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Ruth Plackett

Post-doctoral launching fellow

Children, young people & families, Public mental health programme

University College London (UCL)

Research Interests

Social media usage and mental health and evaluating social media interventions.

Ruth's Academic Career Journey

Ruth’s interest in psychology research began during her undergraduate degree at the University of Cambridge where she studied politics, psychology and sociology and specialised in psychology in her final year. It opened her eyes to how psychology research can be applied to many fields and help improve people’s health and well-being.

To explore how she could apply what she had learned and understand more about having a career as a researcher Ruth became a Research Assistant at The Anna Freud Centre, Evidence Based Practice Unit in London. Ruth used routinely collected outcomes data to provide service evaluations of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). This gave her experience of coding and analysing complex and large datasets using statistical software programmes, which was an invaluable skill to learn and develop as a psychology researcher. This experience helped Ruth to develop her passion for health and psychology research and become certain she wanted to pursue a career as a researcher.

To pursue her research interests in psychology in clinical/health contexts Ruth undertook a master’s degree at The University of Nottingham in rehabilitation psychology. As part of this course Ruth developed further understanding of how social science research could be used to help those with complex health needs. Her project explored professionals’ attitudes towards using smartphone applications to help children and adolescents with memory impairment due to acquired brain injury, which she published as her first paper. The experience of conducting this research and disseminating it to an academic audience was hugely rewarding and Ruth decided to fully pursue a career in research with a focus on using social science theory and methods to improve health.

Ruth decided she wanted to gain more experience of doing research in other sectors before committing to academia. She began working at the children and young people’s cancer charity CLIC Sargent in London. This gave Ruth insight into how research can be used to influence policy and understand the differences between working in the third sector and academia. As part of her work Ruth worked directly with young people to understand their experiences of cancer diagnosis using both quantitative survey data and qualitative focus groups. After reflecting on her research experiences, Ruth really enjoyed the fast-paced nature and policy impact of conducting research in the third sector but decided to pursue a career of research in academia, as it offered opportunities to work on a variety of research projects, conduct in-depth doctoral research and develop new skills.Read More


  • 2020
  • NIHR SPHR Post-doctoral launching fellow
  • UCL Department of Applied Health Research
  • 2019
  • Research Fellow
  • UCL Department of Behavioural Science & Health
  • 2015
  • PhD
  • UCL Departments of Applied Health Research
  • 2014
  • Research Officer
  • CLIC Sargent, London
  • 2013
  • MSC
  • University of Nottingham
  • 2012
  • Research Assistant
  • CAMHS outcomes research consortium, The Anna Freud Centre
  • 2009
  • BA Politics, Psychology and Sociology
  • University of Cambridge


Plackett, R., Kassianos, A. P., Kambouri, M., Kay, N., Mylan, S., Hopwood, J., . . . Sheringham, J. (2020). Online patient simulation
training to improve clinical reasoning: a feasibility randomised controlled trial. BMC Medical Education, 20 (1), 245.

Plackett, R., Kaushal, A., Kassianos, A. P., Cross, A., Lewins, D., Sheringham, J., Waller, J., von Wagner, C. (2020). Use of social media to promote cancer screening and early diagnosis: Scoping Review. Journal of Medical Internet Research. doi:10.2196/21582

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