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Dr Sofia Gameiro

Dr Sofia Gameiro

Senior Lecturer

School of Psychology

+44 (0)29 2087 5376
Tower Building, 70 Park Place, Cardiff, CF10 3AT


Research summary

My main areas of research are developmental & health psychology.

Most people desire to have children at some point in their  lives. My research explores how people make plans about parenthood and act to  achieve them. The goal is to understand how psychologists and other healthcare  providers can support people in achieving their goals or, when this proves  impossible, in coming to terms with unrealized parenthood goals.

Currently, I am interested in developing innovative psychosocial  interventions that can be delivered by different healthcare providers without  specific mental health training and that are easily accessible to patients. The  goal is to explore new ways of organizing psychosocial care that break with the  traditional one-to-one counselling format (i.e., individual sessions with  patients), in order to make psychosocial care more accessible for all patients during  routine care, as well as to particular groups of individuals that are outside  the healthcare system, for instance people who did not achieve parenthood with  fertility treatment and have to cope with undesired childlessness.

Specific topics of research are:

  • parenthood decision-making
  • psychosocial adjustment during and after fertility  treatment, whether it is successful (transition to parenthood) or unsuccessful  (undesired childlessness)
  • evidence-based psychosocial support in fertility care
  • development and implementation of evidence-based  psychosocial guidelines
  • patient centred care
  • psychosocial screening in healthcare settings
  • compliance with fertility treatment

My research is theory driven, therefore I am also interested  in all types of research that try to validate and develop theory within the  following areas:

  • attachment and parenting
  • interpersonal relationships
  • developmental models of crisis and change across  the life-span
  • decision-making
  • motivational self-regulation
  • behavioural change

Finally, being a Mathematician, I am also interested in  advanced statistics and methodology for social and developmental research, such  as multilevel modelling, growth curve models, structural equation modelling,  meta-analysis, etc.

Teaching summary

I teach in the following year 1 and 2 modules:

  • PS1014 - Psychological Research (academic tutorials).
  • PS2018 - Abnormal & Clinical Psychology (6 lectures,  academic tutorials)
  • PS2019 - Research Design, Statistics & Computing (5  lectures, academic tutorials)
  • PS2011 - Developmental Psychology (practicals)


Undergraduate education

Degrees in  Mathematics – Computer Sciences, Faculty of Science and Technology of the  University of Coimbra (January, 1999)

Degree in Clinical  Psychology – Cognitive Behavioural Therapies, Faculty of Psychology and  Educational Sciences of the University of Coimbra (July, 2004)

Postgraduate education

Doctorate of Philosophy  in Health Psychology, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences of the  University of Coimbra (November, 2009)


Programmer / senior  researcher at the Centre for Computer Sciences – Research and Technology Development  ( Industrial Systems Engineering (1999 to 2005).














Research topics and related papers

Psychosocial care  during fertility treatment
Many infertile individuals undergo fertility treatment such  as In In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) to conceive. Each IVF cycle includes  approximately two weeks of self-injection with fertility drugs to stimulate  multiple oocyte maturation, their retrieval via transvaginal ultrasonography  and fertilisation with partner or donor sperm, transfer of the resulting  embryo(s) to the uterus and a 2-week waiting period to ascertain if pregnancy  was achieved. Fifteen and 11% of women undergoing IVF meet criteria for anxiety  and depression disorders, respectively. I conduct cross-sectional and  prospective observational studies to

  • understand how patients adjust during fertility  treatment
  • identify risk factors for poor adjustment
  • assess patients needs and preferences regarding  the care they receive at fertility the clinics and how these are associated  with their wellbeing

This paper showed that better  patient centred care is associated with better patient wellbeing during  fertility treatment. This happens because better patient centred care is  associated with lower concerns about the treatment medical procedures and with  a higher tolerability of these procedures. Gameiro, S., Canavarro, M. C., & Boivin, J.  (2013). Patient centred care in infertility health care: Direct and indirect  associations with wellbeing during treatment. Patient Education and Counseling,  93(3), 646-654. doi: Doi 10.1016/J.Pec.2013.08.015

Compliance with fertility  treatment
Fertility treatment offers infertile individuals and other  people that cannot conceive spontaneously (e.g., gay couples, single women) the  possibility of having children of their own. However, treatment is demanding  and changes per cycle are low, so patients should undergo repeated treatments  cycles to optimize their chances of parenthood. Not all patients seem to be  able to undergo the treatment cycles recommended, despite having a good  prognosis and financial resources to cover treatment. I conduct research to  understand the factors that make it difficult for patients to comply with  treatment recommendations and how we can improve care so that fertility  treatment it is more patient friendly.

This systematic review showed  that the reasons that lead patients not to comply with fertility treatment  recommendations vary accordingly to the stage they are in treatment. The most  common ones across the different stages are delaying the decision to continue  for more that one year (decisional avoidance), the psychological and physical  burden of treatment and partnership problems.  Gameiro, S., Boivin, J., Peronace, L. A., &  Verhaak, C. M. (2012). Why do patients discontinue fertility treatment? A  systematic review of reasons and predictors of discontinuation in fertility  treatment. Human Reproduction Update,  18(6), 652-669. doi: 10.1093/humupd/dms031

Psychosocial  adjustment after unsuccessful fertility treatment
People undergo fertility treatment because they have a  strong wish to be parents and think that they won’t be as happy if they don’t  have children. But is this really true? I have been conducting research that  shows that adjustment after fertility treatment is more strongly associated  with women’s desire to have children than their actual parental status. These  findings have multiple serious implications for care provision, for instance,  should we really be encouraging patients to undergo treatment or make them  reflect about other alternatives to treatment, including accepting childlessness?

