Dr Rachel Shaw

Reader in Psychology

Programme Director: MSc Health Psychology

BPS Chartered Psychologist

HCPC Registered Health Psychologist

Psychology Department
School of Life and Health Sciences
Aston University
B4 7ET

Tel: +44 (0) 121 204 4050 
Fax: +44 (0) 121 204 4090

Follow me on twitter: @DrRachelShaw

Research Group

Applied Health Research

Research Centres

Aston Research Centre for Healthy Ageing (ARCHA) - Ageing Lives

Aston Research centre in CHildren and Young people's health (ARCHY)

Rachel Shaw

Health care and illness experience Through my applied research in local health care services I have become interested in the relationship between health practitioners and members of the public and the impact this relationship has on the management of health services and patients' quality of life.

Phenomenology and lifeworld-led care I use phenomenological methods in my empirical work and have been inspired by the notion of lifeworld-led care which incorporates phenomenological theory into the understanding of health care and patient experience. 

Evidence synthesis  I am committed to developing methods for synthesizing diverse evidence for the purpose of widening the evidence base on which good practice guidance is developed. I have done this through the promotion of meta-synthesis of qualitative evidence and in investigating methods for the appraisal and synthesis of primary studies using mixed designs or multiple methods. 

Google Scholar Profile: h-index 21

Profile on Aston Research Explorer

Follow this link for further details - up to 10 funded studentships to start in Oct 2016. The application form will be available online at: http://www.aston.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/apply/ and say which of the following you would like to do - email  me if you have any questions.

Living with long-term conditions and developing mechanisms for navigating health and social care services

Diagnosis with a long-term condition can be a life-altering experience, not just for individuals but also their families. It could mean significant changes in lifestyle, complex medical regimes and caring demands for family members. There may be health and social care services that are required but perhaps they are inaccessible, don’t fit the need, or simply don’t have any benefit to the people living with the condition. This diagnosis could also evoke ontological challenges and a reconceptualization of the present and the future. This project will involve a systematic review and synthesis of qualitative and/or mixed methods evidence to identify current best practice, effective interventions, and to identify the nature of people’s experiences of living with this chronic condition.  It will then develop a series of connected studies using qualitative and/or mixed methods to investigate in-depth the experience of living with this long-term condition, the navigation of health and social care services, with a view to developing an intervention which better meets need. The studies could involve patients, parents of children with long-term conditions, family members who may be caregivers, and health and social care professional who provide services to patients and/or family members. Conditions may include, chronic pain, dementia, epilepsy, visual impairment (this list is not exhaustive).

Understanding the experiences of nurses and parents caring for hospitalised children

Caring for children with long-term conditions or following acute life-threatening events is challenging and set within a hierarchical and interdisciplinary system bound by government policy. Parents and healthcare professionals need to understand each other and need support to engage in effective communication. Nurses, doctors and other staff also need support to communicate effectively. Furthermore, in stressful situations, that communication can become pressured. We have done some work on this already and would like to further investigate the concept of parental intuition, the feeling that their child is just not right but without being able to articulate why. At the same time, we are interested to examine the nature of clinical expertise and competence. In our previous research, more senior staff talked about just knowing what to do in a crisis situation - we want to examine that notion of 'practical wisdom' or phronesis so that we can come to understand the phenomenon and design training which makes that wisdom accessible and tangible. Investigating these phenomena will require in-depth qualitative methods, the systematic review of the literature, and potentially the development of ideas for interventions with staff and parents and their children. This research will involve working with paediatric hospitals and departments so experience of working in the NHS will be beneficial.

Walking football as an intervention for overweight and obese men aged in their 40s, 50s, and 60s

Many long-term conditions are lifestyle related, e.g. cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, some cancers, dementia, and so adopting a healthy lifestyle is crucial in reducing the risk. When we reach the middle years of life, fitting physical activity into busy lives can become challenging. Furthermore, we know that people often lack confidence in their ability to engage in physical activity, perhaps because they feel unable to continue sports previously enjoyed or because high impact or intense cardiovascular activity is becoming more difficult. This project will explore what physical activity means to men at this age and will attempt to identify the barriers to participation. It will then examine a walking football intervention to determine whether it increases men’s enjoyment of physical activity, their confidence in taking part, and to explore what the experience of engaging in walking football means to them. The research is likely to involve a systematic review and synthesis of qualitative and/or mixed methods evidence of walking football and similar interventions. It will then involve empirical work using mixed methods to examine the walking football intervention.

