TOPIC Research Group
Prof. Cathy Creswell
We have produced some advice for supporting children and young people with worries about COVIDー19. To access the document please go here
If your child or teen has had an accident or other trauma and you are wondering how to help them please visit Child Trauma Recovery website for advice.
TOPIC Research Group is focused on improving access and effectiveness of psychological interventions for the prevention and treatment of common mental health problems (particularly but not exclusively anxiety disorders) in children and young people. We seek to do this by improving understanding of (i) the experiences of children, young people and their families, (ii) how common mental health disorders present, and (iii) the psychological factors (cognitive, behavioural, interpersonal) that create a risk for and/or maintain common mental health problems in children and young people (and how they may vary with development).
We use this knowledge to develop and evaluate novel prevention and treatment approaches, using a broad range of methods (qualitative, quantitative; interviews, surveys, longitudinal, experimental, RCTs , systematic reviews etc). All of our work is underpinned by close consultation with children, young people, parents/carers, and practitioners to ensure that we are developing evidence-based solutions that can be implemented in practice.
We have put together a video to help introduce who we are and what we do.
Research Studies within the TOPIC group:
1. Theme name: Adolescent anxiety disorders
Research Lead: Polly Waite
We are conducting research on the development, maintenance and psychological treatment of anxiety disorders in adolescents. The majority of treatment trials for anxiety disorders in children and young people have either not included adolescents or include them in relatively small numbers and therefore our research focuses on identifying key maintenance factors within this age group in order to ultimately develop targeted, developmentally appropriate treatments with optimal outcomes. The research uses a broad range of methods (including experimental and qualitative methods, clinical trials and systematic reviews), with adolescents from both clinical and community settings (such as schools).
2. Project name: Emerging Minds
Emerging Minds is a research network that aims to reduce the prevalence of mental health problems experienced by children and young people. Our members are particularly focused on mental health promotion, prevention and early treatment of mental health problems. We offer funding for research along with cross-sector placements for researchers, training and networking events.
We are working across sectors and disciplines to tackle 4 research challenges. Our research challenges have been developed in partnership with young people, their families, practitioners and policy makers.
The Co-SPACE study tracked children and young people’s mental health throughout the COVID-19 crisis, with parents and young people completing monthly follow-up surveys between March 2020 and July 2021. Individual interviews were also conducted with parents, young people, and stakeholders to gain greater insight into their experiences. The Co-SPACE study will examine the longer-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on parent and child mental health through follow-up surveys administered to parents in March 2022, November 2022 and March 2023. The Co-SPACE study will tell us how families coped during the COVID-19 pandemic, what parents can do to help support their children’s mental health, and what support families might need going forward.
4. Project name: SPARKLE - Supporting Parents and Kids through Lockdown Experiences
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused extensive disruption and challenges within the lives of young people. The Co-RAY project, funded by the UKRI Medical Research Council and the Westminster Foundation, aims to support young people’s mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly those aged 11 – 16 years. We will be making sense of what research says young people are finding difficult during this time and working closely with young people throughout the project to hear what they would find most helpful to support their mental health. Based on what research says and what young people aged 11 – 16 years think are the priorities, we will develop and share helpful resources. We will make sure young people can easily access useful resources that are already available, as well as working closely with partner organisations (i.e. Headliners UK, Fully Focused Productions) to enable young people to produce new resources (such as films, illustrations, blogs) to support other young people’s mental health.
Investigator: Cathy Creswell
Research Lead: Tessa Reardon
Trial Manager: Lucy Taylor
Postdoctoral researcher: Victoria Williamson
Well-being practitioner: Iheoma Green, Ciara Hennigan
Research Assistants: Jeni Fisk, Emily Day, Olly Robertson
iCATS-i2i is a research project, funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR). Anxiety problems are common in children, but many children with anxiety problems don't receive support. It can be hard to identify anxiety problems in children, and make judgements about whether a child may benefit from support or not. Families also face difficulties accessing support. Our aim is to develop and evaluate a new way of identifying children with anxiety problems and providing these children with effective support, through primary schools. We are currently looking for primary schools in England with at least 2 classes in Years 4-6 to work with us on the first part of this groundbreaking project. Want to find out more? Please get in touch with the iCATS-i2i Team.
7. Project name: MY-CATS – Minimising Young Children’s Anxiety Through Schools
Chief Investigator: Cathy Creswell
Research Lead: Tessa Reardon
Trial Manager: Anna Placzek
Clinical Psychologist: Gemma Halliday
Postdoctoral researcher: Samantha Pearcey
Well-being practitioners: Ruth Potts, Lindsey Martineau, Tamatha Weisser, Joshua Wright
Research Assistants: Chloe Hooper, Beth Hindhaugh, Laura Hankey
Research Administrator: Amy McCall
MY-CATS is a research project which aims to evaluate the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of systematic screening for children (aged 4-7) at risk for anxiety disorders, on the basis of one or more risks, and provision of an online intervention to parents.
