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

Ruth Howard

School of Psychology
Associate Professor in Clinical Psychology

Contact details

The School of Psychology
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

I am an Associate Professor in Clinical Psychology and within that role I am Admissions Tutor for the ClinPsyD Programme.  My areas of interest in research and teaching fall within the broad area of health psychology, focusing specifically on coeliac disease, cancer and end of life care.   


  • 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. 


I teach various sessions within the ClinPsyD and MRes programmes, including:

  • Communication Skills Training
  • Models of Applied Psychology
  • Reflective Practice
  • Psychosocial aspects of Coeliac Disease

Postgraduate supervision

I am involved in the supervision of a number of ClinPsyD, PhD and MRes projects in the areas of coeliac disease, cancer, palliative care, and other long-term health conditions. Currently we are developing research in the area of disordered eating and coeliac disease, and being diagnosed with the condition in older age.  Palliative care projects include furthering our understanding of support for male carers, and the role of compassion within palliative care.  


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.


Judd, R, Guy, H & Howard, R (2018) Caring for a Dying Partner; A Male Experience. Palliative & Supportive Care. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0825859718774679

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, https://doi.org/10.1155/2018/6930269

Satherley R-M, Higgs S & Howard R (2017). Disordered eating patterns in coeliac disease: a framework analysis. J Hum Nutr & Diet. Doi: 10.1111/jhn.12475

Price T, Howard R. (2017). Coeliac Disease in Later Life: An Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis. International Journal of Coeliac Disease, 5(4), 140-149. DOI: 10.12691/ijcd-5-4-2

Satherley R, Howard R & Higgs S. (2016). The Prevalence and Predictors of Disordered Eating in Females with Coeliac disease. Appetite, 107:260-267. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2016.07.038

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, (doi:10.3109/02770903.2014.1003155)

Hobday, V Law GU & Howard RA (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 Coeliac Disease, 3(4), 139-147

Satherley R, Howard R & Higgs S. (2015). Disordered eating practices in gastrointestinal disorders. Appetite, 84:240-250. 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, Ann Surg Oncol, DOI 10.1245/s10434-015-4550-z

Howard R & Law GU (2014). Psychological well-being of children and young people with coeliac disease. (pp 186-208). In Clarissa Martin & Terence Dovey (Eds). Paediatric Gastrointestinal Disorders: a psychosocial approach. Radcliffe Publishing. ISBN: 978-184619- 995-0

Muggleton J, Guy H & Howard R. (2014). Breaking the taboo: an interpretive phenomenological analysis of healthcare professionals’ experience of caring for palliative patients with disgusting symptoms. BMJ Support Palliat Care doi:10.1136/bmjspcare-2014-000698

Rose, C. & Howard, RA (2014). Living with Coeliac Disease: a Grounded Theory Study. J Hum Nutr Diet. 27(1):30-40. doi: 10.1111/jhn.12062. Epub 2013 Mar 21

Ford S, Howard RA & Oyebode, J. (2012). Psychosocial aspects of coeliac disease: A cross-sectional survey of a UK population. British Journal of Health Psychology, UKDOI:10.1111/j.2044-8287.2012.02069.x

Howard R & Law GU (2012). Coeliac Disease: Psychosocial Factors in Adults and Children. (Pp108-124). In Cathy E. Lloyd & Tom Heller (Eds). Long-Term Conditions: Challenges in Health & Social Care. Sage. ISBN: 978-0-85702-750-4

Law GU, Tolgyesi CS & Howard RA. (2012). Illness beliefs and self-management in children and young people with chronic illness: a systematic review. Health Psychology Review, DOI:10.1080/17437199.2012.747123

Regan A, Howard RA & Oyebode JR. (2009). Emotional Exhaustion and Defence Mechanisms in Intensive Therapy Unit Nurses. The Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease, 197(5), 330-336.

Hawkins, A, Howard, RA & Oyebode, J (2007). Stress and coping in hospice nursing staff. The impact of attachment styles.  Psycho-Oncology, 16, 563-572.

Scullion C, Scott-Heyes G, Nouwen A, & Howard R. (2007). Midwives' ability to estimate women's vulnerability to postnatal emotional difficulties in the first three postnatal months. Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology, 23(3), 246-247.

Larkin M, Rostill H, O’Shea M & Howard, R. (2006). Learning from experience about a competency-based placement system for clinical psychology training. Clinical Psychology Forum, 67, 14 -19.

Powell T & Howard R. (2006). Reflective Practice comes of age in Birmingham. Clinical Psychology Forum, 67, 34 – 37.

Howard, RA & Harvey PG. (1998). A Longitudinal Study of Psychological Distress in Women with Breast Symptoms. Journal of Health Psychology, 3(2), 215 – 226.


Conference Presentations

Petty, J., Howard, R., Law, G. & Oyebode, J. (2011). Research update- Psychosocial factors in coeliac disease. Paper presented at the Annual Coeliac UK conference, University of Derby, July 2011.

Guy H, Oyebode J, Howard R & Tolosa I. Conversations people who are dying have about death and dying. PSIGE, Faculty for Old Age Psychology DCP, BPS, Annual Conference – Brighton, 6 -7 July 2006.

Oyebode JR, Dunn A & Howard, R. Factors That Impact on Emotional Reactions to Continuing Bonds in Spousal Bereavement . 7th International Conference on Grief and Bereavement in Contemporary Society. Kings College, London. November 2005.

Theodosi E, Howard RA & Law G. “Am I allowed that?” A qualitative study of young people’s experiences of living with Coeliac Disease. DCP Annual Conference, London December 2009.

Howard, RA. Psychosocial Aspects of Coeliac Disease. Coeliac UK Scientific Meeting, London. December 2010.


Poster Presentations

Petty, J., Howard, R., Law, G. & Oyebode, J. (2011). Predicting health related quality of life and psychological wellbeing in adults with coeliac disease. Poster presented at the 14th Annual International Coeliac Disease Symposium in Oslo, Norway, June 2011.

Theodosi, E., Howard, R., Law, G. & Walsh, J. (2011). Children with coeliac disease: A qualitative study of young people and their parents. Poster presented at the 14th Annual International Coeliac Disease Symposium in Oslo, Norway, June 2011.

Guy H, Oyebode J, Howard R and Tolosa I, (2006). Conversations people who are dying have about death and dying. 8th World Congress of Psycho-oncology. Venice. October, 2006.

Dunn A, Oyebode J & Howard R (2004) Emotional reactions to Continuing Bonds in Spousal Bereavement. Third National Bereavement Research Forum conference, St Albans.

Hawkins A, Oyebode J & Howard R (2004) Stress and Coping in Hospice Nursing Staff. Third National Bereavement Research Forum, St Albans.

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