Page 1: Information Sheet

Thank you for your interest in this research project. Before you decide whether or not you wish to take part, it is important for you to understand why the study is being done and what it will involve. Please take some time to read the following information and feel free to ask someone else to read it with you if needed.

What is the purpose of this research?

Research into mental health problems has traditionally focused on identifying risk-factors and measuring changes in symptoms of low mood or anxiety during treatment. There is less research focussing on people’s strengths and measuring changes in their ability to cope with difficulties throughout their lives.

In this study, we would like to explore what ‘coping’ with means to older adults in the UK, how this may have changed throughout their lives and how able to cope they feel currently. We are also interested in exploring the similarities and differences between people who do and do not access support from mental health services, and hope our research will allow for better identification of individuals who may be less able to cope in specific areas of their lives in order to offer more relevant support to them.

Why have I been invited?

You are being invited to participate because you are over the age of 65, a permanent UK resident and do not have a diagnosis of dementia.

What will I have to do?

If you choose to take part, you will be asked to complete 4 questionnaires. These will ask about several areas that we think could be important for understanding what helps people to cope with difficult or stressful experiences. Some of the questionnaires might seem relevant to you, but others might not. You are free to omit any questions that you do not wish to answer. The questions include asking about:

  • Your life experiences (e.g., ‘How old were you when you left school?’)
  • How you have coped with difficulties in the past (e.g., ‘Have you been able to overcome obstacles, and if so, how?’)
  • Your physical wellbeing
  • Your emotional wellbeing

You will be able to fill the questionnaires in in your own time and take breaks as needed. You are welcome to ask someone to help you with completing the questionnaires, as long as the answers are your own.

If you decide you would like to speak to, or meet with, someone from the research team to help you complete the questionnaires, please contact the Chief Investigator, Priya Patel (Clinical Psychologist in Training) on the details below. We can then arrange an appointment to take place at a suitable time and date for this purpose.

Do I have to take part?

No. Participation is entirely voluntary; it is up to you to decide if you want to join the study. You can contact the research team (details below) if you would like to speak further before deciding whether or not you would like to participate. If you decide to take part, you will be asked to sign a consent form. You are free to withdraw at any time, without giving a reason. If you have already returned your completed questionnaires and decide you would like this information withdrawn, please contact Priya Patel to discuss this further.

Are there any risks involved?

There are no anticipated risks to taking part in this project. However, the questionnaires will ask about your mood and physical symptoms and, although unlikely, it is possible that some of these questions may cause you to feel distressed. If this is the case, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the research team. We will then be able to offer you advice on how to seek further support (for example, contacting your GP; calling a helpline to talk).

Are there any benefits to taking part?

It is unlikely that there will be any direct benefits to you as a result of taking part in this study. However, we hope that having a better understanding of how people cope across the whole of their lives and having more accurate ways to measure it will:
(a) lead to better identification of individuals who may require more help as their support networks and physical abilities diminish in older adulthood
(b) allow professionals to take a more strengths-based approach to improve people’s overall wellbeing rather than focussing on treating ill-health.

What if there is a problem?                                                                                                                                    

Every care will be taken to ensure your safety during the course of the study.

If you have any concerns or wish to complain about any aspect of the way you have been approached or treated as part of this study, you should initially contact the researchers, Priya Patel, Dr Catherine Hamilton-Giachritsis or Dr Sarah Dexter-Smith, who will do their best to address your concerns (see contact details below). 

If you remain unhappy and wish to complain formally, you can contact the Sponsor of this study, the University of Bath.

Will what I say be confidential?

Yes. Your questionnaire responses will be coded and made anonymous by giving them a unique identification code. All your personal information such as your name and contact details will be entered and stored on a password-protected memory stick for the duration of the project, so that only the research team will have access to it.

In line with good practice guidelines from the British Psychological Society, the data will be kept securely in a locked cabinet for 10 years once the study has ended. This will all be appropriately destroyed after this time.

If your responses on the questionnaires indicate that there may be a possible risk to yourself or to someone else, we would have to break confidentiality in order to ensure your safety; in this case your GP will be informed. The information you provide will not be used for any other purpose apart this.

What will happen with the results of the study?

The results of this research will be written up and submitted
(a) for assessment by the University of Bath as part of Priya Patel’s advanced doctoral training, and
(b) to an academic journal for wider publication.

No individual participants will be identifiable in any written report resulting from this study. We will be happy to share the findings of this research with interested participants once they are available. 

Who is organising, funding and reviewing this research?

This project is being organised and funded by the University of Bath, as part of Priya Patel’s Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. The study has been reviewed by the NHS Research Ethics Committee and by the University of Bath Psychology Department Ethics Committee.

Further Information:

If you have any queries or wish to discuss this research further, you can contact the following people who will be glad to answer your questions:

Chief Investigator:     

Priya Patel, Clinical Psychologist in Training (University of Bath)

Academic Supervisor:            

Dr Catherine Hamilton-Giachritsis (University of Bath)

Field Supervisor:        

Dr Sarah Dexter-Smith (Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Trust)