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Vaccination in older adults: understanding how to do it better and knowing when to stop

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Tuesday, April 14, 2020
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

We have an aging population in the UK. This means that we need to focus on preventing disease by keeping older people fit and well, which will also help take pressure off healthcare services. One way of preventing disease is vaccination. Three vaccines are currently offered to people aged 65+ in the UK, against flu, shingles and pneumococcal disease. More vaccines are being developed. Decision making around which vaccines are offered to the public rely on understanding how infections spread and the benefits that could be gained by preventing disease. Policies must also take into account current uses of and attitudes to vaccination. However, better evidence is needed for older adults.

A new NIHR-funded research project aims to improve the health of older adults through producing better evidence to influence vaccine decisions and designing a method for reassessing vaccine strategies. We are employing a Research Support Assistant to support the study. The successful applicant for the Research Support Assistant post is eligible to apply for this PhD studentship. The PhD research will be embedded within the research project and conducted alongside the Research Support Assistant post. The student will develop the PhD study with support from the project team.

Plan of investigation
The research is divided into five areas of work:
(1) analysing GP records to assess vaccine uptake in older people and factors affecting uptake rate
(2) qualitative interviews with older people to investigate why people get vaccinated or not and find out how they feel about other ways they could be protected by vaccinations (for example other people they meet being vaccinated)
(3) undertaking a population contact survey to ask older adults about who they come into contact with to understand how infection can be spread
(4) undertaking quality of life surveys in older adults in those who have had a disease that could have been prevented through vaccination, so that we can better understand the benefits of vaccination and
(5) developing a guideline for reassessing, including stopping, vaccine programmes.

The findings of the research can be used to improve vaccine uptake and modify vaccine strategies in older
adults, reducing ill health (and the requirement of antibiotics to treat infectious disease), pressures on healthcare services and allow scarce resources to be spent in the best possible way. Ultimately the impact of this research will be the improvement of health in older adults through improved decision making around the use of vaccines in this age group.

We are looking to recruit an enthusiastic and talented PhD student to work with Dr Hannah Christensen at the University of Bristol. The studentship will provide training in quantitative and qualitative research methods. You will be based within Population Health Sciences at the University of Bristol, a leading centre for excellence in population health science. The successful candidate will have access to an excellent training portfolio of short courses and transferable skills training. The role will include working away from Bristol undertaking interviews and focus groups across the UK during data collection period; applicants are referred to the job advertisement. Potential applicants are encouraged to email Dr Hannah Christensen for more information or to arrange to discuss the post.

For further details please see our full advert on our Department of Population Health Science home page.

How to apply:

Please make an online application for the Research Support Assistant post at . The successful applicant will apply for the PhD studentship after selection.

Candidate requirements:

Academically, candidates for the PhD may qualify for admission if they have: a Master’s degree; an Honours degree, or a 4-year Bachelor’s degree, The PhD candidate will ideally have a background in applied health research or another relevant (social science or medical) discipline.

Interested and suitably qualified candidates should make informal contact with . The project is available to start immediately.

Funding Notes

This is a fully-funded PhD Scholarship which includes all tuition fees. As the Research Support Assistant, the student will receive a salary. The budget includes consumable costs to cover project expenses directly incurred as a part of the research and a small training and conference budget.

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