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Supporting the psychological and sexual wellbeing of partners of brain injury survivors: development and feasibility of a digital peer-supported self-management intervention

Eligibility: UK/International (including EU) graduates with the required entry requirements

Funding details:Bursary plus tuition fees (UK/International (including EU at international rates from Sept 22)

Duration: Full time - between three and three and a half years fixed term

Application deadline: 27 May 2023

Interview dates: Will be confirmed to shortlisted candidates

Start date: September 2023

To find out more about the project, please contact Dr Hayley Wright


Coventry University (CU) is inviting applications from suitably qualified graduates for a fully-funded PhD studentship, to co- develop and pilot test a digital psychological intervention for partners of brain injury survivors.

Project details

In the UK, ~2.5 million people are living with the long-term biopsychosocial consequences of brain injury. Without support, these challenges have a massive impact on families and relationships.

Neurorehabilitation often neglects sexuality and intimacy concerns, particularly if patients are older or disabled. Many relationships break down as a result, causing even more psychological distress in an already life-changing situation.

Research shows that partners as well as patients, need support from peers to help them manage changes in relationship roles, and understand their own difficult emotions following their partner’s brain injury.

This project will co-develop and test the first evidence-based, digital peer-support programme for partners of brain injury survivors to self-manage their psychological and sexual wellbeing.

The project is divided broadly into 3 phases:

Phase 1 – literature review; co-design and user-test psychological intervention with and for partners of brain injury survivors

Phase 2 – running a feasibility/pilot trial; pre- and post-programme data collection (quantitative); post-programme acceptability interviews (qualitative)

Phase 3 – quantitative and qualitative data analysis; writing up

The project offers excellent opportunities for a PhD candidate to develop advanced research skills in digital psychological wellbeing solutions, co-design methodologies, data analysis, and writing skills. 


Tuition fees, bursary and additional allowances.


The successful candidate will receive comprehensive research training including technical, personal and professional skills.

All researchers at Coventry University (from PhD to Professor) are part of the Doctoral College and Centre for Research Capability and Development, which provides support with high-quality training and career development activities.

The successful candidate is expected to have existing:

  • knowledge and experience of research methods relevant to health and/or psychology disciplines
  • strong academic writing skills

Project-specific training will be provided by our experienced team of digital health researchers, and the successful candidate will develop skills and capacity in the co-creation and development of digital psychological support solutions. In addition, the successful candidate will receive formal training in Good Clinical Practice and Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion, and will be encouraged to join discipline-specific societies and professional groups such as British Psychological Society (BPS), Royal College of Occupational Therapy (RCOT), British Neuropsychological Society (BNS).

Candidate specification

  • A Bachelor’s (honours) degree in a relevant discipline/subject area (e.g. Psychology) with a minimum classification of 2:1 and a minimum mark of 60% in the project element (or equivalent), or an equivalent award from an overseas institution
  • A Master’s degree or equivalent in a relevant discipline/subject area (e.g. Health Psychology); and/or demonstrable experience in qualitative research methods
  • The potential to engage in innovative research and to complete the PhD within 3.5 years
  • An adequate proficiency in English must be demonstrated by applicants whose first language is not English.  The general requirement is a minimum overall IELTS Academic score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each of the four sections, or the TOEFL iBT test with a minimum overall score of 95 with a minimum of 21 in each of the four sections.
Additional requirements
  • Genuine interest in supporting people with long-term conditions and their families, self-management, and/or behavioural interventions
  • Interest or experience in psychology, neuropsychology, rehabilitation, or brain injury research
  • Ability to relate to diverse groups of people with empathy and advocate confidentiality
  • Confidence and skills to discuss sensitive topics relating to psychological, sexual, and emotional wellbeing with adult research participants
  • Clear understanding of ethical research principles
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills
  • Excellent active listening skills
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a multidisciplinary team

How to apply

To find out more about the project please contact Dr Hayley Wright (hayley.wright@coventry.ac.uk). Dr Wright is happy to answer any project-related or eligibility queries prior to applications being submitted, so please do get in touch.

All applications require full supporting documentation, and a covering letter – plus an up-to 2000-word supporting statement is required showing how the applicant’s expertise and interests are relevant to the project. 

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