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Which symptoms bother which people the most? Understanding the bothersomeness of common potential cancer symptoms as a prompt to GP-help seeking (Distance Learning Project - Unfunded)

School of Medicine, Medical Sciences & Nutrition

About the Project

Potential cancer symptoms are highly prevalent in the community. Research with people who have been diagnosed with cancer demonstrates that some have responded quickly to symptoms, whilst others have delayed help-seeking. In those who delay help-seeking more advanced disease at diagnosis and less chance of successful treatment can be the result. It appears that the impact a symptom has on a person’s day to day life (it’s bothersomeness) is a powerful prompt to GP-help seeking. However, we do not currently understand why the same symptom can bother some people more than others. If we could, we could develop psychological interventions to promote reflection and help-seeking for those least bothered by potentially important symptoms.

In this distance-learning PhD the student will work with a Health Psychologist and GP to better understand which symptoms bother which people the most. The project has three stages: 1 The student will analyse a dataset (the USEFUL dataset) comprising data from 18,000 UK adults aged over 50 who have provided information on their symptom experiences over a 12 month period. The analysis will focus on understanding the personal characteristics of people who are most and least bothered by 25 different potential cancer symptoms. 2 The student will conduct a systematic review of symptom-bothersomeness as a prompt to help-seeking and develop a theoretical model of promoting awareness against a background of low-bothersomeness. 3. The student will plan a theoretical behavioural intervention aimed at prompting appropriate help-seeking for low-impact but potentially worrying symptoms. The student will interact with potential recipients of the intervention in digital focus groups to refine the proposed intervention.

This project is advertised in relation to the research areas of APPLIED HEALTH SCIENCE. Formal applications can be completed online: You should apply for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Applied Health Science (Distance Learning), to ensure that your application is passed to the correct person for processing.


Funding Notes

This is an unfunded project.

Candidates should have (or expect to achieve) a minimum of a 2.1 Honours degree in a relevant subject. Applicants with a minimum of a 2.2 Honours degree may be considered provided they have a Merit/Commendation/Distinction at Masters level.

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