Armed with facilities of the highest quality and a clear sense of direction, Psychology research at UCLan aims to further our endeavours in national and international multidisciplinary research on real world issues, which can contribute to the discipline theoretically and have clinical and societal relevance.
The strength of our Psychology research falls within three broad areas that form our research groups: Cognitive Research Group, Forensic Research Group and the Health Research Group. With a focus on real world issues and an underlying theme of informing practice through evidence-based research, our focus is on multidisciplinary collaboration.
UCLan has national and international collaborations in place with NHS Trusts, patient groups, medical practitioners, allied health professionals, Prison Service, police forces, Local Education Authorities, schools and school teachers, athletic clubs and charitable institutions.
The Cognitive and Neuroscience Research Group focuses on a range of areas including selective attention and distraction, working memory, executive functioning, the social contexts of perception, biases in reasoning, reading development and aspects of social cognition.
The Forensic Research Group has several key areas of activity including sex differences in aggression, physical aggression between young men, family violence and women’s offending behaviour, interventions for other and self-directed violence, bullying and attributions towards sexual abuse.
The Quality of Life Research Group has a broad focus on health and well-being with three key themes:
- Condition-specific scale development including the development, psychometric evaluation and clinical interpretation of patient-reported outcome measures such as health–related quality of life instruments and measures of emotional functioning.
- Psychological evaluation of chronic conditions including cystic fibrosis, lupus, obesity, eating behaviours and childhood loneliness.
- Psychological and biological responses to stressors.
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Dr Charlie Frowd’s collaborative work aims to understand the extent to which witnesses and victims of crime construct accurate facial composites. Through research he hopes to develop techniques that can maximize the effectiveness of these pictures, to allow the police to catch as many offenders as possible using this forensic evidence.
This applied work is unique in developing standards for establishing the effectiveness of composite systems and for making valuable improvements to each stage involved: initial interview, composite system and format for publishing composites. These developments are being used by at least 22 constabularies in the UK, US and Europe.
The EvoFIT system also has good significance, allowing composites to be produced in situations (UK) where traditional ‘feature’ systems cannot be deployed (due to UK police policy) - the system itself has been used by approximately 1200 witnesses and victims. Dr Frowd contributes to updating policy documents given to UK and US police composite-officers.
A novel research area developed by Professor Jane Ireland and colleagues, initially at UCLan and in HM Prison Service, has resulted in policies and procedures for managing bullying and aggression in secure services. The research focuses on developing an understanding of the nature and extent of bullying behaviour within secure services, which has extended to developing methods of measurement, training and policy creation.
This research has been extended to NHS secure settings and other sites nationally and internationally. Key applications of this research include the preparation of policy and strategy documents that have formed the basis for anti-bullying strategies in HM Prison Service, NHS high secure psychiatric institutions, and the Canadian Correctional Service.
Improved quality of life is a desired outcome in healthcare, and the accurate measurement of health-reported quality of life is therefore essential. Janice Abbott and colleagues have developed and validated disease-specific health-related quality of life instruments (e.g. The Cystic Fibrosis Quality of Life measure (CFQoL) and the LUPUSQoL, an instrument to evaluate the quality of life in people with systemic lupus erythematosus).
These instruments have been adopted internationally in clinical practice and research, and provide benefit to service users and clinicians. International collaboration and interest from industry, has resulted in these instruments being translated into numerous languages.
Benefits to the European Medicine’s Agency and European Cystic Fibrosis Society have occurred as Abbott’s expertise has contributed to the development of consensual guidelines concerning patient-reported outcome measures in clinical trials.