Empowering Patients and Challenging Health Professionals

Staffordshire University is committed to making a difference through its research and impact in communities.


Since 2012, Colette Dobson has undertaken collaborative research seeking to improve communication between patients and health care professionals about the sexual consequences of treatments for cancer. Working in partnership with psychosexual consultant Dr Josie Butcher, Cheshire Wirral Partnership NHS Trust, they found that patients express feelings of guilt and disempowerment and are unable to raise the subject, while health professionals report feeling anxious and inadequately skilled to handle questions on sexuality and relationships. For both groups, this leads to poor assessment and treatment, impacting on patients’ broader long-term wellbeing. Dobson developed a novel approach of using design activism to allow these marginalised issues to be discussed and addressed.


As well as significant benefits (in terms of creativity, confidence, and wellbeing) for breast cancer patients who joined the collaboration group, the impact of the research project has expanded to include:

•    Approximately 1,000 health professionals took part in experiential workshops and study days using the research methodology and artistic outputs. They benefitted from new tools to support professional development and reflective practice, leading to improved knowledge, understanding, and ability to talk about sex with patients.

•    The development of a new resource (visual aid) which is used in three nurse-led cancer clinics at Christie Hospital, Manchester (the largest single site cancer centre in Europe). This has led to better outcomes for patients experiencing sexual and relationship problems following cancer treatment.

•    The research has also benefitted 75 other patients/survivors and 270 health professionals through a programme of public engagement.

Empowering Patients and Challenging Health Professionals 

The Research, Innovation and Impact Services team can provide information about all aspects of research at Staffordshire University.

in the UK for Quality Education

Sustainable Development Goal 4, Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2023

for Career Prospects

Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2023

for Facilities

Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2023

for Social Inclusion

The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023

of Research Impact is ‘Outstanding’ or ‘Very Considerable’

Research Excellence Framework 2021

of Research is “Internationally Excellent” or “World Leading”

Research Excellence Framework 2021

Four Star Rating

QS Star Ratings 2021