Ms Sophie Faulkner

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Sophie is undertaking a National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) / Health Education Englans (HEE) Clinical Doctoral Research Fellowship, and commenced in April 2017.

Sleep problems are very common in people with schizophrenia spectrum disorders, and are linked to worse symptoms and poorer functioning.  The dysregulation of circadian rhythm so commonly experienced by people with these conditions can also significantly interfere with social inclusion and pursuit of vocational and social goals.  Despites this there is a lack of evidence based clinical guidance for the management of sleep problems in this population, and availability of non-pharmacological sleep interventions remains poor within secondary care mental health services. 

This project aims to develop an acceptable, safe and user-centred behavioural treatment for poor sleep in schizophrenia spectrum disorders, incorporating input regarding daytime activity, and delivered by an occupational therapist.  Occupational therapists specialise in addressing routines and daytime activity, and are therefore well placed to deliver sleep interventions, given suitable training in sleep science.

Phase one of this project involved two systematic reviews and meta-analysis, regarding interventions which alter light exposure patterns to improve sleep in populations with circadian dysregulation.  The meta-analysis examined intervention effects, and the review with mixed methods narrative synthesis examiend acceptability and adherence related factors in these interventions.

Based on these findings a novel intervention to improve sleep in people wth schizophrenia spectrum disorders has been developed: Light-Dark and Activity Rhythm Therapy (L-DART).

Phase two involved a Delphi study, to develop the intervention.  Expert and stakeholder perspectives were sought from mental health occupational therapists, sleep experts, mental health experts, patients and carers.

Phase three will evaluated the intervention developed, through a mixed methods feasibility study.  Qualitative data will be gathered by a qualitative researcher with lived experience before and after intervention, and analysed using Framework Analysis.  The study will evaluate acceptability, and feasibility of larger scale testing.  For more information visit:

Results will inform further development or larger scale testing of this intervention.  Data from this study will also support the development of a short training package to enable mental health occupational therapists to deliver this intervention.  It is the aim for this research to lead to in the widespread availability of an effective, non-pharmacological, first line treatment for sleep problems in this population.

Alongside her PhD Sophie works as a Specialist Occupational Therapist Researcher in her NHS Trust, in the Psychosis Research Unit (  Sophie currently splits her time between: 1 - Research Capability Funding award to develop project related to sleep and severe mental illness, 2 -CRN funded award for improving recruitment to NIHR portfolio studies (1/4 PA), and 3 - Running a project funded by RIUK via Closing the Gap Network (York), entitled: Evaluation and exploration of barriers and facilitators to the detection and treatment of obstructive sleep apnoea in people with severe mental illness.  Sophie has an interest in developing research capacity, and runs the Research Interested Clinical Staff group, and co-runs the GMMH Early Career Researchers group.

External positions

Specialist Occupational Therapist Researcher, Psychosis Research Unit

1 Aug 2020 → …

Research Therapist (ATT therapist), Psychosis Research Unit, Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust

1 Jul 201831 Jul 2020

Senior Occupational Therapist / Care Co-ordinator, Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust

9 Jan 201630 Jun 2018

Occupational Therapist, Adults of Working Age, Acute Inpatient Wards, South Manchester Mental Health & Social Care Trust

9 Jan 201228 Feb 2016

Locum Occupational Therapist, various posts, Pulse Allied Health

Feb 2010Mar 2017

Areas of expertise

  • QP Physiology - ciradian rhythm, sleep
  • RM Therapeutics. Pharmacology - light therapy, dark therapy, occupational therapy, CBTi, behavioural therapies, Attention Training Technique, daily routines, activity, environmental adaptation, inpatient environment, wearable electronics
  • R Medicine (General) - mental health, schizophrenia, insomnia, CRSWD, hypersomnia, sleep apnoea, psychosis

Biology, Medicine and Health (BMH) Domains


  • qualitative, mixed methods, thematic analysis, framework, Patient and Public Involvement, Public Engagement, research capacity building, clinician engagement, Phenomenology, meta-analyses, Evidence Synthesis

Education / academic qualifications

  • Master of Research, Experiences, perspectives and priorities of people with schizophrenia spectrum disorders, regarding sleep problems and their treatment., The University of Manchester (2014 - 2015)
  • Clinical Scholar's Scheme, The University of Manchester (2012 - 2013)
  • Bachelor of Science, Bsc in Occupational Therapy, The University of Salford (2006 - 2009)
  • Bachelor of Arts, Philosophy, The University of Manchester (2002 - 2005)

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