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The role of parents in reducing the transmission of infectious diseases in schools.

Project Description

Certain infectious diseases, including flu, diarrhoea and vomiting, spread readily among school children. To combat this, Public Health England has produced recommendations about the length of time children should be kept off school when sick. Unfortunately, these recommendations are often not followed: evidence suggests that one in six parents in England would send their child to school even if they had diarrhoea and vomiting. In this PhD, we will use interviews and focus groups with parents to understand why sick children are sent to school, and what can be done to discourage this.

We will then develop new advice for parents which we hope will increase the chances of parents keeping their children out of school when sick. To test this, we will recruit a large group of parents, and ask each parent to read either our new advice or existing messages about sickness in school children. They will then be asked to imagine that their child wakes up tomorrow with diarrhoea and to say whether they would be likely to send them to school or not. Reducing the number who would send their child to school by even a small percentage could have important public health benefits.

This exciting new project is a partnership between psychologists at King’s College London and public health experts at Public Health England, and will be based in the NIHR Health Protection Research Unit in Emergency Preparedness and Response. It will provide the student with experience of how to apply psychological theories to pressing public health problems, and allow them to benefit from supervision from both expert academics and public health practitioners.

Start date: 1st October 2019

Funding Notes

Applicants should have a Bachelors degree with 2:1 honours (or Overseas equivalent). A 2:2 degree may be considered only where applicants also offer a Masters with Merit.

The award covers tuition fees (Home/EU), stipend and research costs. Applicants must meet the ESRC eligibility guidelines in terms of UK/EU residency status and academic qualifications, specifically core social science research methods training that must already have been undertaken if the ‘+3’ award is being requested.


For more information about the LISS-DTP and this PhD scheme please visit the website:

For more information on the application process, please visit the IoPPN website:

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