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Sara Pocknell

Mrs Sara Pocknell

Research student


I am an Occupational Therapist and currently undertaking my PhD at Cardiff University.

My particular areas of interest are multi-disciplinary teams, allied health professions, collaborative working, living with and beyond cancer and patient and public involvement in research.

My PhD is a mixed methods study and will explore allied health professions across the cancer pathway.

As part of my project I will recruit a Patient Advisory Group to advise on aspects of the project, for example reading participant information sheets and consent forms.

Lead Supervisor: Dr Catherine Purcell

Supervisory Team: Dr Nichola Gale, Prof Aled Jones, Deb Hearle - Cardiff University

and Mrs Rhian Giles, Aneurin Bevan University Health Board

This project is funded by the Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarship (KESS-2) in partnership with Aneurin Bevan University Health Board. KESS-2 is a pan-Wales higher level skills initiative led by Bangor University on behalf of the higher education sector in Wales. It is part funded by the Welsh Government's European Social Fund (ESF) convergence programme for West Wales and the Valleys.


There are an estimated 2.5 million people living with cancer in the UK and this is expected to rise to approximately 4 million by 2030. Although, many people live beyond cancer, cancer treatments can have a significant impact on a person's ability to carry out daily routines.  Physical fitness, wellbeing, mental health, fatigue, communication, mobility, function, nutrition and pain can mean an individual's quality of life is significantly affected.  

Previous research suggests that partnership and collaboration by healthcare professionals within cancer teams are associated with improved survival rates, however the complexity of cancer care can create challenges for staff when trying to provide effective high-quality patient care. This can be problematic in establishing continuity of care and ensuring patients get adequate information and support. Recent evidence suggests that 30% of cancer patients have unmet needs after treatment, and many could benefit from additional interventions from therapy practitioners from the Allied Health Professions (AHPs  ).  

As part of the professional team within cancer care, AHPs from several departments, such as occupational therapy, dietetics, physiotherapy, podiatry, orthotics, psychology and speech and language therapy, support and/or treat cancer patients. These therapy practitioners are often involved throughout the cancer pathway, some through to survivorship and some to end-of-life care. Therefore, the aim of my research project is to develop a cancer pathway for therapy practitioners working in adult cancer care.

I will explore what, where, when and how therapy practitioners working in cancer care are contributing to adult cancer services. This stage will consist of questionnaires and virtual interviews with seven allied health professions (listed above), including Macmillan titled staff as a key third-sector provider of cancer care. In addition, members of the public who have experienced therapy as part of their cancer care will be interviewed to share their experiences of therapy services. 


      • Facilitated learning on BSc Occupational Therapy research module – including running workshops face-to-face and online and journal club sessions
      • Planned and facilitated research internships with level 4 and 5 BSc Occupational Therapy students 
      • Supported and mentored level 5 BSc Occupational Therapy students with CPPD research projects
      • Supervised a final year dissertation student
      • Sat on interview panels for prospective BSc Occupational Therapy students
      • Presented and regularly attended Occupational Therapy Research Club
      • Supported staff and students involved in one of the projects who presented at the Occupational Therapy Research Showcase March 2021


      Nichola Gale

      Nichola Gale

      Senior Lecturer: Physiotherapy; Research Theme Lead - Optimising Health through Activity and Lifestyles and Technology