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Dr Rajvinder Samra

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Professional biography

I am a Lecturer in Health in the School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care at The Open University. 

I am a Chartered Psychologist and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. My research interests focus on mental and psychological performance in work. I look into the factors (psychological, social, institutional, structural) that enhance or disrupt professional/work performance. I have researched how we learn, train, improve and cope with work, and with academic study. I have also investigated identifying and responding to errors and failure in work.

My educational background is in Psychology (BSc, First Class, University of Manchester, 2008), Occupational Psychology (MSc with Distinction, University of Nottingham, 2009) and Applied Psychology (PhD, University of Nottingham, 2013). My PhD explored doctors' and medical students' attitudes toward older patients and their care in healthcare settings. I also have an interest in healthcare professionals' attitudes and expectations in the workplace and how this influences work performance, care quality, safety and error. I am also interested in notions of professionalism in healthcare, including expectations of providing empathy in care and the link with professional burnout. This work has included the effect of chronic work stress and burnout in relation to medical and legal professionals. My previous role in the School of Medicine at Imperial College London involved human factors in primary care patient safety in North-West London. I am currently working on a project with the UK charity, LawCare, to develop online resources for developing psychologically healthy practices within the legal profession. I am also currently researching how individuals can self-identify the edges of their optimal/safe performance before experiencing burnout or substantially increased risk of human error.

I am registered with the British Psychological Society as a Chartered Psychologist (CPsychol). I am trained in ability and personality testing in the workplace and am a registered test-user for BPS Occupational Ability and Occupational Personality psychometric tests (NEO-Revised Personality Inventory).

Within the OU, I am a member of the BME Staff Network and have joined the BME Steering Group Committee. I am also an Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Champion for the WELS faculty. If you have any matters for these groups and you would like me to confidentially raise or enquire about anything related to equality and diversity for staff or students, please feel free to get in touch. 

If you are a student who is interested in doing a PhD, please don't hesitate to contact me via email at with an email letting me know about what area interests you. My areas of expertise are detailed below but generally they relate to professional wellbeing in the workplace (which includes healthcare professionals) and I am also interested in coping with stress and burnout whilst also offering good quality care/work. 

Research interests

Safety, quality and performance at work: monitoring patient safety in primary care medicine; identifying and prioritising safety and quality concerns in healthcare settings.

Psychological and cognitive work performance: occupational stress and burnout; human error, failure and recovery; personal resilience at work in medicine and law.

Professionals' education and training: Teaching empathy to healthcare professionals; gender in the medical workplace; experiential non-clinical skills training in medicine; teaching empathy in medicine and law.

Attitudes research (qualitative and quantitative): the unidimensional or tripartite model of attitudes; stereotype/content model; attitudinal questionnaire measures.

Review methodology: Conducting and writing reviews; synthesising healthcare services research literature.

Teaching interests

I am currently writing content for K323 'Investigating health and social care'.

Impact and engagement

Article on burnout for The Conversation was the most-read article of Open University contributors to The Conversation UK in 2018-19. The article reached over 100,000 readers as far as Singapore, the US, Canada, India and Malaysia (‘Millennial burnout: building resilience is no answer – we need to overhaul how we work’ 21 January, 2019).

Article on recovery from burnout for The Conversation reached over 73,000 readers (‘How to recover from burnout and chronic work stress, according to a psychologist’ 11 March 2020). Republished in The Independent. Translated for French readers and accessed by an additional 57,000 people.

Academic consultant for BBC series Hospital (Series 1), which was nominated in the Best Documentary Series category for a Grierson Award 2017 and won the Royal Television Society award for Best Documentary Series 2018.

Invited keynote speaker at the National GP Appraiser’s Conference 2019 Health Education and Improvement Wales, (‘Addressing stress and burnout in healthcare settings’, 21 June 2019).

Featured in Bloomberg Businessweek, Livestrong.comSydney Morning Herald. Featured guest on ‘The State of Things’ WUNC-FM North Carolina Public Radio. Featured guest on BBC Asian Network Radio. 

Article for The Conversation (‘Female doctors show more empathy, but at a cost to their mental well-being’ 24 April, 2018).

External collaborations

2019-2021         Co-investigator on Dunhill Medical Trust Research Project grant: ‘Uncertainty in healthcare: a qualitative study of patients' and clinicians' experiences and co-design of professional development and patient information materials' led by University of Leicester (£135,008).

2019-2020         Wellbeing in the Law work stream led by Dr Emma Jones (University of Sheffield) and in conjunction with LawCare. Our book on Mental Health and Wellbeing in the Legal Profession is forthcoming.

I represent the OU in a collaborative group between the The Open University, the Knowledge Translation Unit (University of Cape Town) and the BMJ with a focus on improving educational and training resources for frontline healthcare worker training in South Africa.

I contribute to a gerontology and geriatrics interest group that links academics at UK universities with universities in Brazil.


