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Dr Rachel Shaw - Aston University. Birmingham, , GB

Dr Rachel Shaw

Reader, School of Psychology | Aston University


Dr Shaw studies the synthesis of diverse evidence and the use of different ways of knowing in healthcare practice.






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Molecules to Minds: Understanding & Improving Staff Wellbeing in Paediatric Intensive Care




Dr Shaw's research interests include:

Health and illness experience: familial experience of living with long-term health conditions, navigating the healthcare services, developing relationships with healthcare professionals, shared decision-making

Well-being in professional practice: maintaining well-being among healthcare professionals, theoretically informed methods for preparing healthcare professionals for working in high pressure environments, the meanings of care and delivering lifeworld-led care

Knowledge in evidence-based healthcare: synthesis of diverse evidence, use of different ways of knowing in healthcare practice

Areas of Expertise (5)

Qualitative Research

Health Psychology



Body Dysmorphia

Education (3)

De Montfort University: PhD, Psychology 2001

Open University: Diploma, Psychology 1999

De Montfort University: BSc, Psychology 1996

Affiliations (2)

  • Chartered Psychologist with the British Psychological Society (BPS)
  • Health Psychologist registered with the Health & Care Professions Council

Media Appearances (1)

Aston University: Villa Vision Receives £20K From Wesleyan To Measure Impact Of Child Eye Health Project

EducationDiary.com  online


Dr Rachel Shaw, a health psychologist in Aston Institute for Health & Neurodevelopment, and project lead, said: “Villa Vision is an inspirational project offering children eye care in their schools. Not only that, Nik Sonpal and Zak El Khalifi from the Villa Vision team, have created an educational, entertaining, and imaginative workshop helping children to understand the importance of eye health, bringing it to life with the help of Aston Villa and a footballing theme.”

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Articles (3)

Qualitative study exploring the well-being experiences of paediatric critical care consultants working in the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic

BMJ Open

2022 Objectives The aim of this study was to examine the well-being experiences of consultants working in paediatric critical care (PCC) settings in the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic. Design Qualitative design using individual interviews and thematic analysis. Setting PCC. Participants Eleven medical consultants working in PCC in a range of PCC settings/transport teams in the UK from nine units participated. Participants ranged in years of experience as a consultant from four to 23 years. Methods A set of open semistructured questions were used to elicit information about participants’ experiences of workplace well-being. Interviews were audiorecorded and transcribed. Findings Thematic analysis identified six themes and data saturation was reached. These were as follows: (1) positive and negative impact of working during COVID-19, (2) job satisfaction and public scrutiny in the unique environment of PCC, (3) supporting the workforce through modified shift work, (4) perceptions of support and recognition offered from the hospital management, (5) successful coping strategies are personal and adaptive, and (6) importance of civility and good teamwork Conclusion Findings show that consultants’ well-being is challenged in a number of ways and that the solutions to the problem of burn-out are multifaceted. Action is required from individual consultants, clinical teams, hospital management and national regulatory bodies. Our work corroborates the recent General Medical Council report highlighting doctors’ core needs for well-being: autonomy, belonging, competence. Burn-out is a long-term problem, requiring sustainable solutions. Future research needs to develop and evaluate the effectiveness of evidence-based interventions to improve consultants’ well-being. Trials of effectiveness need to present evidence that will persuade hospital management to invest in their consultants’ well-being within the economic context of reduced budgets and limited PCC workforce.

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Opportunities, challenges and learnings from qualitative research with stakeholders in frailty in three European countries

Qualitative Research in Psychology

2022 The aims of this paper are to reflect upon the experiences of researchers involved in a cross-national qualitative study with stakeholders in three European countries (Italy, Poland and UK), within the context of the FOCUS project on frailty management and optimisation (see http://focus-aha.eu/en/home). Six researchers’ reflections were gathered using open-ended questions. Responses were thematically analysed. We report on our team diversity including cultural differences in epistemological stances and describe how working remotely challenged clear communication. We comment on linguistic issues, our data collection approaches and methods of analysis. However, we also reflect upon the ability of such projects to build knowledge, generate capacity and promote the value of qualitative research in healthcare across Europe. Finally, we advocate an approach to cross-national research that is as much about building a cohesive knowledge exchange network as it is about understanding the lives, perspectives and experiences of our stakeholders.

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Understanding what wellbeing means to medical and nursing staff working in paediatric intensive care: an exploratory qualitative study using appreciative inquiry

BMJ Open

2022 Aims and objectives To explore what wellbeing means to medical and nursing staff working in a large paediatric intensive care (PIC). Design Exploratory qualitative design using an appreciative inquiry framework. Setting PIC unit; primary, secondary and tertiary. Participants 46 nurses and doctors working on PIC. Interventions A set of images were used together with open-ended questions to prompt staff to discuss what wellbeing means to them. Interviews were audiorecorded and transcribed. Data were analysed thematically. Results Images depicting nature, children and groups of adults were selected most. Meanings of wellbeing for PIC staff can be understood through three themes: (1) Being nurtured and supported at work, (2) Importance of nature and (3) Social support independent of work. The first theme considered the importance of being listened to at work as well as staff highlighting the value of being in control at work. Within the second theme, being active in nature and outdoors as well as the importance of being in the present moment was illustrated. Within the final theme, staff expressed the value of having support independent of work and highlighted the importance of spending time with family. Conclusions This study provides a unique insight into how individuals working in PIC experience wellbeing and what wellbeing means to them. Understanding how healthcare professionals in PIC settings experience wellbeing and what wellbeing means to them will enable researchers to develop interventions designed to enhance staff wellbeing based on lived experience.

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