Research Projects

Studies currently recruiting participants

Relatives' Education And Coping Toolkit (REACT)

1 in 100 people will experience severe mental health problems. This most commonly starts in adolescence and the majority will be living at home with families. Relatives and close friends often provide their loved one with a massive amount of support through complex and challenging mental health crises. But this can have a big impact on the life of the relative/friend, especially if they have little knowledge of what is happening or how to manage it.

Here at the Spectrum Centre we are running a nationwide study to see whether an online intervention entitled Relatives Education and Coping Toolkit (REACT) is helpful for relatives or close friends of people with bipolar disorder or psychosis. The REACT intervention is supported online by peer supporters drawing on their own experiences, rather than health professionals.

The REACT toolkit contains lots of information to help relatives/close friends, ideas of strategies to manage common problems, and stories from other relatives/close friends about their experiences. Through the site you can contact a REACT Supporter who is a trained relative who can provide additional support relevant to your personal needs. The REACT Supporter will monitor the site during office hours. There is also an online forum (REACT Group) where you can talk directly with other relatives or friends using the site. As well as being totally online, the peer support model is another novel feature of the study.

All relatives/close friends supporting someone with psychosis or bipolar disorder who are 16 or over, live in the UK and have regular access to the internet can take part and they can self-refer themselves into the study through the website Participants are randomised to receive either the full REACT toolkit, or a Resource Directory that signposts them to all currently available national support services. That way we hope everyone will have access to something useful. We are interested in comparing the effect of these two interventions on distress levels of participants.

This project was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Technology Assessment (HTA), 14/49/34 and has full NHS ethical approval.

If you're interested in learning more or registering to take part please visit:

If you have a query please contact

Technology in Mental Health

Technology is increasingly being used to support the delivery of treatments for mental health problems. We are interested in speaking to people that have used a technology-based treatment for their mental health in the past six months. This means a mental health treatment that has been provided via a computer, the internet, or perhaps a mobile phone. This research aims to find out more about people's experiences of using this type of treatment.

To do this, we would like to interview people about their experiences of using technology-based treatment. We are offering a £10 voucher for taking part, as a way of thanking participants for their time. Involvement in this study is entirely voluntary, and participants can withdraw at any time.

This project is part of a PhD project by researchers at the Spectrum Centre for Mental Health Research, at Lancaster University. The Chief Investigator of the project is Laura Hillier, a PhD student. The project is being supervised by Professor Fiona Lobban and Professor Steven Jones.

If you are interested in this study, please contact us using the details below. We can discuss the study and whether you are eligible to take part in more detail. Alternatively, if you know someone that might be interested, please pass this information on to them. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

Chief Investigator:

Laura Hillier
Telephone: 01524 595161/07548 801695

Other studies in progress or recently completed at the Spectrum Centre

Implementing a Relatives' Toolkit (IMPART)

The IMPART study is a study funded by the NIHR (National Institute for Health Research) to explore the implementation of support for relatives across several Mental Health Trusts across the country.

For more information, please contact Victoria Appleton, Lead Research Associate for IMPART.
Email:, Tel: (0)1524 595035

Understanding personal recovery experiences in bipolar disorder

Recovery experience is a unique and diverse experience and rarely focuses only on symptom reduction. This study aims to examine what other aspects of recovery are important to people with bipolar disorder and discover psychological, social and environmental factors that influence such aspects and fluctuations in recovery experiences, in both everyday life and in longer term.

Thinking Style, Behaviour, Mood & Recovery in Bipolar Disorder

We are exploring relationships between thinking style, responses to mood, positive experiences of mood swings, inspiration, mood and recovery using a set of online questionnaires. We will also be investigating the reliability and validity of several measures of these processes. For more information on the project, see the Thinking Style study page.

You can jump straight to the study questionnaire by visiting

Clinical Case Series' - Family Focused Support

This project is designed to assess the acceptability of a 6 month family fucused psychological intervention, providing up to 18 sessions with participants. It will provide a detailed exploration of the relationship between the intervention, the characteristics of the participant (such as thoughts, mood and activity) and outcomes as defined by both the service user and clinician.

You can find out more information on the Family Focused Support project page.

Enhanced Relapse Prevention Online (ERP Online)

What is ERP Online?

ERP Online is an interactive website which provides access to the Enhanced Relapse Prevention approach for bipolar disorder.

Why are we doing this?

Many people continue to experience relapses and our approach is effective in reducing relapse. We want to increase access to it.

For more information on the ERP Online project, see the ERP Online page or visit

Integrated Bipolar Parenting Intervention (IBPI)

The Spectrum Centre are assessing the usefulness of a web-based parenting programme that is tailored to meet the needs of parents with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. People with Bipolar Disorder may find that their changes in mood make the delivery of consistent parenting more difficult than for parents without mental health problems.

The Integrated Bipolar Parenting Intervention (IBPI) developed by the Spectrum Centre combines a parenting programme (Triple P) that consists of positive parenting techniques with strategies that are helpful for managing bipolar. For more information on the IBPI project, see the IBPI page or visit

Meeting Relatives' Needs (MRN)

Committed to the continuous improvement of the care provided, the Central North West London NHS Foundation Trust (CNWL) is keen to support a research project that aims to evaluate how carers experience the services they receive.

