Emma Smith

A researcher who carried out a study exploring how photography can be used as a tool to understand individuals recovering from problem substance use has graduated from the University of Worcester as a Doctor of Philosophy.


Emma Smith completed her PhD earlier this year after three years of intensive study. “There was a strong support structure in place from both my supervision team and the research school, and they were both able to offer student centred support,” she said. “As a result of this, I was able to focus my research on a topic of deep personal interest to me which has allowed me to pursue a research career in a field that I love.”

Emma’s thesis was titled ‘Investigating recovery from problem substance use using digital Photovoice’. “My study was looking at the experiences of individuals in recovery from problem substance use using a visual research method known as Photovoice,” she said. “In a Photovoice study, cameras are given to participants, and they are asked to take pictures of their experiences. The photographs were then used as a catalyst for discussion during qualitative semi-structured interviews.

“During this Photovoice study, participants reflected on aspects of substance use recovery they found particularly challenging (such as feeling lonely and isolated) while also reflecting upon factors in their lives which were important in helping them to sustain their engagement with recovery services (such as meaningful social connections with others).”

Emma, who has had three pieces published from her PhD, is now working as a research associate at Kings College London on a research study looking at the experiences and available care pathways for pregnant women who use drugs.

Find out more about the School of Allied Health and Community at Worcester