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Enhancing emergency preparedness exercises to improve healthcare preparedness and response.

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  Dr Gabriel Reedy  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Health emergency preparedness exercises (HEPEs) are important part of emergency preparedness activities for healthcare community. HEPEs offer an opportunity for learning at individual, group, and organisational levels but evidence indicates a greater focus on organisational learning. Much less attention given to learning of individual participants. Individual learning outcomes are limited to improvements in knowledge, skills, and attitudes pre- to post-exercise, and little attention is given to the retention or transfer of learning from EPEs into practices and emergency responses. Due to the rare and unpredictable nature of major incidents, it is difficult to evaluate the impact of EPEs on real incident response, as it is challenging to capture any individual as well as organisational changes in behaviours resulting from learning. Furthermore, evidence focusses on what, not how, people learn from exercises and heterogeneity of exercise design, delivery, and evaluation makes it difficult to understand how successful exercise outcomes are achieved.

The aim of this study is to further understand the nature of learning in health emergency preparedness exercises, in order to enhance the impact of exercises on healthcare response in a major incident.

Study objectives:

  • To understand how HEPE’s design and delivery can enhance individual participants understanding and recall of emergency preparedness concepts and processes, including longitudinal knowledge recall and knowledge decay, to contribute to the theoretical understanding of retention of learning from HEPEs, and to generate evidence to inform training intervals.
  • To review objective measures of exercises’ impact and, as necessary, develop tools to measure the impact of HEPE both on individuals’ (and organisations’) emergency preparedness and, as possible, response in a real incident.

The funding for this PhD is provided by the National Institutes of Health Research Health Protection Research Unit on Emergency Preparedness and Response at King’s College London, and King’s College London. Funding is benchmarked at support for UK home tuition fees and an appropriate stipend.

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Protection Research Unit (HPRU) in Emergency Preparedness and Response is a partnership between King’s College London, UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and the University of East Anglia. The Unit was set up on 1 April 2014 and following two rounds of renewal. It is funded until 31 March 2025. To date we have received core funding of over £8 million from the NIHR. We are one of thirteen HPRUs funded by NIHR. (link:

The studentship will commence in October 2022.

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