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PhD Studentship - Using intersectionality and behaviour change to enhance maternity care for Black women in the UK

Population and Health Sciences Institute

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Dr N Heslehurst No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Number of awards:

Start date and duration:
September 2020 for 3 years full time.

Racial maternal health inequalities in the UK are significant and widening: Black women have an over five-fold risk of dying in pregnancy or up to six weeks postpartum when compared to White women. They are also at an increased risk of preterm birth and having babies with low birth weight. These patterns of disproportionally poor health outcomes for Black women are also experienced by their children, with lifelong impacts. Taking action by enhancing health and social care (a social determinant of health) is key to reducing health inequalities. Pregnancy is a time of increased vulnerability but it is also an opportune time for primary prevention, as pregnancy is a transitional period where women usually have regular contact with healthcare providers and services. Although pregnancy is an ideal time to address Black women’s health and social care needs, research on interventions for culturally-appropriate maternity care is scarce.
This PhD project aims to develop culturally-appropriate, community-based maternity care pathways to address disproportionally poor maternal health outcomes for Black women in the UK. It will apply intersectionality and behaviour change theories to consider how identity categories (e.g. race and gender) and disadvantage interact with maternal health outcomes and how existing structural forces shape maternity services and perpetuate health inequalities. This will support development of an intervention to facilitate culturally-appropriate maternity care pathways that addresses the needs (e.g. preferences, access and/or utilisation of care) of Black women in the UK.

Newcastle University (

Name of supervisor(s):
Drs Nicola Heslehurst (, Ryc Aquino and Allison Farnworth.

Eligibility Criteria:
The successful applicant will have, or expect to obtain an upper second class or above in Behavioural or Social Science (or a cognate discipline). A Masters degree (Merit or above) or research experience is desirable but not essential.
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.

Non-UK candidates should contact [Email Address Removed] regarding eligibility and fees.

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 PH008 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 PH008 and state 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.

For further information please email Dr Ryc Aquino (mailto:[Email Address Removed]).

Funding Notes

100% of UK/EU tuition fees paid and annual living expenses at UKRI rate. Successful non-EU international students will be required to make up the difference between the UK/EU fees and international fees. 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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