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Dr Alexandra Pitman
Division of Psychiatry
Maple House
149 Tottenham Court Rd
  • Honorary Research Associate
  • Division of Psychiatry
  • Faculty of Brain Sciences
Alexandra is an Honorary Research Associate in the UCL Division of Psychiatry and a consultant psychiatrist in oncology liaison psychiatry. Her PhD investigated whether sudden bereavement was a risk factor for suicide attempt in young adults. Her clinical and research interests are the care of people who feel suicidal and the prevention of suicide attempt. 

  • BA(Hons) Human Sciences, University of Oxford (First class honours)
  • MSc(Econ) Health Policy Planning and Financing,  LSHTM & LSE (Distinction; ESRC studentship)
  • MBBS Medicine, Imperial College London (Distinction in Finals Pharmacology)
  • MRCPsych (2007) Royal College of Psychiatrists
  • PhD (2014) Mental Health Sciences, UCL
  • Charing Cross SHO Rotational Training Scheme in Psychiatry (2004-2007)
  • NIHR Academic Clinical Fellowship (2007-2009), UCL
  • MRC Population Health Scientist Fellowship (2009-2014), UCL
  • MRC Centenary Early Career Award (2012-2013), UCL
  • Guarantors of Brain Neurology Exit Scholarship (2014-2015), UCL
  • UCL & Royal Free Higher Training Scheme in Psychiatry (2015-2016)
  • Trainee Editor - British Journal of Psychiatry (2010-2016)
  • Editorial Board member - British Journal of Psychiatry (2016 - )
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (2015)
  • Member of the Public Health England expert reference group on support after suicide bereavement (2016 - )


Research Themes
Research Summary

I am interested in risk factors for suicide attempt and interventions to modify them. My PhD was funded by a MRC Population Health Scientist Fellowship to investigate the impact of sudden bereavement on the mental health and social functioning of young adults. This cross-sectional study surveyed young adults at a range of UK colleges and universities using both quantitative and qualitative methods. My PhD supervisors were Professor Michael King & Professor David Osborn in the UCL Division of Psychiatry, with additional qualitative supervision from Dr Fiona Stevenson in the UCL Department of Primary Care and Population Health. This study was designed in collaboration with a consultation group of bereaved young adults and bereavement counsellors. The survey questionnaire was piloted with the help of national voluntary organisations providing bereavement support, including Cruse Bereavement Care, Samaritans, Widowed by Suicide and Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide. The link to the study website, and findings, is here: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/psychiatry/bereavementstudy/

During my PhD I was granted a MRC Centenary Early Career Award (2012) to investigate the help-seeking behaviour of young adults at times when they have felt suicidal or at risk of self-harm. This focussed on what sources of support they did and did not use, and in the latter case, why not. This cross-sectional study involved a national sample of adults under 45, who provided online quantitative and qualitative responses. The link to the study website is here: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/psychiatry/bereavementstudy/accessing-support

From 2014-2015 I was awarded a 1 year post-doctoral fellowship by the Guarantors of Brain, as part of their Neurology Exit Scholarship scheme. During this period I analysed the qualitative data arising from my PhD, particularly interviewees' experiences of stigmatising attitudes and difficulties accessing support. http://www.guarantorsofbrain.org/

Teaching Summary


  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA)
  • 2014-2015 module leader for clinical mental health module - MSc in Clinical Mental Health Sciences @MentalhealthMSc  http://www.ucl.ac.uk/psychiatry/prospectivestudents/clinicalmentalhealthsciences    
  • research supervisor for MSc in Clinical Mental Health Sciences, MBBS and BA Human Sciences at UCL
  • teaching on MRCPsych course (UCL/Royal Free core training scheme): Epidemiology; Economic Evaluation;  Communication Skills; CASC teaching
  • teaching at UCL Medical School: Introduction to Psychiatry; Depression; Eating Disorders; Affective Disorders
  • lecturing at Birkbeck College: Health Policy and Health Promotion (course organiser & lecturer)
  • lecturing at LSE: short course in Economic evaluation for public health clinicians and policy-makers
  • lecturing at Imperial College Management School: International Fellowship Programme in Health Policy

Postgraduate supervision:

  • MSc in Clinical Mental Health Sciences at UCL

Undergraduate supervision:

  • UCL BSc in Human Sciences
  • UCL Medical School MBBS
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