Within this topic, I am currently developing a web-based  intervention to support individuals who find it very difficult to come to terms  with their undesired biological childlessness.

This paper showed that  women’s mental health after infertility treatment is more strongly associated  with their wish to have one or another biological child than with their actual  parental status (i.e., if they have biological children or not). Gameiro, S., van den  Belt-Dusebout, A. W., Bleiker, E., Braat, D., van Leeuwen, F. E., &  Verhaak, C. M. (2014). Do children make you happier? Sustained child-wish and  mental health in women 11-17 years after fertility treatment. Human  Reproduction, 29(10), 2238-2246.

Transition to  parenthood
Becoming a parent is challenging for everyone. The period before  and immediately after the birth of the child, i.e. transition to parenthood, is  proven to be particularly demanding and of increased risk for poor mental-health  and strained partnerships. But do all parents experience this period in the  same way or is it specially challenging for particular groups of parents?

I conduct longitudinal prospective studies to understand how  couples or single parents adjust during this very important life transition.

This paper showed that all  parents that conceive spontaneously or with assisted reproduction get closer to  their family members in order to create a social environment that is supportive  and rich in opportunities for the child to establish social relationships. We  named this phenomenon social nesting. Gameiro, S., Boivin, J., Canavarro, M. C.,  Moura-Ramos, M., & Soares, I. (2010). Social nesting: Changes in social  network and support across the transition to parenthood in couples that  conceived spontaneously or through Assisted Reproductive Technologies. Journal  of Family Psychology, 24, 175-187.

Reproductive decision-making
Since the appearance of oral contraception parenthood became  a planned and complex decision that is balanced with multiple competing goals  in life such as developing a professional career. Advances in assisted  reproductive technologies made this decision even more complex by opening new  venues to achieve parenthood. I conduct observational studies and surveys to  understand

  • the factors that affect how people make  decisions about having children
  • how people use new reproductive technologies,  for instance fertility preservation

This paper showed that women  have higher intentions to use fertility preservation when they feel susceptible  to infertility, consider fertility preservation useful to achieve parenthood,  perceive the implications of infertility as severe, expect to have children at  a later age and have fewer ethical concerns about fertility preservation. This  suggests an increase of fertility awareness is necessary for the optimal use of  fertility preservation. ter Keurst, A., Boivin, J., & Gameiro, S.  (in press). Women's intentions to use fertility preservation to prevent age  related fertility decline. Reproductive  BioMedicine Online.

Using comics as a  research tool
Very recently I started leading a multidisciplinary research  project that brings together my research interests and one of my hobbies:  graphic novels. Myself and colleagues from the fields of political science and  visual communication designed a pilot project that will be the first to explore  the use of comics drawing workshops as an innovative and cultural-sensitive  methodology for investigating and disseminating findings about the infertility  experiences of ethic minority women in Wales. The main findings will be  disseminated in the form of a comics booklet (designed by a comics artist based  on the visual and linguistic data) and an exhibition. Due to their visual  nature, these formats are expected to be more appealing to a broader audience  than scientific publications.

Extract  from Al-Jawad, M. (2013). Comics are research: Graphic narratives as a new way  of seeing clinical practice. Journal of  Medical Humanities.


I was awarded a 4  year Doctoral (FCT-SFRH/BD/21584/2005) and a 3 year Post-Doctoral (FCT -  SFRH/BPD/63063/2009) Fellowship by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and  Technology.

Research group

Cardiff  Fertility Studies Research Group

We  study all aspects of fertility health to better understand the experiences of  men and women trying to become parents. Our work creates the science to support  people trying to become parents because it:

    • Helps to  better document the experiences of people trying to conceive
    • Supports  people trying to conceive
    • Optimises  conditions for fertility
    • Guides  professionals to take a patient-centred approach in their care of people trying  to conceive
    • Provides  the evidence that policy makers need to prioritise fertility issues

Research collaborators

Ana Teresa Almeida Santos (Faculty of Medicine, University of Coimbra,

Christianne M. Verhaak (University Medical  Center Nijmegen,Dept. of Medical Psychology)

Jacky Boivin (School of Psychology, Cardiff  University)

Maria Cristina Canavarro (Psychology and Educational Sciences Faculty, University  of Coimbra)

Mariana Moura-Ramos (University of Coimbra)

Research line “Relations, Development and  Health” of the Institute of Cognitive Psychology, Vocational and Social  Development of the Psychology and Educational Sciences Faculty of the University of Coimbra.


Postgraduate research interests

My research explores  how different ecological contexts influence adjustment to challenging  circumstances across the life cycle, such as developmental transitions and/or  health conditions. My main applied field of research is Infertility and Assisted  Reproductive Technologies. My research concerns are: (1) parent-child and  couple relationships; (2) transition to parenthood in normative and challenging  circumstances such as after assisted conception; (3) adherence to fertility  treatment; (4) wellbeing and quality of life; (5) dyadic interdependence in  adjustment and reproductive decision-making (e.g., how husband and wife  influence each other when deciding about fertility treatment uptake).

If you are interested  in further information regarding my postgraduate research, please contact me  directly (contact details available on the 'Overview' page).

Prospective Students

Sara Mesquita (Joint Supervision with Jacky Boivin) - How  do couples regulate to major life goal blockages? Learning from the infertility  experience. Sara will investigate how couples self-regulate when facing  infertility, a blockage to their parenthood life goal. She is interested in  understanding individual and dyadic differences in couples’ decisions to engage  in their parenthood goal by doing (more) fertility treatment or reengage in  other alternative goals (e.g. professional career, the couple relationship,  etc.).