Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Happy to discuss potential PhD projects in the area of alcohol and drug use or dependence and/or trials methodology.


Research output per year

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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. Her work has four strands:

  1. Identification of problems to help understand who to target with initiatives to improve health.
  2. Trials methodology ensuring that we know what works using the best possible methods.
  3. Evaluation of interventions to determine what works and help those who are seeking help to achieve it.
  4. Developing priority outcomes to understand what key stakeholders want to change following an intervention (e.g. core outcome sets for alcohol and drugs).

Her work has been funded by the Medical Research Council, HSC Public Health Agency, Alcohol Research UK, Extern, Economic and Social Research Council, British Tinnitus Association, Placental Analytics, Karolinska Institutet, University of York/Home Office, Ulster University, University of Nottingham, and Linkoping University


Gillian Shorter has been conducting research in substance use for over 15 years. She completed her BSc (Hons) Psychology from the University of Liverpool in 2003 and obtained her PhD (Psychology) on patterns of polydrug use and mental health in 2009 from Ulster University.

Gillian took up a position as Lecturer/Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Nottingham Trent University in 2008. In 2012, she started a Medical Research Council funded Lecturership in Population and Clinical Trials Methodology in the MRC All Ireland Hub for Trials Methodology Research. This was part of the UK MRC Hubs for Trials Methodology Research, and she co-Led their UK wide Recruitment and Retention in Trials Working Group. Following that, Gillian took up a Research Fellowship at Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin working in collaboration with the Health Services Executive Mental Health Services in South Dublin and the Trinity Centre for Healthcare and Practice Innovation. Gillian was promoted to Senior Research Fellow by Trinity College Dublin in 2016. She then took up a part-time Research Fellowship at Teesside University and a part-time Research Fellowship at Ulster University working with Inspire. In 2018, she left these positions for a full-time Lectureship in Psychology at Ulster University. Later in 2018 she was promoted to Reader in Psychology in the Institute of Mental Health Sciences at Ulster University. She joined the Centre for Improving Health Related Quality of Life in the School of Psychology in July 2020.


Gillian's teaching includes;

PSY7100 Health Behaviour Change

PSY7104 Research Design and Essential Methods in Psychology

PSY7066 Quantitative Data Analysis II

PSY3131 Forensic Psychology and Crime

I also supervise Doctorate in Clinical Psychology Research Dissertations on topics related to my research areas and similarly dissertations for the MSc Clinical Health Psychology and BSc Psychology degrees.


Current Editorial Boards

PLoS One, Drugs: Education, Prevention, and Policy

Current Policy Panel Membership

Expert panel memberships

  • Trials Methodology Research Partnership (Trial Conduct Group & Health Informatics group)
  • Public Health Agency Northern Ireland Behaviour Change Group (COVID-19)

Current Professional Society Memberships

British Psychological Society

  • Division of Health Psychology Representative on the Research Board
  • Chartered Psychologist (Teaching and Research #188917) British Psychological Society (BPS)
  • Division of Health Psychology Full Member #188917
  • Division of Health Psychology Research Lead
  • Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society (BPS)
  • COVID-19 Behavior Change and Disease Prevention Taskforce member

Health Psychology Exchange Open Science Lead

Society for Study of Addiction member

Kettil Bruun Society member

European Society for Social Drug Research member

International Network on Interventions for Alcohol and Other Drugs network member

Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

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Research Output

Behavioural science and disease prevention psychological guidance: Encouraging hand hygiene in the community

Byrne-Davis, L., Chater, A., Arden, M. A., Armitage, C., Chadwick, P., Drury, J., Epton, T., Hart, J., Kamal, A., Lewis, L., McBride, E., O'Connor, D., Perriard-Abdoh, S., Shorter, G., Swanson, V., Whittaker, E., Kilpatrick, C. & Storr, J., 27 Jul 2020, British Psychological Society. 8 p.

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

Open Access
  • Behavioural science and success of the proposed UK digital contact tracing application for Covid-19

    Behavioural Science and Disease Prevention Taskforce, Arden, M. A., Armitage, C. J., Byrne-Davis, L., Hart, J., O'Connor, D., Chadwick, P., Drury, J., Lewis, L., McBride, E., Perriard-Abdoh, S., Shorter, G., Swanson, V., Thompson, S., Whittaker, E. & Chater, A., 01 Jun 2020, British Psychological Society. 4 p.

    Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

    Open Access

    Evaluation of a Cognitive Behavioral Model of Tinnitus Distress: A Cross-Sectional Study Using Structural Equation Modeling

    Handscomb, L., Shorter, G. W., Hoare, D. J. & Hall, D. A., 01 Jul 2020, In : Ear and hearing. 41, 4, p. 1028-1039 12.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Physical activity for the benefit of mental health outcomes in young people: focus on parental bereavement

    Chater, A., Williams, J., Shorter, G. W. & Howlett, N., 13 Jun 2020, The Sport and Exercise Scientist, 64, p. 16-17 2 p.

    Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

  • 2 Citations (Scopus)


    A Core Outcome Set for Efficacy and Effectiveness brief intervention trials: what are the implications for eHealth and mHealth

    Gillian Shorter (Participant)

    26 Sep 2020

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited or keynote talk at national or international conference

    Health Psychology Exchange (External organisation)

    Gillian Shorter (Advisor)

    01 Apr 2020 → …

    Activity: Membership typesMembership of board

    Setting the scene: The context of Northern Ireland and the implications for Drug Policy Reform

    Gillian Shorter (Advisor)

    23 Jul 2020

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesPublic lecture/debate/seminar


    Labour Campaign for Drug Policy Reform: Northern Ireland Public Discussion

    Gillian Shorter (Chair)

    23 Jul 2020

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in workshop, seminar, course


    Institute of Alcohol Studies (External organisation)

    Gillian Shorter (Advisor)

    01 Apr 202001 Apr 2023

    Activity: Membership typesMembership of board

    Press / Media