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Promoting trial participation in rural and coastal communities


   Peninsula Medical School

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  Dr Camille Carroll  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Background: The South West Peninsula of Devon and Cornwall comprises a population that is older than the national average and includes deprived rural and coastal communities, with various challenges that impact healthcare access and health research opportunity. The NIHR INCLUDE project identified people living in rural and remote areas as a group currently under-served by health research, characterised by lower inclusion in research, high healthcare burden that is not matched by research volume, poorer health outcomes and lower engagement with healthcare interventions. This population are included in other identified groups, such as people at age extremes and those experiencing digital exclusion/disadvantage.

Delivery of effective healthcare requires well-designed health research. Randomised trials are an essential element of healthcare research, requiring substantial resources. Delivering trials can be challenging in any setting, but becomes particularly difficult in rural and coastal settings. Covid-19 has seen the development of new models of care and research delivery utilising remote methodologies and digital technologies. The aim of this studentship is to explore the barriers and facilitators of trial participation in rural and coastal communities, and in particular the potential role of digital technologies in supporting engagement and inclusivity.

What the studentship will encompass: The studentship will encompass 3 work packages (WP 1-3). WP1 will involve an extension of an ongoing systematic review (being undertaken at University of Aberdeen’s Centre for Rural Health) of interventions that support trial recruitment in rural communities by extending this to include coastal communities as well as retention interventions. The student will also undertake an updated systematic review of digital interventions that support trial recruitment and retention. The findings from WP1 will inform the topic guide for WP2 and may identify interventions for WP3. In WP2 the student will undertake a qualitative study (comprising focus groups and semi-structured interviews) exploring engagement with healthcare and attitudes to clinical trial participation within rural and coastal communities, and the perceived barriers/facilitators highlighted by individuals, in particular any that intersect with key characteristics of rurality and/or coastal living such as geography and infrastructure. The study will complement similar work being undertaken in Aberdeen and allow for exploration of the cultural similarities and differences between these two rural/coastal communities in terms of developing interventions that might translate across localities, and where bespoke solutions may be needed. WP3 will comprise the identification, development and iteration an intervention to support trial participation in the target population, as well as the development of a protocol for evaluation in a SWAT.

This is a multi-disciplinary supervisory team. Director of Studies will be Dr Camille Carroll, Associate Professor Neurology, with a particular interest in neuroprotective trials in Parkinson’s disease, National Specialty Lead for Neurodegenerative Diseases for NIHR CRN, a steering group member of the INCLUDE project, and lead of the Remote Trial Delivery project for the CRN. Co-supervisors will be Dr Heidi Gardner, Research Fellow in Trials Methodology, with a particular interest in inclusivity in trials, co-lead of the TMRP Recruitment sub-group, and active member of the inclusivity sub-group, and Prof. Victoria Allgar who is Head of the Medical Statistics Group and Director of Peninsula Clinical Trials Unit (PenCTU).

The idea behind this project is based on the findings of NIHR’s INCLUDE project, which identified people living in remote and rural areas as a group currently under-served by health research, as well as the Remote Trial Delivery project which has identified methodologies which might help support geographical inclusivity. Both projects importantly included the participant voice. We will seek to continue this by having PPI presence on a project management group with PPI partners representing rural Aberdeenshire and coastal Peninsula, inputting into all stages of work package 1-3 design, delivery, evaluation and dissemination.

Candidates should have awareness of health research, and some understanding of rural/remote/coastal communities.

HOW TO APPLY

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:

http://www.methodologyhubs.mrc.ac.uk/about/tmrp-doctoral-training-partnership/

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]


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.
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