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  Making it easier for trial teams to design inclusive trials

   School of Medicine, Medical Sciences & Nutrition

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  Prof S Treweek, Dr Heidi Gardner, Dr Victoria Shepherd, Dr Fran Sherratt  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The results of randomised trials will not have their full impact if part of the community with the illness or condition targeted is ignored or forgotten. Unfortunately, this is often the case for some groups in society, including those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, older people, the very young, ethnic minority groups and those with cognitive impairments. 

We have developed a tool called the INCLUDE Ethnicity Framework, which helps trial teams to think about how their design decisions might make it easy or difficult for some ethnic groups to take part. Feedback so far has been positive. Through the TMRP Inclusivity Subgroup we are also developing frameworks to support inclusion of people who lack capacity to consent and people who are socio-economically disadvantaged. Others are planned. The growing number of frameworks immediately presents a problem: trialists are in danger of being overwhelmed by a plethora of frameworks.

This PhD is focused on reducing that danger by considering overlaps between frameworks (i.e. intersectionality) and giving trial teams an efficient way to navigate their way through the frameworks, and to offer solutions to challenges identified by using the frameworks. 

What the studentship will encompass:

1.   Summarise the literature on intersectionality, focusing on trials. This may be a review of reviews depending on the existing literature.

2.   Look across the existing INCLUDE frameworks (at least three but probably more by PhD start) for where they tap into the same challenge across groups (intersectionality). Doing this will also identify challenges unique to the particular groups. The literature review of #1 will provide initial ideas for where to focus attention. 

3.   From #2, develop new versions of the frameworks. This is likely to both change the frameworks and require a rethink of the way they are used by trialists.

4.   From #3, develop a way to help trial teams to navigate their way through the frameworks for their given trial population. In other words, which frameworks, or parts of frameworks, are essential for their trial and which can they ignore? We anticipate that this will be implemented via a web-interface, with support from professional IT staff.  

5.   Develop resource packs to support trialists to address challenges identified by their use of the frameworks identified in #4. This will chiefly (but not only) package existing materials from work done by Trial Forge, the TMRP, the HRB-Trial Methodology Research Network and others. Some qualitative work with stakeholders is envisaged to match challenges to feasible solutions, especially where existing evidence on effects is thin.

Primary supervision will be by Prof Treweek. Co-supervision will be provided by Dr Heidi Gardner (Aberdeen), Dr Vicky Shepherd (Cardiff) and Dr Fran Sherratt (Liverpool). 

All of the work will be done together with trial stakeholders, most importantly people from the groups targeted by the frameworks. Individuals will be identified by e.g. the TMRP Inclusivity

Candidates should hold a good (1st or 2:1) bachelors or masters level degree in a health-related subject.


You are applying for a PhD studentship from the MRC TMRP DTP. A list of potential projects and the application form is available online at:

Please complete the form fully. Incomplete forms will not be considered. CVs will not be accepted for this scheme.

Please apply giving details for your first choice project. You can provide details of up to two other TMRP DTP projects you may be interested in at section B of the application form.

Before making an application, applicants should contact the project primary supervisor to find out more about the project and to discuss their interests in the research.

The deadline for applications is 4pm (GMT) 18 February 2022. Late applications will not be considered.

Completed application forms must be returned to: [Email Address Removed]

Informal enquiries may be made to [Email Address Removed]

Mathematics (25) Medicine (26)

Funding Notes

Studentships are funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC) for 3 years. Funding will cover tuition fees at the UK rate only, a Research Training and Support Grant (RTSG) and stipend (stipend to include London Weighting where appropriate). We aim to support the most outstanding applicants from outside the UK and are able to offer a limited number of bursaries that will enable full studentships to be awarded to international applicants. These full studentships will only be awarded to exceptional quality candidates, due to the competitive nature of this scheme.

Where will I study?