Feasibility study of a mindfulness intervention for survivors of domestic violence and abuse with post-traumatic stress disorder: a qualitative process evaluation

PhD project (3/4 yr research project leading to independent research at the doctorate level)

Dr Alice Malpass, Dr Natalia Lewis, Professor Gene Feder

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Up to 64% of women who have experienced domestic violence and abuse (DVA) develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Standard treatment for PTSD is a trauma-focused cognitive behaviour therapy (TF-CBT) which teaches how to change negative thoughts and feelings into more positive ones through ‘reliving’ traumatic memories (2). Many survivors of DVA drop out of the standard treatment because they find such an approach too upsetting or do not feel better. In contrast, mindfulness is a present focused psychological treatment which teaches how to respond to one-self with acceptance and self-compassion. Mindfulness works well for depression.
In collaboration with DVA survivors, we have adapted a standard mindfulness course for depression to fit the special treatment preferences of abused women. Now we have secured funding to finalise the adaptations and then test the adapted mindfulness therapy in a feasibility study with 36 women.

Aims & objectives

This PhD projects aims to test the feasibility and acceptability of the adapted mindfulness intervention and its intended evaluation. PhD findings will inform further refinement of the intervention, design and grant application for the full size trial.


This PhD project is built upon the UK Medical Research Council framework on process evaluation of complex interventions (1) and the “person-based” approach to intervention development (2). The student will collect qualitative data through: (i) interviews with study participants, mindfulness teacher, and members of the study team, (ii) non-participant observations of mindfulness sessions and (iii) document analysis. The student will analyse the data, synthesise findings from the three sources and will be involved in refinement of the mindfulness intervention for the full size trial.
The student will work in the evolving area of intervention development and feasibility testing, learn how to apply theory to process evaluation, and develop skills and expertise in qualitative methods.


1. Moore, G.F., et al., Process evaluation of complex interventions: Medical Research Council guidance. BMJ, 2015. 350: p. h1258.
2. Yardley, L., et al., The person-based approach to enhancing the acceptability and feasibility of interventions. Pilot Feasibility Stud, 2015. 1: p. 37.

Created on June 30, 2017, 9:48 a.m.

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