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The Center for Appearance Research (CAR)


Overview of organisation

The Centre for Appearance Research (CAR) is the world’s largest research group focusing on the role of appearance and body image in people’s lives.  CAR acts as a centre of excellence for psychological and interdisciplinary research in body image and visible difference (disfigurement).  CAR’s research and consultancy services inform and support healthcare and education provision, social policy, media, corporate social responsibility agendas, and other areas of society.  We actively collaborate with NHS Trusts, charitable organisations, businesses, schools, universities, the media, and policy-makers across the UK and overseas.  We also host a thriving group of PhD researchers.


Aims of the organisation

Our key aims are to:

  1. Conduct innovative research that creates and promotes knowledge and understanding about the psychosocial and cultural aspects of appearance;
  2. Enhance CAR's position as the leading international centre of excellence for appearance research and source of authoritative advice for researchers, policy makers, practitioners, the media, public and third sector;
  3. Relate knowledge and understanding to policy, practice and the needs of people affected by appearance concerns;
  4. Increase acceptance of diversity in appearance.


Examples of progress made or particular achievements

CAR has been a global influencer in the field of cleft lip and palate and other craniofacial conditions for several decades.  CAR was involved in the centralisation of UK cleft services in the late 1990s, and has since worked to improve psychological and holistic healthcare both at home and internationally.  CAR has ongoing collaborations with the Cleft Lip and Palate Association, Headlines Craniofacial Support, and Microtia UK, among others, in addition to clinical and research teams in the USA, Australasia, and Europe.

Our recent major projects include:

  • Examining risk factors for poor psychosocial and health outcomes in children with cleft lip and/or palate (2021-present)
  • Development of psychological resources for individuals and families affected by craniosynostosis (2018-present)
  • Psychological interventions in craniofacial care (2018-present)
  • Psychosocial needs in craniofacial microsomia and microtia (2017-present)
  • Psychological adjustment to rare craniofacial conditions (2017-present)
  • The CLAPA Adult Services Programme (2018-2021)
  • Psychological wellbeing in children and adolescents with cleft lip and/or palate (2012-2017)
  • The Cleft Collective Cohort Studies (2011-2018)
  • The CLAPA Regional Coordinators Programme (2010-2018)

CAR has also played a leading role in the ACPA Global Task Force for Holistic Outcomes and a number of European Networks, focused on enhancing psychological knowledge and providing resources for health professionals around the world.


Opportunities to get involved

We involve health professionals in our work as both research participants and consultants, with the aim of working collaboratively for the betterment of the patient experience.  We invite health professionals and researchers to visit the Centre on a short- or longer-term basis.  CAR offers annual internships and placement opportunities for current UWE students, and other opportunities as they arise.  CAR is part of the Psychological Research Subgroup, also involving members of the CFSGBI Psychology CEN.  Please visit our website ( or contact us for more information.  To join our mailing list, visit:


Contact details 

Dr Nicola Stock is the lead for cleft and craniofacial research at CAR:

CAR email:
Twitter: @CAR_UWE
Facebook: @AppearanceResearch
Instagram: CAR_UWE