Improving the quality of life for people living with a stoma: the interplay between food choices and sensor technology.

Summary

This PhD will support a cross-disciplinary collaborative project, funded by the Medical Research Council, focused on improving quality of life of people living with a stoma. The UK expenditure on stoma pouches is approximately £350M p.a. with a third of this required for accessories to aid management and minimise the risk of leakage. Every stoma patient will experience a leak from their disposable pouch and for many, it can be almost impossible to predict when such events will occur. The possibility of leakage is recognised as a prime contributor to patient anxiety and when occurring in public, it can cause immense distress, especially in those who experience leaks frequently. The food choices of people living with leaking stoma pouches may also contribute to this issue. The composition of a person’s diet may directly effect peristomal skin irritation, exacerbating epidermal skin inflammation making it difficult for the stoma pouch to adhere and helping to sustain the problem. We have developed sensor technology to help combat this issue.

The project will validate an effective leak sensor, which coupled with a better understanding of the impact of food choices on stoma leakage, could help transform the confidence of those suffering from more frequent leakage and meaningfully improve their quality of life.

The main objectives of this PhD research will be met using a range of research methods, to:

a)systematically review the evidence on nutritional management and technological advances of stoma care;

b)utilise public and patient involvement to design the research;

c)obtain ethical approval for clinical trial(s)

d)recruit individuals living with a stoma and maintain a recruitment database;

e)conduct clinical trial(s) to test the novel leak sensor technology and analyse mixed-methods data, including food/nutrient intakes.

The PhD researcher appointed to the project will be given every opportunity to maximise on training by participating in relevant workshops, specialist skills sessions, relevant online courses, PhD researcher initiatives and personal development activities organised by the Doctoral College. In addition, the researcher will be expected and strongly encouraged to prepare and present their research findings when appropriate at national and international conferences.

Please note: Applications for more than one PhD studentship are welcome, however if you apply for more than one PhD project within Biomedical Sciences, your first application on the system will be deemed your first-choice preference and further applications will be ordered based on the sequential time of submission. If you are successfully shortlisted, you will be interviewed only on your first-choice application and ranked accordingly. Those ranked highest will be offered a PhD studentship. In the situation where you are ranked highly and your first-choice project is already allocated to someone who was ranked higher than you, you may be offered your 2nd or 3rd choice project depending on the availability of this project.

AccessNI clearance required

Please note, the successful candidate will be required to obtain AccessNI clearance prior to registration due to the nature of the project.

Essential criteria

Applicants should hold, or expect to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class Honours Degree in a subject relevant to the proposed area of study.

We may also consider applications from those who hold equivalent qualifications, for example, a Lower Second Class Honours Degree plus a Master’s Degree with Distinction.

In exceptional circumstances, the University may consider a portfolio of evidence from applicants who have appropriate professional experience which is equivalent to the learning outcomes of an Honours degree in lieu of academic qualifications.

  • Sound understanding of subject area as evidenced by a comprehensive research proposal
  • Clearly defined research proposal detailing background, research questions, aims and methodology

Desirable Criteria

If the University receives a large number of applicants for the project, the following desirable criteria may be applied to shortlist applicants for interview.

  • Completion of Masters at a level equivalent to commendation or distinction at Ulster
  • Experience using research methods or other approaches relevant to the subject domain
  • Work experience relevant to the proposed project
  • Publications record appropriate to career stage
  • Experience of presentation of research findings
  • A comprehensive and articulate personal statement
  • Relevant professional qualification and/or a Degree in a Health or Health related area

Funding and eligibility

The University offers the following levels of support:

Vice Chancellors Research Studentship (VCRS)

Full award (full-time PhD fees + DfE level of maintenance grant + RTSG for 3 years).

This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees and provide the recipient with £18,000 (tbc) maintenance grant per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance).

This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

Applicants who already hold a doctoral degree or who have been registered on a programme of research leading to the award of a doctoral degree on a full-time basis for more than one year (or part-time equivalent) are NOT eligible to apply for an award.

