London EC1V 0HB
Elissa is a full-time PhD student and part time Research Nurse in the NHS. Her main focus is the experiences of people diagnosed with Personality Disorder who may have a background of complex trauma. She is currently working on "I-RAP"; "Improving Recognition of Autism in Personality Disorder" funded by the Words That Carry On as part of the McPin foundation and supervised by Rose McCabe (City), Kirsten Barnicot (City), Will Mandy (UCL) Eloise Stark (Oxford) and working alongside lived experience researcher and Co- Chair Investigator Jennie Parker. This co-produced mixed methods study aims to investigate the similarities and differences between diagnosies of Autism and Personality disorder and discover overlaps including the barriers to diagnosis for people with an autistic experience. The outcome will hopefully involve the co-production of trauma informed clinical guidelines and resources for individuals navigating care in clinical services.
Elissa has been working as a qualified Mental Health Nurse (RMN) since 2013, having worked in various inpatient and community settings and holds a Nurse Lecturer contract at Sheffield University
Awarded a Scholarship from the University of Sheffield to complete an MSc in Psychological Research Methods with Advanced Statistics in 2018
She is also passionate about co-production in mental health research and has experience in various domains of clinical research including intervention studies and medication trials. Previous collaboration with researchers at Sheffield University on a thematic analysis of nurse responses to the RCN survey on staffing and quality of care (publication pending).
- Research Methods with Advanced Statistics (MSc), University of Sheffield, United Kingdom, Sep 2018
- Postgraduate Diploma in Mental Health Nursing (PgDip), Sheffield Hallam University, United Kingdom, Sep 2011 – Sep 2013
- Criminology and Psychology (BA), Sheffield Hallam University, United Kingdom, Sep 2004 – Sep 2007
- Honorary Lecturer, University of Sheffield, Sep 2020 – Sep 2023
- Research Nurse, Sheffield Health and Social Care, Sep 2019 – present
- Community Mental Health Nurse, Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust, Aug 2015 – Oct 2021
- Staff Nurse, Derbyshire Healthcare, Mar – Jul 2015
- Staff Nurse, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Nov 2013 – Mar 2015
- Healthcare Support Worker, Precedo Healthcare, Nov 2012 – Nov 2013
Title of thesis: Improving Recognition of Autism in Personality Disorder
Oct 2021 – Oct 2024
Summary of research
Historically, autism has been a narrowly defined and highly gender-stereotyped diagnosis. It is often missed or misdiagnosed – resulting in a “lost generation” of autistic adults. There is particular concern that autism may be missed in some people currently diagnosed with personality disorder or more specifically Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Missed autism could lead to people being offered unhelpful￼ distressing, or re-traumatising treatment and being denied access to needed support. Undiagnosed autistic people, particularly females (due to gender socialisation, pressure to conform to social norms and increased likelihood of being diagnosed with BPD) are more likely to encounter traumatic experiences as they grow up trying to navigate adolescence without the knowledge and support required. If autism is recognised, more tailored support or reasonable adjustments can be offered. People who meet diagnostic criteria for both BPD and autism are more likely to attempt suicide than people with BPD alone due to the compounding issues mentioned above. Members of our lived experience panel however, who have experienced or witnessed autism being recognised in people diagnosed with a personality disorder, have testified to the transformative power of receiving an autism diagnosis for self-understanding and self-compassion. We propose that gaining a better understanding of the barriers that autistic people diagnosed with personality disorder face in having their autism recognised, and identifying how these barriers can be overcome, is vital. We will particularly focus on the barriers faced by autistic women, investigating three key inter-related factors: gender stereotypes, confusion of apparent similarities between autism and personality disorder, and flaws in current autism assessment methods.
Eligible participants would be females (birth or people currently identifying as) who have either a diagnosis of autism, BPD or both. The series of 3 studies will including questionnaires, diagnostic interviews and in-depth qualitative interviews and will last for approximately 2 years. Participants will be recruited from networks, social media and the National Health Service (NHS). The research is part funded by City, University of London and Words that Carry On, part of the McPin Foundation.
- Professor Rose McCabe, Professor of Clinical Communication
- Dr Kirsten Barnicot, Lecturer
- Mandy, W. University College London.
Publications by category
- Thompson, E. Current evidence and care provision for adult patients presenting with autistic experience and a background of complex trauma: A scoping review. nternational Mental Health Nursing Research Conference, 2020.
- Thompson, E., Connelly, A. and Boyden, P. Clinical Training for Home Treatment for working with complex personality presentations. New Horizons, New Perspectives’ Improving Patient Safety Conference, 2019.