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  Integrating More Individualised Estimates of Costs and Effects in Economic Evaluations in Healthcare

   Department of Surgery and Cancer

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  Dr Joel Smith  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

An opportunity has arisen for a 3-year PhD studentship within the Department of Surgery and Cancer at Imperial College London funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). 

Project Description

Experimental designs in clinical and health economic research are commonly focused upon demonstrating that a particular treatment is better on average than an alternative treatment. The reporting of an average treatment effect is typical of this literature. Yet treatment response for some patients will differ markedly from the average. Observed characteristics at a patient level, such as age, sex, ethnicity and severity of disease, may all determine a patient’s response to treatment as well as influencing their cost of care. Identifying baseline covariates in which treatment response may differ markedly from the population average treatment effect is of central interest to policy makers, reimbursement agencies as well as informing clinical decision making in an age of precision medicine. Recent innovations in healthcare have provided greater opportunities for clinical decision-making through the tailoring of treatment towards individual patients. This process of personalisation of care, moving from an average to an individual patient, for clinical outcomes remains elusive in the economic evidence used to support decision-making for the adoption of new innovations across healthcare system. The disconnect between economic outcomes and the information required by clinicians, patients and policymakers can be mitigated by deriving more individualised cost-effectiveness results for use in healthcare. 

This PhD will apply advanced econometric and big data methods for heterogeneous treatment effects to generate economic results that move beyond simple averages of costs and health outcomes. The different candidate methods will be evaluated at specific stages relevant to all healthcare innovations, reflecting key challenges in the life-cycle of economic evidence. This will include the i) Early-phase evaluation of novel therapeutics where important clinical and economic information may be imprecise, missing or undefined; and ii) Late-stage evaluation where decision-makers are required to make a choice among alternatives based on the best available clinical and economic evidence at that point in time. The PhD will also extend on the results from the early and late-stage evaluation by accommodating patient heterogeneity into distributional cost-effectiveness analysis across multiple outcomes of interest to reduce existing health inequalities. Project design, analysis and dissemination strategies will be co-produced with the Office of Health Economics, a UK-based registered charity and independent research organisation in global health economics. By partnering with the Office of Health Economics, there will be distinct opportunities for disseminating and contextualising research results into global health systems from different stakeholder perspectives, including clinical, policy and industry assessments. This will also be supported through mentoring activities within the Office of Health Economics during the PhD through access to experts in value-based pricing, stratified healthcare, innovation and decision-making in healthcare. 


Candidates should hold, or have achieved by the start of the studentship, a Master’s degree in Economics or related discipline in addition to a first or upper-second class honours degree in Economics (or relevant quantitative subject). Prior programming experience in R and/or Python would be desirable but not essential.     

Further details about this PhD research programme can be found on the LISS DTP website. Successful candidates are expected to start their studentship on 1st October 2024. 

The studentship award includes full funding for tuition fees at the Home rate for the 3-year PhD duration as well as a stipend of £20,622 per annum (£10,311 per annum for part-time applicants).  

This studentship is only available to candidates who are eligible for home tuition fee status. Applicants from overseas will be considered if they are able to cover the studentship costs.  

Applicants should submit their CV and a covering letter, including full contact details of two referees, to Dr Joel Smith ([Email Address Removed]). 

The closing date for applications is 11:59pm on 11th March 2024. 

Imperial College London is committed to equality of opportunity, to eliminating discrimination and to creating an inclusive working environment. 

Economics (10) Mathematics (25) Nursing & Health (27)

 About the Project