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Co-develop and evaluate implementation tools for knowledge mobilisers in the integrated health and social care system across the North East and North Cumbria (Ref: ARC20/HLS/SWECW/POTTHOFF)

Faculty of Health and Life Sciences

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Dr S Potthoff , Prof T Finch No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

This project draws on knowledge and theory-based approaches from implementation science and knowledge mobilisation, to co-develop and evaluate practical tools for embedding changes in health and social care practice. Implementation Science is rapidly generating practical and theoretical knowledge (along with associated tools and ‘instruments’) about how to more effectively implement and sustain changes in (health or social care) practice, with emphasis on ‘intervention’. Examples from Normalisation Process Theory (NPT) include the 16 item interactive toolkit (May et al 2011) and the NoMAD survey instrument (Finch et al 2018). These developments are important, but can be too academic to be useful to practitioners who are innovating treatment, care and service delivery in their fields of practice. Much innovation happens in health and social care without theory but based on experiential and practical knowledge about what works (for whom, in what circumstances etc). In this project we want to bring theory and practical knowledge together to co-develop and evaluate more effective tools.
The NENC ARC is hosted by the Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust. This collaborative initiative allows unparalleled access to leading applied and public health experts, supervisors who are leaders in their field, channels for dissemination of research, participation in bespoke training, and a strong network and community of graduate students and researchers. In this study, the candidate would work with partners in the regional Integrated Care System (ICS) to understand and address gaps in the potential for knowledge mobilisation and implementation (KM&I) approaches to facilitate changes in practice, also accessing wider support from members of the Science of Knowledge Implementation & Mobilisation (SKIM) theme of the ARC, and working with a supervision team that has extensive experience in leading the development of theoretical knowledge (eg NPT) and related tools. The project will combine a state-of-the-art literature review, scoping of KM&I activity across the ICS, co-development of tools to support KM&I with knowledge mobilisers and implementers, and qualitative evaluation of the impact of applying tools to implement and/or embed changes in practice.
Supervision will be provided both internally (Dr Potthoff; Prof Finch) and externally (Dr Peter van der Graaf, University of Teesside).

Eligibility and How to Apply:
Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. ARC20/…) will not be considered.
Deadline for applications: 27th November 2020
Interviews: w/c 14th December 2020 (tbc)
Start Date: 1st March 2021

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality.

Informal enquiries to Dr Sebastian Potthoff ([Email Address Removed])

Funding Notes

The studentship is available to Home and EU students with a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2020/21, this is £15,285 pa) and full Home/ EU Fees.

NIHR ARC North East North Cumbria invites applications for its jointly-funded 3-year PhD studentship to begin in March 2021. Applied Research Collaborations (ARCs) are National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) funded regional partnerships between universities, health and social care providers and commissioners, local authorities, charities, voluntary sector organizations, businesses, other NIHR bodies and members of the public.


(with Prof Tracy Finch & Dr Mandy Cheetham, and external co-supervision, Peter van der Graaf, Teesside University).

Finch TL, Girling M, May CR, Mair FS, Murray E, Treweek S, McColl E, Steen IN, Cook C, Vernazza CR, Mackintosh N, Sharma S, Barbery G, Steele J, Rapley T. Improving the normalization of complex interventions: part 2 - validation of the NoMAD instrument for assessing implementation work based on normalization process theory (NPT). BMC Medical Research Methodology. 2018;18(1):135.

May CR, Finch T, Ballini L, MacFarlane A, Mair F, Murray E, Treweek S, Rapley T: Evaluating complex interventions and health technologies using normalization process theory: development of a simplified approach and web-enabled toolkit. BMC health services research 2011, 11(1):1.

Potthoff S., McCleary N., Sniehotta F.F., Presseau J. (2018) Creating and Breaking Habit in Healthcare Professional Behaviours to Improve Healthcare and Health. In: Verplanken B. (eds) The Psychology of Habit. Springer, Cham

Van der Graaf P, Cheetham M, Lake A, Welford M, Rushmer R, Schucksmith J, Rhodes A. (2019) Mobilising knowledge in public health: reflections on ten years of collaborative working in Fuse, the Centre for Translational Research in Public Health. Evidence & Policy: A Journal of Research, Debate and Practice.

Van der Graaf, P., Francis, O., Doe, E., Barrett, E., O'Rorke, M., Docherty, G. (2018) Structural approaches to knowledge exchange: comparing practices across five Centres of Excellence in Public Health, Journal of Public Health, Volume 40, Issue suppl_1, 1 March, Pages i31–i38,
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