Summary

Awake craniotomy (AC) with direct electrical stimulation has become established as the “gold standard” approach for resection of gliomas in eloquent locations of the brain [1].  Language assessment is critical throughout: it can identify preoperative deficits, rapidly detect the occurrence of new intra-operative impairments, direct the surgical plan and ascertain postoperative function [2].  Participation of a language specialist working in AC may result in higher rates of gross tumour resection, shorten the duration of surgery with potential for better patient outcomes [3].  However, there is ambiguity regarding the role of multidisciplinary practitioners involved in language mapping during AC [3].

This uncertainty extends to a lack of consistency regarding language mapping, testing used, intra operative roles, responsibilities and the resultant impact on service user outcomes.  Exploration of the unique speech, language, cognitive communication and psychological needs of the patient is essential to inform practice guidance.  This proposal is an extension of previous survey work, exploring AC practice across the UK.

Aim: To understand the unique contribution of language mapping on outcomes of people with brain tumors, undergoing awake craniotomy.

Objectives: 1.To conduct secondary data analysis to improve the identification of the unique care needs of patients undergoing AC: pre, intra and post operatively; 2.To explore language mapping specialists’ perceptions of their role and practices in AC; 3.To explore the service user and family caregiver’s perspective and experiences; 4.To examine the knowledge, beliefs and attitudes of AC  MDT members towards the evolving SLT role in AC. 5.To make recommendations that will inform the development of AC.

Methodology:  This is a unique opportunity to learn and apply a range of methods, as follows:

Phase One: Secondary data analysis: AC service user information will be obtained from a  clinical center of excellence in the UK for all AC performed within the previous year.  This will provide a baseline of language mapping practices and identify speech, Ianguage, cognitive communication and psychological  care needs of AC service users alongside identification of key outcomes.

Phase Two: Focus groups with a purposive sample of MDT language mapping practitioners: This will explore experiences, current practices including role extension, barriers and facilitators.

Phase Three: Interviews with a purposive sample of service users and family caregivers: This will be undertaken to explore the perceptions and experiences of service users and their carer’s with particular focus on speech, language, cognitive communication and psychological needs. Participants will be recruited from the same UK center of surgical excellence.

Phase Four: A cross sectional email survey of UK neurosurgeons and key MDT members: a UK wide survey (Qualtrics) will be sent to all AC MDT team members to evaluate their perception of their role and practices across the UK.


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.

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 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


Other information


The Doctoral College at Ulster University


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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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My career has spanned working within the community for both voluntary and statutory organisations. After completing my degree (Psychology) and Masters many years ago I was drawn once again to the academic life and the challenge of a PhD. I was tremendously privileged a secure a fellowship from HSC R&D office to fund my PhD. After having most recently worked within a health Trust supporting family carers, I wanted to investigate the impact of support services for family carers. I knew that male carers were 'hidden' and as such were particularly in need of support, so my PhD was within this area.I'm definitely most proud of MYSELF! My proudest moment was when I initially secured the funding for the PhD. My favorite memories involved data collection with the wonderful interview participants; and also the camaraderie of my PhD peers, who were always on hand to share the laughter... and the tears. I'll never forget.... my viva!

Anne Fee - PhD in Nursing and Health


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I am a medical doctor by training, graduating from the University of Khartoum. I have a clinical MD in Community Medicine from Sudan Medical Specialization Board and a Masters in Molecular Medicine in from Institute of Endemic Diseses/University of Khartoum. I was the head of the Community Medicine Department at Shendi University in Sudan from 2010 – 2013 before moving to Northern Ireland to complete a Master of Public Health at Queen’s University, Belfast. I moved to Northern Ireland to complete a Master’s of Public Health at Queen’s University, Belfast in 2012/13. I was awarded the Ulster University Vice Chancellor’s Research Scholarship (VCRS) to undertake a PhD in the prevalence and risk factors of congenital heart disease in Northern Ireland which contributes to the primary prevention of congenital heart disease in Northern Ireland by determining the extent to which specific maternal risk factors are associated with the risk of having a baby with

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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.

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