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12 April 2022

Six influential papers from early career researchers

Discover six impactful articles from early career researchers at the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery and Palliative Care.


An early career researcher – often referred to as an ECR – is a person in the first few years of their research career. ECRs play a significant role in the research taking place at our Faculty, leading and contributing to research which often has far-reaching impact in the fields of nursing, midwifery and palliative care.

We’re showcasing six influential articles where a Faculty ECR is listed as the first author, which have had considerable impact in their area.

Obesity, stigma and reflexive embodiment: Feeling the ‘weight’ of expectation

ECR author: Oli Williams

Existing research shows that weight-based stigma is an ineffective way to reduce the incidence of obesity and that it is in fact bad for our health. This article assesses data from 11 months of ethnographic participant observation and semi-structured interviews with three single-sex weight-loss groups in England. The analysis reveals how stigma associated with bodyweight and size gets under the skin and is felt in the flesh and how this detrimentally impacts people’s health and wellbeing.

Why should you read this paper?

  • To understand how and why obesity stigma is an inappropriate and ineffective means of promoting health
  • To discover how obesity stigma makes people feel and how it affects their experiences of their bodies
  • To learn about a new concept known as ‘the weight of expectation’ which explains how and why people come to embody weight-based stigma

Read it here.

The article has also been translated into an evidence-based comic called The Weight of Expectation. This project has since won an award at the AHRC Medical Humanities Awards. Find out more.

Safety of benzodiazepines and opioids in interstitial lung disease: a national prospective study

ECR author: Sabrina Bajwah

Safety concerns have been identified as one of the barriers to physicians prescribing benzodiazepines (BDZs) and opioids in interstitial lung disease (ILD). This paper examines the association of BDZs and opioids on risk of admission to hospital and death – the first ever study to do so - and findings support the use of opioids and low-dose BDZs in severely ill patients with respiratory compromise.

Why should you read this paper?

  • To understand the ongoing concerns about BDZs and opioids causing adverse events in patients with interstitial lung disease, and the reluctance to prescribe and use these medications
  • To explore the possible links between BDZs and opioids, hospital admissions and increased mortality rates – or lack thereof

Read it here.

Recommendations to reduce inequalities for LGBT people facing advanced illness: ACCESSCare national qualitative interview study

ECR author: Katherine Bristowe

LGBT+ people have higher risk of certain life-limiting illnesses and unmet needs in advanced illness and bereavement. ACCESSCare is the first national study to examine in-depth the experiences of LGBT+ people facing advanced illness. This paper aims to explore health-care experiences of LGBT+ people facing advanced illness to elicit views regarding sharing identity (sexual orientation/gender history), accessing services, discrimination/exclusion and best-practice examples.

Why should you read this paper?

  • To learn about the five overarching themes that emerged from the research into experiences of LGBT+ people facing advanced illness
  • To understand the barriers LGBT+ people face to accessing care at multiple levels
  • To find out about ten simple, low-cost recommendations to improve care for LGBT+ people facing advanced illness

Read it here.

Measures to assess commonly experienced symptoms for people with dementia in long-term care settings: a systematic review

ECR author: Clare Ellis-Smith

High symptom burden is common in long-term care residents with dementia and, if undetected, often results in distress and behavioural challenges. Physicians may have limited time to regularly examine all residents, and may rely on reports from caregivers who are frequently in a good position to detect symptoms quickly. This study aimed to identify proxy-completed assessment measures of symptoms experienced by people with dementia, and critically appraise the psychometric properties and applicability for use in long-term care settings by caregivers.

Why should you read this paper?

  • To learn why assessment measures of pain are the best developed and have the strongest evidence of psychometric properties for use by caregivers in people with dementia
  • To understand why a caregiver-completed multi-symptom measure to assess the full extent of symptoms in people with dementia is urgently required

Read it here.

The challenges of training, support and assessment of healthcare support workers: A qualitative study of experiences in three English acute hospitals

ECR author: Sophie Sarre

Ever-growing demands of care systems have increased reliance on healthcare support workers. In the UK, their training has been variable, but organisation-wide failures in care have prompted questions about how this crucial section of the workforce should be developed.

This paper examines: healthcare support workers’ access to training, support and assessment; perceived gaps in training provision; and barriers and facilitators to implementation of relevant policies in acute care.

Why should you read this paper?

  • To learn about identified gaps in training provision for healthcare support workers
  • To understand how training, support and assessment could be improved by organisational policy
  • To explore the issues that affect ongoing training of healthcare support workers

Read it here.

Drivers of care costs and quality in the last 3 months of life among older people receiving palliative care: a multinational mortality follow-back survey across England, Ireland and the United States

ECR author: Deokhee Yi

In the last three months of life, health and social care costs are high, yet patients and those close to them often report poor experiences. This study aims to compare health and social care costs, quality and their drivers in the last three months of life for older adults across England, Ireland and the United States.

Why should you read this paper?

  • To understand why improving community palliative care may also improve value
  • To explore the difference in drivers and cost and quality between England, Ireland and the United States
  • To learn about implications of these findings for practice, theory and policy

Read it here.

In this story

Oli Williams

Lecturer in Co-designing Healthcare Interventions

Sabrina Bajwah

Clinical Senior Lecturer and Honorary Consultant in Palliative Care

Katherine Bristowe

Herbert Dunhill Senior Lecturer

Clare  Ellis-Smith

Lecturer in Palliative Care