Dr Iain Williamson

Job: Senior Lecturer/ Programme Leader MSc Health Psychology

Faculty: Health and Life Sciences

School/department: School of Applied Social Sciences

Research group(s): Psychology

Address: De Montfort, University, The Gateway, Leicester, LE1 9BH.

T: +44 (0)116 207 8393

E: iwilliamson@dmu.ac.uk

W: http://www.dmu.ac.uk/hls

 

Personal profile

Dr Iain Williamson is a critical health psychologist who is registered  with the Health Professions Council and chartered with the British Psychological Society. Dr Williamson uses qualitative methods in his research and has a particular interest in issues around diversity and health inequalities in marginalised communities.

Publications and outputs 

  • ‘The real me shining through M.E.’: Visualizing Masculinity and Identity Threat in Men with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Using Photovoice and IPA.
    ‘The real me shining through M.E.’: Visualizing Masculinity and Identity Threat in Men with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Using Photovoice and IPA. Wilde, Lucina; Quincey, Kerry; Williamson, I. R. Phenomenological research in the context of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E.) or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) has predominantly explored women’s accounts. Due to the paucity of research highlighting men’s experiences of living with M.E./CFS, the aim of this research was to explore their visual and verbal accounts to gain a more in-depth understanding of how they make sense of their diagnosis and dual identity as a man with a stigmatized and often misunderstood chronic illness. Working within a critical health psychology framework the study utilised a phenomenological approach and an adapted version of Photovoice to gather and interrogate self-authored photographs and interview accounts from ten men living with M.E./CFS. An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of the integrated visual and verbal data led to the development of three themes: ‘Loss of Masculine Identity as Man with M.E./CFS’, ‘Marginalization attached to M.E./CFS and Masculinity’ and ‘Coping with Dual Identity by Adjustments, Assimilation and Acceptance’. The findings show how men with CFS cope with identity threat across personal, social, and cultural contexts, whilst making adaptations in their perceptions and performances of masculinity. We argue that participant-authored photographs could be used by researchers, activists and practitioners to facilitate increased understanding of and support for men with M.E./CFS. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.
  • Towards LGBTQ-affirmative cancer care and support: Barriers and opportunities
    Towards LGBTQ-affirmative cancer care and support: Barriers and opportunities Williamson, I. R.; Fish, Julie; Wildbur, D.; Bell, Katie; Padley, Wendy; Brown, Jayne Background: Survey data suggest that LGBT people report lower levels of satisfaction with healthcare for cancer than heterosexuals. This presentation summarises findings from recent qualitative research to understand the experiences of British LGBT people with cancer and their long-term partners. Methods: Participants were recruited through 5 oncology units at British hospitals, 2 cancer support charities and through media campaigns. In-depth interviews typically lasting between 45 and 75 minutes were carried out with 31 cancer patients who identified as lesbian (N=13), gay (N=14), bisexual (N= 3) and queer (N=1) and 9 long-term partners of cancer patients who identified as lesbian (N= 5), gay (N= 2) and trans* (N=2). Data were analysed through thematic analysis. Findings: Three themes are presented: Understanding the Motives, Meanings and ‘Mechanics’ of Disclosure explores how decisions around whether to ‘come out’ as LGBTQ are influenced by several factors including anticipated stigma, perceived moral or political ‘obligation’ and the manner of healthcare professionals. Creating and Communicating LGBTQ-Affirmative Spaces outlines anxieties faced by LGBTQ patients in interactions with staff and patients in clinical spaces such as waiting-rooms and hospital wards and the desire for more explicit evidencing of an anti-discriminatory culture. Finally Seeking LGBTQ-tailored Information and Support shows how current cancer support typically fails to meet psychosocial and psychosexual needs of LGBTQ patients. Discussion: The findings can be used to influence policy and practice by statutory and voluntary agencies to ensure that effective oncology treatment is accompanied by an holistic understanding of the needs and concerns of LGBTQ patients
  • It was never an option not to breastfeed: Exploring breastfeeding experiences and intentions of multigravidae in Southern Nigeria
    It was never an option not to breastfeed: Exploring breastfeeding experiences and intentions of multigravidae in Southern Nigeria Ogbonna, M.; Williamson, I. R.; Mitchell, H. Exclusive breastfeeding rates are generally modest despite its benefits and pertinence in countries with high childhood morbidity and mortality. In order to understand the complexities of successfully promoting breastfeeding, qualitative research using postmodern research methodologies such as ethnography, grounded theory and interpretative phenomenological analysis, as well as feminist analysis have been employed to explore the experience of breastfeeding by the active participants of breastfeeding-mothers. However, there is a dearth of such studies in developing countries like Nigeria. This study explores accounts of breastfeeding provided by nine pregnant Nigerian women (28-33 years) who had previously breastfed. Participants wereinterviewed, and data were analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Analyses indicated three emergent themes which highlighted women’s experiences of breastfeeding as complex and shaped by proximal and distal influences. Accounts of pain, psychological distress and worries over ‘breast addiction’ were juxtaposed with pride in perceptions of good mothering, connectedness and upholding cultural heritage. Women’s feeding choices were scrutinised and/or stigmatised by family and community members. In the context of feminist ‘‘lens’’, major implication is the potential penalisation for not breastfeeding and hence, a contravention of the right of choice of infant feeding. There is therefore, the need for the incorporation of the right to choose infant feeding methods in breastfeeding campaigns; support for breastfeeding, particularly the inclusion of support for discontinuation; and similar research to explore specific aspects and perspectives on breastfeeding such as those of spouses, to further provide insights that may be useful for the improvement, adaptation and/or development of interventions The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the URI link. Open access article.
