estate. The data outlines the issues associated with the cliff-edge of staffing training and provision for young adults which is seemingly an accepted aspect of the young adult/adult estate. The accounts of staff and young people demonstrates how their experiences of diminished resources through to the young adult/adult estate are insufficient to provide the level of support required. It is argued that there should be greater numbers of suitably trained prison officers within institutions holding young adults to work effectively with this distinct population.
  • Becoming an Urban Cycling Space

    Cox, Peter; University of Chester
    Peter Cox shows how the rapid transformations of many city spaces during the covid-19 pandemic has dramatically altered both perceptions of the spaces in which cyclists ride the city and the possibilities of becoming an urban cyclist. This chapter first looks back in a wider historic context to show the double process of cyclists adapting to existing European cities and how, in turn, cyclists’ presence has changed the cities themselves. It then examines some of the adaptations produced in response to the pandemic and the ways in which this has made cities appear different spaces for cycling. Finally, it examines some of the emergent policy frameworks produced during this time and their implications for future relations between cyclists and other forms of urban mobility.
  • Vélomobility as Autonomobility: prefigurative cycling imaginaries

    Cox, Peter; University of Chester
    At the end of the nineteenth century, the autonomous mobility provided by bicycles and tricycles created a mobile imaginary that paved the way for automobility. Through the course of the twentieth century, the growth and decline of cycling mobilities was inseparably entangled with the rise of a range of motor-mobilities (two and four wheeled). Yet cycling persists and is championed widely as a contender for future mobility in post-growth societies. However, the hegemonic position reached by automobility as a dominant system has led to closure of political non-car mobility imaginaries. United In Science, the high-level synthesis report to the UN Climate Action Summit 2019, notes that the nationally determined contributions to carbon reduction made in the Paris agreement need to be tripled to reach target CO2 reduction levels: this will entail dramatic transformation of mobilityscapes. This paper consequently explores the possibilities and problems inherent in formulating vélomobility as a system of autonomobility, paying special attention to its alignment with the range of radical alternatives clustered around degrowth (D’Alisa et al 2014) and the pluriverse (Kothari et al 2019, Escobar 2020) as promising ways to think and act beyond the unsustainable carbon economy. It does so in three parts: first it examines the challenges of imagining vélomobility not just as a set of practices but cognitively, through its conceptual construction not as an inverse of automobility but as a system that also challenges the political underpinnings of automobility. Second, it considers vélomobility through a set of propositions and briefly explores through examples the complexities involved in reimagining mobility regimes as well as the resources from political theory that may be important to it. Finally, the last section reverses the gaze and asks what the reconsideration of vélomobility as described previously can bring to the broader discussion of autonomobility.
  • Finding my voice: A qualitative exploration into the perceived impact of person-centred counsellor training upon counsellors who were adopted as a baby.

    Parkes, Charlotte Hannah; Mintz, Rita; University of Chester
    This small‐scale qualitative study explored how qualified person‐centred counsellors who were adopted as a baby perceived the impact of their person‐centred counselling training. The study focused on the adoptees’ experiences of adoption and how these influenced their experience of person‐centred counselling training. Data were analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis to gain insight into how the participants made sense of their lived experience. The findings supported the difficulties associated with adoption, which not only are present in existing literature and research but also placed an emphasis on the particular vulnerabilities associated with being adopted as a baby. The findings further highlighted the positive impact of person‐centred counselling training on the participants’ personal development, which included the following: increased self‐awareness, self‐acceptance, identity development and ‘having a voice’. The findings confer implications for clinical practice in understanding the experience of adoptees who were adopted as a baby and for trainers in the planning and provision of person‐centred training. The research also identifies the healing aspects of person‐centred counselling training, which facilitated the participants’ positive self‐development. In addition, unique opportunities for counsellors who were also adopted as a baby are suggested and the need for the Adoption Support Fund to be extended to allow an adoptee of any age to access therapeutic support is also identified. The links made between adoption and person‐centred training are an original area of research and are worthy of further exploration.
  • Transformation hidden in the sand; a pluralistic theoretical framework using sand-tray with adult clients

