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PhD Studentship - Ageing with multiple long-term conditions: A study of disadvantaged women in rural, coastal and urban north east

Population and Health Sciences Institute

Prof Avan Sayer Thursday, May 20, 2021 Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Number of awards


Start date and duration

September 2021, 3 years full time.


As we live longer, more and more people are spending their later years with a number of health conditions. Health and care systems have evolved to support older people with complex problems, but they were not designed for people with multiple long-term conditions.* Older people find themselves having to navigate multiple appointments with different services, placing a burden on families and adversely affecting quality of life. Decision-makers have recognised the need to move away from a single disease-based model of care, to optimise support for people with multiple conditions, and manage the demands on existing services. However, research evidence to inform service or system re-design is limited. This doctorate seeks to address a key gap in our knowledge, with a focus on a population where multiple long-term conditions are most common – older women in areas of socioeconomic disadvantage. Women in the poorest areas of England can expect to live almost 19 fewer years in good health, compared to women living in the most affluent areas, and this inequality continues to grow.

Using mixed-methods or qualitative approaches, the student will seek to understand the experiences and perceptions of disadvantaged older women with multiple long-term conditions in three contrasting areas of the north east (rural, coastal and urban).

(*Multiple long-term conditions, or multimorbidity is the term applied when a person has two or more health conditions)


Newcastle University, via the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) North East and North Cumbria (NENC) and the NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre (BRC).

NIHR ARC NENC is one of 15 regional ARCS funded by the National Institute for Health research (NIHR) to bring together those needed to support research to improve health and care. Our vision is to deliver ‘better, fairer health and care at all ages and in all places’ through collaborative production and implementation of high quality applied health research in our seven themes (see Our doctoral fellows are distributed across themes and universities according to the topic and required supervision. They are a crucial part of our ARC capacity building strategy.

The NIHR Newcastle BRC is one of 20 NIHR-funded BRCs in England. It is a partnership between Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Newcastle University, and the only BRC in the country to focus on the conversion of lab-based research around ageing and long-term conditions into practical and meaningful benefits for patients, the public and the health and care system.

Name of supervisor(s)

Professors Avan Sayer / Miles Witham (BRC)

Professors Katie Brittain/ Barbara Hanratty (ARC) and ARC Senior Research Associate

Eligibility Criteria

The successful applicant will have, or expect to obtain, a Masters degree (Merit or above) and an undergraduate bachelor’s degree (2:1 or first class honours) in a health or social care related discipline. At least one of the degrees (i.e. batchelors or Masters) should include a substantial quantitative component If your first language is not English you need an overall IELTS score of 6.5 (at least 5.5 in all sub-skills) or equivalent language qualification.

This award is only open to home (UK) students.

How to apply

You must apply through the University’s online postgraduate application system by creating an account. To do this please select ‘How to Apply’ and choose the ‘Apply now’ button.

All relevant fields should be completed, but fields marked with a red asterisk must be completed. The following information will help us to process your application. You should:

  • click on programme of study
  • insert 8300F in the programme code section and click search
  • select Programme name ‘PhD in the Faculty of Medical Sciences (full time) – Health Services Research’
  • insert PH022 in the studentship/partnership reference field
  • attach a covering letter and CV. The covering letter must state the title of the studentship. Please quote reference code PH022 and state in the covering letter how your interests and experience relate to the proposed project
  • attach degree transcripts* and certificates and, if English is not your first language, a copy of your English language qualification.

*You will not be able to submit your application until you have submitted your degree transcript/s.

Funding Notes

100% of home tuition fees paid and annual living expenses at UKRI rate (currently £15,609 per year). This award is only open to home (UK) students. A research training support grant of £5000 per year is available to cover research costs and local/national/international travel (conferences and exchanges).

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