Portrait of Dr Paraskevi Triantafyllopoulou (Vivi)

Dr Paraskevi Triantafyllopoulou (Vivi)

Lecturer in Intellectual and Developmental Disability


Dr Triantafyllopoulou has a BSc in Neuropsychology from the University of Central Lancashire, an MSc in Cognitive Neuropsychology and a MRes in Psychology from Oxford Brookes University.  She completed her PhD in Clinical Psychology of Intellectual Disabilities in 2013 at the Tizard Centre, University of Kent.  

Her research and consultancy focuses on health, psychological interventions and autism assessments.  She is a member of the Tizard Ethics committee and has been working with people with intellectual disabilities since 2006. 

Research interests

Dr Triantafyllopoulou's research areas cover:

  • Health research and relevant interventions for people with intellectual disabilities and/or autism
  • Sleep research and sleep interventions for people with intellectual disabilities and/or autism
  • Cancer research among people with intellectual disabilities and/or autism
  • Psychological interventions for people with intellectual disabilities and/or autism
  • Dementia and older adults with IDD
  • Educational settings/approaches in autism
  • Tourette syndrome
  • Online safety, cybercrime, cyber bullying, social media and people with intellectual disabilities and/or autism 


Dr Triantafyllopoulou is the convenor for the postgraduate IDD programmes in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and the undergraduate programme in Autism.  She also convenes the undergraduate modules of Clinical Psychology for the Psychology Department at the University of Kent.


Dr Triantafyllopoulou supervises PhD research on health related issues (for example, sleep, cancer, eating disorders, GP data, dementia etc.), psychological interventions, autism diagnosis and online safety/cybercrime. 



  • Triantafyllopoulou, P. (2019). Commentary on “Dietitians’ challenges when consulting to adults with intellectual disabilities.” Tizard Learning Disability Review [Online] 24:163-167. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1108/TLDR-07-2019-0024.
    Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to consider issues around obesity and overweight for people with intellectual disabilities (IDs). Design/methodology/approach: A review of the literature is provided looking at issues around overweight and obesity for adults with IDs. Both prevalence studies and intervention studies were considered.
    Findings:The prevalence of overweight and obesity is considerably higher for adults with IDs when compared to the general population. Intervention studies focusing on multiple components seem to be the most effective. However, future research should focus on randomised control trials taking into consideration the views of people with IDs.
    Originality/value: This paper synthesizes some of the available evidence on obesity and overweight for adults with IDs providing clear recommendations for the future.
  • Malli, M., Forrester-Jones, R. and Triantafyllopoulou, P. (2019). Tourette’s Is a Lonely Place: an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of the Personal Experience and Identity of Adults with Tourette’s Syndrome. Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities [Online]. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10882-019-09676-2.
    Research suggests that adults with Tourette’s syndrome (TS) may face unique challenges in their everyday life due to their condition. To date, however, only a limited number of studies exist in relation to their life experiences and conception of identity. This study, which we believe to be the first of its kind, aimed to expand the literature by ‘giving voice’ to this population, and to evaluate the social and personal cost of living with TS during adulthood. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with sixteen adults with Tourette’s that focused on how they negotiated their identity and experiences. Transcripts of recorded interviews were subjected to interpretative phenomenological analysis. Three superordinate themes emerged: a) “Incorporating Tourette’s syndrome into self” revealed two divergent ways in which TS was merged into the participants’ self-identity, either by reconciling with it or fighting against it; b) “Interpersonal interaction” covered issues relating to negative and supportive ties as a result of their condition; and finally, c) “The solitude of Tourette’s syndrome” described the loneliness that stems from the condition. The current findings suggest that the experience of the participants is a multidimensional one related to self-identity threat, social withdraw, and self-stigma. Implications for clinical practice on the topic are discussed.
  • McCarthy, M., Bates, C., Triantafyllopoulou, P., Hunt, S. and Milne Skillman, K. (2019). “Put bluntly, they are targeted by the worst creeps society has to offer”: Police and professionals’ views and actions relating to domestic violence and women with intellectual disabilities. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities [Online] 32:71-81. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jar.12503.
    Background: Little is known about the attitudes and practices of key personnel towards the domestic violence experienced by women with intellectual disabilities.

    Method: An online survey was conducted of Police officers and health and social care professionals. A total of 717 Police and other professionals across a wide variety of UK sites responded. Research questions were focussed on direct experience, attitudes and responses.

