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Better shared decision making within cancer care (CANDECIDE)

Project Description

This is an innovative interdisciplinary project within the important area of supportive care. The student will join a small expert team within the Institute of Applied Health Sciences which has good links with NHS Grampian and UCAN (Urological Cancer Charity). Dr Sara Jane MacLennan is a health psychologist with a long standing interest in the health psychology of cancer. Professor Mandy Ryan has a world-leading track record in health economics and discrete choice experiments. This PhD will investigate the use of discrete choice experiments to develop novel and innovative tools to support decision making in cancer care.

There is growing agreement across all tumour types that we need to treat the disease-condition and to provide personalised care to meet the information and supportive care needs of those living with and beyond cancer (NCSI, 2013). This includes the decisions made about treatment, shared decision making, and decisional regret.

Currently, treatment decision-making is influenced by multiple individual-level and systems-level factors such as clinical factors (e.g. cancer staging, progression), clinician and patient preference for diagnosis and treatment plans and understanding of risk, clinical practice guidelines, current professional practice and Unit-level policies, and the cost of treatment. This introduces variability depending on where the decision is being made and the level of individual bias and preference present.

The use of discrete choice experiments to develop novel and innovative tools to support this decision making offers the opportunity to establish a reference standard of information and supportive care within oncology. Bringing together our expertise in oncology and health psychology (MacLennan) and discrete choice experiments (Ryan), we will supervise the successful candidate to look at:

1. Strengthening understanding of the information needs, decision making process and decisional regret for different treatment modalities within cancer care
2. Understanding the key barriers and facilitators to timely and appropriate treatment decisions and shared decision making within cancer care
3. Using a discrete choice experiment to develop a theory-based tool to support better shared-decision making within cancer care.

The successful applicant will have an undergraduate degree (at least 2:1 or academic equivalent) in a related discipline of (eg economics, psychology, nursing, sociology, social work, epidemiology). A Masters degree with research methods would be very desirable, and previous experience in the field of cancer would be an advantage.

This project is advertised in relation to the research areas of APPLIED HEALTH SCIENCE. Formal applications can be completed online: You should apply for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Applied Health Science, to ensure that your application is passed to the correct person for processing.


Candidates should contact the lead supervisor to discuss the project in advance of submitting an application, as supervisors will be expected to provide a letter of support for suitable applicants. Candidates will be informed after the application deadline if they have been shortlisted for interview.

Funding Notes

This project is part of a competition funded by the Institute of Applied Health Sciences. Full funding is available to UK/EU candidates only. Overseas candidates can apply for this studentship but will have to find additional funding to cover the difference between overseas and home fees (approximately £16,625 per annum).

Candidates should have (or expect to achieve) a minimum of a First Class Honours degree in a relevant subject. Applicants with a minimum of a 2:1 Honours degree may be considered provided they have a Distinction at Masters level.

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