Parents’ experience of caring for children with profound learning disabilities and complex healthcare needs

Research into transition for young people with complex health needs focuses on those with chronic conditions, and there is little research into the transition into health care for those with intellectual disabilities and complex health needs.  Research into transition within education and social care suggests partnership with professionals is difficult for parents to negotiate. Parents, as mediators of their children’s interaction with services, are often scrutinised by professionals and service providers, and feel they need to present themselves as a ‘good’ parent, which does not allow them to express their own needs. Advocacy is seen as ‘caring’ by parents, as opposed to carrying out a ‘duty of care’, and is central to the role of being a good parent. Previous research into being the parent of a child with intellectual disabilities has concentrated to childhood, leaving little in depth research into what is like to be the parent carer of a young adult with intellectual disabilities and life limiting conditions. The proposed research aims to explore the parental experience of transition from paediatric to adult health care, in order to understand how parents can be best supported by professionals. It also aims to explore the gap between child-centred care and adult-orientated models to see how joint-working could meet best practice. It is likely to involve a systematic review and synthesis of qualitative and/or mixed methods evidence of this transition and the duty of care. It will then involve empirical work using qualitative and/or mixed methods with parents and health and social care providers to explore current practice, the meaning of care in this context, and to investigate possibilities for new integrated services.

European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing

€2,379,633 (total)

€322,244 (Aston) 2015-2018

Frailty management Optimisation through EIP AHA Commitment and Utilisation of Stakeholder input (FOCUS)


A. Cano (Spain), M. Vollenbroek (Netherlands), D. Kurpas (Poland), C. Holland (LHS), M. Maura (Italy), A. Nobili (Milan), J. Luis (Spain), S. Santana (Portugal), E. Everis (Spain), V. Llorens (Spain)

British Tinnitus Association



Facilitating shared decision making in tinnitus care: the development of a tinnitus decision aid


H. Pryce (PI; LHS), M-A. Durand & G. Elwyn (Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice)

NIHR Research for Patient Benefit



Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to reduce anxiety and depression in patients with atrial fibrillation (CBT-AF)


D. Lane (PI; University of Birmingham), D. Clarkesmith, E. Newton, A. Roalfe, M. Ramos, S. Power, G. Lip, D. Fitzmaurice, K. Fletcher

NIHR Research for Patient Benefit



Improving the Management of Behaviour that Challenges associated with Dementia in Care Homes: a feasibility study (MEDREV)


I. Maidment (PI; LHS), E. England, N. Barnes, G. Barton, A. Hilton, J. Wilcock, S. Damery, S. Gillespie, N. Seare

Birmingham Children’s Hospital/Health Foundation



Supporting parents/carers to be active partners in their child’s care


H. Pattison (LHS) and V. Demery, (clinical lead; Birmingham Children’s Hospital)

Birmingham Children’s Hospital



A literature review as part of developing a valid and reliable point of care tool for neonates, paediatrics and young people


C. Eyre (clinical lead; Birmingham Children’s Hospital)

Thomas Pocklington Trust



Managing general health: Research into the experiences of older people with sight loss


J. Gibson (LHS), R. Marsden (Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust)

ExtraCare Charitable Trust



Collaborative Research between Aston Research Centre for Healthy Ageing (ARCHA) and the ExtraCare Charitable Trust


C. Holland (PI), K. West, G. Leask, M. Carter, R. Cooke, R. Powell (ARCHA)

Birmingham Children’s Hospital



Satisfaction at Work in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit


H. Duncan (clinical lead; Birmingham Children’s Hospital)

Heart of Birmingham Teaching Primary Care Trust



Evaluation of the Vascular Screening Programme (subsequently: NHS Health Check)


R. Cooke (PI), H. Pattison, C. Holland, E. Peel

Breast Cancer Campaign



Development of an intervention to promote breast screening uptake in Chinese-British women


H. Pattison (PI)

Higher Education Academy



Development of a web-based resource to aid the teaching of qualitative research methods at undergraduate level


S. Gibson (PI; York St John University) and TQRMUL Working Group

British Academy



Exploring media representations of voluntary childlessness


D. Giles (University of Winchester)

Diabetes UK



Taking part in DESMOND: A study of views and experiences of care for people with Type 2 Diabetes - A Qualitative Research Sub-study of the DESMOND Trial


M. Dixon-Woods (PI; University of Leicester)

Tawanda Pendeke. Providing better information and support for the diagnosis and treatment of patients living with age-related macular degeneration. ARCHA-Sandwell & West Birmingham NHS Trust Studentship. 2015-2018. Principal Supervisor with J. Gibson (LHS), B. Mushtaq (Birmingham & Midland Eye Hospital). 

Lydia Aston. Development of health-related quality of life scales for patients and parents affected by Niemann-Pick Disease Type C. Associate Supervisor with R. Knibb. Niemann-Pick Studentship. 2015-2018.

Peter Reddy. Undergraduate development, scholarship, employability and employment. Principal supervisor with E. Moores (Aston University). 2011-16 (part-time).

