Published: 7 October 2014

Becoming an expert: Frances Sherratt and smoking cessation


Frances Sherratt is a PhD student in the Institute of Translational Medicine:

“I started a PhD at the University of Liverpool just over two years ago. Having an undergraduate degree in psychology and previous employment within the health services, I felt that studying for a PhD would be an interesting experience and would be highly advantageous in terms of developing an academic career.

My PhD explores the relationship between lung cancer risk awareness and future smoking behaviour.

Lung cancer is an extremely common cancer in the UK and survival rates are low. It is estimated that 9 out of 10 lung cancer cases are attributable to smoking; this is why smoking cessation had been suggested as the most effective strategy to reduce lung cancer cases.

Smoking cessation is a challenging behaviour change for many people, but research suggests that the perception of the health risks associated with smoking may contribute towards behaviour change.

With this in mind, we developed a proposed intervention (based on the Liverpool Lung Project risk model) to provide smokers with information regarding their risk of lung cancer. It was anticipated that this intervention may increase perceived lung cancer risk and enhance smoking cessation.

Within the first year of my degree, I undertook a literature review, developed the format of the proposed health intervention, and compiled and submitted an ethics application.

In the second year, I started recruitment at the stop smoking service Roy Castle FagEnds; it was an excellent experience working face to face with clients and gaining a better understanding of the process of smoking cessation first-hand.

Within the second year, I completed recruitment and started following-up participants with a second questionnaire; the aim of this was to explore whether participants had changed their smoking behaviour. Now I’m in the third year of my degree, I have completed data collection and I have started analysing the data, although I haven’t yet discovered whether the intervention is effective.

For the remainder of this year, I will be completing my results and writing up my thesis, alongside other projects. My aim on completion of my PhD will be to acquire a position as a postdoctoral researcher in the field of health psychology or medical sociology.”

Find out more about postgraduate degrees on the University’s Study Pages.

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