Summary

Individuals with severe alcohol dependence face many acute, chronic, and social harms in their daily life. Abstinence based treatment can be a successful treatment option for some, for others, they may feel unable, or unwilling to consider a goal of abstinence or engage in structured treatment. As such, a harm reduction program of care should be considered [1-3].

There is robust evidence for harm reduction strategies to prevent the harms of illicit drug use (e.g. opiate substitution programs which may involve prescribed methadone or diamorphine), however, harm reduction interventions and models of care for long-term alcohol dependence are less clear [4]. One promising intervention is a Managed Alcohol Program (MAP) harm reduction intervention.

Mounting international studies [e.g. 5-6] show MAPs are effective in decreasing the adverse consequences of alcohol use without the requirement of abstinence in clients. Individual studies show we can retain patients in harm reduction initiatives like MAPs who may not be retained in a traditional treatment settings. Services provided by Managed Alcohol Programs can vary, often focus on the link between dependence and homelessness, and there is limited evidence on what works in the UK and Ireland, with some notable exceptions [e.g. 7].

This PhD program aims to understand acceptable, feasible harm reduction solutions to improve health related quality of life in those with long-term alcohol dependence.

This PhD project may comprise a number of different elements:

1) Developing an evidence base for interventions in the client group (with particular focus on trauma, sleep, pain, and addiction symptomatology). This is likely to be a realist review of peer-reviewed and grey literature of interventions for the client group to understand what works, for whom, and in what circumstances.

2) A mapping exercise of services for the client group across the UK and/or Ireland to understand what services are available both inside and outside the NHS, and if/how they are evaluated for effectiveness.

3) Secondary data analysis of alcohol treatment data to identify factors contributing to repeat relapse/treatment non-completion.

4) Semi-structured interviews with clients and/or other stakeholders to understand and inform recommendations for models of care.

The successful candidate will have a demonstrable interest in the health and wellbeing of the client group to be justified in application materials and demonstrated at interview.  This is an essential criterion over and above the standard entrance requirements. The Degree (or equivalent) qualification(s) must be in Psychology or a closely related discipline.

1. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence(NICE). Alcohol use disorders: diagnosis, assessment and management of harmful drinking and alcohol dependence. Available from https://www.nice.org.uk /guidance/cg115

2. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence(NICE). Alcohol-use disorders: diagnosis and management of physical complications. Available from https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg100

3. Raistrick D, Heather N, Godfrey C: Review of the Effectiveness of Treatment for Alcohol Problems. 2006. Available from https://www.alcohollearningcentre.org.uk/Topics/Latest/Review-of-the-effectiveness-oftreatment-for-alcohol-problems

4. Marlatt GA, Witkiewitz K. Update on harm-reduction policy and intervention research. Annu Rev Clin Psychol. 2010; 6; 591-606.

5. Stockwell T, Buxton J, Duff C, Marsh D, MacDonald S, Michelow W, Richard K, Saewyc E, Hanson R, Cohen I. The British Columbia alcohol and other drug monitoring system: overview and early progress. Contemporary Drug Problems. 2009; 36 :459-484.

6. Duffin T. Past, Current and Future Perspectives on Service Responses to the Homeless Street Drinking Population of Dublin City Centre. MSc thesis submitted to the University of Dublin, Trinity College; 2006.

7. McCoy E, Oyston J, Ross-Houle K, Cochrane M, Bates G, Jones L, Whitfield M, McVeigh J. Evaluation of the Liverpool Rehabilitation, Education, Support & Treatment (REST) Centre. 2016. Liverpool: LJMU.


Essential criteria

  • To hold, or expect to achieve by 15 August, an Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree or equivalent from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed to be equivalent via UK NARIC) in a related or cognate field.
  • Experience using research methods or other approaches relevant to the subject domain
  • Sound understanding of subject area as evidenced by a comprehensive research proposal
  • A comprehensive and articulate personal statement

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.

  • Masters at 65%

    The University offers the following awards to support PhD study and applications are invited from UK, EU and overseas for 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 £15,000 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.

    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 £7,500 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.

    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.

    Department for the Economy (DFE)

    The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £15,285 per annum for three years. EU applicants will only be eligible for the fee’s component of the studentship (no maintenance award is provided). For Non-EU nationals the candidate must be "settled" in the UK. 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.

    Due consideration should be given to financing your studies; for further information on cost of living etc. please refer to: www.ulster.ac.uk/doctoralcollege/postgraduate-research/fees-and-funding/financing-your-studies

Institute of Mental Health



The Doctoral College at Ulster University


Reviews

Profile picture of Michelle Clements Clements

Completing the MRes provided me with a lot of different skills, particularly in research methods and lab skills.

Michelle Clements Clements - MRes - Life and Health Sciences

Watch Video  

Profile picture of Nargis Khan

My name is Nargis Khan and I am originally from Pakistan. I first came to Ulster University to study psychology at the undergraduate level and later joined a doctoral course which I have now successfully completed. I had a fantastic time studying in Ulster at both the undergraduate and postgraduate level. Throughout my PhD, I was well catered for in terms of resources with access to well-stocked libraries full of friendly and helpful staff, funding to travel to conferences, the availability of various courses (e.g., statistics) and above all a supportive and stimulating environment which fostered my academic development. The seminars organised during the term time allowed me to present my work and hear about the research of others across a range of areas. I particularly appreciated the teaching opportunities available to me during my PhD. My supervisors were supportive and generous with their time. Other members of staff in the Psychology department also took a genuine interest in the

Nargis Khan - PhD in Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience