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Harm reduction approaches to improve health outcomes for severely disadvantaged groups

   Faculty of Medicine and Health Science

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  Dr C Notley  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Groups in society who suffer the most severe social and economic disadvantage, such as those experiencing unstable housing, food insecurity and migrant populations, are known to have the worst health outcomes. This PhD will scope the available research evidence and UK service provision to determine harm reduction approaches targeted at the most vulnerable groups in our society and identify sub-populations in need of further support and intervention. A qualitative study will work with PPi informants and utilise purposive targeted sampling to explore the needs, issues, concerns and aspirations of a defined sub-population. This will seek to understand lived experience and health outcomes from an insider perspective, and what, how and why different approaches (such as direct provision of nicotine substitutes for those who smoke) could support positive health behaviour change. The project will culminate with the development of a grounded or theory-based intervention. There is considerable scope to shape and develop the project, particularly the focus of the targeted sub-population and the qualitative methodological component. 

The successful candidate will work as part of a team, in conjunction with the Norwich Medical School and the School of Health Sciences. The team have internationally recognised expertise in smoking cessation, cancer prevention and harm reduction. Based within the Addiction Research Group at the University of East Anglia, with a wide range of advanced methodological addiction focused research expertise. There will be opportunities for training and development, with flexibility dependent on existing skills and experience. The PhD is offered on either a full or part time basis. We are seeking a student with a good first degree (at least 2:1) and preferably a Masters in a related topic area (e.g. public health, social science, 3rd sector expertise) or equivalent research experience.  

Funding Notes

This PhD project is a Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences competition for funded studentships. The studentships are funded for 3 years and comprise UK tuition fees, an annual stipend of £15,609 (2021/22 rate) and £1,000 per annum to support research training. International applicants (including EU) may apply but are required to fund the difference between UK and International tuition fees (details of tuition fees can be found on our website


Naughton, F., Ward, E., Khondoker, M., Belderson, P., Minihane, AM., Dainty, J., Hanson, S., Holland, R., Brown, T., Notley, C. (2020) Health behaviour change during the UK COVID-19 lockdown: findings from the first wave of the C-19 health behaviour and wellbeing daily tracker study British Journal of Health Psychology
Thirlway, F, McNeill, A, Bauld, L & Notley, C (2018) Tobacco smoking and vulnerable groups: overcoming the barriers to harm reduction. Addictive Behaviours. 11/2018 DOI: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2018.10.016
Hartmann-Boyce J, McRobbie H, Lindson N, Bullen C, Begh R, Theodoulou A, Notley C, Rigotti NA, Turner T, Butler AR, Hajek P. Electronic cigarettes for smoking cessation. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2020, Issue 10. Art. No.: CD010216. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD010216.pub4
Clark, E, Berger Gillam, T, Player, E, Hanson, S & Steel, N. (2020) Evaluating a specialist primary care service for homeless patients: a qualitative study. BJGP Open.
Hanson, S., Gilbert, D., Landy, R., Okoli, G. & Guell, C. (2019). Cancer, risk and decision making in vulnerable women: an exploratory study. Social Science and Medicine, 220, 150-158
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