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Cost-effectiveness of decision tools for early diagnosis: further exploration of the factors influencing smarter referrals, Medical School – PhD (Funded) Ref: 3522

About This PhD Project

Project Description

About the Award
The University of Exeter’s College of Medicine and Health, in partnership with the Dennis and Mireille Gillings Foundation, is offering a fully-funded PhD studentship with an annual stipend of £15,009 plus UK/EU tuition fees, for a maximum of 36 months.
The start date is September 2019 or as soon as possible thereafter.

Project Description
The studentship is embedded within the ERICA trial: A large randomised controlled trial in a planned 530 English practices examining whether integrating electronic cancer diagnostic algorithms (known as electronic Risk Assessment Tools, or eRATs) into GP clinical software allows earlier detection of cancer.
The PhD studentship explore important aspects of the trial relating to health-economics

Delayed diagnosis for many cancers is associated with poor survival (McPhail et al. 2015). Early cancer diagnosis is associated with better outcomes and can reduce the high costs of complex end-stage treatments (Laudicella et al. 2016).

The influential Independent Cancer Taskforce has called for greater allocation of resources to the investigation of patients suspected of having an undiagnosed cancer (Task force 2015). To justify spending scarce healthcare resources in this way, health economics research is needed on the cost- and clinical-effectiveness of this strategy.

Currently, the cost effectiveness of tools that help general practitioners decide which patients need investigation is unclear (Medina Lara et al 2018). These tools include electronic risk assessment tools (eRATs), which report the chance that a patient has an undiagnosed cancer, based on their symptoms.

The ERICA randomised controlled trial (RCT) will provide useful data on the effectiveness of eRATs to speed up cancer diagnosis. However, it will not address a number of uncertainties in the evidence base that remain. For example, whether using eRATs translates into smarter referrals for suspected cancer. The PhD will explore these uncertainties using a mixed-methods approach.

About us
The research will be supervised by two experienced research staff from the College of Medicine and Health: Prof Anne Spencer (lead supervisor) and Dr Antonieta Medina-Lara (co-supervisor)

How to apply

Application closing date: midnight, Wednesday 8th May 2019.

More information including entry requirements can be found here (insert link to Exeter uni advert). You can apply for this studentship online (insert link to application page)

In the application process you will be asked to upload several documents.
• CV
• A covering letter (up to 500 words) explaining why you wish to be considered for this studentship, what you will bring to the PhD project, listing any relevant research (and clinical) experience to date.
• Transcript(s) of any undergraduate and masters programmes
• Two references from referees familiar with your academic work.
• If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country you will need to submit evidence of your proficiency in English.

Interviews will be held on the University of Exeter St Luke’s Campus the week commencing 3rd June 2019.

If you have any general enquiries about the application process please email or phone +44 (0)1392 722730 or +44 (0)1392 725150. For informal enquiries about ERICA and the PhDs as a whole contact Prof Willie Hamilton (). For specific project-related queries please contact Prof Anne Spencer ().

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