Elaine is our newest academic staff member, and will be working on a number of studies looking at pain and work.
Elaine started in the group mid-September 2021, when she first ever travelled to Aberdeen and admired its granite beauty. Elaine holds a doctorate from the University of Bath and will work on a range of projects across the group, as well as starting her own programme of research.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I came into academia later in life and I love it. I originally did an English degree at the University of Oxford, then working for MIND made me want to study Psychology, so I did a degree in via the Open University whilst teaching. I went on to do an MSc in Health Services Research at York, and enjoyed it so much, I did a PhD at the University of Bath. I studied the social negotiation of sickness certification processes that occur between someone living with pain, GPs and employers. This body of work started an ongoing fruitful relationship between my research and policymakers, as I was asked to advise on fit note procedures. I did a post doc in the Centre for Pain Research, Bath looking at the ways in which real-world headache pain disrupts attention. I still work with that group as an honorary research fellow, recently co-editing a book with Professor Christoher Eccleston, on taking a lifespan development approach to pain and work. This was a great privilege. I also lectured in Health Psychology from 2013 until now at Bath Spa University, where I co-led the Centre for Health and Cognition, and I’ve retained a visiting research fellowship there to support some ongoing collaborations.
What will you be working on with the Epi Group?
I’m delighted I’ll be working on the QUICK and Making it Work studies; three different studies as part of our collaboration with the Centre for Musculoskeletal Health and Work; a four year body of work via the Advanced Pain Discovery Platform on psychosocial elements of pain and working life; a qualitative evidence synthesis of the fit note, and I hope to start a new programme of research about the value of a lifespan development approach to pain and work studies.
Are you currently involved in any other research?
Yes, I have fairly recently become involved with some work with teenagers, looking at things like process and content of worry when one does or does not have pain, and how young people living with both pain and autism communicate about their pain. I’ve also been involved for a while in research on medical doctors’ and also social workers’ working conditions, most recently the CoCCo project, which made empirically grounded recommendations for psychological care of frontline doctors. That was an incredibly humbling project to be involved in, at any time, but particularly during the pandemic. I have the great pleasure of currently being on supervisory teams for four fantastic PhD students across different institutions.
Why did you choose Aberdeen?
I had met Gary, Gareth, Rosemary and LaKristra via our various activities for the Centre for Musculoskeletal Health and Work, based at Southampton. So I knew something about the work of the Group and greatly admired it. What the team do here, and with such excellence, fits very well with my key research interests in how to improve work and occupation for people living with pain, what “good” work is, and the use of qualitative methods applied to health services research. So I am feeling very happy to be here!
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I can sum this up by saying kicks and cakes! I am not a terribly good (yet!) but really enthusiastic kickboxer… I started this 3 years ago, and whilst in-person lessons were of course stopped during the pandemic, I am getting back on track now and attempting to master spinning kick. It’s the most physically challenging thing I have ever done, but it’s a really friendly club and our instructor is phenomenal. I also really enjoy baking cakes with the kids in my life (my husband and I have 5 altogether, and although two are grown up now, the littlest is 6, so lots of cake making happily goes on our house). We enjoy walking in the countryside and eating cakes along the way!