Professor Jacky Boivin - BA MA PhD Concordia (Canada)


Research group:
Developmental & health psychology
029 208 75289
Tower Building, Park Place

Research summary

My research aims to bring about a more systematic and research oriented perspective to the investigation of psychological issues in reproductive health. This more rigorous experimental approach has debunked popular myths, given credibility to longstanding claims about stress effects on reproductive health and provoked important changes in the delivery of psychosocial services to people with fertility problems. My psychobiological research involves clarifying the effect of negative psychological states and traits on reproductive processes and identifying biological and life style mechanisms mediating these effects. The research on the role and effectiveness of psychological interventions in medical contexts aims to develop interventions that minimise negative affect in people experiencing threatening medical events, for example, the effectiveness of brief coping interventions and decision-aids. The follow-up research targets couples who conceived with fertility treatment to examine the impact of older maternal age on family well-being, and the impact of genetic relatedness and family environment on developmental outcomes in children conceived with fertility treatment.

Teaching summary

PS2006 Year II Research Design, Statistics and computing (5 statistics lectures)

PS3115 Stress and Disease (5 double lectures)

Postgraduate statistics (4 double lectures on multivariate statistics)

Development, Growth and Reproduction Medics lectures (2 x 1 lectures)

Selected publications (2014 onwards)


Full list of publications


Research topics and related papers

An international team of clinicians and academic have developed the first fertility quality of life measure, read more

Description for the above figures: (1) people know risk factors for fertility problems but also hold many false beliefs (e.g., myths, benefits of healthy living) (2) fertility treatments are a burden, particularly two week period when people wait for the results of treatment (3) burden of treatment can be reduced by using tailored brief coping interventions (PRCI) for the waiting period. 


Research projects have been funded by ESRC, British Council, BBSRC, MRC, Wellcome Trust, Australian Research Council and various industrial partners.

Research group

Cardiff Fertility Studies Research Group Cardiff Fertility Studies

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

Janet Takefman, (McGill University)

Alice Domar (Harvard University, U.S.A)

Bart Fauser (UMC Utrecht, Netherlands)

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

Tewes Wischmann (Heidelberg University, Germany)

Cathy McMahon, Macquarie (PATPA project)


ESRC Fertility Pathways Network members

Karen Henwood (Social Sciences, Cardiff University)

William Ledger (MedicineUniversity of Sheffield)

Maria Iacovou (Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of Essex)

Natalia Lawrence (Psychology, Cardiff University)

Glyn Elwyn (Primary Care & Public Health, Cardiff University)

Catherine Hakim (London School of Economics)

Nick Macklon (Medicine, University of Southampton)

Rona Moss-Morris (Psychology, University of Southampton)

Karl Nygren (University of Uppsala, Sweden)

Guido Pennings (Bioethics Institute Ghent, Ghent University) 

Stavros Petrou (Health Economics Research Centre, Oxford University) 

Santi Rozario (Religious and Theological Studies, Cardiff University)

Geoffrey Samuel (Religious and Theological Studies, Cardiff University)

Lone Schmidt (University of Copenhagen) 

Fiona Shirani (Social Sciences, Cardiff University) 

Ruth Turley (Support Unit for Research Evidence [SURE], Cardiff University) 

Mirella Yani-de-Soriano (Cardiff Business School)

Tomas Sobotka (Vienna Institute of Demography)

Sofia Gameiro (University of Coimbra, Portugal)

Postgraduate research interests

My general area of research is health psychology and my specific interests are in reproductive health. My research concerns: (1) psychobiological influences, for example stress effects on ovarian function, sperm quality or pregnancy rates with fertility treatment; (2) coping and brief coping interventions for fertility patients; (3) evaluation of quality of life in people with fertility problems; (3) contemporary reproductive decision-making (e.g., whether, when and how many children to have) and its determinants, and; (4) transition to parenthood in older first time mothers.

If you are interested in applying for a PhD, or for further information regarding my postgraduate research, please contact me directly (contact details available on the 'Overview' page), or submit a formal application here.

