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Older Adults, Pain, and Dementia: how do older adults with and without a dementia diagnosis experience and report pain?

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Applications are invited for a PhD research student on a project investigating pain experiences in older adults. Older adults are more prone to experiencing pain (Satghare et al., 2016), and also make up approximately 20% of our society (ONS, 2017), but there is minimal research conducted in this area.

This project will initially aim to look at how healthy adults experience pain and engage with older adult services such as support groups and GP appointments. As the project develops, the student will then focus on how pain is experienced in those with a degenerative disease and/or communication impairments such as dementia. Individuals living with dementia frequently experience pain, but there is limited research conducted on how the pain is expressed, interpreted, and why there is limited access to analgesics at present. The research team will explore this further by collaborating with external companies and charities, and the research will be conducted in a range of settings (e.g. at home and in a residential care setting).

Your primary supervisor will be Dr Rhiannon Edwards ( whose research focuses on pain experiences in older adults, including those living with dementia. Rhiannon has experience of working with older adults, and has good working relationships with external companies and charities.

The University of Buckingham is currently active on research projects covering a wide range of topics within Health Psychology. We collaborate on projects and activities with other universities and organisations, both in the UK and abroad. You would join the Centre for Health and Relationships (CHR) Research Hub; a thriving research hub focusing upon research in five core areas: Pain, Social Support, Sexual & Reproductive Health, Spinal Cord Injury, and Health in Vulnerable Populations. (

With regards to entry requirements, the candidate should be enthusiastic about the research area and have excellent written and oral communication skills along with experience of qualitative and quantitative methodologies. PhD applicants must have achieved a 2:1 or above in a BPS-accredited Psychology degree, or international equivalent (including at least a 2:1 in the dissertation). Candidates are expected to also hold or be reaching the completion of an MSc degree (or equivalent) although this may be waived in the case of an exceptional applicant.

Funding Notes

Candidates would need to be self-funded, but Rhiannon is happy to work with prospective PhD students to apply for external funding. For suitable students, there may be paid teaching opportunities.


Applicants for this opportunity should upload a single document including a covering letter and brief CV, outlining (a) how their previous experience supports their application to pursue a PhD in Psychology and (b) how their experience/interests suit them for this particular study. The names of two academic referees should be included, but would only be approached in the event that the applicant was shortlisted. Please refer to the code: PHD-OLDER ADULTS-PAIN in your application.

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