Dr Hilary Causer

Institute of Applied Health Research
Research Fellow

Contact details

Murray Learning Centre
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Hilary is a Research Fellow in the Institute of Applied Health Research.

Her current research seeks to identify the impact of colleague suicide on NHS staff, and what needs they have following colleague suicide in order to inform postvention guidance. Her research background is in adult mental health and qualitative methods, her interests include workplace wellbeing and the impact of adverse events in the workplace, and student mental health and wellbeing. Prior to her research career, Hilary worked in the third and public sectors in child protection and adolescent mental health settings.


  • PhD in Adult Mental Health 2021
  • Associate Fellow, Higher Education Academy, 2018
  • MSc in Counselling Psychology, University of Worcester, 2016
  • BSc (Hons) in Social Science, Open University, 2000


Hilary comes to academia following a career in social care and mental health. She completed her BSc in Social Science with the Open University, and her MSc in Counselling Psychology at the University of Worcester. Both of these degrees were undertaken part time whilst Hilary pursued her career. Returning to academia full-time to undertake a PhD, Hilary explored the experiences of UK Higher Education Institution staff members following a student death by suicide. She utilised mixed methods to identify perceptions of impact and to explore experiences and meaning making processes of staff across a range of job-roles, in order to inform future postvention provision with the HE and FE sectors.

In her research Hilary has engaged a number of qualitative methodologies including Qualitative Research Synthesis and Meta-synthesis; Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis; Thematic Analysis and Constructivist Grounded Theory. She is particularly interested in the topic of quality in qualitative research.

Her current research focuses on understanding the impact of colleague suicide on NHS workers and understanding their needs to inform the development of organisational guidance.

Hilary’s interest in workplace wellbeing has developed over the years, following her experiences of supporting colleagues and teams as a Lead Practitioner. At the University of Worcester Hilary engaged this knowledge and experience to become a founding member of the University of Worcester Staff Mental Health Network.


Current projects:

Identifying the impact on and support needs of NHS staff following a colleague's suicide: A study to inform postvention guidance - with Dr Ruth Riley and Johanna Spiers


Publications – Journal Articles

2021 Causer, H., Bradley, E., Muse, K., Smith, J. (2021). Bearing witness: A grounded theory of the experiences of staff at two United Kingdom Higher Education Institutions following a student death by suicide. PLoS ONE 16(5): e0251369. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0251369

2020 Villa, D., Causer, H., & Riley, G. (2020). Experiences of identity change following traumatic brain injury: a meta-synthesis of qualitative research. Disability & Rehabilitation. https://doi.org/10.1080/09638288.2020.1743773

2019 Causer, H., Muse, K., Smith, J., & Bradley, E. (2019). What is the experience of practitioners in health, education or social care roles following a death by suicide? A qualitative research synthesis. International Journal of Environmental Research & Public Health 16, 3293. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16183293

Publications – Book Chapter

2021 Causer, H. (publication date 18.11.21). Responding to the needs of staff impacted by a student suicide. In S. Mallon & J. Smith (Eds.) Preventing and Responding to Student Suicide A Practical Guide for FE and HE Settings. Jessica Kingsley.

View all publications in research portal