The Impact of a Stoma on Appearance and Body Image: Development of an intervention to support individuals with a stoma


An opportunity to apply for a funded full-time PhD in the Faculty of Health & Applied Sciences, UWE Bristol.  The studentship will be funded by Welland Medical Limited and UWE Bristol

The expected start date of this studentship is 1 January 2023.

The closing date for applications is 31 October 2022.

Studentship details

This is an exciting opportunity to conduct a funded full time PhD on the topic of appearance and body image for individuals with a stoma.  The successful candidate will benefit from the opportunities presented by being part of a thriving internationally renowned university research centre (the Centre for Appearance Research, CAR focused on psychosocial aspects of appearance, including those associated with appearance-altering conditions. CAR has a strong, vibrant postgraduate community, and links with relevant support organisations. The supervisory team will include Dr Pippa Tollow (Senior Research Fellow at CAR/Senior Lecturer in Health Psychology), Prof Diana Harcourt (Professor of Appearance and Health Psychology and Co-Director of CAR), and Dr Heidi Williamson (Associate Professor in Applied Health Research) who all have experience and expertise in appearance research. The PhD will also benefit from support from staff at Welland Medical Limited (, who are funding this PhD in partnership with the University of the West of England.

A stoma is a surgically created opening on the surface on the abdomen, which diverts the flow of faeces or urine to exit the body into a colostomy, urostomy or ileostomy bag. Stoma surgery may be required by individuals of all ages and there are many reasons why somebody may require a stoma. Existing research suggests that stoma-forming surgery and the resulting altered appearance can have a negative impact on mood, quality of life, and body image. However, further research is needed to investigate this experience and the support needs of adults with a stoma in the UK. In addition, there are currently limited evidence-based psychosocial interventions available for those who experience negative body image and appearance-related issues after stoma surgery, and little information publicly available for patients. This PhD will investigate the experiences and support needs of adults with a stoma in the UK, as well as developing a psychosocial intervention to support quality of life of adults living with a stoma, with a focus on appearance and body image

The precise details of the PhD will be finalised by the successful student in collaboration with the supervisory team. This is intended to be a mixed methods PhD and will offer an excellent training opportunity to develop the specific research skills and expertise of an early career researcher looking to establish a career in the field of health psychology and/or visible difference research.

For an informal discussion about the studentship, please email Diana Harcourt at


The studentship is available from 1 January 2023 for a period of three years, subject to satisfactory progress and includes a tax exempt stipend, which is currently £17,668 per annum.

In addition, full-time tuition fees will be covered for up to three years (Home).


This will be a three-year full-time commitment. The project is ideal for a self-motivated and enthusiastic student with a good honours degree (2:1 or equivalent, or above) in psychology or other relevant field, and evidence of further study at Masters level or equivalent (e.g. MSc Health Psychology, MSc Psychological Research Methods). Knowledge and experience of the psychosocial impact of changes to appearance and researching sensitive issues will be very desirable, as will experience of conducting appearance-related research.

The studentship is open to citizens in the UK. A recognised English language qualification is required.

How to apply

Please submit your application online. When prompted use the reference number 2223-JAN-HAS18.

Supporting documentation

You will need to upload your research proposal, all your degree certificates and transcripts and your proof of English language proficiency as attachments to your application so please have these available when you complete the application form.


You will need to provide details of two referees as part of your application. At least one referee must be an academic referee from the institution that conferred your highest degree. Your referee will be asked for a reference at the time you submit your application, so please ensure that your nominated referees are willing and able to provide references within 14 days of your application being submitted.

Closing date

The closing date for applications is 31 October 2022.

Further information

Interviews will take place in November 2022.  If you have not heard from us by 1 December 2022, we thank you for your application but on this occasion you have not been successful.

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