PhD Dating after brain injury: what people with brain injury want and how to assess

Closing Date
30 Nov 2019
School of Health Sciences, City, University of London
3 years

People with brain injury consider relationships and finding someone to love as important to them in their lives post-injury. However, helping a person find love is not often a goal set by rehabilitation professionals. People have problems with intimacy, interpersonal communication and sexual performance following their injury. These problems can make it difficult to find and maintain a relationship. The art of dating and finding love is complex requiring a deep understanding of the verbal and non-verbal nuances of social interaction, often impaired after a brain injury. Recent advances in technology (e.g. mobile phones, computers) and the rise of social media platforms (e.g. social network sites, dating sites, apps) means that an understanding of written communication is also needed to date successfully. Earlier studies have examined dating behaviours and interventions for people with and without disabilities, but dating has not been explored in-depth with people with brain injury and there is little information on how to assess and measure the success of potential interventions in this area. 

The proposed PhD: This study will examine what people with brain injury want from dating and being in a relationship and explore measurement outcomes. The first part of this study will involve a literature review of dating in people with and without disabilities (including brain injury). More specifically: skills required for dating, how to measure dating behaviours, and any interventions that have been published in the area. The second part of the study will involve qualitative interviews with ~20-30 people with brain injury who have expressed an interest in dating. The interviews will explore the importance of dating for them, ways in which they have approached dating, common challenges they have encountered, and how these have been overcome. The final part of the study will involve the testing of ~60 people with brain injury on dating outcomes alongside wider outcomes that address social participation and well-being. The results of this study will lay the foundation for a pilot study of a dating intervention for people with brain injury. 

Supervisory Team: The named team represents expertise in psychosocial effects and communication disorders after brain injury. Leanne Togher (University of Sydney, Australia) is an Honorary Professor in Communication Disorders after Brain Injury at City will also be consulted on this project. No Speech & Language Therapy Department within a UK university has a strong research profile for brain injury (non-stroke) so this application aims to establish this profile at City over the next 5-10 years. 

Potential for a field of strong candidates: LCS has a strong track record of attracting successful PhD candidates, including in the past few years two candidates (one PhD, one MRES) pursuing research in the field of brain injury (non-stroke). This proposal may be of interest to SLTs or psychologists in the field considering a PhD, recent SLT or Psychology graduates or students completing MScs in health professions. 

If you would like to have an informal discussion please contact 

School of Health Sciences

The School of Health Sciences is offering up to five full/part-time Doctoral Studentships to outstanding candidates. We are a leading provider of applied healthcare research and we offer PhD candidates an outstanding research environment: in REF 2014, 100% of our research environment was judged as world leading or internationally excellent and 100% of research impact was judged as world leading or internationally excellent. In the recent Postgraduate Research Experience Survey, 96% of PhD students responding rated the expertise and responsiveness of their supervisors as excellent. Successful applicants would join around 70 current PhD students in the School, providing a supportive environment of peers. 


The studentships will be awarded on the basis of outstanding academic achievement and the potential to produce cutting edge-research. 
• Applicants must hold at least a 2.1 honours degree or merit level Masters degree in a relevant subject (or international equivalent) 
• Applicants whose first language is not English must have achieved at least 7.0 in IELTS or a recognised equivalent 
• Applicants must not be currently registered as a doctoral student at City, University of London or any other academic institution 

How to Apply

To apply for studentship funding: 
• Complete an application form for a place on the PhD programme by clicking here where you will be asked to register before you can complete your application 
• Upload your research proposal (four sides of A4 maximum including references) on one of the specific projects listed by supervisors or in any of the areas covered by the research centres following discussion and agreement with a potential supervisor. 
Research centres: 

• Suggested structure of proposal: 
1. Project description; Topic, motivation from the literature, Methods and potential impact 
2. How does this fit with the work carried out in the School of Health Sciences? 
3. Potential for this research lead to an important question or methodological innovation that might lead to 4* output 

• Upload a short cover letter with your application requesting that your application be considered for studentship funding 
• Submit your online application form and supporting documents by 30 November 2018. If you have any queries, please the doctoral degrees support officer, Tracy Rowson (

Funding Notes

• An annual bursary (£16,000 in 2018/19) 
• All fees for PhD student registration paid for UK and EU students. Applications are welcome from overseas applicants but the applicant must make appropriate arrangements to cover the difference between the overseas and UK tuition fee 
• Research costs up to £1000 over the three years

For more information and to apply, click here

Contact Details
Tracy Rowson: