Dr Ruth Howard MA, MPhil, ClinPsyD, CPsychol, AFBPsS

Ruth Howard

School of Psychology
Honorary Associate Professor in Clinical Psychology

Contact details

The School of Psychology
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Having worked in the School of Psychology since 2000, I took early retirement in January 2022, and I now hold an honorary contract.  I currently co-supervise ClinPsyD projects on the psychological aspects of the autoimmune condition coeliac disease, and in the area of transgender identities and the lived experience of transition and de-transition.  I am no longer in a position to offer PhD supervision.


  • University of Birmingham ClinPsyD 1996
  • University of Birmingham MPhil (Sc) 1993
  • University of Aberdeen M.A. (Hons) Psychology 1989


I qualified as a Clinical Psychologist in 1996 from the University of Birmingham, specialising in cancer and palliative care; my current clinical role is within Marie Curie. I joined the ClinPsyD programme 2000 as a Clinical Tutor and progressed to the role of Clinical Director in 2005, which I held until 2011. In this role I was responsible for the clinical aspects of the training course, including organising clinical placements, the assessment of clinical competence and running supervisor training events.

My research interests developed initially through my clinical work and have broadened since 2006 into a programme of research into the psychosocial aspects of the autoimmune condition coeliac disease.  May 2011 I moved into an academic role in order to concentrate on research, teaching and curriculum organisation and development. In August 2019 I was promoted to Senior Lecturer in Clinical Psychology.

Gut feelings DVD cover

I have supervised numerous projects in the area of cancer, palliative care and end of life.  We are currently developing a programme of research looking at psychological rehabilitation for patients undergoing surgery for major sarcoma in collaboration with surgeons at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham.

The coeliac disease research programme has grown since 2006 with the support of a number of grants and through postgraduate research.  In 2008 we received a grant from Coeliac UK to carry out a 2-year study into the psychological and social implications of coeliac disease across the lifespan – the first study of its kind in the UK. On the strength of this research I was awarded an ESRC Knowledge Transfer grant to produce psychoeducational material for young people with the condition. We produced an educational film "Gut Feelings: Young people and their experience of coeliac disease" to support young people to adjust to the condition.  

A second educational film was developed through funding from the bread manufacturer Warburton's, this time to support parents in managing their children’s’ coeliac disease.  This was launched in 2014.  Please contact me if you would like a copy of either film.

Through our coeliac research we have collaborated with numerous stakeholders including Coeliac UK, the Open University, Birmingham Children’s Hospital and National Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh. 

Postgraduate supervision

I currently co-supervise ClinPsyD projects on the psychological aspects of the autoimmune condition coeliac disease, and in the area of transgender identities and the lived experience of transition and de-transition.  I am no longer in a position to offer PhD supervision.


Research Group

  • Applied & Social
  • Health Psychology

Research Interests

Previous and ongoing research activity includes the following:

Grant-funded Projects
  • Coeliac UK - Psychosocial Factors Associated with Coeliac Disease: A UK-based study. £76,000. 1/2/09-1/2/11
  • ESRC Knowledge Transfer Fund. £100k. 1/2/10-31/1/12

 ClinPsyD Projects

  • The psychosocial impact of Coeliac Disease in Young People.
  • Psychosocial impact of Coeliac Disease in a sample of adults attending a clinic.
  • Impact of an intervention to reduce stress in women undergoing treatment for vaginal cancers.
  • Mindfulness & Self-Compassion in people undergoing stem cell transplant for cancer.
  • Psychosocial impact of Coeliac Disease: an adult community sample.
  • Am I allowed this? A qualitative study of children’s experiences of living with Coeliac Disease.
  • Psychological distress and coping in patients undergoing stem cell transplant.
  • Post-traumatic growth and coping in firefighters.
  • Midwives’ perceptions of psychological distress in women post partum.
  • Psychosocial factors associated with urinary tract surgery.
  • A qualitative study exploring the conversations people facing death have about dying.
  • Emotional exhaustion and defense mechanisms in intensive care unit nurses.

Further ClinPsyD projects include staff stress in palliative care nursing, continuing bonds following bereavement, and patients and partner stress in people with heart disease and cancer. 

MRes Clinical

  • Evaluation of Communication Skills Training fro Cancer Specialists.
  • Validation of the Self Compassion Scale with a UK Cancer Sample.

Masters in Health Psychology

  • An exploratory study of patients’ experience of living with Coeliac Disease.

Undergraduate Projects

  • Psychosocial factors in adults with Coeliac Disease and their partners.
  • A comparison of psychosocial outcomes in a community and a clinical sample of young people with Coeliac Disease.

