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Funded PhD Opportunity

Exploring an intervention using couple therapy for people dealing with palliative conditions

Subject: Nursing and Health


Summary

Internationally, palliative care is accepted as a holistic approach that promotes quality of life for both patients and their families, who are dealing with the problems associated with life-threatening illness.   With improvements in diagnosis and treatment, palliative conditions are increasingly perceived as chronic conditions, and whilst this is a positive development, the demands of adjustment the consequences physically and psychologically and the emotional challenges of survivorship can all put strain on inter-personal and intimate relationships with partners.  Couple therapy for Depression has been promoted by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence, as helpful for depression, a symptom frequently associated with palliative care patients.  However, access to this approach is inconsistent in the UK generally, and despite being advocated for the general population, studies of its benefits and uptake in palliative care contexts is under-researched.

Aim: To explore the role and perceived impact of couple therapy in palliative care.

Objectives:

1.To summarize the evidence for couple counselling in palliative care.

2.To profile existing couple therapy services, role, usage and links to palliative care services.

3.To explore professional, patient and partner perceptions of the importance of couple therapy as part of  palliative care provision care.

4.To synthesize the findings to inform the development of an intervention  to improve care of couples in the palliative care journey

Methodology

Sequential mixed methods study comprised of four phases, linked to the objectives:

1.A scoping review of the policy and literature guided by guided by the Joanna Briggs Institute Scoping Review 7-8 protocol will be undertaken to examine gaps and types of evidence and policy that informs practice in this area.   This will synthesize the current state of the literature and inform future work.

2.Profile of services – a cross sectional survey of all hospices located across the UK and the island of Ireland will be undertaken to establish availability, relationship, role and usage (if available) with counselling/couple therapy/psychological interventions for couples.

3.Data collection will be conducted via two methods:

1) Qualitative Focus Group study with a purposive sample of multi-disciplinary health and social care professionals and psychological therapists, such as counsellors, psychotherapists, clinical psychologists, to gain insight into their understanding and perception of couple therapy and its role in palliative care provision. Semi-structured interviews will elicit data on the perceptions and experiences of professionals and about barriers or facilitators to an effective response to couple’s support needs.  Audio-recorded transcripts transcribed and analysed thematically.

2) One to one interviews will be undertaken with a purposive sample of palliative care patients and their partners to explore their perceptions, experiences and need for therapy in palliative care.  Semi-structured interviews based on literature and analysed thematically.  Deliberative panels (n=2) will be held with key stakeholders including palliative and generalist health care professionals, psychological therapists, such as counsellors, psychotherapists, clinical psychologists and palliative care patients and their partners.  Aim of panels will be to reflect on the findings of the study and develop key recommendations to inform development of couple theory in palliative care.


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.

  • Relevant professional qualification and/or a Degree in a Health or Health related area

Funding

    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 studentship 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 studentship 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 studentship 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 £ 15,009 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 studentship 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


Other information


The Doctoral College at Ulster University


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Key dates

Submission deadline
Monday 18 February 2019

Interview Date
Mid March 2019


Applying

Apply Online  


Campus

Jordanstown campus

Jordanstown campus
The largest of Ulster's campuses


Contact supervisor

Dr Felicity Hasson


Other supervisors

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