The edges of human performance in psychiatry (2020-06)
Samra, Rajvinder
The British Journal of Psychiatry, 216(6) (pp. 294-295)

Symptoms of mood disorders in family carers of older people with dementia who experience caregiver burden: a network approach (2020)
França, Alex Bacadini; Gordon, Adam Lee; Samra, Rajvinder; Duarte, Evelise Saia Rodolpho and Jacinto, Alessandro Ferrari
Age and Ageing ((Early Access))

The Mental Distress of Distance Education Students: The Importance of Work and Family Roles (2020)
Waterhouse, Philippa; Samra, Rajvinder and Lucassen, Mathijs
Distance Education ((In press))

Gender-responsive education and training approaches to improving physician well-being (2019-03)
Samra, Rajvinder
Medical Education, 53(3) (pp. 210-218)

The world at their fingertips? The mental wellbeing of online distance-based law students (2019)
Jones, Emma; Samra, Rajvinder and Lucassen, Mathijs
The Law Teacher, 53(1) (pp. 49-69)

Fostering empathy in clinical teaching and learning environments: A unified approach (2019)
Samra, Rajvinder and Jones, Emma
Australian Journal of Clinical Education ((In Press))

Brief history of burnout (2018-12-27)
Samra, Rajvinder
BMJ, 363, Article k5268

How LGBT+ Young People Use the Internet in Relation to Their Mental Health and Envisage the Use of e-Therapy: Exploratory Study (2018-12-21)
Lucassen, Mathijs; Samra, Rajvinder; Iacovides, Ioanna; Fleming, Theresa; Shepherd, Matthew; Stasiak, Karolina and Wallace, Louise
JMIR Serious Games, 6, Article e11249(4)

Empathy and Burnout in medicine – acknowledging risks and opportunities (2018-07)
Samra, Rajvinder
Journal of General Internal Medicine, 33(7) (pp. 991-993)

Comparing knowledge and attitudes to dementia care in Brazilian and UK GPs to guide future decisions about educational interventions (2018)
Jacinto, Alessandro Ferrari; Gordon, Adam Lee; Samra, Rajvinder; Steiner, Ana Beatriz; Mayoral, Vania Ferreira de Sá and Citero, Vanessa de Albuquerque
Gerontology and Geriatrics Education ((Early Access))

Factors related to medical students’ and doctors’ attitudes towards older patients: A systematic review (2017-11-01)
Samra, Rajvinder; Cox, Tom; Gordon, Adam L; Conroy, Simon; Lucassen, Mathijs and Griffiths, Amanda
Age and Ageing, 46(6) (pp. 911-919)

Sexual minority youth and depressive symptoms or depressive disorder: A systematic review and meta-analysis of population-based studies (2017-08-01)
Lucassen, Mathijs F.G.; Stasiak, Karolina; Samra, Rajvinder; Frampton, Christopher M.A. and Merry, Sally N.
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 51(8) (pp. 774-787)

Identification of priorities for improvement of medication safety in primary care: a PRIORITIZE study (2016-11-16)
Tudor Car, Lorainne; Papachristou, Nikolaos; Gallagher, Joseph; Samra, Rajvinder; Wazny, Kerri; El-Khatib, Mona; Bull, Adrian; Majeed, Azeem; Aylin, Paul; Atun, Rifat; Rudan, Igor; Car, Josip; Bell, Helen; Vincent, Charles and Dean Franklin, Bryony
BMC Family Practice, 17(160)

How to monitor patient safety in primary care? Healthcare professionals’ views (2016-08-01)
Samra, Rajvinder; Car, Josip; Majeed, Azeem; Vincent, Charles and Aylin, Paul
JRSM Open, 7(8) (pp. 1-8)

Medical students’ and doctors’ attitudes towards older patients and their care in hospital settings: a conceptualisation (2015-09-15)
Samra, Rajvinder; Griffiths, Amanda; Cox, Tom; Conroy, Simon; Gordon, Adam and Gladman, John R. F.
Age and Ageing, 44(5) (pp. 776-783)

Monitoring patient safety in primary care: an exploratory study using in-depth semistructured interviews (2015-09-10)
Samra, Rajvinder; Bottle, Alex and Aylin, Paul
BMJ Open, 5, Article e008128(9)

Equipping tomorrow's doctors for the patients of today (2014-07)
Oakley, Rachel; Pattinson, Joanne; Goldberg, Sarah; Daunt, Laura; Samra, Rajvinder; Masud, Tahi; Gladman, John R. F.; Blundell, Adrian G. and Gordon, Adam L.
Age and Ageing, 43(4) (pp. 442-447)

Changes in medical student and doctor attitudes toward older adults after an intervention: a systematic review (2013-07)
Samra, Rajvinder; Griffiths, Amanda; Cox, Tom; Conroy, Simon and Knight, Alec
Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 61(7) (pp. 1188-1196)

Mental Health and Wellbeing in the Legal Profession (2020-09-24)
Jones, Emma; Graffin, Neil; Samra, Rajvinder and Lucassen, Mathijs
Bristol Shorts Research
ISBN : 9781529210743 | Publisher : Bristol University Press | Published : Bristol

'A Support Net': Evaluating a novel mental health-related online educational tool (2019-02-13)
Lucassen, Mathijs F.G.; Samra, Rajvinder; Axtell-Powell, Georgia and Cooke, Georgina
In : International Society for Research on Internet Interventions - ISRII: The Next Generation (13-15 Feb 2019, Auckland, New Zealand)

What Factors Are Related to Medical Students’ and Doctors’ Attitudes Towards Older Patients? (2017-06-30)
Samra, Rajvinder; Cox, Tom; Gordon, Adam; Conroy, Simon; Lucassen, Mathijs and Griffiths, Amanda
In : 21st IAGG World Congress of Gerontology and Geriatrics (23-27 Jul 2017, San Francisco, California)

Monitoring patient safety in North-West London primary care (2015-07-01)
Samra, Rajvinder; Bottle, Alex and Aylin, Paul
In : Health Services Research Network (HSRN) Symposium (1-2 Jul, Nottingham)

Prioritize: asking healthcare professionals about patient safety priorities in primary care (2014-10-07)
Samra, Rajvinder; Tudor Car, Lorraine; Aylin, Paul and Majeed, Azeem
In : International Society for Quality in Healthcare 31st International Conference: Quality and Safety Along the Health and Social Care Continuum (5-8 Oct 2014, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)