  • “It's always on the safe list”: Investigating experiential accounts of picky eating in adults
    “It's always on the safe list”: Investigating experiential accounts of picky eating in adults Fox, G.; Coulthard, Helen; Williamson, I. R.; Wallis, D. J. Previous research into severely restricted eating for reasons which are not cultural, medical, due to a lack of food or due to concerns about body image has focused predominantly on “picky/fussy eating” in children. Despite evidence that picky eating does continue into adulthood and recognition in the new diagnostic category. Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) that problematically avoidant and restrictive patterns of eating affect people across the lifespan, relatively little is known about the challenges and consequences faced by older adolescents and adults. This research employs qualitative methods to explore the experience of living as an adult with picky eating behaviours. Semi-structured interviews were undertaken with thirteen adults who identify as picky eaters and eat a highly limited diet, as determined by a checklist food questionnaire. Data were analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). Two themes are presented in this paper: “Constructions of food” and “Motivators for and barriers to change”. These themes show the importance of how individuals perceive food, their diet and themselves, and implications for clinical practice and future research in light of these findings are considered. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.
  • There’s this glorious pill’: Gay and bisexual men in the English Midlands navigate risk responsibility and Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis
    There’s this glorious pill’: Gay and bisexual men in the English Midlands navigate risk responsibility and Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis Williamson, I. R.; Papaloukas, P.; Jaspal, Rusi; Lond, B Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is currently being trialed for seronegative gay and other men who have sex with men (GMSM) at risk of HIV infection in England. However, research from other countries where PrEP is available shows limited literacy and uptake by GMSM at risk of HIV. We collected focus group data from 18 GMSM (13 HIV− and 5 HIV+) from Leicester, an ethnically diverse city in the English Midlands. Data were analysed using thematic analysis and three themes are presented. The first theme ‘I can’t get my head around people like that’: Representations of PrEP users within and beyond gay communities explores how PrEP users are vilified by some GMSM and the wider media. The second theme, ‘There’s a culture of anti-trust’: PrEP, stigma and the interpersonal politics of HIV disclosure discusses how PrEP influences HIV disclosure and sexual decision-making in casual sero-discordant sexual encounters in a context where seropositive men experienced pervasive HIV stigma and HIV− men were suspicious of HIV+ sexual partners. In the final theme, ‘I’m still suspicious’: Discourses of doubt and distrust participants voiced concern over the safety of PrEP and the motives of drug companies, healthcare agencies and PrEP activists. We consider these findings through a critical lens of wider theorising around the relationship between public health agencies and GMSM communities and consider the impact of these perspectives on likely engagement with PrEP in an English context. We call for more critically informed and nuanced ways of promoting health and well-being amongst men from these communities
  • Why aren’t you stopping now?!’ Exploring accounts of white women breastfeeding beyond six months in the East of England
    Why aren’t you stopping now?!’ Exploring accounts of white women breastfeeding beyond six months in the East of England Newman, Kristina; Williamson, I. R. Breastfeeding infants for a period of two years is endorsed by international health agencies such as the World Health Organisation. However, discourses of breastfeeding in a British context are complex and contradictory, juxtaposing representations of breastfeeding as healthy and a moral obligation for mothers with views of the act as unseemly and an expectation that nursing women practice ‘socially sensitive lactation’ especially in public spaces. Sustained breastfeeding rates in the UK are poor and most British women discontinue breastfeeding well before six months. Mothers who elect to feed their infants at the breast for longer than these normative periods appear to experience suspicion and disapproval, especially in a public context and breastfeeding women are only legally protected in feeding their infants in public for up to six months. Although breastfeeding research is flourishing, research on this particular population of mothers remains relatively limited. Therefore, in this study, we explore in-depth experiential accounts of eight women, resident in a town in the East of England, who breastfed their infants beyond six months. Using interpretative phenomenological analysis four themes are presented. Really horrible looks’: stigma from families and the community’, ‘Feeling quite exposed’: managing extended breastfeeding etiquette’, ‘Weird freaky paedophiles’: representations of extended breastfeeding women in the media’ and ‘You really need that’: the importance of support for longer-term breastfeeding women’. Applications to extended breastfeeding promotion and advocacy are discussed The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.
  • Exploring accounts of collaborative working between speech and language therapists and communication support coordinators following stroke
