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Polly Waite

DClinPsy, PhD

Associate Professor

  • NIHR Postdoctoral Research Fellow
  • Honorary Consultant Clinical Psychologist (Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust)

Co-SPACE Study (COVID-19: Supporting Parents, Adolescents and Children During Pandemics)

Are you a parent of a child or young person in year 0 (reception/foundation) to year 11? If so please take part in to help us understand how families are coping during the COVID-19 pandemic.

My research mainly focuses on the development, maintenance and psychological treatment of anxiety disorders in adolescents specifically. 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 my research focuses on identifying key maintenance factors within this age group in order to ultimately develop targeted, developmentally appropriate treatments with optimal outcomes. I use 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). 

My current research projects and interests include the following:

  1. Improving the identification of anxiety problems in adolescents, including the development of appropriate screening measures so that adolescents with anxiety problems can be accurately identified.
  2. The development of brief psychological treatments for adolescents with a range of anxiety disorders. In particular, my NIHR fellowship involves adapting a highly effective psychological therapy for panic disorder in adults so that is it suitable and acceptable for adolescents and can be delivered within routine clinical services. This involves conducting a feasibility trial, which includes the use of qualitative interviews and health economic measures. 
  3. Identifying ways to optimise psychological treatments for adolescents. For example, by examining ways to optimise exposure in the treatment of anxiety disorders, or through the use of new technologies, such as virtual reality.
  4. Better understanding how we can support adolescents around mental health issues in schools. This has included work on understanding the role of teachers in supporting students and delivering mental health interventions, teachers' experiences of supporting students with difficulties attending school and the experience of exam stress in adolescents.