We are adapting our existing online intervention for parents of children aged 4-7 who are at risk of developing anxiety problems, and we will then test it out in a large cluster randomised controlled trial involving 60 primary schools. The project involves parents completing questionnaires to help identify which children may be most likely to benefit from support. Where responses suggest the child is at risk of developing anxiety problems and may be most likely to benefit from support, parents in 30 ‘intervention’ schools will be offered an online intervention with telephone support from a wellbeing practitioner, and parents in 30 ‘control’ schools will not be offered the intervention. The intervention is designed to help parents encourage their child to build confidence and minimise problems with anxiety by providing them with skills and strategies for now and in the future. We will compare outcomes for families who are and are not offered the intervention and assess whether it is good value for money. We will also look at characteristics of families who do and do not benefit, and what helps the intervention to work.
8. Project name: Co-CAT - Child Anxiety Treatment in the context of COVID-19
Child Anxiety Treatment in the context of COVID-19 (Co-CAT) is a randomised controlled trial exploring the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of a novel online parent-led intervention for child anxiety disorders, funded by UKRI/NIHR. The trial involves working with child and adolescent mental health service teams across the country to recruit 560 children (aged 5-12 years) and their parents/carers where the child has a primary anxiety problem. After completed online baseline assessments, families are randomised to receive either an online parent led psychological intervention with therapist support throughout (OSI+therapist support) or treatment as usual (in the COVID-19 context). Families will also complete online assessments 16 and 24 weeks later. A subsample of parents and clinicians will be invited to take part in qualitative interviews.
9. Project name: Incubator for Mental Health Research
The incubator for mental health research is one of a series of incubators established by the National Institute of Health and Care Research (NIHR) to build research capacity in priority areas. It is led by Professor Cathy Creswell and has been created to increase capacity in mental health research. This website offers advice to aspiring researchers in mental health through case studies, training and funding opportunities, and offers tips.
Chief Investigators: Simona Skripkauskaite and Naho Morasaki
This collaboration between the University of Oxford and the National Center for Child Health and Development (NCCHD) in Japan aims to compare the mental health of parents, adolescents and children across the two countries during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. The Co-SPACE study will examine the longer-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on parent and child mental health through follow-up surveys administered to parents in March 2022, November 2022 and March 2023. The Co-SPACE study will tell us how families coped during the COVID-19 pandemic, what parents can do to help support their children’s mental health, and what support families might need going forward.
Research Administrator for the TOPIC group: Katie Fletcher
Helen Manley - 2nd year DPhil student researching the role of primary school teachers in supporting and managing anxiety in children. Helen is investigating whether the way in which teachers manage their classrooms day-to-day can have positive effects on anxiety. Her project aims to develop and assess the feasibility of a classroom management training intervention designed to help teachers respond to, and ultimately reduce, anxiety in primary school-aged children. Helen's DPhil is funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Applied Research Collaboration Oxford and Thames Valley at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust.
En-Nien Tu - 2nd year DPhil student focusing on developing early intervention strategies for genetically high-risk offspring of bipolar disorder to improve their developmental trajectories and clinical outcomes. His project aims to develop a parent-led intervention to help parents with bipolar disorder help their children cope with their anxiety disorder, which is an important prodrome before the onset of bipolar disorder.
Layla Rashid - is an MSc student in the Department of Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford. Layla’s work is funded by the 1+3 ESRC Grand Union Doctoral Training Programme. Her work in the TOPIC Research Group and oRANGE lab focuses on exploring the relationship between child adversity and the impact this has on later psychopathology. Her research integrates methods from social epidemiology, clinical and developmental psychology to guide and adapt treatment interventions by identifying protective factors that promote positive psychopathology among vulnerable and at-risk populations.
Cross-modal interactions between auditory attention and oculomotor control.
Zhao S. et al, (2024), J Neurosci
Lasting dynamic effects of the psychedelic 2,5-dimethoxy-4-iodoamphetamine ((±)-DOI) on cognitive flexibility.
Šabanović M. et al, (2024), Mol Psychiatry
The wrong word for the job? The ethics of collecting data on ‘race’ in academic publishing
McMillan J. et al, (2024), Journal of Medical Ethics
The natural recovery of visuospatial neglect: a systematic review and meta-analysis
Overman MJ. et al, (2024)