    Fleet, Doreen; Reeves, Andrew; Burton, Amy; DasGupta, Mani; University of Staffordshire; University of Chester (Taylor and Francis, 2021-06-14)
    Jungian sandplay predominates the existing literature on sand-tray therapy. Although there is a small volume of literature on alternative approaches of using sand-tray with adults, most primarily focuses on children and adolescents. The study aimed to establish a sand-tray therapy framework to be utilized by practitioners who are not Jungian trained and intend to use this intervention with adult clients. The grounded theory (Strauss and Corbin, 1990, 1998) multiple case study involved six client-participants receiving six sand-tray therapy sessions. The pluralistic model established incorporates inter-relational and intra-psychic dimensions. Concepts include phenomenological shift and two sand-tray specific mechanisms of phenomenological anchor and phenomenological hook, aiding ‘edge of awareness’ and unconscious processing. In this study, pluralistic sand-tray therapy was deemed successful based on improved CORE-10 clinical scores and the various participant feedback collected.
  • Violence, control and restraint: The harms to young adults particularly upon transition

    Price, Jayne; University of Chester (Wiley, 2021-06-15)
    The transition into the young adult/adult estate at age 18 years is marked by a significant loss of provision and shift in institutional treatment. One of the many harms endured is the change in restraint which is harmful and damaging yet prevailing. The data presented here shows how the distinct needs of this vulnerable population are widely overlooked. This article extends the literature regarding young adults and argues that there should be greater exploration and understanding of their behaviour and the impacts of transitions. This in turn leads to recommendations for changes to practices within the young adult/adult estate.
  • Acceptance and values clarification versus cognitive restructuring and relaxation: A randomized controlled trial of ultra-brief non-expert-delivered coaching interventions for social resilience.

    Hochard, Kevin; Hulbert-Williams, Lee; Ashcroft, Sam; McLoughlin, Shane; University of Chester; Liverpool John Moores University
    Low social resilience (e.g., susceptibility to social anxiety, and social avoidance) has been associated with poor mental and physical health outcomes, and can lead to ostracism. Support services such as university counselling centres, which deal with non-diagnosable psychological distress, linked to low social resilience, require effective yet brief interventions deliverable by non-experts to meet service demands. As it is not always possible to prevent subjectively negative experiences, acceptance-based interventions aim to change how we respond behaviourally to such experiences. The present study tests the efficacy of an ultra-brief (1hr) non-expert delivered acceptance and values-based (AV) coaching intervention to increase resilience to negative social interactions. This was compared to a comparable dose of a cognitive restructuring and relaxation-based (CRR) analogue, and a psycho-education and progressive muscle relaxation-based (PE-PMR) control. Participants ( N =60) were assessed on perceived burdensomeness, belonging, and 3 scenarios measuring anxiety and likelihood to engage in social situations. Participants then played Cyberball, an ostracising task, before recompleting the aforementioned measures. Physiological measures indicated Cyberball was an aversive experience. In the AV condition only, we observed an improved behavioral intention to engage with social scenarios ( dppc2 = .57). Ultra-brief AV-based coaching interventions delivered by non-expert coaches appear promising in increasing participant’s likelihood to continue engaging in social interactions after a stressful social experience. We tentatively conclude that gains in committed action may increase the propensity of at-risk individuals to seek social support.
  • Are children in care offered effective therapeutic support?

    Reeves, Andrew; Smith, Andrew M. (University of Chester, 2020-07)
    Aim - This thesis aims to answer the question as to whether or not the therapeutic support offered to children in care in the U.K. is effective. There are two parts to the question: ascertaining what the actual offer of therapy consists of; the quality of that offer in terms of therapeutic effectiveness. Background - children in care are significantly more likely than their peers to be involved in offending behaviour, substance misuse, and to be unemployed DfE (2019). There is evidence to suggest that unresolved developmental trauma can contribute to these outcomes (National Audit Office, 2015). It is unclear how focused the government is on supporting effective therapeutic recovery from developmental trauma. Method - Questionnaires were distributed to every local authority in the country, with approval from the Directors’ of Children’s Services. Interviews were attempted. A Foucaultian Discourse Analysis of key pieces of legislation in the field was then completed, and a Thematic Analysis of 28 studies into therapeutic recovery from complex developmental trauma was achieved. Key Findings- The study found that children in care are not systematically offered effective therapeutic support. In fact, there are multiple issues according to the quality of therapies on offer: there is a legal/political/organisational system that is dysfunctional: the offer of therapy is impossible to ascertain across the country; the way in which therapists research their own provision is laden with methodological, political, and ethical issues. However, the evidence supports the idea that we are aware of some key factors that help therapeutic recovery. Implications for Practice - The evidence provided a range of factors to support future development of therapeutic support to children in care, and supported a mapping out of the way in which therapies could usefully be developed in the future. The evidence led to the development of a model of best practice. Conclusion - The thesis ends with some recommendations as to how the profession of psychotherapy and counselling could begin to develop both their knowledge base and way of working with children care to support more effective therapeutic recovery.
  • How to persuade and influence people: The art of effective geographical debate

