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Preparing and supporting young people with asthma to engage in their healthcare and self-manage into adulthood: a multiple methods study

Faculty of Medicine and Health

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Dr L Milnes No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Young people aged 18-29yrs have the worst asthma outcomes compared to other age ranges, with two thirds not receiving recommended basic care (Asthma UK 2019). Those with worse outcomes are often from low income, deprived populations (Asthma UK 2018). Young adults are known to have a high risk of disengagement from regular clinic reviews when they transition to adult care (Lewis et al 2013). Patients who are more activated and engaged with their health and care are more likely to have improved health outcomes (Greene & Hibbard et al 2012). Patient activation relates to the level of skills, knowledge and confidence a patient has to help them self-manage and engage in their own health and care (Greene & Hibbard et al 2012). Understanding how to prepare young people with asthma and maintain their engagement into young adulthood could improve asthma outcomes in this population. Therefore the overall aim of this study is to develop a theory and evidence based framework of support that prepares younger adolescents (14-16 yrs), emerging (16-24yrs) and young adults (24yrs–29yrs) for successful engagement in their asthma related health and health care.

The study will use mixed methods with young people with asthma and potentially their parents/carers. The current peer reviewed proposal consists of three phases: In the first phase, a literature review will establish mechanisms by which young people/adults with asthma have been successfully engaged and prepared to manage their own health and healthcare. In phase two a survey using the Patient Activation Measure for Adolescents (PAM-13) will be considered to assess activation levels for self-management pre and post transition. Finally qualitative face to face interviews with young people and potentially parents/carers/healthcare professionals will be conducted. There will be opportunity to review and develop this proposal as the PhD progresses. 

Young people (aged 14-29 yrs) will be consulted throughout this study regarding the research methods, outputs and dissemination. 


Supervisors are both academic and clinical, and have strong track records in hosting and supervising clinical-academic post-graduate projects, research and publishing.


Leeds University/Leeds Teaching Hospitals (LTH) joined the Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research as a full member organisation in 2018. The studentship will be based in the School of Healthcare, University of Leeds.

The Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research ( is a virtual centre comprising a network of Universities across the UK, led by the University of Edinburgh and Queen Mary University of London. Our vision, aligned with that of Asthma UK, is a world where asthma attacks do not happen. Our research focuses on developing, testing and implementing interventions which have the potential to achieve substantial, sustained reductions in asthma morbidity and mortality.

The AUKCAR Postgraduate Training Programme ( aims to enrol the most exceptional candidates and nurture them to become the next generation of leaders in world-class applied asthma research. A key feature of these studentships is the opportunity to be part of a UK-wide Centre offering unsurpassed networking opportunities with leading UK applied asthma researchers. Students will be based in a ‘home’ University (in this case Leeds) but will have at least one supervisor from an AUKCAR partner institution.


You should hold a first degree equivalent to at least a UK upper second class honours degree in a relevant discipline. This project would suit someone with a strong background in child and/or adolescent health, healthcare and/or psychology.

The minimum requirements for candidates whose first language is not English are::

• British Council IELTS - score of 6.5 overall, with no element less than 6.0

• TOEFL iBT - overall score of 92 with the listening and reading element no less than 21, writing element no less than 22 and the speaking element no less than 23.

How to apply

To apply for this project applicants should complete a Faculty Scholarship Application Form and send this alongside a full academic CV, degree certificates and transcripts (or marks so far if still studying) to the Faculty Graduate School [Email Address Removed]

We also require 2 academic references to support your application. Please ask your referees to send these references on your behalf, directly to [Email Address Removed] by no later than Thursday 25 February 2021.

For further information about the application process please contact the Graduate School - [Email Address Removed]

For full information about this PhD studentship, please see the Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research website

Funding Notes

This scholarship will attract an annual tax-free stipend of £15,285 for up to 3 years, subject to satisfactory progress and will cover the UK/EU tuition fees. This project is funded by the School of Healthcare, University of Leeds, in partnership with the Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research


Asthma UK (2018) The Reality of Asthma Care in the UK. Annual Asthma Survey 2018 Report. Available

Asthma UK (2019) The Great Asthma Divide. Annual Asthma Survey 2019 Report. Available

Greene, J., & Hibbard, J. H. (2012). Why does patient activation matter? An examination of the relationships between patient activation and health-related outcomes. Journal of general internal medicine, 27(5), 520–526. 

Lewis, S.A., Noyes, J. (2013) Effective process or dangerous precipice: qualitative comparative embedded case study with young people with epilepsy and their parents during transition from children’s to adult services. BMC Pediatr 13, 169.

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