Other activities

  • I was National Secretary for SIGOPAC (Special Interest Group in Oncology & Palliative Care) between 2003 & 2006.
  • I am a member of Coeliac UK Health Advisory Network.
  • I work clinically at the Marie Curie Hospice in Solihull, at Heart of England NHS Trust, and as a freelance Clinical Psychologist providing training on the psychological aspects of cancer & palliative care.


Recent publications


Satherley, R-M, Lerigo, F, Higgs, S & Howard, R 2022, 'An interpretative phenomenological analysis of the development and maintenance of gluten-related distress and unhelpful eating and lifestyle patterns in coeliac disease', British Journal of Health Psychology, vol. 27, no. 3, pp. 1026-1042. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjhp.12588

Judd, R, Guy, H & Howard, R 2019, 'Caring for a dying partner: the Male experience', Journal of Palliative Care, vol. 34, no. 1, pp. 5-11. https://doi.org/10.1177/0825859718774679

Satherley, R-M, Howard, R & Higgs, S 2018, 'Development and Validation of the Coeliac Disease Food Attitudes and Behaviours Scale', Gastroenterology Research and Practice, vol. 2018, 6930269. https://doi.org/10.1155/2018/6930269

Price, T & Howard, R 2017, 'Coeliac Disease in Later Life: An Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis', International Journal of Celiac Disease, vol. 5, no. 4, pp. 140-149. https://doi.org/10.12691/ijcd-5-4-2

Satherley, R-M, Higgs, S & Howard, R 2017, 'Disordered eating patterns in coeliac disease: a framework analysis', Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics. https://doi.org/10.1111/jhn.12475

Hammond, SP, Cross, JL, Shepstone, L, Backhouse, T, Henderson, C, Poland, F, Sims, E, MacLullich, A, Penhale, B, Howard, R, Lambert, N, Varley, A, Smith, TO, Sahota, O, Donell, S, Patel, M, Ballard, C, Young, J, Knapp, M, Jackson, S, Waring, J, Leavey, N, Howard, G & Fox, C 2017, 'PERFECTED enhanced recovery (PERFECT-ER) care versus standard acute care for patients admitted to acute settings with hip fracture identified as experiencing confusion: Study protocol for a feasibility cluster randomized controlled trial', Trials, vol. 18. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13063-017-2303-y

Satherley, R-M, Higgs, S & Howard, R 2016, 'The prevalence and predictors of disordered eating in women with coeliac disease', Appetite, vol. 107, pp. 260-267. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2016.07.038

Howard, R, Law, G & Hobday, V 2015, 'A Tale of Two Diagnoses: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of Healthcare Professionals Working with Children with Type 1 Diabetes and Coeliac Disease.', International Journal of Celiac Disease, vol. 3, no. 4, pp. 139-147. https://doi.org/10.12691/ijcd-3-4-10

Muggleton, J, Guy, H & Howard, R 2015, 'Breaking the taboo: an interpretive phenomenological analysis of healthcare professionals' experience of caring for palliative patients with disgusting symptoms', BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care, vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 189-195. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjspcare-2014-000698

Fellows, J, Flower, L, Blakey, J, Kurukulaartchy, R, Howard, R & Mansur, A 2015, 'Case Series: The application of "third wave" Cognitive Behavioural Therapies in difficult to treat asthma', Journal of Asthma, vol. 52, no. 9, pp. 905-912. https://doi.org/10.3109/02770903.2014.1003155

Satherley, R, Howard, R & Higgs, S 2015, 'Disordered eating practices in gastrointestinal disorders', Appetite, vol. 84C, pp. 240-250. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2014.10.006

Tsimopoulou, I, Pasquali, S, Howard, R, Desai, A, Gourevitch, D, Tolosa, I & Vohra, R 2015, 'Psychological prehabilitation before cancer surgery: a systematic review', Annals of Surgical Oncology, vol. 22, no. 13, pp. 4117-4123. https://doi.org/10.1245/s10434-015-4550-z

Rose, C & Howard, R 2014, 'Living with coeliac disease: a grounded theory study', Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, vol. 27, no. 1, pp. 30-40. https://doi.org/10.1111/jhn.12062


Howard, R & Law, G 2014, Psychological well-being of children and young people with coeliac disease. in C Martin & T Dovey (eds), Paediatric Gastrointestinal Disorders: a psychosocial perspective. Paediatric Psychology, Radcliffe Publishing, pp. 186-207.

Review article

Rose, C, Law, GU & Howard, RA 2023, 'The psychosocial experiences of adults diagnosed with coeliac disease: a qualitative evidence synthesis', Quality of life research : an international journal of quality of life aspects of treatment, care and rehabilitation. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11136-023-03483-1

View all publications in research portal