Books lined up on library shelf

Tom Jewell

Profession: Nurse and Family Therapist
Supervisor: Professor Ivan Eisler, Professor Peter Fonagy
Project title: Attachment and mentalization as predictors of treatment outcome in family therapy for adolescent anorexia nervosa

What help have you received from the BRC?

I was awarded a six-month research secondment and then a one-year Preparatory Fellowship, both of which were for one day a week. The BRC also helped me in other ways, such as providing funding for training, and helping me to prepare for the NIHR interview.

What did you achieve during the secondment and Preparatory Fellowship?

I used my time to prepare an application to the NIHR for a Clinical Doctoral Research Fellowship. I also completed a systematic review related to the proposed study, and met with patients and parents to seek their advice on my proposal.

What are you doing next?

I will be finishing my NIHR Fellowship and submitting my PhD in February 2020. My PhD has been investigating predictors of outcome in family therapy for adolescent anorexia nervosa. I recruited over 160 adolescents with anorexia nervosa and their families from three NHS sites. Participants were recruited as they began family therapy. My preliminary findings suggest that some aspects of mentalization and emotion regulation are predictive of therapeutic outcome at 9 months, whereas attachment did not emerge as a predictor. These findings could help lead to the early identification of adolescents at risk of poor outcome, and help to inform attempts to modify or personalise treatment. After the end of my NIHR Fellowship I am hoping to continue my career as a clinical academic in the eating disorders field.  

What would you say to other people thinking of applying?

I would strongly recommend applying for a research secondment or Preparatory Fellowship to anyone who is interested in getting involved in research. My experience has been that there is a lot of support available to people who want to apply for fellowships. Applying for a Doctoral Fellowship is a large undertaking, and it would be hard to do this successfully whilst working full-time in a clinical role. The BRC can provide you with the time you need to develop your ideas into a focussed research proposal.