Understanding the mental health of doctoral researchers: a mixed methods systematic review with meta-analysis and meta-synthesis

Cassie Hazell, Laura Chapman, Sophie F. Valeix, Paul Roberts, Jeremy E. Niven, Clio Berry*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

59 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background
Data from studies with undergraduate and postgraduate taught students suggest that they are at an increased risk of having mental health problems, compared to the general population. By contrast, the literature on doctoral researchers (DRs) is far more disparate and unclear. There is a need to bring together current findings and identify what questions still need to be answered.

Methods
We conducted a mixed methods systematic review to summarise the research on doctoral researchers’ (DRs) mental health. Our search revealed 52 articles that were included in this review.

Results
The results of our meta-analysis found that DRs reported significantly higher stress levels compared with population norm data. Using meta-analyses and meta-synthesis techniques, we found the risk factors with the strongest evidence base were isolation and identifying as female. Social support, viewing the PhD as a process, a positive student-supervisor relationship and engaging in self-care were the most well-established protective factors.

Conclusions
We have identified a critical need for researchers to better coordinate data collection to aid future reviews and allow for clinically meaningful conclusions to be drawn.

Systematic review registration
PROSPERO registration CRD42018092867
Original languageEnglish
Article number197 (2020)
Number of pages30
JournalSystematic Reviews
Volume9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 Aug 2020

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Understanding the mental health of doctoral researchers: a mixed methods systematic review with meta-analysis and meta-synthesis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this