The study focuses on the triangle of care in mental health, consisting of service users, relatives, and health professionals. The study will explore how relatives of people with mental health problems experience the support they receive, whether they are satisfied, and how this can be improved.

For more information on the MRN project, see the MRN page.

Clinical Case Series' - Recovery Focused Therapy

This is a study exploring the impact of a recovery-focused intervention on the mood and other factors of interest for people with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. Considerable evidence points to the beneficial impact of psychological interventions on outcomes such as symptoms and relapse. However, such outcomes may not accurately capture what the service user considers to be meaningful change. Little is known about the interaction between service user definitions of recovery, participant characteristics and therapeutic components. An improved understanding of these factors represents an important step in developing more suitable and effective psychological interventions.

You can find out more information on the Recovery Focused Therapy project page.

PARADES Programme Grant

Academics at the Spectrum Centre led by Professor Steven Jones have been awarded a prestigious £2m programme grant by National Institute for Health Research. The PARADES programme will run over 5 years in collaboration with Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust, Nottingham and Manchester Universities.

This is the first major award for research into bipolar disorder funded by NIHR and will focus on the development, evaluation and implementation of psychological approaches to bipolar disorder and comorbid problems.

There are five studies contained within it as follows:

A definitive randomised controlled trial (RCT) comparing group psychoeducation with group peer support, both delivered by a service user and 2 clinicians.
A treatment development study concerning anxiety in bipolar disorder. This will have three phases. Phase 1 is a qualitative study of people's experience of anxiety in bipolar disorder. Phase 2 is a consultative phase in which individuals with bipolar experience indicate ways in which anxiety intervention protocols might be made relevant to individuals with bipolar. The final phase is a pilot RCT testing the feasibility and acceptability of the chosen approach and also providing provisional information on effectiveness all of which will inform a future definitive trial.
Substance Use
This study will follow the same model as the Anxiety stream (see above) but for people with bipolar and comorbid substance/alcohol problems and will be informed by pilot work already conducted by our team.
Suicidality and Self Harm
This study will look at factors associated with suicide and severe self harm in bipolar disorder using both the Manchester University National Confidential database and associated data sources in the first instance.
Advance Directive Evaluation
The final element is designed to evaluate the extent to which the mental capacity act is impacting on the treatment experiences of individuals with bipolar disorder. This will include surveys of court records and Responsible Medical Officers to indicate application of advance directives as well as interviews with individuals with a bipolar diagnosis to study whether advance directives are used in relation to admission and whether this is more or less likely in individuals in receipt of the psychoeducation intervention.

For more information, visit the PARADES website:


The Recovery project involves the development and evaluation of a recovery-focussed psychosocial intervention for individuals with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. For more information on the Recovery project, visit the Recovery page.

Involving Relatives in the Healthcare Team

Funded by the Violet and Milo Cripps Charitable Trust in memory of Lord Milo Douglas who had bipolar disorder and died by suicide in 2009, aged 34, this study aims to enhance our understanding of the inter- and intrapersonal barriers and facilitators to involving relatives in mental healthcare, and the impact that communication in mental healthcare settings may have on the course of BD and the family's overall wellbeing. For more information, click here

Personality and the Student Experience

This project is an analogue study exploring the associations between personality style and academic achievement in undergraduate students, and what factors are specifically related to positive and negative outcomes for these students.

For more information, see Personality and the Student Experience.

EMOTE - Everyday Momentary Observations of Thoughts and Emotions (PhD)

Faye Banks, Heather Robinson, and Kay Hampshire are jointly running the EMOTE study, which aims to explore the relationships between mood changes and anxiety, mood management and circadian rhythms.

For more information, please click here.

This project is being supervised by Steve Jones and Fiona Lobban.

Circadian Instability, Appraisal Style, and Mood (PhD)

Faye Banks is investigating associations between circadian instability, appraisals, and mood, among individuals with bipolar disorder and fybromyalgia, as well as non-clinical populations.

For more information, please click here.

This project is being supervised by Steve Jones and Fiona Lobban.

Mood management: An eight stage process (PhD)

Heather Robinson is investigating how individuals with and without a diagnosis of bipolar disorder detect and respond to changes in mood. Mood management: An eight stage process will examine whether there are differences between individuals with and without a diagnosis of bipolar disorder with regard to how they manage their moods at different stages of self-regulation, which could have important implications for psychosocial interventions for bipolar disorder.

For more information, please click here.

This project is being supervised by Fiona Lobban and Steve Jones.

Experiences of Anxiety in Bipolar Disorder (PhD)

Anxiety is common among individuals with bipolar disorder, and is associated with poorer outcomes. Kay Hampshire is investigating the experience of anxiety among individuals with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, and the relationship between the two.

For more information, please click here.

This project is being supervised by Steve Jones and Fiona Lobban.

Helping relatives to help themselves: self management for relatives of people in early Psychosis (PhD)

Laura Wainwright is investigating self management use of relatives of people experiencing early psychosis. The aim is to investigate their experiences and how they may be supported to use resources to facilitate their experiences.

For more information, please click here.

This project is being supervised by Fiona Lobban and Steve Jones.

Living With Bipolar (PhD)

This project is funded by Merseycare NHS Trust, and involves the development and evaluation of the feasibility of a web-based psychosocial intervention for individuals with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. For more information, see our Living With Bipolar webpage.

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