    Exploring accounts of collaborative working between speech and language therapists and communication support coordinators following stroke Scantlebury, K.; Bixley, Morag; Williamson, I. R. In the United Kingdom, speech and language therapists (SLTs) and Stroke Association communication support coordinators (CSCs) are both employed to provide services for people with communication difficulties following stroke. There is very little literature about this type of collaborative working. This research is unique because it explores collaborative working between SLTs who are employed by the National Health Service and CSCs who are employed by the Stroke Association. Five CSCs and seven SLTs from the East of England participated in a series of in-depth interviews. Data were analysed using thematic analysis informed by an interpretative phenomenological approach. Analysis suggested complex negotiation processes occur at a number of different levels. These levels include negotiation of individual relationships between SLTs and CSCs, negotiating the particular challenges involved in working across organisations and professions, and the need for both roles to negotiate and promote the value of their services at a societal level. The findings of this research are discussed in relation to existing theories and research within the field of collaborative working. Clinical applications are suggested for collaborative working within communication services. We propose that our findings may have relevance to other individuals and organisations delivering services collaboratively The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version.
  • Its a silver lining: A template analysis of satisfaction and quality of life following post-mastectomy breast reconstruction
    Its a silver lining: A template analysis of satisfaction and quality of life following post-mastectomy breast reconstruction Matthews, Hannah; Turner, Andrew; Williamson, I. R.; Clyne, Wendy Objective: In the United Kingdom, the number of women electing to undergo post-mastectomy breast reconstruction is increasing. As a consequence exploring patient-reported outcomes in breast surgery has become increasingly important. This study aims to explore satisfaction and quality of life following post-mastectomy breast reconstruction. Design: Qualitative research design. Methods: In-depth, semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted with 25 women, (Age, M= 53.08, SD=8.41) following breast reconstruction in the United Kingdom. Data were analysed using template analysis which produced three first-level, 13 second-level and 19 third-level themes. Results: Following reconstruction women reported improved emotional functioning, although this was often accompanied with deterioration in physical, sexual and/or social functioning. Women positively appraised their breast appearance, although some reported a decline in satisfaction over time and attributed this decline to their chosen reconstructive technique. Many women accepted the inevitability of scarring and most perceived their scars as a representation of their journey, signifying survival. Generally women were satisfied with the outcome of their reconstruction, although on reflection some would not have opted for reconstruction. Following breast reconstruction women were increasingly likely to experience the fear of recurrence, attributed to no longer being able to have a mammogram on the affected breast(s). Conclusions: This study provides new insights into post-mastectomy breast reconstruction and is a novel application of the qualitative data analysis method, template analysis. Template analysis demonstrates only slight variation in some categories of experience among women, despite a heterogeneous sample. The findings allow researchers and clinicians to focus on specific dimensions of satisfaction and quality of life to positively support the needs of women following reconstruction The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version.
  • I am everything but myself: Exploring visual voice accounts of single mothers caring for a daughter with Rett syndrome
    I am everything but myself: Exploring visual voice accounts of single mothers caring for a daughter with Rett syndrome Williamson, I. R. Caring for a disabled child as a lone parent is complex and dynamic, and can affect well-being significantly. Five single mothers caring for a daughter with Rett syndrome took photographs to document their experiences prior to taking part in extended interviews lasting one to two hours. Verbal and visual data were analysed together using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Two inter-connected themes are presented. Committing to ‘Total Caregiving’ captures the ways in which the mothers aspired to excel at caregiving, anticipating and meeting their daughter’s needs, projecting them from stigma but at considerable cost to themselves, Self-Abnegation and Existential Crisis outlines the associated psychological challenges experienced by the women – especially how they felt ‘fused’ in a negative triad with their daughters and a personified ‘Retts’; a malign all-encompassing force in their lives. Applications of the findings to interventions and an evaluation of the methodologies in the context of qualitative research are offered The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link
  • Evaluation of a pilot sensory play intervention to increase fruit acceptance in preschool children
    Evaluation of a pilot sensory play intervention to increase fruit acceptance in preschool children Coulthard, Helen; Williamson, I. R.; Palfreyman, Zoe; Lyttle, Steven Recent research has found an association between dislike of messy play and higher levels of food neophobia in children. The aim of the present study was to pilot and assess a five week intervention with preschool children, to examine whether engagement in tactile sensory tasks leads to increased fruit acceptance. Interventions were carried out to examine whether weekly sessions of sensory play combined with fruit exposure, would increase acceptance and enjoyment of fruits to a greater extent than two non-sensory play conditions featuring fruit exposure or normal play activities alone. One hundred children aged 18 months to four years were recruited from ten playgroups in the Midlands area of the United Kingdom (UK) of which 83 completed the interventions. Participants were randomly assigned to one of four conditions: combined sensory play (fruit and non-food), non-food sensory play, fruit taste exposure, and control play. There were baseline differences in child fruit acceptance, so this was entered as a covariate into subsequent analyses. It was found that children in both the combined sensory play and non-food sensory play conditions enjoyed significantly more fruits at follow up than children in the control play condition, whilst children in the non-food sensory play group also enjoyed significantly more fruits than the fruit exposure group. These findings suggest that sensory play, with fruit and/or non-food substances, combined with exposure may be an effective strategy to increase tasting and fruit acceptance in children. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link

