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Spotlight on Research - Victoria Perkins and Bethan Davies

Posted on 11 June 2019





Victoria Perkins                   Bethan Davies




Victoria is currently studying for her Masters’ degree in Health Psychology. Bethan is a Research Fellow supervising Victoria’s research project.


Where are you doing your research?

NIHR MindTech MedTech Cooperative at the University of Nottingham – but our study is online and open to anyone across the world!


What is the topic of your research?

Our research is looking at online groups and communities that people affected by Tourette syndrome (either those who have TS themselves or support someone who does,) may use to help with their coping and management of tics. Previous research has explored online communities/groups for a range of health conditions, and how the support and information gained online can help people cope and manage their condition offline. Many people affected by TS say that speaking to others with their condition can be really helpful in coping with tics and showing that they’re not alone in what they’re experiencing – however there’s not been any research exploring users’ experiences of online communities/groups for TS and tics.


How will this help people with TS?

People often look online for information, advice and support in dealing with health issues, and this can often impact their decisions regarding how to manage their condition offline. Online communities/groups are additionally beneficial as members are not restricted by geographical location as is sometimes problematic in accessing face-to-face support. There’s not been any exploration of the experiences of people with TS/tics who use online communities, such as benefits and drawbacks they may have experienced as group members. In this research project we hope to change this, and gain an understanding of peoples’ experiences of online communities/groups for tic disorders, and how the help gained online may support offline management of tics. The findings may be used to help clinicians, charities and others involved in TS/tics in signposting people towards these online communities, thereby helping children and young people with TS and tics and their families/carers in the future.


What stage of the research are you at?

Our research project consists of a one-off online survey which is now closed. We await results from the researchers which will be disseminated to Tourettes Action.


What will happen next in the study?

After 14th July, we will analyse what people have told us to look at what benefits they’ve gained from participating in online communities, any drawbacks they’ve experienced, and how using online communities has helped them in managing their tics. Victoria will be writing this up for her dissertation, and then we hope to share the findings with Tourettes Action!


Why do you want to be a researcher?

Victoria: During my undergraduate psychology degree I completed a placement year where I worked with many young people who experienced psychological and neurodevelopmental health conditions. I became aware of the challenges chronic illnesses have on patients and their families and the positive impact evidenced based treatments can have for all involved. The development of good psychological therapies is dependent on high quality research and I’m excited to be part of this work.


Bethan: I have always been interested in people and their life stories, as well as how we understand health and how we cope with long-term health conditions. I ‘accidently’ ended up studying psychology and it turned out I loved it – being a researcher in this field gives me a chance to meet lots of new people and learn more about them. Research can help us better understand people’s health and help in evaluating current treatment and management of health conditions, as well as in testing out and developing new interventions.


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