(BRC) Access to care, the impact of inequalities, and mental health outcomes for young people with psoriasis, eczema, or acne in the UK

   Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

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  Dr Zenas Yiu, Prof Darren Ashcroft, Prof R Webb  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Illnesses in children and young people (CYP), defined as people aged 10-24 years old, can have a long-lasting impact on their development, and skin conditions are some of the most common diseases in this age group. These include eczema, which causes itch and cracks in the skin; psoriasis, which causes thickening and redness of the skin; and acne, which causes blackheads, whiteheads, and red or white spots with pus. These conditions may also adversely affect mental health. There are highly effective treatments for all three conditions, and therefore getting to see a General Practitioner (GP) and/or a skin specialist is crucial. However, little is known about how many adolescents suffer from these skin conditions, their healthcare needs, and the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath has made it harder for many people to access healthcare. There might also be differences or inequalities in how easy it is for CYP from different groups to access the treatment that they need. 

We want to know how many CYP are currently experiencing eczema, psoriasis and acne in the UK, how many present with these conditions each year for the first time, and whether this changed during the pandemic. We will do this by looking for CYP aged between 10 and 24 diagnosed with these conditions between 1st January 2010 and 31st December 2022 in anonymised patient records from general practices and calculate how many people had these conditions and/or presented with these conditions for the first time in any given year. We will tally up the recorded use of NHS services to assess access to care. We will investigate whether the overall results change according to factors that we know are associated with health inequalities, such as their ethnicity, immigration status, living arrangements, and information about where they live including index of multiple deprivation and level of urbanicity or rurality of their neighbourhood. We will compare the period between 26/03/2020 to 01/10/2020 versus the preceding period to understand the impact of the pandemic. We will evaluate mental health burden by tallying up recorded use of the NHS services for depression and anxiety and compare the death rate, including by suicide, of these patients to a group of young adults without these skin conditions.

We will broadcast our findings to patients and the public through blogposts and podcasts using both traditional and social media. We will share our results with public health bodies directly, especially in areas where we find evidence of a health inequality leading to poorer access to dermatological care.


Applicants must have obtained or be about to obtain a First or Upper Second class UK honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in a relevant discipline Masters degree in Epidemiology, Biostatistics, Public Health.

Before you Apply 

Applicants must make direct contact with the primary supervisor before applying to discuss their interest in the project. It is your responsibility to make arrangements to meet with potential supervisors, prior to submitting a formal online application.  

How to Apply 

To be considered for this project you MUST submit a formal online application form - full details on how to apply can be found on the BRC website https://www.bmh.manchester.ac.uk/study/research/funded-programmes/manchester-brc-phd-studentships/ 

Your application form must be accompanied by a number of supporting documents by the advertised deadlines. Without all the required documents submitted at the time of application, your application will not be processed and we cannot accept responsibility for late or missed deadlines. Incomplete applications will not be considered. If you have any queries regarding making an application please contact our admissions team.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion  

Equality, diversity and inclusion is fundamental to the success of The University of Manchester, and is at the heart of all of our activities. The full Equality, diversity and inclusion statement can be found on the website https://www.bmh.manchester.ac.uk/study/research/apply/equality-diversity-inclusion/  

Computer Science (8) Mathematics (25) Medicine (26) Psychology (31)

Funding Notes

This studentship covers tuition fees and stipend and is open to both the UK and international applicants. We are able to offer a limited number of studentships to applicants outside the UK. Therefore, full studentships will only be awarded to exceptional quality candidates, due to the competitive nature of this scheme.


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