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Developing a community informant detection tool to improve identification of children with developmental disorders in Ethiopia and Kenya


Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience

About the Project

Ethiopian and Kenyan families with children with developmental disorders (including intellectual disability and autism) experience severe challenges and most families receive no formal support. The NIHR-funded SPARK project (SuPporting African communities to increase the Resilience and mental health of Kids with developmental disorders and their caregivers) aims to improve the mental health and wellbeing of these families. In the first phase of SPARK a new Community Informant Detection Tool (CIDT) and associated training will be developed to improve community identification of children with developmental disorders, who are currently often hidden away due to stigma. Identified children will be referred to the Caregivers Skills Training programme developed by the World Health Organization. The effectiveness of the Caregivers Skills Training in improving the mental health of children and their caregivers will be tested in a cluster randomised controlled trial.

This PhD project focuses on the first phase of SPARK: the development and evaluation of the CIDT to improve the identification of children with developmental disorders in the community. Fieldwork will be conducted in four settings: in rural Kenya (Kilifi), rural Ethiopia (Gurage region), urban Ethiopia (Addis Ababa) and informal settlements in Nairobi. During interactive workshops with representatives from the local government and local community a draft CIDT tool and associated training will be co-produced. After piloting the tool will be implemented in each site, identifying up to 1000 children with suspected developmental disorders or delays. The feasibility and acceptability of the CIDT will be evaluated using process measures, focus group interviews with community informants and in-depth interviews with caregivers. The accuracy of the tool will be assessed by diagnostic verification by a clinical specialist masked to the CIDT outcome.

This is a wonderful opportunity for an Ethiopian student to gain postgraduate research experience at King’s College London, while embedded in a large research project in Ethiopia and Kenya. The student will spend about half of their time in London and the other half of their time on fieldwork in Ethiopia. Some visits to Kenya will also be included in the studentship. The SPARK project is a collaboration between King’s College London and Oxford University in the UK, Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia, the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) and Aga Khan University in Kenya and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Applicants should have a Bachelors degree with High 2:2 honours (or Overseas equivalent). For Ethiopia this would be equivalent to a Master’s degree or specialist post-graduate medical qualification with a GPA of 3.0/4.0 or 70%.

Previous research experience conducting community-based research and /or using qualitative research methods is highly desirable. Following the historic underrepresentation of women PhDs in Ethiopia, women are especially encouraged to apply for this PhD studentship.

Interviews will take place in the week of 12-16 October 2020.

Further information:

About the IoPPN (link to http://www.kcl.ac.uk/ioppn/about/index.aspx)
Studying at the IoPPN (link to http://www.kcl.ac.uk/ioppn/study/index.aspx)
Research degrees at the IoPPN (link to https://www.kcl.ac.uk/ioppn/study/postgraduate-research-programmes
About the lab this studentship is hosted in: https://www.kcl.ac.uk/research/global-research-on-autism-and-other-developmental-disorders-glad-lab


Funding Notes

Funded through a NIHR RIGHT 2 award (#NIHR200842); funding for a 3 year PhD studentship covering tuition fees plus an annual stipend, and some research and travel costs. The studentship is available only for applicants with Ethiopian nationality.

References

Applicants must complete and submit an online admissions application, via the admissions portal (https://apply.kcl.ac.uk/) by midnight (23:59 GMT) Thursday 1 October 2020.

On the ‘Choosing a programme’ page, please select ‘Research degrees’ and enter the keyword (Psychology) Research MPhil/PhD (Full-time). (Please note, registration is under ‘Psychology’ for administrative purposes, but the PhD degree can be converted to the most appropriate title upon submission of the PhD thesis.)

In your application, you will be asked to include:

• Academic Transcripts – where applicable, academic transcripts must be submitted with the online admissions application
• Details of your qualifications (you will need to attach copies)
• Details of previous employment
• A personal statement describing your interests, why you wish to apply for this project, and how your previous research experience and skills fit with the project advertised. Please include this as an attachment rather than using the text box.
• Academic References – all admissions applications require one supporting reference. If the applicant is relying on his/her referees to submit a reference directly to the College after he/she has submitted his/her admissions application, then the applicant must ensure that their chosen referee is made aware of the funding deadline.

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