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.
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