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Funded PhD Opportunity

Exploring the knowledge, perceptions and roles of Allied Health Professionals in pressure ulcer prevention: a multidisciplinary approach

Subject: Nursing and Health


Background: Pressure ulcers remain a major health concern for people who spend prolonged periods of time in sitting, especially for those with limited mobility, impaired sensation or both (Moore and Cowman 2015). They affect the quality of life of individuals, often leading to pain, anxiety and depression (Gorecki et al 2009). In addition, they are associated with significant financial healthcare costs globally. National figures for treating pressure ulcers are estimated at £1.4-2.1 billion per annum in the UK (Bennett et al 2004), €461million per annum in Spain (Agreda et al, 2007) and US $11 billion per annum in America (Reddy et al, 2006). Furthermore, pressure ulcer prevention is now considered a key clinical indicator in ensuring patient safety in the UK (NIHCE 2014a, NHS 2016). Pressure ulcer prevention has historically been the concern of nurses.

More recently, other healthcare professionals such as occupational therapists, physiotherapists and podiatrists have become involved, however, their roles are less clearly defined. For example, a recent study by Semple (2017) found that opinions among occupational therapists were divided with regard to their role in pressure ulcer prevention. Some viewed it as predominantly a nursing role and were content for nurses to take responsibility, while others wanted to be more involved in this aspect of patient care.

NICE (2014) have recognised the importance of multidisciplinary team (MDT) involvement in pressure ulcer prevention, and have advocated a MDT approach. While the role of nurses in pressure ulcer prevention is well established, the roles of the other MDT members, particularly those of allied health professionals (AHPs) needs to be explored in order to ensure effective team working in this important area.

Project aim: To explore the knowledge, perceptions and roles of Allied Health Professionals in relation to pressure ulcer prevention

Objectives and methods to be used:

  • To review and critique the published literature on the knowledge, perceptions and roles of AHPs in pressure ulcer prevention using a systematic review methodology.
  • To complete a UK national scoping study on the knowledge, roles and responsibilities of AHPs in pressure ulcer prevention using a mixed methods survey.
  • To explore factors that hinder and facilitate AHPs’ engagement with pressure ulcer prevention using qualitative methodologies.
  • To investigate the training needs of AHPs in the area of pressure ulcer prevention using qualitative methodologies.

The successful student will be embedded within an established research team who have been conducting research in pressure ulcer prevention for almost 20 years. This project will augment, and build further upon this ongoing body of work.


Agreda JJS, Ibou ET, Posnett J, Soriano JV, San Miguel L, Santos JMM (2007). An approach to the economic impact of the treatment of pressure ulcers in Spain.

Gerokomos, 18(4), 201-210. Bennett G, Dealey C and Posnett J (2004). The cost of pressure ulcers in the UK. Age and Ageing, 33(3), 230-235.

Gorecki C, Brown JM, Nelson EA, Briggs M, Schoonhoven L, Dealey C, Defloor T and Nixon J (2009). European Quality of Life Pressure Ulcer Project group. Impact of pressure ulcer on quality of life in older patients: a systematic review. Journal of the American Geriatric Society, 57(7), 1175-1183.

Moore ZEH and Cowman (2015). Repositioning for treating pressure ulcers. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD006898. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD006898.pub4.

National Health Service (2016). Stop the pressure: helping to prevent pressure ulcers. Available at: [accessed 9/11/17]

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (2014). Pressure ulcers: prevention and management. Available at: [accessed 11/11/17].

Reddy M, Gill SS and Rochon PA (2006). Preventing pressure ulcers: a systematic review. Journal of the American Medical Association, 296(8), 974-984.

Semple LE (2017). Optimising pressure ulcer prevention: an exploration of the complexities of preventative care. Unpublished PhD Thesis, Ulster University.

Essential criteria

  • Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree or equivalent from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed to be equivalent via UK NARIC)

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.

  • Experience using research methods or other approaches relevant to the subject domain
  • Relevant professional qualification and/or a Degree in a Health or Health related area


    Vice Chancellors Research Scholarships (VCRS)

    The scholarships will cover tuition fees and a maintenance award of £14,777 per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). Applications are invited from UK, European Union and overseas students.


    The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £ 14,777 per annum for three years. EU applicants will only be eligible for the fees component of the studentship (no maintenance award is provided).  For Non EU nationals the candidate must be "settled" in the UK.

Other information

The Doctoral College at Ulster University


Ulster University has very enhanced independent  learning.  I strongly recommend my students to go abroad to broaden their vision to get  new motivation.  I tell them that when studying at Ulster University, they will receive an abundance of knowledge, new experiences and strong technology to enhance their life.

Professor Stenver Lin - PhD Radiology

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I am currently the Director for the Department of Nursing-midwifery and Women's Heath at NTUNHS.  I studied at Ulster University for 3 years and it was a very happy time.  Ulster is very good for study, not only in academic work but it also shows you how to be a good teacher.

Professor Chein Huei Kao - PhD Health Science of Nursing

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Key dates

Submission deadline
Monday 19 February 2018

Interview Date
20th or 21st March 2018

Contact supervisor

Dr May Stinson

Other supervisors


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