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Delivering person-centred care in the community: what works for LTC?

Project Description

This is an innovative project within the important area of long-term conditions. The student will join a small expert team within the Institute of Applied Health Sciences which has strong links with NHS Grampian and Third Sector organisations within Aberdeen. Dr Kathryn R Martin is a Lecturer of Epidemiology whose research focuses on lifestyle factors, particularly physical activity, for the prevention and management of arthritis/musculoskeletal disease and chronic pain. Dr Sara Jane MacLennan is a health psychologist with a long standing interest in the health psychology of cancer. This PhD will investigate how to best support people managing the physical and psychological effects of living with long-term conditions (e.g., arthritis, chronic pain, cancer).

There is currently a complex landscape of long-term condition self-management strategies situated within primary and secondary care which vary greatly throughout the United Kingdom. Given the recent emphasis on health and social care integration, particularly in Scotland, there is an increasing drive for alternative models to be considered. Such alternatives include those located or co-located within the community, for example chronic disease self-management programmes, pain management programmes, physiotherapy self-referral, social prescribing, or physical activity referral/exercise prescription.

Although such a wide range of different interventions exist that help support individuals to realise better physical and psychological health, there is, however, limited good-quality formal published evaluations of these models within the area of long-term conditions.

Research Aim:
- To understand current evidence around best practice and evidence-based models of person- centred care for long-term conditions within primary care, secondary care, social care and the community (process, outcome, evaluation) [Study 1 – review of research and policy literatures; mapping of current practice]
- To understand the nature and architecture of stakeholders’ existing knowledge and beliefs in relation to person-centred care for long-term conditions. [Study 2 – qualitative and consensus methods study]
- To evaluate the acceptability of identified elements (‘active ingredients’) of self-management interventions / programmes / systems. [Study 3 – mixed methods study including qualitative and quantitative methods]

Following an initial systematic review of the literature and mapping exercise of current practice (Study 1), the PhD student will conduct a series of interviews and/ or Delphi or questionnaire surveys with key stakeholders to understand the nature and architecture of stakeholders’ existing knowledge and beliefs in relation to person-centred care for long-term conditions (Study 2). This will include patients, significant others/carers, relevant health and care providers within primary and secondary care, social care, and the third sector. Through Study 2, the student will focus on understanding knowledge and beliefs in relation to person-centred care for self-management of long-term conditions. Barriers and facilitators (e.g. time, agency, confidence, competence, and trust) will be explored. The student will also investigate how individuals and family members have tried to manage these (cognitive, behavioural and emotional response) what support they have received, what information, education and support needs have remained unmet and the views of these groups on how the current system could be improved. They will also explore what are the unmet needs and barriers within the current system, how and where could this be improved. Through Study 3, the student will seek to understand the acceptability and feasibility of identified mechanisms and elements (‘active ingredients’) of self-management interventions / programmes / systems. The work conducted will provide a foundation for the future development, refinement and/or implementation of self-management interventions.

A Masters degree with qualitative and/or quantitative research methods would be very desirable, and previous experience in the field of cancer, arthritis/musculoskeletal disease, or pain 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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