Applicants who already hold a doctoral degree or who have been registered on a programme of research leading to the award of a doctoral degree on a full-time basis for more than one year (or part-time equivalent) are NOT eligible to apply for an award.

Vice-Chancellor’s Research Bursary (VCRB)

Part award (full-time PhD fees + 50% DfE level of maintenance grant + RTSG for 3 years).

This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees and provide the recipient with £8,000 maintenance grant per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

Applicants who already hold a doctoral degree or who have been registered on a programme of research leading to the award of a doctoral degree on a full-time basis for more than one year (or part-time equivalent) are NOT eligible to apply for an award.

Vice-Chancellor’s Research Fees Bursary (VCRFB)

Fees only award (PhD fees + RTSG for 3 years).

This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

Applicants who already hold a doctoral degree or who have been registered on a programme of research leading to the award of a doctoral degree on a full-time basis for more than one year (or part-time equivalent) are NOT eligible to apply for an award.

Department for the Economy (DFE)

The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £18,000 (tbc) per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance).

This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

  • Candidates with pre-settled or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, who also satisfy a three year residency requirement in the UK prior to the start of the course for which a Studentship is held MAY receive a Studentship covering fees and maintenance.
  • Republic of Ireland (ROI) nationals who satisfy three years’ residency in the UK prior to the start of the course MAY receive a Studentship covering fees and maintenance (ROI nationals don’t need to have pre-settled or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme to qualify).
  • Other non-ROI EU applicants are ‘International’ are not eligible for this source of funding.
  • Applicants who already hold a doctoral degree or who have been registered on a programme of research leading to the award of a doctoral degree on a full-time basis for more than one year (or part-time equivalent) are NOT eligible to apply for an award.

Due consideration should be given to financing your studies. Further information on cost of living

Recommended reading

1) Down G, Vestergaard M, Ajslev TA, Boisen EB, Nielsen LF. Perception of leakage: data from the Ostomy Life Study 2019. Br J Nurs. 2021 Dec 9;30(22):S4-S12. doi: 10.12968/bjon.2021.30.22.

2) Krogsgaard M, Kristensen HØ, Furnée EJB, Verkuijl SJ, Rama NJ, Domingos H, Maciel J, Solis-Peña A, Espín-Basany E, Hidalgo-Pujol M, Biondo S, Sjövall A, Emmertsen KJ, Thyø A, Christensen P. Life with a stoma across five European countries-a cross-sectional study on long-term rectal cancer survivors. Support Care Cancer. 2022 Nov;30(11):8969-8979. doi: 10.1007/s00520-022-07293-y.

3) Osborne W, White M, Aibibula M, Boisen EB, Ainsworth R, Vestergaard M. Prevalence of leakage and its negative impact on quality of life in people living with a stoma in the UK. Br J Nurs. 2022 Sep 8;31(16):S24-S38. doi: 10.12968/bjon.2022.31.16.S24.

4) Simpson EE, Pourshahidi LK, Davis J, Slevin M,,Lawther R, O’Connor G, Porrett T, Marley J, Gill CIR. Living with and without an intestinal stoma: factors that promote psychological well-being and self-care. Nursing Open (under review).

5) McLister A, Casimero C, McConville A, Taylor CM, Lawrence CL, Smith RB, Mathur A,  Davis J. Design of a smart sensor mesh for the measurement of pH in ostomy applications. Journal of Materials Science, 2019, 54, 10410-10419

6) Hegarty C, McKillop S, McGlynn RJ, Smith RB, Mathur A, Davis J. Microneedle array sensors based on carbon nanoparticle composites: interfacial chemistry and electroanalytical properties, Journal of Materials Science,  2019, 54, 10705-10714

The Doctoral College at Ulster University

Key dates

Submission deadline
Monday 27 February 2023
04:00PM

Interview Date
27 March to 6 April 2023

Preferred student start date
18 September 2023

Applying

Apply Online  

Contact supervisor

Dr Chris Gill

Other supervisors

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