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Sofia Gameiro

Dr Sofia Gameiro


School of Psychology

+44 29208 75376
Tower Building, 70 Park Place, Cardiff, CF10 3AT
Available for postgraduate supervision


My research explores how people form, define and strive to realize parenthood goals. With a strong applied component, most of my work aims to support people in all steps of achieving their parenthood goals or, when this proves impossible, in coming to terms with unrealized parenthood goals. I do this by conducting studies to inform evidence-based routine practice and policy, and by developing, evaluating and implementing tools to support both those trying to conceive and stakeholders involved in reproductive health (practitioners,  advocates, policy makers). Another important aim of my work is to make psychosocial support more accessible and suitable to disadvantaged groups (e.g., ethnic minorities, people with invisible diseases) or people outside the healthcare system.

Most of my work is grounded in health, clinical and developmental psychology and I am interested in different topics such as long-term adjustment to adverse health events, evidence-based health psychology, parenthood motivational regulation, or visual communication of health-related experiences.

My research has been funded through research councils, industrial partners and medical charities in the UK and abroad.

See the research tab above for more information about research projects and outputs.

These are some of the support tools and evidence-based guidance I have co-developed:


















Adrannau llyfrau



Research topics

1. Adjustment and wellbeing during fertility treatment

Many people who cannot conceive spontaneously (e.g., infertile, LGBT) undergo fertility treatment to achieve parenthood. Fertility treatment is a challenging and protracted process whose burden includes disruption to personal and professional life, side-effects of hormonal stimulation, painful medical procedures (e.g., oocyte pick-up), peaks of anxiety when patients are anticipating results, in particular during the 2-week waiting period to know the outcome of the treatment cycle, and high emotional distress when the cycle is unsuccessful. I conduct cross-sectional and prospective observational studies to

  • understand how patients adjust at different stages of fertility treatment;
  • identify risk factors for poor adjustment;
  • assess patients' needs and preferences regarding the care they receive and how this can be improved.

2. Engagement with fertility treatment

Fertility treatment can offer cumulative live birth rates approaching 60%, but chances per cycle do not exceed 25% on average, and patients are advised to undergo repeated cycles to maximize their chances of conceiving. The burden of treatment is such that 1 in 5 patients discontinuing before they manage to have children. I conduct cross-sectional and prospective observational studies to

  • understand how people sustain engagement across the different stages of the fertility treatment they have to undergo;
  • identify risk-factors for disengagement;
  • understand how engagement and disengagement from fertility treatment is associated with wellbeing and self-fulfillment.

3. Psychosocial adjustment to unrealized parenthood goals

Around 1 in 5 women in the UK reach the end of their reproductive life without children. Desired childlessness is estimated to be very low (around 3%). The pathways that lead people to not realized their parenthood goals are multiple, but the loss reaction seems to be universal and to include intense and prolonged sadness and grief, that may attenuate with time but does not completely disappear. My research on this topic has focused on:

  • understanding how the loss of parenthood manifests over time;
  • understanding the mechanisms underlying positive adjustment to this loss;
  • developing research and theory-based interventions (digital, face-to-face) to support individuals coming to terms  with their unrealized parenthood goals.

4. Reproductive decision-making

Since the appearance of oral contraception parenthood became a planned and complex decision that is balanced with multiple competing goals in life such as developing a professional career. Advances in assisted reproductive technologies made this decision even more complex by opening new avenues to achieve parenthood. I conduct observational studies and surveys to understand

  • the factors that affect how people make decisions about having children
  • how people use new reproductive technologies, for instance fertility preservation.

5. Use of innovative visual methods in participatory research, public engagement and support provision

Me and my colleague Lisa El Refaie from ENCAP, developed the DrawingOut method and the DrawingOut Invisible Diseases website, which use step-by-step metaphor-based drawing exercises to help people express and share their thoughts and feelings about illness. We have been conducting experimental studies to better understand how

  • metaphor-based drawing facilitates the expression and communication of personal experiences of health and disease
  • how materials based on these drawings promote empathy towards affected people.


I teach in two year-two modules and am fully responsible for a final-year module:

PS2018 Clinical and abnormal psychology (6 lectures)

PS2024 Psychological Research Skills (7 lectures)

PS3120 Evidence-based Health Psychology (full module)


Undergraduate education

Degrees in  Mathematics – Computer Sciences, Faculty of Science and Technology of the  University of Coimbra (January, 1999)

Degree in Clinical  Psychology – Cognitive Behavioural Therapies, Faculty of Psychology and  Educational Sciences of the University of Coimbra (July, 2004)

Postgraduate education

Doctorate of Philosophy  in Health Psychology, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences of the  University of Coimbra (November, 2009)


Programmer / senior  researcher at the Centre for Computer Sciences – Research and Technology Development  ( Industrial Systems Engineering (1999 to 2005).


Current PhD Students

Bethan Rowbottom (funded by the School of Psychology, Cardiff University)

Beth has been leading a research programme to design and evaluate a bilingual (Portuguese, English) self-help app to support people who are unable to have the children they desire. The app will be available at from the 1st of November 2020.

Mariana Sousa Leite (funded by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology)

Mariana will develop  and evaluate a face-to-face psychological interventions for who undergo unsuccessful fertility treatment. The goal is to integrate preparation for unsuccess in the way fertility care is routinely provided at clinics.

Aylin Mooren (Funded by the ESRC DTP studentship)

Aylin will develop a training programme to improve fertility staff skills in sharing bad news with their patients and will assess its acceptability and feasibility among fertility staff and patients.