Current students

Pinkard, C. (Year 1, 1 + 3): Christine’s research focuses on the decisional and psychological processes associated with childbearing and in comparing the relevant processes in heterosexual samples and in diverse groups that potentially could not achieve parenthood without medical intervention. Examples of these groups include single women, lesbian and gay couples and people with certain disabilities and/or genetic illnesses. Comparing these minority and majority groups is important for increasing understanding of contemporary childbearing and help-seeking patterns in Britain. ESRC studentship

Fulford, B. (Year 2, 1 + 3): Bethan’s research focuses on factors that influence fertility decision-making and fertility outcomes. Even though parenthood is an important life goal for most individuals, recent trends show an increase in fertility-compromising behaviours and lifestyles (e.g. obesity), an increase in the age at which people have children (fertility reduces as a woman gets older) and a delay in seeking timely medical help amongst people who are at risk for infertility. Trying to work out how people make fertility-related decisions and what factors influence their behaviour is important in understanding how to promote engagement in fertility-optimizing behaviours.ESRC/MRC Interdisciplinary studentship

Harrison, C. (Year III). Reproductive decision-making. Cardiff University studentship.
China’s research focuses on generating contemporary up-to-date knowledge concerning men’s contribution to reproductive decision making and therefore potentially identify unmet needs in research practice and policy that concern men. As such the research would be of interest to researchers and practitioners in reproductive health and to educational institutes that teach on this matter. The findings could also be used to promote good reproductive health and support broader government initiatives that seek to assist people currently trying to conceive naturally. 

Kalebic, N. (Year III, submitted) Fertility decision-making. Industrial Case studentship Merck-Serono S.A. & Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).
Natasha’s research is expected to validate existing fertility decision tools through prospective research as well as developing new paradigms to monitor decision-making about starting a family from the moment of ending contraception to, where relevant, the uptake of medical services.

Camberis, A-L. Maternal maturity and transition to parenthood. Macquarie University (Joint supervision with C. McMahon,).
Anna-Lisa’s research focuses on the experience of pregnancy and early parenthood for women of different ages.

Previous students

Stiel, M. (2011) Embryo disposition. Medical Research Council studentship.
Mareike’s research focuses on decision-making in the context of embryo disposition. Patients who undergo fertility treatment usually have more embryos generated than can be safely transferred to a woman’s uterus during any one cycle of in vitro fertilisation. In order to be able to use these surplus embryos for future treatment they are subsequently cryopreserved for a maximum storage period of 10 years (based on UK law). However, many surplus embryos remain in storage after the end of this period. One aim of the research is to identify factors associated with the decision-making process.

Durand, M-A. (Submitted, 2009). The amniocentesis dilemma: Needs assessment, development and field-testing of a theory-based decision support intervention. Sir Halley Stewart Trust studentship (joint supervision with Glyn Elwyn).

Bunting, L.E. (2008). Help seeking behaviour and risk in the context of female fertility. Industrial Case studentship, Merck-Serono. 
Laura’s research to date has focused on the initiation of treatment, in particular concentrating on the key factors that facilitate and impede seeking help or advice when a fertility problem occurs. From this we concluded that knowledge was a key factor in the decision making process. We now intend to look into the level of knowledge about ones own fertility and the possible risk factors which may have an affect on fertility. Our goal is to develop a tool enabling people to assess their own fertility status, giving them advice and guidance about their personal score. Moreover, examining how gaining such knowledge about ones own fertility will assist in the process of decision making if a fertility problem occurs.

Peronace, L. (2007). A two-part investigation of the biopsychosocial model in male reproductive health

Lancastle, D. (2006).  Reasons to be cheerful: Part I, II, III. Dispositional optimism, positive reappraisal coping and positive (re) appraisals of the situation: Effects on emotional well being and physical outcomes. Funded by the Graduate Teaching studentships, Cardiff University.

Brew, T. (2002). Psychological aspects of women's lives following infertility treatment: Is thriving and unexpected development? PhD in Clinical Psychology.

Burge, B. M. (2001).  An investigation into the effects of work-related factors and gender on the psychological well-being of NHS managers.

Meachin, J. (1999). The impact of coping behaviour on the personality - absenteeism relationship. MSc in Occupational Psychology.

Hosang, J. (1997). The role of personality in group versus individual brainstorming. MSc in Occupational Psychology. 

Undergraduate education

Bachelor of Arts, Honours in Psychology, Concordia University (May, 1986). Conferred with distinction.

Postgraduate education

Doctorate of Philosophy in Psychology, Concordia University (January, 1995).

Master of Arts, Clinical Psychology, Concordia University (May, 1990).