Chronic Headache impairs health in 2-4% of adults. The World Health Organisation states that alongside Chronic Back Pain, Chronic Headache (Tension-Type Headache and Migraine Headache) are the leading cause of Years Lost to Disability in high and middle income countries . Globally, chronic headache is in the top 3 causes for morbidity in all income groups . Chronic Headache has considerable personal and societal burden, costing the UK NHS £1 billion each year in direct costs and a further £7 billion in lost productivity . Headache Disorders are under-reported or not managed at all .
The World Health Organisation supports the ‘Lifting The Burden’ Campaign, whose objective includes supporting health policies to implement strategies to improve outcomes for people with disabling headache. In Northern Ireland, Neurology Out-patient services are over-subscribed with more than 18,000 referrals each year to a service with a capacity of 12,000 appointments. Over 5,000 Neurology referrals are for headache diagnosis and management (Dr R. Forbes, Dr T Peukert personal communication 2019). Interventions to improve management of headache in primary care are likely to reduce demand for specialist neurology services and improve patient outcomes. Educational Interventions, based on group training, have been demonstrated to improve headache frequency, headache-related disability and quality of life. There is also some evidence to support online behavioural intervention in headache. Online educational self-management programmes have been used in chronic disorders and are appealing as they encourage wider participation and through economy of scale minimise costs. We propose a strategy to develop and optimise intervention content and mode of delivery for an online educational self-management intervention, for chronic headache.
Aim(s): Design, develop and evaluate the content and optimal mode of delivery for a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) to guide self-management of chronic headache. In line with the Medical Research Council guidance on intervention development, the project will adopt the following three-pronged approach:
Objectives of the research:
(1) Establish an evidence base through a systematic review.
(2) Conduct a series of focus groups to inform and refine the content and online delivery options for the intervention.
(3) Develop and test the feasibility (content, mode of delivery, trial of procedures) of the intervention.
Methods to be used:
(1) Establishing an evidence base: a systematic review will investigate the content, design and effectiveness of interventions aiming to improve knowledge and self-management of chronic headache disorders. We will estimate Effect Sizes, using meta-analysis if appropriate.
(2) Focus-Group Analysis – building on evidence from the systematic review we will seek views from individuals with Chronic Headache (12 participants), health professionals (minimum 6 participants) and if available the third sector eg headache charity representatives, on the proposed intervention. Focus group topic guides will be underpinned by psychological theory supporting behaviour change. A framework method will be used for analysis to produce structured outputs that will inform both the content and mode of delivery for the intervention.
(3) From the systematic review and focus group work we will create an intervention and pilot this with a sample to individuals with chronic headache.
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.
- 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
- Clearly defined research proposal detailing background, research questions, aims and methodology
- A demonstrable interest in the research area associated with the studentship
If the University receives a large number of applicants for the project, the following desirable criteria may be applied to shortlist applicants for interview.
- First Class Honours (1st) Degree
- Masters at 65%
- Practice-based research experience and/or dissemination
- Relevant professional qualification and/or a Degree in a Health or Health related area
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
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.
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