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PhD projects

Potential PhD projects in the area of alcohol and drug use; alcohol and drug dependence or use disorders; and/or trials methodology.


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Personal profile

Research Focus

Gillian Shorter's research is focused on those who are currently experiencing harm or are at risk of harm from alcohol and drugs. It aims to improve health and wellbeing, reduce stigma, and empower change. The work has four strands:

  1. Identifying targets and risk for initiatives to support health (e.g. polydrug use epidemiology).
  2. Randomised Control Trial methods - ensuring that evidence is generated using the best possible methods (e.g. recruitment to trials, trial retention).
  3. Evaluation of interventions to determine what works and to help those who are seeking help to achieve it (e.g. alcohol brief interventions, digital health, drug consumption rooms).
  4. Developing core outcome sets to prioritise what stakeholders want to change following an intervention and improve the evidence base (e.g. core outcome sets or minimum data standards for alcohol and drugs and their psychometric properties).

Current research funders are Health Service Executive (Ireland), Health Research Board (Ireland), Drug Science, and Linkoping University (Sweden).

Previous grants include projects funded by the Medical Research Council, HSC Public Health Agency, Alcohol Research UK, Extern, Economic and Social Research Council, British Tinnitus Association, Placental Analytics (USA), Karolinska Institutet (Sweden), University of York, Home Office, Ulster University, and University of Nottingham.


Gillian Shorter has conducted research in substance use for over 15 years. She co-Directs the Drug and Alcohol Research Network, an Internationally recognised interdisciplinary research cluster in the addictions at Queen's University Belfast (with co-Director Dr Anne Campbell).

Gillian's employment history

  • Reader in Psychology, Ulster University (2018-2020)
  • Lecturer in Psychology, Ulster University (2018)
  • Research Fellow, Teesside University (part-time 2016-2018)
  • Research Fellow, Ulster University (part-time 2016-2018)
  • Promoted to Senior Research Fellow by Trinity College Dublin (2016)
  • Research Fellow at Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin/Health Services Executive Mental Health Services South Dublin (2015-2016)
  • Medical Research Council funded Lecturer in Population and Clinical Trials Methodology at the MRC All Ireland Hub for Trials Methodology Research, part of the UK MRC Hubs for Trials Methodology Research (2012-2015)
  • Lecturer/Senior Lecturer in Psychology, Nottingham Trent University (2008-2012)

She joined the Centre for Improving Health Related Quality of Life in the School of Psychology in July 2020.



Gillian teaches:

PSY7100 Health Behaviour Change

PSY7104 Research Design and Essential Methods in Psychology

PSY7066 Quantitative Data Analysis II

PSY3131 Forensic Psychology and Crime

She supervises Doctorate in Clinical Psychology Research Dissertations on substance use topics; so too, dissertations for the MSc Clinical Health Psychology degrees.

Gillian has supervised eight PhD Researchers to successful completion Dr Abby Hunter (McCormack), Dr Daria Kuss, Dr Jane Rigbye, Dr Lucy Handscomb, Dr Lydia Devenney, Dr Vanessa Gstrein, Dr Kenneth Ross, and Dr Jane Williams.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals


  • BF Psychology
  • RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine


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