Development of a tool helping nurses discuss weight management with mental health patients

This research will develop a tool to be used by mental health nurses to initiate conversations about weight and to support people with SMI to achieve their goals.

Start date
1 October 2019
3 years
Application deadline
Funding source
The University of Surrey and West London NHS Trust
Funding information

All University fees will be covered with a stipend of £15,009 per annum for UK/EU citizens.


People with a serious mental illness (SMI), such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, have high rates of obesity which can result in early death. Weight management is not part of routine care. This research will develop a tool to be used by mental health nurses to initiate conversations about weight and to support people with SMI to achieve their goals. The tool will be informed by acceptance and commitment therapy - an evidenced based approach to weight management.

Development of the tool will involve several steps including literature review, interviews with patients and nurses and ‘think aloud’ testing to explore how people use the tool. This will ensure that the tool is useable and acceptable to people with SMI and nurses. A final study will gather preliminary data on the impact of the tool on weight management which could inform a future test of whether the tool is effective.


  1. Allison et al. Obesity Among Those with Mental Disorders. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2009;36(4): 341-350.
  2. Hayes et al. Mortality gap for people with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Br J Psychiatry. 2017;211(3): 175-181.
  3. Clifton A et al. Influences on uptake of cancer screening in mental health service users. BMC Health Services Research. 2016;16, 257.
  4. PHE 2017
  5. Diabetes UK
  6. Lamontagne-Godwin et al. Interventions to increase access to or uptake of physical health screening in people with SMI. BMJ Open. 2018;8(2).
  7. Lillis & Kendra. ACT for weight control: Model, evidence, and future directions. J Contextual Behav Sci. 2014;3(1):1-7.

Eligibility criteria

Available to citizens of UK and EU. 

This project is suitable for someone with a good first degree (at least 2:1) and a Masters level qualification in a related topic area, such as Psychology, public health, epidemiology, nursing, allied health, other health-related discipline. Candidates should have experience of working with mental health patients.

The Student will be based in the School of Health Sciences which is based in the Surrey Research Park. Data collection occur from West London NHS Trust (specific sites to be determined). A limited amount of funding is available for travel.

How to apply

All applications must be made through the Health Sciences PhD course page and must clearly state the studentship title. Please include a CV with details of two referees and a covering letter detailing interest and suitability for the project.

Health Sciences PhD

Application deadline

Contact details

Elizabeth Barley
17 DK 05
Telephone: +44 (0)1483 684635

Studentships at Surrey

We have a wide range of studentship opportunities available.