An exploration of the experience of psychological well-being interventions: from the medical student perspective

  • Jessica May

Student thesis: Doctor of Clinical Psychology


This thesis explored the experiences and perceptions of undergraduate medical students who have participated in psychological well-being interventions. The thesis comprises of three papers: 1) a systematic literature review, 2) an empirical study and 3) a critical appraisal of the completed work. The systematic review is a thematic synthesis of the available qualitative literature regarding the perceptions of medical students who have participated in mental well-being interventions. Twenty-two studies were included following systematic searching and a thematic synthesis of the data was completed. Three main analytical themes were produced: 1) Elements perceived to be valuable, 2) Challenges and barriers and 3) A variety of possible outcomes. The findings highlight that medical students report mixed outcomes following participating in interventions. We have provided an overview of aspects of interventions that students value and likely lead to positive outcomes, alongside those that hinder initiative’s effectiveness. We have gained insight into the complex interplay between individual students’ experiences of interventions and the wider systemic and cultural educational environments within which they occur. The empirical study investigated medical students’ experiences of Clinical Debrief (CD), an intervention developed and implemented with the intention of enhancing medical students’ psychological well-being. CD appears unique in the way it intends to support psychological well-being as it combines well-being support with learning objectives by providing clinical and psychological supervision within CD sessions, embedding this into the curriculum. Eighteen qualitative interviews were completed, and a thematic analysis of the data was performed. Six main themes were identified regarding medical students’ perceptions of CD: 1) Wider context of CD, 2) CD and learning, 3) Relationships in CD, 4) CD and well-being: What Helps? 5) CD and well-being: What is unhelpful? and 6) ‘Two worlds’: Learning and well-being together. We have gained insight into the factors that facilitate and hinder CD’s success in supporting student well-being and the intricate interplay between these components and wider systemic factors. Our results highlight several potential protective mechanisms and instructive findings for medical schools developing and refining their approaches to enhancing student psychological well-being. Finally, paper three is a critical appraisal of the research process. Alongside the researchers’ personal reflections, this appraisal aims to critically consider the approach, planning and implementation alongside the strengths and limitations of the research.
Date of Award31 Dec 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorAdam Danquah (Supervisor)

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