Miss Emily-May Barlow

Clinical Academic Fellow

School School of Social and Health Sciences

Department Division of Mental Health Nursing and Counselling

Contact info

+44 (0)1382 30 8144


I qualified as a mental health nurse from Keele University in September 2013 and undertook my first employment within NHS Tayside. Having gained clinical experience in inpatient substance misuse, and ‘Intensive Psychiatric Care’, I succeeded in obtaining my current role with Abertay University in November 2016.

My current role is split 50/50 between NHS Tayside and Abertay University. In NHS Tayside, I work clinically as a band 5 mental health nurse in a low secure forensic Unit (Rohallion Secure Care Clinic, Murray Royal Hospital Perth). This involves providing direct rehabilitative support and care to male patients with a forensic history. At Abertay I undertake research and teaching responsibilities. My research investigates mental health nursing processes and interventions. My teaching links theory to practice; I am able to provide ‘real life’ context and scenarios to much of the taught theory and demonstrate how the classroom work applies to the clinical environment.

As mentioned in my biography, my teaching links theory to practice.

My lectures and tutorials include: signs of symptoms of mental illness, clinical skills, communication techniques, elements of the mental health act and practical skills required of mental health nurses. 


1.  A Systematic Review of leave

'Leave' occurs when a mental health inpatient exits the hospital ward with the appropriate authorisation or agreement alone, or accompanied by staff, family, or friends. Limited research has addressed therapeutic as opposed to unauthorised leave and this evidence-base has not been systematically evaluated. Identified papers were assessed against quality criteria and critically evaluated. We calculated standardised leave rates where sufficient data is provided. The results yielded 28 papers of poor to moderate quality.  Standardised leave rates in forensic settings reflect security level. There was no meaningful information on which to base calculation of rates for civil settings. The strongest evidence supports leave used for supervised discharge; all other forms of leave lack an evidence base. For all other forms of leave decisions appear to be made in the basis of heuristic rules and unsupported assumptions. In conclusion, clinical decision making about leave cannot claim to be based on a strong empirical evidence base. Research is urgently needed to provide information about best ways to support leave, what happens on leave.

2. Understanding the research priorities for nurses working in forensic mental healthcare

‘Setting the direction’ (NHS Scotland, 20141), the strategic plan for nursing in Scotland for 2020, envisages increased postgraduate  development in research for nurses and midwives. Through their provision of direct and continuous care to individuals, families and communities, nurses and midwives are ideally placed to generate and prioritise clinically relevant questions.

To better understand nurses’ priorities for research in a forensic mental health service.

Participants and Setting: All mental health nurses (of any grade) working within the Rohallion Secure Clinic, Murray Royal Hospital, were eligible.

Design:A cross-sectional survey.

Measures: We designed the ‘Priorities for Research in Nursing Questionnaire; Forensic Mental Health Version’ (PRiNQ-FMH 1.0). The table of contents, from 3 leading mental health research journals was examined, namely; ‘The Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing’, ‘The International Journal of Mental Health Nursing’, and ‘Issues in Mental Health Nursing’. For the year 2016, 27 original research items were identified, and information extracted about the aim of the study. This was phrased in terms of ‘research which….’ (e.g. ‘Research which aims to assess current knowledge and attitudes to recovery among nursing staff and patients in a secure, forensic setting’).

A scale was created  asking participants to rate (answering either ‘not at all’, ‘a little’ ‘a fair amount’, ‘a moderate amount’, ‘a large amount’ or ‘a very large extent’) whether this research: would lead to improved patient outcomes; would lead to improved nursing practice; would lead to improved staff experience; could be done at Rohallion Unit; would be supported by managers; and should be a priority.
Procedure: Ethical approval was obtained from Abertay University. The survey was conducted on Survey Monkey and a link to this distributed via the NHS e-mail system.


As a consequence of this study, a research proposal has been developed; the aim of which is to understand the experiences of new graduate nurses in forensic mental health services in their first year of clinical practice via semi-structured interviews. This is awaiting approval from NHS Tayside’s ‘Research and Development’ and Ethical committee.


Barlow, E., 2014. Acute mental health nursing and prn medication administration: a review of the literature. Mental Health Nursing. Vol. 34 (6). PP. 13-15.

Barlow, E., 2015. A day in the life of Mental Health Nursing, Mental Health Nursing, Vol. 35(6). PP. 10-12.

Barlow, E., 2016. How is clinical decision making used when assessing the suicide risk for in-patients. Mental Health Nursing, Vol. 36(8). PP. 14-1


September 2017:
23rd Mental Health Nursing Research Conference
‘A systematic review of leave’.

October 2017:
Scottish Forensic Network Conference
‘A systematic review of leave’.

More Information


December 2017:

Attended a Borderline Personality Disorder support group through MIndspace, Perth. Here I delivered a session along with Professor Geoff Dickens, titled 'Lets talk about Borderline Personality Disorder' which discussed the science of BPD. 


Meet the rest of the team

Miss Linda Wood

Miss Linda Wood

Division of Mental Health Nursing and Counselling | Lecturer

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Miss Lynne Thomas

Miss Lynne Thomas

Division of Mental Health Nursing and Counselling | Teaching Fellow

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