    Results: Approximately half of all respondents had direct experience of working with a woman with intellectual disabilities who had been through domestic violence. Professionals were more likely than the Police to see women with intellectual disabilities as being especially vulnerable. The majority of both professionals and Police believed women with intellectual disabilities were deliberately targeted by violent and abusive men.

    Conclusions: More training is needed for both the Police and health and social care professionals specifically in domestic violence as it affects women with intellectual disabilities.
  • Chiu, P., Triantafyllopoulou, P. and Murphy, G. (2019). Life after release from prison: The experience of ex‐offenders with intellectual disabilities. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities [Online]. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/jar.12661.
    Background: In the UK, little is known about the experience of ex‐prisoners with intellectual disabilities. Method: A qualitative study was therefore conducted to investigate what life is like for ten men with intellectual disabilities who left prison at least 9 months previously. Semi‐structured interviews were employed to explore the men's views of post‐prison life, including opportunities/challenges and support received from services. Results: Through interpretative phenomenological analysis, four over‐arching themes were constructed: the nature of support and services, the difficulty of staying out of trouble, the importance of family and the need to act the “tough guy”. The participants reported being extremely under‐supported. They were often hostile about staff who they felt were too focused on their previous crime. Conclusions: In general, men were very under‐supported and the upheavals of post‐prison lives appeared to be “normalized” by them. Better understanding of their lives within their social context would benefit their community re‐entry.
  • Bates, C. and Triantafyllopoulou, P. (2018). Exploring the Impact of Mental Capacity on Breast Screening for Women with Intellectual Disabilities. Health and Social Care in the Community [Online] 27:880-888. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/hsc.12704.
    This study explores the impact of mental capacity in relation to breast screening for women with intellectual disabilities (ID) in the UK. Participation in breast screening is considerably lower for women with ID compared to the general population. Barriers to screening include poor mobility and behavioural difficulties. There is currently no research which primarily explores the relationship between mental capacity and breast screening for this group of individuals. This paper presents the results of a cross sectional survey of 131 women with ID supported by eight Social Care Providers within England and Wales. The data was collected between January 2017 and July 2017. The current research explores the decision-making process surrounding breast screening, considering the impact of associated risk factors during this process. Participants completed a specifically created survey addressing the aforementioned issues. The results indicated that women who lacked capacity, were less likely to engage in breast screening. It was also demonstrated that the process outlined in the Mental Capacity Act (MCA) (2005) was not always followed; women were not routinely assessed if there were doubts regarding their decision-making ability around breast screening and best interest meetings (BIM) were not always held if the person lacked capacity. In order to be able to generalise the current findings, further research is needed to gain a broader understanding of how professionals make decisions surrounding breast screening for women with ID if the individuals are unable to decide this independently.
  • Murphy, G., Chiu, P., Triantafyllopoulou, P., Barnoux, M., Blake, E., Cooke, J., Forrester-Jones, R., Gore, N. and Beecham, J. (2017). Offenders with intellectual disabilities in prison: what happens when they leave?. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research [Online] 61:957-968. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jir.12374.
    People with intellectual disabilities, if convicted of offences, may be sentenced to prison, but little is known about their life when they are released. This study followed up men with ID who were leaving prisons in England. The men were hard to contact, but 38 men were interviewed, on average 10 weeks after leaving prison. The men were living in a variety of situations and often were very under-occupied, with limited social networks. 70% were above the clinical cut-off for anxiety and 59.5% were above the clinical cut-off for depression. The men were receiving little support in the community and many had been re-interviewed by police. Community teams need to provide better support to this very vulnerable group.
  • Triantafyllopoulou, P., Wiggs, L. and Bunce, L. (2010). Sleep dif?culties in adults with ID: personal and parental perception. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities [Online] 23:519-519. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-3148.2010.00597_1.x.
    To investigate: (a) the sleep problems that young adults (YA) with ID might be experiencing taking into account their own perspective, (b) the relationship between the YA and their parents’ sleep and (c) the coincidence between the YA and their parents’ perception of the YA’s sleep.

    Method: Twelve adults aged 19–25 years and their parents were recruited from day centres. The parents completed sleep questionnaires regarding the YA sleep, their own sleep and daytime sleepiness. A structured interview was also held with nine of the YA, investigating their sleep habits.

