School of Nursing

Recently completed PhD projects

View current projects

Other completed projects: Stephen Jacobs  |  John Parsons |  Katey Thom

Katey Thom

Pathway to postgraduate studies

Katey Thom graduated with a Masters of Arts with Distinction in sociology from the University of Canterbury in 2004 and, after moving to the University of Auckland to accept a research assistant post, she commenced her Doctor of Philosophy studies in Health Sciences in 2006.

Completed work

'Constructing a defence of insanity: The role of forensic psychiatrists '

Katey carried out the first in-depth investigation into the role of forensic psychiatrists in criminal trials involving the insanity defence in New Zealand. Drawing on data generated through qualitative research methods, her research provided ‘thick descriptions’ of how the role works in practices as forensic psychiatrists, together with their instructing lawyers, construct the defence. Katey accessed data from multiple sources, including interviews with lawyers and forensic psychiatrists, observation of a high profile criminal case, and the collection of clinical and legal texts. She drew on contemporary socio-legal studies to explore the ways in which the hybrid nature of the insanity defence brings lawyers and forensic psychiatrists together in such a way that the boundaries which should ideally define their discrete functions become blurred. Katey demonstrated that the findings of her research have significant implications for not only for the continued use of forensic psychiatrists in cases of insanity, but also public understandings of madness. The research extended the existing medico-legal literature that has studied the relationship between psychiatry and law and provided analysis which contributes to current debates around the use of psychiatric expertise in cases of insanity. 

Current work

During her doctoral studies Katey developed a strong interest in the application of mental health law and the human rights of people with serious mental illnesses. She is currently employed as a research fellow at the University of Auckland, where she is investigating the operation of the Mental Health Review Tribunal and the role of district inspectors under mental health legislation.