Clair Dempsey

Clair is currently a Postgraduate Researcher within the Centre for Intelligent Healthcare

@Clair Dempsey @CovUni_CIH

I’m currently designing an 8 week mindfulness-based intervention for women living with endometriosis and/or adenomyosis. There is a huge lack of support for the impact that living with these painfully debilitating conditions have on mental health. The course will be online so that it can be accessed from anywhere including the comfort of your own home.  I just finished using photovoice to conduct a needs assessment. The research question was: What are the psychological needs and coping strategies of people living with endometriosis and/or adenomyosis? The data that was collected and analysed with be used to design the intervention and be threaded through the intervention. The photovoice study ended with a photography exhibition and was then turned in to a physical and online book. It can be viewed here:

How did you end up doing what you are currently doing?

I lost my job due to having endometriosis and struggling to get appropriate treatment – excision surgery. I ended up returning to university to study a MSc in Applied Psychology at Coventry University. Afterwards I applied for PhD courses before being accepted to do a PhD at Coventry, which was similar to my MSc research topic of studying the effectiveness of a mindfulness-based intervention for chronic pelvic pain.

What does a typical day at work look like for you?

I try to fit my PhD into a 8.30 – 5 day. I don’t really have a typical day. Last week I spend 2.5 days at Thesis Boot Camp, today I spent catching up on emails and sending out photobooks. I even sent some to the MPs on the All Party Parliamentary Group on endometriosis, which recently launched an inquiry into the condition.  As I’m in my final year my priority lies with balancing thesis writing and finishing my final study. I will be recruiting participants for the online course from the beginning of March.

What or who inspires you in your work?

I’m inspired by the thought that my research could be useful for people living with endometriosis and adenomyosis. I feel so encouraged by the response I’ve received from the endo community. A survey conducted by the BBC of over 13,000 women with endo showed that over half have considered taking their own life. I find this unacceptable, and it illustrates the huge gap in treatment and support for those living with endo. I hope my work can lead to improvements in quality of life, more support in the workplace and education and support for those that need to navigate the DWP benefits system. I have found great support and encouragement from women in research at Coventry University, two of my supervisors Dr. Liz Sparkes, Dr Faith Martin. Heather and Jennifer from RECAP. Professor Lisa Bayliss-Pratt, Javneet Ghuman, Dr. Carol Percy and Gabriela Matouskova from Hope for the Community.

Why do we need gender equality in research?

Gender equality is vital in research. Representation is so important, so many conferences and research settings can be dominated by the male voice. It’s important that women get access to opportunities that allow them to do research, to talk about their research and to highlight the work that they are doing and want to do. Women should have an equal presence and voice in every aspect of society. This should be true in every level of education, non-traditional role models need to be promoted and valued in an academic setting.    

What advice do you have for fellow researchers? 

Be curious about what you enjoy about research, find your passion. This is what will get you through the toughest days. Dedicate some time to cultivating and nurturing your network, in a research setting but also online. If someone’s work means something to you reach out and tell them.  Imposter syndrome is very real but don’t let it hold you back: apply for funding, raise your hand at conferences, submit an abstract for oral presentation instead of poster presentation, suggest a workshop or seminar. Most importantly – look after yourself and prioritise your health and wellbeing.   

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