Dr Judith Johnson

Dr Judith Johnson


I am an HCPC-registered Clinical Psychologist based at both the School of Psychology, University of Leeds, and the Bradford Institute for Health Research. I graduated from the University of Manchester with a BSc(Hons) in Psychology in 2007. I was awarded a PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Manchester in 2010, and a ClinPsyD (Clinical Psychology Doctorate) from the University of Birmingham in 2013.

I am an expert in psychological resilience. My work has identified personality factors which help some individuals to cope better with stressors than others, and I have used this to develop a training intervention to equip healthcare staff to cope better with stressful clinical events. A pilot evaluation of this has been conducted in multidisciplinary healthcare professionals and further funded evaluations are now being undertaken in critical care nurses and medical students.

A key focus of my work is the healthcare workforce. My research suggests that when healthcare staff burnout is high, patient care suffers. I am now working to identify which interventions which can reduce healthcare staff burnout and improve patient care.

One stream of my work investigates the process of breaking bad or unexpected news in healthcare contexts. My work in this area suggests that news delivery is a frequent but challenging occurence for healthcare professionals. I am now evaluating whether communication coaching could be a useful intervention and whether it might improve experiences for both staff and patients. 

My work on resilience has been featured in the Guardian newspaper and my resilience framework has informed the World Health Organization’s approach to resilience to suicide. My work into communication in ultrasound settings has been featured on BBC news and BBC social media feeds and has informed the UK Society of Radiographers and British Medical Ultrasound Society's Professional Practice Guidelines. I have published over 50 peer-reviewed academic papers and two edited books. I have provided consultancy services to private and third sector organizations.

I have produced a range of videos for teaching clinical psychology and cognitive behavioural therapy which are available on YouTube. These have been licensed by multiple academic publishers and healthcare organisations and are used by universities internationally. I am currently working with Gallantium, an innovative film production company, to create videos on mental health and wellness in the workplace. I have spoken at conferences in the UK, USA, Singapore, Italy and Sweden. 

To find out more about Judith's work and read blog posts about her research, click here.

Current research students:

Alice Dunning, PhD student: Research suggests that when nurses are under stress and suffering from burnout, patient safety may suffer. Alice's PhD project aims to understand whether a brief intervention based on self-affirmation may be feasible and effective for reducing burnout in this group, and to explore whether it could have concomitant benefits for patient safety. Alice's research is funded by the NIHR CLAHRC Evidence-Based Transformation Theme and the University of Leeds.

Louisa Burton, PhD student: Patients and relatives express dissatisfaction with information provision following a stroke, specifically information about the timing and extent of recovery. Louisa's research aims to develop an intervention to enable staff to discuss recovery in a format that meets the needs of stroke survivors and their families. Her work is funded by the Stroke Association.

Tmam Al Ghunaim, PhD student: Tmam's PhD research is focusing upon the links between surgeon wellbeing and burnout and the quality and safety of patient care. Her work is funded by the government of Saudi Arabia.

Khalid Alshahrani, PhD student: Ambulance paramedics work under stressful conditions and regularly attend potentially traumatic events. Khalid's research aims to develop and test a psychological intervention to enable paramedics to cope with these experiences. His work is funded by the government of Saudi Arabia.

Cristina Harney, PhD student: Cristina's research aims to investigate the impact of listening to music on mood. She will test whether a brief music intervention may be feasible, acceptable and effective for reducing anxiety levels in individuals reporting heightened anxiety. Her work is funded by the University of Leeds.

Jonathan James, PhD student: There is a shortage of physicians internationally, but low and middle income countries (LMICs) are more significantly impacted by shortages than high income countries. Jonathan’s work aims to understand the reasons why physicians migrate and how LMICs can be supported to increase their physician numbers. His work is funded by Health Education England.

Adnan Alzahrani, PhD student: Paramedic students suffer from high levels of stress during their training programmes, but there is little research on the factors that contribute to their stress levels and how they can be better supported. Adnan’s research aims to understand this area better in order to inform the development of future interventions. His work is funded by the government of Saudi Arabia.

Santi Sulandari, PhD student: The ages of populations internationally are increasing, but there is a lack of understanding about what it means to ‘age well’. The research which does exist is largely from European and North American populations, and might not translate to other cultures. Santi’s PhD aims to address this gap by developing a model for positive ageing in both UK and Javanese (Indonesia) cultures. Her work is funded by the Ministry for Education and Culture, Indonesia.

Completed research students:

Raabia Sattar, PhD student (2016-2020): Raabia's PhD research project aims to develop a communication intervention to improve the practice of error disclosure to patients in UK maternity services. Raabia's research is funded by the NIHR CLAHRC Evidence-Based Transformation Theme and the University of Leeds.

Emma Howarth, DClin student (2016-2019): Emma's research is focused upon understanding the association between stressful life events and the development of suicidality, and which factors may confer resilience to individuals experiencing high levels of stress.

Susanna Ward, DClin student (2015-2018): Susanna investigated the impact of long shifts on mental health nursing staff wellbeing and the quality and safety of patient care using a qualitative research design.

Louise Hall, PhD student (2014-2017): Louise's PhD research project, WellGP, explored the associations between GP wellbeing and burnout, with patient safety. She conducted focus groups, a survey and a diary study in order to understand how GPs can best be supported in order to provide high quality, safe patient care. Louise's research was funded by the NIHR CLAHRC Evidence-Based Transformation Theme and the University of Leeds.

Catherine Corker, DClin student (2014 - 2017): Working with clients who have experienced trauma can be a rewarding but emotionally demanding experience, and Cat's research focused upon understanding how therapists working with these groups can best be supported in order to provide compassionate care.

Emma Waters, DClin student (2013-2016): Emma's research tested the effectiveness of an online intervention for boosting self-compassion and protecting against the development of shame and paranoia.

Research groups and institutes

  • Health and social psychology
  • Health services research
  • Mental health

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>