A Bookshelf at an Angle

Alumni Profile

Frederique Djurdjevic: From PhD student to WHO consultant

fredIf you’ve ever thought of continuing your studies, UWL offers a range of exciting research opportunities and projects. All you need to do is contact a potential supervisor and discuss the area you would like to work in. Frédérique Djurdjevic successfully applied for a UWL PhD Scholarship, which led her to embark on a PhD in health psychology, a decision that has led to a successful position with the World Health Organisation.


Prior to her PhD, Frédérique worked as a Barts Charity research fellow at City University's School of Health Sciences. There she was working with the health psychology team to research diabetes management for people living with severe mental illness.


“I had an interest in the interface between mental and physical health, so when the UWL PhD Vice Chancellor's Scholarship was advertised, I applied and began my PhD in May 2017. I really enjoyed my course, everyone at the graduate school was delightful and very supportive throughout my PhD journey. In my second year, I received funding to attend the Cumberland Lodge Summer School and it really helped me plan my next steps. During this time, I also taught on the Masters in health psychology, under the guidance of Professor Caroline Lafarge, which was a rewarding experience.”


Frederique’s PhD focused on the development and preliminary evaluation of a cervical screening informed choice toolposter for women with severe mental illness.


“This group of women may find it harder to attend their cervical screening appointment than the general population due to specific barriers; furthermore mortality from cancer is greater in this group. It is therefore important that they are aware of the adjustments they can request to make an informed decision. A leaflet tool was developed and tested with mental health service users and health professionals in community mental health clinics. The leaflet has had a huge uptake and is available on Systmone (primary care portal), Jo’s cervical cancer trust website and other NHS trust portals.”


After passing her viva with no corrections in January, Frederique started a job as a consultant for the WHO regional office in Europe just a week later!


Frédérique, who is also currently drafting her final PhD paper ready for submission, has been published in a number of places including BMJ Open, BMC Psychiatry and the Journal of Mental Health. Public Health England’s guidance on support for people who find it hard to attend cervical screening due to having a mental health condition, or having experienced trauma or abuse, is based on her PhD research.


It is her hope that the leaflets she has developed will be able to save lives by encouraging women to go for their screenings.


Asked what advice she had for anyone considering further study, or starting out in the workplace, Frederique said:

“Your degree is just the beginning of the journey! Believe in yourself, much can be achieved with willpower and hard work. Make yourself visible at conferences, on social media and be prepared to receive constructive feedback. Nurture your network.”


For anyone who is interested, links to some of Frédérique’s work can be found below:






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