PhD - Carer's needs and experiences

Carer's needs and experiences whilst supporting the rehabilitation/recovery of a family member recovering from critical illness

Department of Applied Health and Professional Development,
Faculty of Health and Life Sciences,
Oxford Brookes University


Dr. Louise Stayt: Oxford Brookes University

Dr Helen Walthall, Oxford Brookes University

Clinical Collaborator

Professor Catherine Stoddart, Chief Nurse, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.


Relatives of patients who have been critically ill are at risk of developing PTSD, anxiety and depression for up to a year after patient discharge (refs). It has been highlighted that relatives adopt caring duties for patients discharged home after critical illness. Carers’ needs, carer burden and experiences of performing these duties are not well described in the literature. Nice Guideline and …Exploring these specific needs, experiences and burdens may alert us to ways in which carers may be supported in this role. This is pertinent as investigating ways in which carers may be best supported upon discharge has been highlighted by the James Lind Alliance as one of the top three intensive care research priorities (Reay et al. 2014) and has also been highlighted by NHS England (NHS 2014) and NICE CG83 (2009).

Azoulay, E., Pochard, F., Kentish-Barnes, N. & et al. (2005) Risk of post-traumatic stress symptoms in family members of intensive care unit patients. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, 171, 987-994.

McAdam, J., Fontaine, D., White, D., Dracup, K. & Puntillo, K. (2012) Psychological symptoms of family members of high-risk intensive care unit patients. American Journal of Critical Care, 21, 386-393.

Reay, H., Arulkumaran, N. & Brett, S. (2014) Priorities for future intensive care research in the UK: results of a James Lind Alliance Priority Setting Partnership. Journal of the Intensive Care Society, 15(4), 288-296.

NHS (2014b) NHS England: Commitment to Carers, NHS England, London.

NICE (2009) Rehabilitation after critical illness: NICE Clinical Guideline 83. National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, London.

Dr. Louise Stayt is a Senior Lecturer specialising in critical care and acute nursing.

Dr Helen Walthall is a Programme Lead/Principal Lecturer for Advanced and Specialist Nursing Practice and has a clinical background in Cardiac nursing. She has led research projects developing patient reported outcomes, exploring patient experience and carer experiences in a number of condition and symptom areas.  She an experienced PhD supervisor.

For further information about the research project please contact Professor Debra Jackson on

Applicants should be of the highest quality and capable of submitting a PhD thesis within 4 years alongside undertaking clinical duties within the trust. The successful applicant’s should have a first class or upper second class (minimum 2.1) honours degree from a Higher Education Institution in the UK or an acceptable equivalent qualification from a recognised Higher Education Institution. A Master’s degree with research methods training and/or evidence of the skills required for higher research study would be desirable. 

Please see the main OUH Studentships page for the full requirements and application process.