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Suicide crisis and self-harm attendance at A&E in autistic young people: a mixed method study

   Faculty of Health

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  Prof G A Hutcheon, Dr Pooja Saini  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Two Full-time PhD (via MPhil) studentships are available at Liverpool John Moores University, via the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Applied Research Collaboration North West Coast (ARC NWC). NIHR ARC NWC is one of 15 regional ARCS funded by the NIHR to bring together those needed to support research to improve health and care. Our vision is to address the considerable health inequalities across our region through the collaborative production and implementation of high-quality applied health research in our five themes. Research supported by the ARC NWC must be relevant to the needs of the diverse communities served by the NIHR ARC NWC and its local health and care system, and be generalisable across health and care nationally, as well as within the local health and care system where it is conducted. Our Doctoral Fellows are distributed across the themes and universities and are a crucial part of our Academic Career Development Strategy.

The supervisory teams have a broad range of expertise, and experience in successful supervision to PhD completion. Two from the 11 projects currently advertised will be funded, reference ARC1-11.

Suicide crisis and self-harm attendance at A&E in autistic young people: a mixed method study

Around 1 in 100 children and young people (CYP) in the UK are autistic. Autistic CYP are at an increased risk of developing mental health difficulties such as anxiety and depression. In particular, autistic CYP are at a higher risk of suicide than non-autistic CYP, and are more than four times as likely as their typical peers to be admitted to the hospital after harming themselves. However, whilst we know that there are higher rates of suicidal ideation and self-harm in autistic CYP, we do not currently understand why. There is also a lack of information on the common symptoms of mental health difficulties in autistic CYP, or how services in the North West support this group. This study aims to understand suicidal crisis and self-harm in autistic CYP, through two research strands. Firstly, an examination of Hospital Accident and Emergency (A&E) admissions will be conducted, both nationally and within the North West, to better understand the scale of the problem. Analyses will also be conducted to establish common factors that increase the likelihood of autistic CYP self-harming or experiencing crisis. Secondly, qualitative interviews will be carried out with autistic CYP who have accessed services for suicide/self-harm, as well as their carers, to understand their experiences of the care pathway. Interviews will also be conducted with A&E staff to explore how their knowledge of autism influences the care of CYP who arrive in crisis or with self-harm. The information collected can be used to inform the training of NHS staff who support autistic CYP in crisis, and will have the potential to influence the assessment and treatment of autistic CYP in A&E and in mental health services. This will help to ensure that autistic CYP’s needs are central in the prevention and treatment of self-harm and suicidal crisis.

Contact details: For more information please contact Dr Pooja Saini, Reader in Suicide and Self-Harm Prevention ([Email Address Removed])

Funding Notes

The full-time studentships are tenable up to 3 years full-time (subject to satisfactory progress) and will cover the cost of tuition fees at Home rates. A stipend in line with the UK Research Council is payable at £15609 per annum, and an additional Research Training Support Grant of up to £1000 per year will be paid for approved research costs.
Due to funding restrictions, the studentships are open to Home applicants only. It is expected the successful applicant (s) will commence on 1st February 2022.


Within their application, potential applicants must:
• Provide their CV
• Provide a cover letter that:
• states the title of the project they are applying for.
• includes a statement explaining why they would want to undertake postgraduate research in this specific area. Please contact the relevant supervisor for further details if required.
• demonstrates consideration of the HIAT toolkit for the proposed research project.
Applicants should have (or expect to have been formally awarded by 31st December 2021) at least a UK Bachelor honours degree at second class (upper division) level (or equivalent qualification) in a relevant discipline
Applicants must have completed and been awarded any current course of study by the proposed start date (before 1st February 2022) otherwise they will not be shortlisted.

Applicants require an English Language level of UKVI IELTS 6.5 (no sub-score less than 6.0) or acceptable UCLan equivalent qualification.
Further information
Completed applications consisting of a CV and cover letter should be returned by email to Prof. Gillian Hutcheon quoting the studentship reference number ARC10.
Fixed Interview Date: 7th December 2021
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