 Click here for a full listing of Dr Williamson's publications and outputs.

Research interests/expertise

  • Critical/qualitative health psychology
  • Breastfeeding and infant nutrition
  • Chronic Illness
  • Social and cultural diversity
  • Lesbian and gay health and well-being
  • Eating disorders 

Dr Williamson has methodolgical expertise in interpretative phenomenological analysis, interviewing and audio-diaries and Q-methodology.

Areas of teaching

  • Health psychology
  • Qualitative research methods
  • Health inequalities
  • Social and cultural perspectives on health and well-being.

Qualifications

  • BA (Lancaster)
  • Postgraduate Diploma (Open)
  • PGCE (Leicester)
  • MSc (Manchester)
  • PhD (Huddersfield)

Courses taught

  • MSc Health Psychology
  • MSc Psychological Well-Being
  • BSc Psychology with Health Studies
  • BSc Psychology 

Membership of external committees

  • Expert member of the NHS Leicester Research Ethics Committee since May 2008.
  • Member of the Division of Health Psychology Training Committee since September 2012.

Membership of professional associations and societies

  • Chartered with the British Psychological Society and Member of the Society's Division of Health Psychology and Qualitative Methods Section.
  • Member of the International Society for Critical Health Psychology and the Midlands Health Psychology Network.
  • Member of the Islamic Studies Network.

Professional licences and certificates

Registered as a practitioner psychologist (speciality: health) with the Health Professions Council in July 2009 until June 2013.