Lilit Hakobyan. Self-monitoring and ability-reactive technology for age-related macular degeneration. Associate supervisor with J. Lumsden, Principal supervisor (Engineering & Applied Science) and D. O'Sullican (external supervisor), 2012-15.

Amy Armstrong. Personal Trauma as a formative development experience: a narrative perspective. Associate supervisor with M. Butler, Principal supervisor (Aston Business School) (completed).

Adrienne Hudson. Preparing nurses to care for a child suffering an acute life threatening event. Principal supervisor with H. Duncan (Birmingham Children’s Hospital), External consultant and H. Pattison (Aston University). West Midlands Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions Research Training Award (completed).

Christian Borg Xuereb. Patients' knowledge and beliefs about atrial fibillation and anticoagulant therapy and their impact on INR control and quality of life. Principal Supervisor with Deidre Lane (City Hospital) as External Consultant (completed).

Amy BurtonQuality of Life and Wellbeing in Older Patients with Macular Degeneration: A Longitudinal Mixed Methods Study. Associate supervisor with J. Gibson (Principal supervisor) and E. Peel. ARCHA Studentship (completed).

Adam Jowett. Chronic Illness and LBTQ psychology. Associate Supervisor with Liz Peel as Principal Supervisor  (completed)

Louise Donnelly. Virtual help seeking among infertile couples. Principal Supervisor  (completed).

Qualitative Research Summer School (sponsored by HEA & BPS)


London, July 2016

British Psychological Society (QMiP)

Qualitatively Driven Mixed Methods Research

London, April 2015

Co-facilitator with N. Frost (Middlesex University)

British Psychological Society (QMiP & DHP)


London, June 2015, November 2014

University of Derby


Derby, November 2015

British Psychological Society (QMiP)

Mixed Methods Designs and Research in Psychology: challenges and dilemmas

Harrogate, April 2013

University of Bedfordshire

Introduction to Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis

Luton, February 2013

University of Birmingham

Introduction to Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis

Birmingham, November 2012

Birkbeck, University of London

Introductory and Advanced Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, Training the Trainers (3 day workshop)

Co-facilitated with J. Smith, P. Flowers, M. Larkin, V. Eatough

London, April 2011

Aston University

Introductory and Advanced Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, Training the Trainers (3 day workshop)

Co-facilitated with J. Smith, P. Flowers, M. Larkin, V. Eatough

Birmingham, April 2010

University of Birmingham

Introductory and Advanced Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, Training the Trainers (3 day workshop)

Co-facilitated with J. Smith, P. Flowers, M. Larkin, V. Eatough

Birmingham, April 2009

Wolverhampton University

Introduction to Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis

Wolverhampton, February 2006

University of Hertfordshire

Introduction to Semi-structured Interviewing and Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (2 day workshop)

Hatfield, July 2005

ESRC Research Methods Festival

Assessing the Quality of Qualitative Research

Co-facilitator with M. Dixon-Woods, T. Miller, D. Jones, A. Sutton, J. Smith, A. Booth & B. Young.

Oxford, June 2004

European Health Psychology Society CREATE

Mixed Methodology in Health Psychology (3 day workshop) http://www.ehps.net/create

Aberdeen, August 2016

Co-facilitator with I. Todorova (Northeastern University)

European Health Psychology Society SYNERGY

Overcoming our ‘irreconcilable differences’: mixing methodologies in health psychology (3 day workshop) http://www.ehps.net/node/67

Prague, August 2012

Co-facilitator with P. Flowers (Glasgow Caledonian University)

European Health Psychology Society CREATE

Systematic Review Methodology, Meta-analysis and Meta-synthesis (3 day workshop) http://www.ehps.net/node/130

Co-facilitated with R. Cooke (LHS) and W. Hardeman (University of Cambridge)

Dublin City University Qualitative Research Summer School

Introductory and Advanced Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (2 day workshop) http://www.dcu.ie/snhs/QRSS2015.shtml

Dublin, June 2009

Birmingham Community Health Care Trust

What Research Can Do For You: an introduction to research design and methods (3 day workshop)

Co-facilitator with N. Seare (AHRIC)

Birmingham, May-June 2013, Nov-Dec 2013, Mar-Apr 2014

Health Research and Development Unit (NIHR)

Introduction to Qualitative Methods (2 day workshop)

Hatfield, May 2006

Introduction to Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis

Co-ordinator and Facilitator

Biannual since 2006

Advanced Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis

Co-ordinator and Facilitator

Since 2015

Descriptive Phenomenology



Meta-synthesis of Qualitative Research

Co-ordinator and Facilitator

Since 2011

Introduction to Meta-Analysis


Since 2011

Recent Publications