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Digital health innovations for the management of long-term conditions: the impact of digital exclusion on health inequalities

Department of Applied Health Research

Friday, June 19, 2020 Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Deadline: 19th June 2020
Interview: Late June 2020
Duration: 3 years, commencing October 2020
Stipend: £17,803

NIHR ARC North Thames and the NIHR SPHR invite applications for its jointly-funded 3-year PhD studentship to begin September 2020. Supervisors are drawn from across both the NIHR ARC North Thames and NIHR SPHR. 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.

NIHR ARC North Thames

NIHR ARC North Thames is a research partnership committed to identifying the health and care problems that most concern everyone in our region, designing innovative research in response and then quickly putting findings into practice. Led by Professor Rosalind Raine (UCL), the ARC is a collaboration of 50+ partners including universities, NHS trusts, local authorities, clinical commissioning groups, UCLPartners, patient/public organisations and industry.

NIHR School for Public Health Research (SPHR)

The NIHR School for Public Health Research (SPHR - is a unique collaboration between leading academic centres in England. Established in 2012, NIHR SPHR aims to conduct high quality research to build the evidence base for effective public health practice. Our research looks at what works practically to improve population health and reduce health inequalities, can be applied across the country, and better meets the needs of policymakers, practitioners and the public.

Project Description

Digital health innovations have the potential and the responsibility to reduce health inequalities by improving the access and use of health and social care services. However, digital exclusion remains one of the major challenges in this context. While 12 million (22%) people in the UK are likely to be digitally excluded due to lack of internet access, skills or motivation, evidence on how digital exclusion affects health inequalities is scarce. Digitally excluded individuals may be at risk of worse access to health and social care services, and hence worse health outcomes. While the socio-economic drivers of digital exclusion are relatively well known, it is unclear how these differences affect service use and health outcomes. In addition, the extent to which the effects of digital exclusion are impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic is unknown.

This PhD will explore the impact of digital exclusion on health inequalities in the management of long-term conditions. The PhD will involve mixed methods research. Building on the ongoing collaboration with UCLPartners and Care City, the qualitative research will explore the pathways through which digital exclusion impacts health inequalities through both observational analysis and interviews. This will include an examination of the potential impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on digital inclusion. The quantitative component will involve secondary analysis of existing routinely-collected data from the Care City cohort, which links data across primary, secondary and social care, and council administrative data. The PhD will also explore linked data from the UK Household Longitudinal Study (Waves 8 and 9), which provides more detailed information about digital exclusion. PhD will explore changing patterns in the use of digital health care, health service use and health outcomes due to the Covid-19 pandemic.


• Candidates should hold a Master’s in a relevant discipline (or complete their Master’s by September 2020) and have a minimum of a 2:1 or equivalent in their first degree.
• All applicants require excellent written and verbal communication skills and should be willing to work collaboratively in multi-disciplinary and multi-professional teams.
• Due to funding restrictions, applicants must be UK/EU nationals. Please see UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA - for criteria.
• Applicants should preferably have knowledge of the UK health and care system.

How to apply

Your application should consist of:
• A CV (qualifications, work experience, publications, presentations and prizes) & contact details of two academic referees.
• A personal statement (300 words) describing your suitability for the proposed project including how your research experience, skills and interests relate to the topic.
• A 1-page proposal of how you would develop the PhD project that you are applying for.

For applications and enquiries, please email

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