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Capturing caregiver burden within the new eQALY measure

Project Description

We are offering up to two fully-funded, full-time, 3.5 year PhD studentships in Health Economics. We will provide the successful student with the opportunity to study in an area of health economics of direct relevance to the work of the Policy Research Unit (PRU). You will be based in the section of Health Economics and Decision Science (HEDS) which is part of the School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR), at the University of Sheffield.
You will be supervised by a team from within the PRU in conjunction with others from ScHARR. The supervisory team will be selected to reflect the research interests and expertise necessary, according to the chosen PhD topic. We will also involve advisors from the Department of Health and Social Care as part of your supervisory team.

Economic evaluation should explicitly consider the impact of health and social care interventions on informal carers, particularly as this may be both considerable and may be neither proportional to, nor positively correlated with, the benefit of the intervention for patients (Brouwer, van Exel, & Tilford, 2010; Al-Janabi, Nicholls, Oyebode, 2016).
The newly developed Extending the QALY instrument aims to capture the benefit of health and social care interventions upon informal carers. This PhD will focus on understanding whether this instrument is fit for the purpose of including the impact on carer quality of life into economic evaluation. It will also explore broader ethical and practical issues of incorporating carer quality of life into healthcare evaluation.
The PhD will specifically address:

a) Is the new E-QALY instrument sensitivity to carer burden in different groups of carers (health conditions and age of the person being cared for). This will include empirical comparisons to existing carer measures (Carer Experience Scale, ASCOT-Carer instrument, Carer-QoL) alongside qualitative work with carers to explore the validity of different instruments.

b) Is a QALY gain for carers valued equally to a QALY gain from patients? Are views influenced by the area of improvement/deterioration (physical health versus wellbeing). Using the E-QALY instrument in an economic evaluation might mean that a deterioration in QALYs gained by patients (from shorter life expectancy or poorer quality of life) could be outweighed by an improvement in wellbeing domains (such as happiness, or enjoyable activity) of their carers? The PhD will review methods for addressing this question and conduct primary data collection to explore this issue.

The proposed start date for the project is 1 January 2020, at the latest.

Entry Requirements:
Candidates must have a first or upper second class honours degree, and a Merit at masters or significant research experience.

How to apply:
Please complete a University Postgraduate Research Application form available here:
Please clearly state the title of the studentship, the prospective main supervisor and select ScHARR as the department.
You will also need to include:
• a covering letter explaining why you wish to apply for this studentship.
• a copy of your CV.

Funding Notes

Research Council Doctoral Stipend rate (currently £15,009 for the year 2019/20). In addition, there is an annual Research Training Support Grant of £750 to cover other expenses such as conference attendance, training courses, equipment and books.

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