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Sirkka Jarlvik

Research student

Sirkka Jarlvik

Furness Building Lancaster University Bailrigg Lancaster LA1 4YG


United Kingdom


My research reflects my interest in employee wellbeing, which I discovered during my undergraduate degree in psychology at the University of Queensland in Australia. I thereafter completed my MSc in Occupational Psychology in London, where my interest developed into a passion for employee engagement and motivation and how this influences mental wellbeing. During my time as a Business Psychologist within the aviation industry in the Middle East, I got introduced to a high-risk organisation and became fascinated about how the work environment and social support in particular influences the wellbeing of employees in high-risk occupations. After my PhD in Organisational Health and Wellbeing I am hoping to be able to continue with research within the fields of employee engagement, motivation and wellbeing and to finish my Chartership training to become a registered Occupational Psychologist with the British Psychological Society.

Thesis Title

Social Support at Work and its Influence on Wellbeing: A Qualitative Study on Commercial Pilots in the Aviation Industry

Thesis Outline

With this qualitative study I intend to explore how the work environment affects wellbeing. In particular how social support from peers influence commercial aviation pilots’ ability to deal with their work conditions and how this affects their mental wellbeing. This group of employees are of interest as they work on critical tasks under unique and unstable conditions, such as irregular shifts in a restricted high-risk environment with changing and diverse team members. Formalised peer support programs have been identified as playing a key role in employee wellbeing in other high-risk occupations (e.g., police, fire-fighters, doctors and nurses). Informal support from peers has, however, not been explored to the same degree. It is hoped that the results of this study will inform best practice in aviation safety, as well as lead to additional studies aimed to further clarify the complex link between informal peer support, health and wellbeing and safety related behaviour.