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Effects of methodological decisions on the outcomes of systematic reviews (HooperL-SongFU19SF)


Project Description

Background and Aims:

Our systematic reviews for the World Health Organization assessed health effects of dietary fats in long-term randomised controlled trials (1-5). This was a big job, inflated by asking trialists about health outcomes not reported in published papers. We considered limiting the work by limiting to trials randomising at least 100 participants, and to reduce risk of null effects by limiting to trials of at least 6 or 12 months duration (depending on outcome). We assessed risk of bias in our included studies by comparing effects of meta-analysis of all eligible trials, and compared to effects of only those studies assessed as at low summary risk of bias.

This PhD project represents a chance to explore the decisions we made, to assess how review outcomes would have changed if those decisions had been different. This will help to improve future systematic review methodology.

PhD objectives:

1. To update a systematic review of effects of dietary fat on health
2. Methodological work to explore effects on outcomes, heterogeneity and subgroup analysis findings of these limitations in our set of dietary fat reviews:
a. Effects of limiting study duration
b. Effects of limiting study size (participants randomised)
c. Effects of different ways of assessing risk of bias
d. Effects of writing to trial authors and collecting additional outcome data
3. Explore effects of these methods within other topics.

Supervision and training:

The candidate will join an established multidisciplinary research team in the Faculty of Medicine and Health where their PhD project will contribute to, and benefit from, related research projects in health. A training program in research and professional skills will be tailored for the student.

This project is suitable for candidates with experience/interest in systematic review methodology. A degree in a health-related or numerical discipline is essential.

For more information on the primary supervisor for this project, please go here: https://people.uea.ac.uk/en/persons/l-hooper

For more information on the secondary supervisor for this project, please go here: https://people.uea.ac.uk/fujian_song

This is a PhD programme.

The start date of the project is January, April, July or October, 2020 or 2021. The application deadline in 31 May 2021. Applications are processed as soon as they are received and the project may be filled before the closing date, so early application is encouraged.

The mode of study is full-time. The studentship length is 3 years, with a 1-year registration period.

Entry requirements:

Acceptable first degree in Statistics, Health or Medicine, Mathematics.

The standard minimum entry requirement is 2:1.

Funding Notes

This PhD project is offered on a self-funding basis. It is open to applicants with funding or those applying to funding sources. Details of tuition fees can be found at View Website.

A bench fee may also payable on top of the tuition fee to cover specialist equipment or laboratory costs required for the research. The amount charged annually will vary considerably depending on the nature of the project and applicants should contact the primary supervisor for further information about the fee associated with the project.

References

1. Abdelhamid AS, Brown TJ, Brainard JS, Biswas P, Thorpe GC, Moore HJ, et al. Omega-3 fatty acids for the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018;11:CD003177.

2. Abdelhamid AS, Martin N, Bridges C, Brainard JS, Wang X, Brown TJ, et al. Polyunsaturated fatty acids for the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018;11:CD012345.

3. Hooper L, Al-Khudairy L, Abdelhamid AS, Rees K, Brainard JS, Brown TJ, et al. Omega-6 fats for the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018;11:CD011094.

4. Brown TJ, Brainard J, Song F, Wang X, Abdelhamid A, Hooper L. Omega-3, omega-6, and total dietary polyunsaturated fat for prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Br Med J. 2019;366:l4697.

5. Deane KHO, Jimoh OF, Biswas P, O'Brien AT, Hanson S, Abdelhamid A, et al. Omega-3, omega-6 and total polyunsaturated fat for prevention of depression and anxiety symptoms: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised trials. Br J Psychiatry. 2019:accepted 26Sept2019.

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