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Improving healthcare for trans and gender diverse people: adapting and testing the effectiveness of Social Prescribing initiatives SSS19

  • School: School of Social Sciences
  • Study mode(s): Full-time / Part-time
  • Starting: 2022
  • Funding: UK student / EU student (non-UK) / International student (non-EU) / Fully-funded


NTU's Fully-funded PhD Studentship Scheme 2022

Project ID: SSS19

Care at Gender Identity Clinics (GICs) focusses on supporting trans and gender diverse (TGD) people (i.e., those experiencing incongruence between their gender assigned at birth and their gender identity) through their medical transition (i.e., hormones, surgery). This approach has limitations: not every TGD person seeks medical transition, while all TGD individuals (regardless of whether they undergo a medical transition) are at risk of mental ill-health. Consequently, there is a need for a more holistic approach to TGD healthcare that also supports clients psychologically and emotionally.

The poor mental health commonly experienced by TGD people is thought to have a social cause. Due to their minority identity, many experience frequent discrimination, stigma, and harassment. When transitioning, many also become estranged from important social networks. On the margins of society, there is limited opportunity for meaningful social interaction, and feelings of loneliness (a well-established predictor of depression) are commonplace.

Within the general population, rising levels of loneliness have been addressed through Social Prescribing (SP) initiatives. These involve clients being signposted to and supported in their joining of local community groups (e.g., gardening groups, craft groups). SP has been used successfully with minority groups (e.g., ethnic minorities). According to the Social Cure perspective, which emerged from the Social Identity Approach, the health-related benefits of SP derive from an increased sense of group belongingness, social support, and reductions in loneliness. Nonetheless, despite its theoretical evidence base and relevance, SP is yet to be specifically used with TGD people.

This PhD would explore: i) how SP initiatives need to be adapted to be appealing to TGD people; ii) how SP would fit within a reformed Gender Identity Care model; iii) whether SP is effective at increasing social connections and improving wellbeing in TGD people. The first two aims would be addressed via semi-structured interviews with TGD people and key stakeholders, while the third aim would be addressed via a longitudinal survey with TGD people involved in SP. Through the contacts of Dr Beth Jones, the PhD candidate would work in collaboration with key stakeholders, such as NHS GICs and third-sector organisations (e.g., Mermaids).

Given the crises that English GICs are facing due to long waiting lists (currently about 4 years), this PhD would help improve healthcare for TGD people and mitigate the health risks associated with long wait-times (e.g., anxiety, depression, suicidality). It would also help develop much-needed tailored psychosocial support for TGD people.

School strategic research priority

The project aligns with the Groups, Identities and Health group.

Entry qualifications

For the eligibility criteria, visit our studentship application page.

How to apply

For guidance and to make an application, please visit our studentship application page. The application deadline is Friday 14 January 2022.

Fees and funding

This is part of NTU's 2022 fully-funded PhD Studentship Scheme.

Guidance and support

Download our full applicant guidance notes for more information.

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