University of Hertfordshire

Dr Sarah Jane Besser


Sarah Jane currently is a chartered psychologist working in the Psychology Department at the University of Hertfordshire, in the Centre for Health Services and Clinical Research (CHSCR). Her main role is a trial co-ordinator for a psychological intervention called 'Herts and Minds,' with an aim to provide support for children who are in foster care with emotional and behaviour difficulties. The psychological intervention being investigated is called ‘Mentalization-based treatment,’ an approach developed by staff at the Anna Freud Centre which and aims to promote the quality of relationships and sensitive parenting. Furthermore, she is part of the Clinical Trials Support Network(CTSN) within CHSCR which aims to provide advice and support for others wishing to set-up and implement clinical trials.

Sarah Jane was awarded a doctorate in Health Psychology in April 2014 from King’s College London. The research drew on psychological theories, and focused on the design, delivery and evaluation of a complex behaviour change intervention to promote self-management in patients with osteoporosis, primarily targeting adherence to medication. The intervention comprised a range of behaviour change techniques, including psychoeducation, motivational interviewing and plan-setting. As well experience of interventional approaches, Sarah Jane is experienced in both qualitative and quantitative research methodologies.

In previous roles, Sarah Jane has been involved in the design and delivery of variety of clinical trials and tailored behaviour change interventions, with patients with a variety of long-term medical conditions, including stroke, osteoporosis, and  Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). She is also interested in health service improvement, and has recently undertaken a consultancy project with Hertfordshire County Council to train social workers to undertake brief assessment of child mental health. She has experience of working on a number of Randomised Controlled Trials, including a stepped wedge, cluster randomised controlled trial of an intervention to promote hand hygiene in healthcare workers. As well as designing and evaluating trials, she has experience of delivering behaviour change techniques, such as an intervention to promote walking in stroke survivors.

As well as research Sarah Jane has been involved in teaching and consultancy projects since undertaking her PhD. This has involved teaching health psychology topics to pharmacy undergraduates at UCL such as screening, immunisation and health protective behaviours. Furthermore she has been involved in teaching topics such as doctor-patient communication and adherence to medication. Her consultancy project involved preparing and running a training package for social workers within the council setting around how to use a psychometric test as a tool in decisions to refer children to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.

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