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Funded PhD Opportunity

Optimising Pulmonary Rehabilitation for patients with Chronic Obstructiv Pulmonary Disease

Subject: Nursing and Health


Summary

Promoting exercise and physical activity, and decreasing inactivity has been recommended as a key component of care for people with respiratory disease. This is mostly achieved through pulmonary rehabilitation programmes (exercise, education and self-management) and there is evidence that these are effective for people with Chronic Obstructive Pulmopnary Disease (COPD) [Bolton et al 2013].

This PhD project will help to identify key approaches to optimise results from Pulmopmary Rehabilitation programmes for patients with COPD. Currently not all patients referred to pulmonary rehabilitation attend for assessment or enroll in the programme after assessment, and dropouts and non-adherence rates are high [Steiner et al 2016]. There is an urgent need to identify key ways to optimise participation in and outcomes from Pulmonary Rehabilitation.

Aim:

To identify reasons for poor uptake, retention, non-adherence and decline of Pulmonary Rehabilitation programmes in Northern Ireland and identify key strategies which could optimise results from Pulmonary Rehabilitation.

Objectives:

*To identify reasons for poor uptake, retention, non-adherence and decline of pulmonary rehabilitation

*To evaluate pulmonary rehabilitation services including the impact on important patient outcomes e.g. exercise capacity and quality of life

*To identify key realistic strategies to promote engagement and participation in evidenced based pulmonary rehabilitation.

Methods Study 1.  An in-depth analysis of existing Pulmonary Rehabilitation programmes in Northern Ireland will be conducted using a qualitative study (using Focus Group methodology). This will include providers of pulmonary rehabilitation, also those who attended but did not complete rehabilitation and where possible those who have been referred to programmes but who declined. Exploration will include accessibility, points of entry and the pathways through the pulmonary rehabilitation and follow on services. This will enable better understanding of the outcomes of pulmonary rehabilitation and it will identify areas of good practice as well as explore gaps and/or any areas for improvement or adaptation.

Analysis: thematic analysis.

Study 2. A cohort study to retrospectively evaluate patient engagement with pulmonary rehabilitation programmes, as well as patient outcomes. Patients with COPD (N=40) will be recruited from HSCTs in Northern Ireland that offer Pulmonary Rehabilitation. The investigation will include review of active referrals, uptake and patient through put. Outcome measures data (exercise capacity and quality of life) will be collected for patients before and after attending pulmonary rehabilitation. Analysis: descriptive and pre-post comparison.

Project output

This project will identify areas of strength and good practice that could be shared across sites delivering pulmonary rehabilitation, it will identify key strategies to optimise outcomes for patients with COPD. The PhD will provide an opportunity to work with a dynamic respiratory research team with strong links to clinical teams nationally and internationally.

How the proposals fit the Centre’s themes

Physical activity and exercise in COPD link to key research themes in CHaRT (1. intervention development and testing, and 2. physical activity). The project fits CHaRT aims by specifically exploring how we could ‘enable healthy living throughout the life span for people with long term conditions’ and informing how we could optimise pulmonary rehabilitation services to ‘support and empower patients to develop skills and strategies to manage their long term condition’.

This project will have high impact as it links to the delivery of standards of care for people with COPD from the Northern Ireland Service Framework for Respiratory health and well being (2018). Given the size of the population with COPD throughout the UK and Globally it has the potential to make significant impact given its broad reach across all settings in health care.

PhD project must be achievable

This project is achievable as the team have established links with clinical sites delivering pulmonary rehabilitation programmes and who have indicated that they are keen to support this research. The team have experience obtaining research governance and ethics approvals at the sites for previous clinical research in pulmonary rehabilitation. The population with COPD (1.2million in the UK) is available and the study sample sizes are feasible based on recent research in COPD and pulmonary rehabilitation by this team.


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.


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
  • Clearly defined research proposal detailing background, research questions, aims and methodology
  • A demonstrable interest in the research area associated with the studentship

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.

  • First Class Honours (1st) Degree
  • Masters at 65%
  • Practice-based research experience and/or dissemination
  • Sound understanding of subject area as evidenced by a comprehensive research proposal
  • 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 £ 15,009 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 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


Reviews

Profile picture of Professor Stenver Lin

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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Profile picture of Professor Chein Huei Kao

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
Friday 7 February 2020

Interview Date
19th/20th March 2020


Applying

Apply Online  


Campus

Jordanstown campus

Jordanstown campus
The largest of Ulster's campuses


Contact supervisor

Dr Brenda O'Neill


Other supervisors

  • Dr Nicole Blackburn
  • Professor Judy Bradley, NICRF and Queen's University Belfast; Dr Janet Patterson, Lead Respiratory Physiotherapist (community) BHSCT

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