Dr Helen Seers
BSc (1st class, University of Bristol), PhD, CPsychol, University of Bristol
Helen is an experimental psychologist by training, and, for the past 20 years has worked with voluntary community and social enterprise organisations to support them to understand and communicate the impact of their work. Helen understands the operating environment that many small organisations are facing, and the value that well-designed evaluations can bring to these organisations.
Previously, as Head of Research and Evaluation at Penny Brohn UK (2004-2019), Helen led a highly successful evaluation team who innovated a mixed-methods evaluation evidence base for the integrative healthcare charity. This led to many academic papers being published to evidence the impact of the holistic cancer charity’s work on clients. Part of the innovations Helen brought to Penny Brohn UK was expertise using patient reported/patient centred outcome measures.
In particular, Helen focused on the development, validation and use of the person-centred MYCaW® (Measure Yourself Concerns and Wellbeing) tool in collaboration with Dr Marie Polley. In 2020 Helen and Marie, under the umbrella of Meaningful Measures took on board the licence management of MYCaW® and MYMOP® (Measure Yourself Medical Outcomes Profile).
Helen is a visiting Research Fellow at the University of the West of England and is part of the Health Foundation’s Q Community, supporting the work of the Evaluation Special Interest Group. Helen is also a chartered member of the British Psychological Society; and a member of the Research Council for Complementary Medicine, the South West Evaluator Forum, and the UK Evaluation Society. Helen also is part of the expert group of researchers forming the International Evidence Collaborative for the National Academy of Social Prescribing.
Away from work, Helen loves singing in her local community choir (Vibe!) and also walking with her family in the nature reserve in her beautiful hometown of Portishead.
Dr Marie Polley
BSc Hons, PhD, PGCertHE, Reiki Master
Dr. Marie Polley is the Co-Founder and past Co-Chair of the Social Prescribing Network and the past Chair of the British Society for Integrative Oncology as well as director of Marie Polley Consultancy Ltd. Marie trained as a biomedical scientist and has a PhD in molecular carcinogenesis. Marie also trained in Usui Reiki whilst completing her PhD and has practised as an Usui Reiki Master for many years.
After completing her PhD, Marie was a postdoctoral research fellow at Imperial college researching the epigenetic activation of the oestrogen receptor. Marie then left Imperial College to work at Breast Cancer Haven and develop good practice in evaluating the impact of integrative approaches to support people with Breast Cancer. Through this work Marie collaborated with Dr Helen Seers and Dr Charlotte Paterson on validating Measure Yourself Concerns and Wellbeing (MYCaW®) in the integrative cancer setting and developing the use of MYCaW® in new cohorts.
Marie went on to research and teach about approaches to integrating different paradigms of health and wellbeing, in her role as Senior Lecturer in Health Sciences and Research at the University of Westminster for 14 years.
Whilst at the University of Westminster Marie co-founded and co-chaired the Social Prescribing Network, and led a social movement around the use of non-medical activities to support people’s wider determinants of health. Within 3 years of setting up the Social Prescribing Network, social prescribing was adopted by the NHS in England to provide additional routes of support to traditional pharmaceutical prescribing.
Marie led the academic team to write the first national guidance for social prescribing, the first economic overview of social prescribing on health service usage, has written extensively on social prescribing and how to develop inclusive ways of researching and evaluating the impact of social prescribing. Marie provides advice to senior leaders, Members of Parliament and the House of Lords, key stakeholders, researchers and organisations in this field.
Marie is an honorary Reader at the Institute of Connected Communities, University of East London and is honorary Senior Research Fellow at University College London.
Marie is a Lay Leader of Worship and a voluntary youth worker for her local church, loves getting out in nature and when near the sea will willingly jump on a surfboard and (attempt to) catch some waves.
History of MYMOP® and MYCaW®:
In 1996, Dr Charlotte Paterson, developed MYMOP® whilst she was a self-employed GP at Warwick House Medical Centre, Taunton and a self-funding PhD student at the University of London. MYMOP® was created in response to a need to be able to measure person-centred reasons for people’s attendance at the GP. In 2002, while Dr Charlotte Paterson was employed as a Research Fellow in the School of Social and Community Medicine, University of Bristol MYMOP®’s original support web pages were created (The MYMOP® content of these pages has now been transferred to Meaningful Measures).
MYCaW® was first published in 2006 when Dr Charlotte Paterson was a postdoc researcher at University of Bristol, with the support of the MRC Health Services Research Collaboration. MYCaW® is an adaptation of MYMOP® - MYCaW® and MYMOP® are sister questionnaires.
The Cavendish Centre for Cancer Care and Bristol Cancer Help Centre (now known as Penny Brohn UK) piloted MYMOP® at their centres and found that it had certain disadvantages. Consequently, from around the year 2000 onwards, a multidisciplinary research group (Charlotte Paterson, Helen Cooke, Pat Turton and others) designed and piloted a new questionnaire, now called MYCaW®. A notable member of the multidisciplinary group was Helen Cooke, at that time Head of Therapies at Bristol Cancer Help Centre. Helen carried out a Master’s degree (based at University of Exeter) exploring the limitations of MYMOP® and documenting the first steps in an evaluation that would lead to Charlotte Paterson’s creation of MYCaW® in 2006.
MYCaW® is also an award-winning questionnaire – whereby the work undertaken at Bristol Cancer Help Centre was shortlisted, and won the Healthcare and Medical Research category of the Charity Awards 2003.
Dr Charlotte Paterson continued to develop and publish MYCaW with several collaborators. These collaborators included Dr Helen Seers whilst she was working at Penny Brohn Cancer Care (alongside Rachel Johnson) and Dr Marie Polley whilst she was working at Breast Cancer Haven and the University of Westminster. Through their collaboration since 2004, Drs Seers and Polley have developed coding frameworks for the qualitative concern data generated by MYCaW and also validated this tool against the FACITSP-Ex questionnaire, developed MYCaW for use with unpaid carers, piloted MYCaW in a Teenage and Young Adult cohort and are now developing MYCaW for use in social prescribing.
On her retirement in 2020 Dr Paterson suggested that Dr Polley and Dr Seers become the new owners of MYMOP and MYCaW. This saw the birth of Meaningful Measures Ltd - established in August 2020 to enable the lisencing of MYCaW and MYMOP and to provide supportive flexible advice on capturing person-centred outcomes. MYCaW Publications can be found here, and MYMOP here.