Conference attendance

Williamson, I. & Sacranie, S. M. (2008, September).  Nourishment for body and soul: Exploring British Muslim mothers' accounts of breastfeeding (oral presentation).  British Psychological Society Qualitative Methods Section Inaugural Conference, Leeds, UK.

Williamson, I., Lyttle, S., Johnson, S. & Leeming, D. (2008, September). The benefits and drawbacks of using audio-diaries to capture lived experience: Participants' and researchers' views (Poster presentation). British Psychological Society Qualitative Methods Section Inaugural Conference, Leeds, UK.

Williamson, I. (2009, June).  Exploring accounts of breastfeeding experience among British Asian and white women. Association of Breastfeeding Mothers Annual Conference (Invited address) Leicester, UK.

Leeming, D., Williamson, I., Johnson, S. & Lyttle, S. (2009, September). ‘This is a natural thing, why can I not do this?’ :  The impact of early breastfeeding difficulties on first-time mothers.(Poster presentation). Society for Reproductive and Infant Psychology Annual Conference, Newcastle, UK.

Johnson, S., Leeming, D., Lyttle,S.  &  Williamson, I. (2010, March).   Empowerment or regulation?  Exploring the implications of women’s perspectives on pumping and expressing milk. Breastfeeding and Feminism Symposium 2010: Informing Public Health Approaches Greensborough, North Carolina, US.

Johnson, S., Leeming, D., Lyttle, S. & Williamson, I. (2011, April). Being a good mother: Expressing breast milk as a way of negotiating the moral imperative that breast is best (oral presentation). Paper presented at the 7th Biennial Conference of the International Society of Critical Health Psychology, Adelaide, Australia, April.

Leeming, D., Williamson, I., Johnson, S. & Lyttle, S. (2011, June).  Becoming a breastfeeding mother :  An interactionist perspective (oral presentation).  Nutrition and Nurture in Infancy and Childhood: Bio-Cultural Perspectives. Grange-Over-Sands, UK.

Williamson, I., Song, J. & Lyttle, S. (2011, June). Developing undergraduate students’ skills in qualitative data analysis through the exploration of on-line Hajj diaries (oral presentation). Higher Education Academy Centre for Sociology, Anthropology and Politics Teaching Islam in the Social Sciences. Birmingham, UK.

Williamson, I., Quincey, K., Hodges, K., Mitchell, H., Fox, G., Ogbonna, M. & Wood, N. (2011, September). Exploring the experiences of informal primary carers for individuals with Parkinson's Disease in the UK [poster presentation].  British Psychological Society Division of Health Psychology Annual Conference, Southampton UK.

Fox, G. & Williamson, I. (2012, February). Living with an eating disorder: An exploration of the effects on a co-habiting relationship from both partners’ perspectives (oral presentation). Midlands Health Psychology Network Annual Conference, Coventry UK

Fox, G. & Williamson, I. (2012, August). “Always the two of us and then Anorexia”. Co-habiting couples’ accounts of living with eating disturbance (poster presentation). European Health Psychology Society Annual Conference, Prague, Czech Republic.

Williamson, I., Ogbonna, M. & Mitchell, H. (2012, August). “It was never an option not to breastfeed.” Exploring breastfeeding accounts of middle class Nigerian women (poster presentation). European Health Psychology Society Annual Conference, Prague, Czech Republic.

Consultancy work

Dr Williamson is currently working with Dr Scott Yates (De Montfort University) and, Dr Rachel Westacott and Professor John Feehally (University Hospitals Leicester) on a mixed methods project looking at self-efficacy and self-management of young people with Chronic Kidney Disease, funded by NHS Kidney Care.

Current research students

Dr Williamson is supervising a PhD student on a project relating to lesbian and gay sexual health and well-being with Dr Julie Fish.

Externally funded research grants information

2012 NHS Kidney Care with Dr Rachel Westacott and Professor John Feehally (UHL) and Dr Scott Yates (DMU)

Professional esteem indicators

Dr Williamson has reviewed for several funding organisations including the Economic and Social Research Council, British Academy and National Institute of Health Research.

Dr Williamson has reviewed for publishing houses such as Sage and Open University Press. He has reviewed articles for numerous journals including International Journal of Men’s Health, Sex Roles, International Journal of Social Research Methodologies, European Eating Disorders Review and Critical Public Health.

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