    Results: A high prevalence of sleep problems was found in YA with ID with the most common being: day-time sleepiness, sleep onset delay and night waking. Parents underestimated their children’s overall sleep problems. There was an association between the parents’ and the YA sleep. Parents’ perception of their children’s sleep problems (i.e. parasomnias, night waking, sleep anxiety, duration and delay) coincided with the YA perception of their problems.

    Conclusion: Findings are in line with previous research and con?rm the expectation that YA with ID experience sleep problems. The importance of including the individuals’ input when assessing complex states such as sleep was revealed. Future research is needed with a larger sample to con?rm the results.

Conference or workshop item

  • Triantafyllopoulou, P., Malli, M., Louis, M. and Murphy, G. (2016). Ballet Burst: an intervention study to improve health and fitness in people with intellectual disabilities. In: 15 World Congress IASSIDD. Wiley, p. 815.
  • Chiu, P., Triantafyllopoulou, P. and Murphy, G. (2016). Life after release from prison: the experience of ex-offenders with intellectual disabilities. In: IASSIDD 15th World Congress. Wiley, p. 649. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/jir.12305.
    Aim: In the UK, little is known about the experience of exprisoners with intellectual disabilities (ID). This exploratory study investigates what life is like for ex-offenders with ID who have left prison. Method: Individual semi-structured interviews were conducted with 10 men with ID who had left prison at least 9 months before. The interview explored men’s views of post-prison life, including the opportunities, challenges, and the support from professional services. Interviews were subjected to interpretative phenomenological analysis. Results: The upheavals of postprison lives appeared to be ‘normalised’ by the men with ID. Some had to adopt a ‘hard man’ identity to protect themselves from harm. Hostile relationships with staff were
    informed by their experiences of restricted, insufficient, and problem-focussed support, whereas a person-centred support was appreciated. Friends and family played an important role in their lives. Conclusions: More attention is needed to investigate the type of support offered by professional services. It was clear that an individualised approach was the preferable support style. Further understanding of the men’s life within their social context would benefit their community re-entry.
  • Murphy, G., Triantafyllopoulou, P., Chiu, P., Barnoux, M., Blake, E., Cooke, J., Forrester-Jones, R., Gore, N. and Beecham, J. (2016). Life after prison for ex-offenders with intellectual disabilities. In: International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities World Congress. Wiley-Blackwell, p. 712.
  • Chiu, P., Triantafyllopoulou, P., Tennyson, R., Blake, E., Barnoux, M., Cooke, J., Forrester-Jones, R., Gore, N., Beecham, J. and Murphy, G. (2015). The cost and benefits of social care support for ex-offenders with learning disabilities. In: Division of Forensic Psychology – British Psychological Society Annual Conference,. Available at: https://www.bps.org.uk/.
  • Chiu, P., Triantafyllopoulou, P., Tennyson, R., Blake, E., Barnoux, M., Cooke, J., Forrester-Jones, R., Gore, N., Beecham, J. and Murphy, G. (2014). The cost and benefits of social care support for ex-offenders with learning disabilities. In: http://www.seattleclubconference.org/conferences.Html.
  • Triantafyllopoulou, P., Murphy, G. and McGill, P. (2012). Carer’s views of sleep disorders in adults with intellectual disabilities. In: Intellectual Association of the Scientific Study of Intellectual Disabilities World Congress. Wiley, pp. 671-671. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2788.2012.01583_3.x.
    Aim: To identify the most common sleep problems carers believe adults with intellectual disabilities (ID) tend to experience; investigate whether the degree of ID affects sleep problems; and, look at whether carers’ views of the individuals’ challenging behaviours correlate with sleep problems.

    Method: The total adult population registered as having ID in a South London NHS Trust and their carers were contacted, out of which 155 participated in the study. Carers completed the Children’s Sleep Habit Questionnaire (adapted for adults), the functional assessments survey (investigating physical and intellectual abilities), and the Short Behaviours That Challenge Checklist.

    Results: Carers reported high prevalence of sleep problems. The most problematic areas were found to be sleep onset delay, sleep duration, night waking and daytime sleepiness followed by parasomnias and sleep disordered breathing.

    Conclusions: Findings confirmed that adults with ID experience sleep problems, with specific sleep problems highlighted within this population. It was also confirmed that adults with severe ID and challenging behaviour experience more sleep problems than adults with higher functioning abilities and no challenging behaviours. Future research should concentrate on specific techniques for treating sleep problems and perhaps investigate in more depth the correlation between severity of ID, challenging behaviour, and sleep.
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