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Meet our PhD researcher - Dale Whelehan

Introducing Dale Whelehan, School of Medicine, who is undertaking a PhD in Surgical Performance, under the Sub-Discipline of Behavioural Science. Under the supervision of Prof. Paul Ridgway, Dale is exploring the behavioural science associated with sleep deprivation and the surgical profession. It is well-acknowledged that surgeons work long-hours and that this results in higher levels of fatigue. Similarly, surgeons complete on-call work which results in sleep disruption and sleep restriction. Dale’s PhD project is interested in exploring the impact of sleep deprivation and fatigue on surgical performance in the domains of technical, cognitive and affective performance. In the study, Dale explores the different influencing factors which contribute to fatigue and sleep deprivation. Based on the findings, he then hopes to implement and evaluate behavioural intervention, grounded in positive psychology and supported by evidence-based approaches from parallel high-performance industries such as elite sport and aviation.

Despite having a background in physiotherapy, and a strong interest in preventative medicine, Dale has a philosophical side. There is nothing he likes better, when he is away from the desk, than to spend his spare time thinking about how and why we complete research. So, as he admits himself he may not be the one to do small talk at a party!