    Healey, Ruth; Leatham, Chloe; University of Chester (Routledge, 2021-05-27)
    This article supports students to prepare to participate in a debate. We consider thorough preparation as the foundation for effective debate. Here we provide guidance on one approach to preparing as effectively as possible. We outline this before considering three key elements to this method of preparation: 1) substance: your knowledge and understanding of the debate topic; 2) style: how to present your points clearly and succinctly; and 3) persuasion: how through both substance and style you effectively persuade people of your argument. We conclude by summarising the key points raised in this guide and identifying how they apply to other assignment contexts. The discussion that follows uses the debate topic ‘Should an additional charge be applied to all single-use plastics?’ to demonstrate the approaches we suggest.
  • Development and usability testing of a web-based psychosocial intervention for women living with metastatic breast cancer: Finding My Way-Advanced

    Beatty, Lisa; Koczwara, Bogda; Butow, Phyllis; Turner, Jane; Girgis, Afaf; Schofield, Penelope; Hulbert-Williams, Nicholas J; Kaambwa, Billingsley; Kemp, Emma; Flinders University; Flinders Medical Centre; Sydney University; University of Queensland; University of New South Wales; Swinburne University of Technology; University of Chester
    Purpose: Women living with metastatic breast cancer (MBC) face significant distress and unmet needs, yet few resources have been developed for this population. The current study aimed to develop and evaluate the usability of Finding My Way-Advanced (FMW-A), a web-based self-guided psychosocial program for women with MBC. Methods: FMW-A was co-designed through (a) adapting an efficacious online program for people with curatively treated cancer, and (b) receiving iterative rounds of input and feedback from a multidisciplinary co-design team including consumers, clinicians and academics. A think-aloud protocol was then implemented to test the usability of the resulting 6-module prototype, with women living with MBC accessing up to three modules with an interviewer sitting along-side. Participants were recruited until saturation of themes occurred. Data were analysed thematically. Results: Participants (n=8) were, on average, 65.3 years old, mostly partnered (n=5), retired (n=6), post-secondary school educated (n=6), with non-dependent children (n=7). Feedback fell into 6 themes. Positive feedback about FMW-A summarised the supportive and informative nature of the programme, supplemented by comments about broadly relatable content. However, one size clearly did not fit all: within themes, diverging experiences emerged regarding navigability, worksheets and layout. Participants noted that having/making time for the intervention would be important to program engagement. Conclusions: Usability testing indicated participants found content helpful and relatable, and identified significant pragmatic improvements to be made prior to further testing. Implications for cancer survivors: The development of FMW-A represents an important step in providing acceptable resources to support women living with MBC.
  • The Emotional Face of Anorexia Nervosa: The Neural Correlates of Emotional Processing

    Halls, Daniel; Leslie, Monica; Leppanen, Jenni; Sedgewick, Felicity; Surguladze, Simon; Fonville, Leon; Lang, Katie; Simic, Mima; Nicholls, Dasha; Williams, Steven; et al.
    Social-emotional processing difficulties have been reported in Anorexia Nervosa (AN), yet the neural correlates remain unclear. Previous neuroimaging work is sparse and has not used functional connectivity paradigms to more fully explore the neural correlates of emotional difficulties. Fifty-seven acutely unwell AN (AAN) women, 60 weight-recovered AN (WR) women and 69 healthy control (HC) women categorised the gender of a series of emotional faces while undergoing Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging. The mean age of the AAN group was 19.40 (2.83), WR 18.37 (3.59) and HC 19.37 (3.36). A whole brain and psychophysical interaction connectivity approach was used. Parameter estimates from significant clusters were extracted and correlated with clinical symptoms. Whilst no group level differences in whole brain activation were demonstrated, significant group level functional connectivity differences emerged. WR participants showed increased connectivity between the bilateral occipital face area and the cingulate, precentral gyri, superior, middle, medial and inferior frontal gyri compared to AAN and HC when viewing happy valenced faces. Eating disorder symptoms and parameter estimates were positively correlated. Our findings characterise the neural basis of social-emotional processing in a large sample of individuals with AN.

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