Diane Willis

Diane Willis

Dr Diane Willis



I am a lecturer at Edinburgh Napier University and hold professional qualifications – as a registered nurse, as a psychologist and I was a counsellor. I have held a number of posts from Research Fellow, Practice Educator, Equality Officer to lecturer in other Universities, the NHS and non Governmental Organisations. I have a wide portfolio of work both academic, Government and Health and Social Care areas.

My primary research interest lies in the field of intellectual disability especially cancer care, bereavement, healthy ageing, women’s issues and health and social care inequalities. I also have interests in mental health, welfare reform, citizenship, bereavement (more widely), health and social care workforce and creativity in the curriculum.

I am an external examiner for Sheffield Hallam University, Chair for Family Advice and Information Resource (FAIR) and Board member of the Society of Cancer and Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

I sit on a number of groups including the Learning Disability East Managed Care Network, Excellence in Care Academic Advisory Group and Future Nurse steering group .



Advisory panels and expert committees or witness

  • Voting in people with intellectual disabilities.
  • Athena Swan Charter working group at the University of Glasgow
  • University on the Council of Deans interest group for learning disability
  • Changingmindz


Conference Activity

  • Palliative care
  • Intellectual disability services from the Swedish and Scottish perspective
  • Building momentum
  • Support and link person for students, Non-learning Disability Student Conference, with NES
  • Facilitator, conference on People with cancer and an intellectual disability: an international issue with local significance, Edinburgh, February 2008.
  • Member of the organising committee at University of Glasgow for RCN International Research Conference
  • Organiser: bereavement seminar Managed Clinical Networks
  • Organiser and chair, two-day workshop on Research in Learning Disability, University of Glasgow and Glasgow Caledonian University, .
  • Chair of session, ONCODEF conference France February 2014.
  • Organiser of Symposium on strengthening commitment to ensure people with intellectual disabilities enjoy a good life. Presented with colleagues from Glasgow Caledonian University and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (McGlade, I. and Gallagher, M.), Prince an
  • Organiser and chair,:”To absent friends”, Bereavement Café



  • Presenter and member of organising committee for the 2008 Postgraduate Conference, Edinburgh Napier University. Poster: Breast screening decision making in women with learning disabilities,
  • Presenter and organiser: Development workshop. Cancer and people with learning disabilities
  • Postgraduate Conference, Edinburgh Napier University. Oral presentation: An ethnographic study of decision making in relation to breast cancer screening for women with learning disabilities,
  • Presenter: Postgraduate Conference. Oral presentation: Breast screening and women with learning disabilities
  • Member of organising committee for the 2008 Postgraduate Conference


External Examining/Validations

  • External Examiner for University of Lincoln BN Adult


Fellowships and Awards

  • Shortlisted for the best paper in the RCN conference 2014 on bereavement and student nurses
  • NMAHP Award – Willis, D.S., & Mack, S. £300 (3rd prize), for a proposal for a Cancer Screening Handbook: A Guide for Professionals, Carers & Service Users


Invited Speaker

  • Managing the menopause in women with intellectual disabilities.
  • Special Interest Group Learning Disability. Oral presentation: The menopause and women with Intellectual Disability, Glasgow
  • Presenter and reviewer: IASSID (International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual Disabilities) European conference Vienna: Explaining health problems to people with learning disabilities: views from family and paid-carers and Introducin
  • Presenter: 14th IASSID (International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual Disabilities) World Congress on Intellectual Disability, Halifax, Canada, women with intellectual disabilities views on breast cancer screening and what facilitates
  • Presenter: 6th Learning and Teaching Conference: University of Glasgow, Teaching equality, diversity and health inequalities... with help from imaginary friends!
  • Presenter: Nurse Education Today Conference, Cambridge. Embedding understanding of mental health and learning disability into the pre-registration nursing curriculum. Willis, D.S., Rice, A-M, & Moriarty, D.
  • Presenter: Nurse Education Today Conference, Cambridge. Health inequalities - engaging the learner imagination. Willis, D.S., Stevenson, T. & Cantrell, J.
  • Presenter: NHS Lothian Research Day, Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. Poster: Exploring breast screening with women with intellectual disabilities, Edinburgh
  • Presenter: 13th IASSID World Congress on Intellectual Disability. Oral presentation. Exploring the menopause with women with intellectual disabilities and their carers, Cape Town, 2008.
  • Presenter: 13th IASSID World Congress on Intellectual Disability. Oral presentation. Talking to women with intellectual disabilities about participating in breast cancer screening, Cape Town.
  • Presenter: . Menopausal issues in women with intellectual disabilities.
  • Presenter: RCN Breast Care Nursing Society Annual Conference. Poster: Exploring breast screening participation with women with intellectual disabilities, London
  • Presenter: Women’s and Children’s group, NHS Fife: The menopause, women with learning disabilities and their carers. May 2011.
  • Scottish Consortium of Learning Disability Nursing Network Conference, Oral presentation: The menopause and women intellectual disabilities..
  • Invited speaker: Glasgow Palliative Care conference for people with learning disability: Glasgow, Scotland Bereavement issues in pre-registered staff implications for people with learning disabilities.
  • Invited speaker: Willis, D.S. Palliative Care conference, Cumbernauld. Supporting people with intellectual disabilities through investigations and treatment.
  • Invited Speaker: Welsh Marie Curie learning disability conference: title cancer and learning disability
  • Seattle Club. Oral presentation: Oral presentation: Relating the experience of the menopause – women with learning disabilities and their carers, Cardiff,
  • Invited Speaker: RCN Career Conference: Glasgow SSEC: Choosing a speciality (Willis, D.S., O’Neal, A. and Selfridge, E.).
  • Building momentum Conference


Non-executive Directorship

  • Chair of Family Advice and Information Resource


Public/Community Engagement

  • Sharing ideas in bereavement and end of life care workshop. Feeding back about bereavement in professionals who support people with learning disabilities.
  • Life death and lilies
  • Bereavement workshop
  • ‘To absent Friends’
  • Mental Health and Stigma: understanding what practitioners need to engage with people with mental health problems



  • Reviewer for grants
  • Reviewer IASSID congress
  • Reviewer for Royal College of Nursing International Research Conference
  • Reviewer for British Journal of Learning Disabilities
  • Reviewer for Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing



  • Research seminar series, Oral presentation: The menopause and women with learning disabilities. Edinburgh,
  • Research seminar series, Napier University. Oral presentation: Video analysis and intellectual disabilities
  • Organiser and chair, Moving Forward in Cancer Care
  • Organiser, Post-graduate Seminar group


Visiting Positions

  • Oman


Pre-Napier Funded Projects

  • HPV vaccination in young people from ethnic minority backgrounds and people with intellectual disabilities.
  • Two day workshop on learning disability
  • Preparing for the future, fearing the worst, support for carers and people with learning disabilities in bereavement
  • Supporting pre-registered nurses in bereavement care.
  • Cancer screening in learning disability
  • Development workshop on cancer and people with learning disabilities.
  • Exploring the menopause in women Down's syndrome and non specific learning disability
  • Peer collaboration in children with and without intellectual disabilities.
  • Menopause in women with learning disability

Current Post Grad projects

Previous Post Grad projects

Non-Napier PhD or MSc by Research supervisions

  • A mixed methods study exploring the barriers and facilitators of screening for autism spectrum disorder in Oman