University Of Bedfordshire PHD

By | 19th April 2017

University Of Bedfordshire PHD

Suggested PhD topics

The following are a list of potential PhD topics, which we would welcome applications for. However, it is important to note that, currently, we are not able to offer any financial assistance to students wishing to undertake a PhD programme.


Cross-cultural conceptualisations and manifestations of autism stigma

Supervisor: Dr Chris Papadopoulos


e-health and remote healthcare and their application to both acute and chronic health

Supervisor: Dr Erica Cook

  • Psycho-social factors that impact on the uptake of e-health, identifying the facilitators and barriers that impact on this type of healthcare
  • Impact of e-health on self-management for both acute and chronic health conditions.
  • The role of e-health on the traditional healthcare relationship: From doctor centred to patient centred and related satisfaction.
  • Exploring the role of e-health in empowering patients with chronic health conditions.

Unnecessary visits to A& E. An exploration of the geographical and Socio-determinants of casualty use

Supervisor: Dr Erica Cook

Figures suggest that over 42% of people who go to A&E do not need to be there, costing the NHS over £4.5 million a year with this figure set to rise (NHS, 2010). However, limited research has not addressed the psycho-social factors that ultimately impact on the uptake of Accident and Emergency, nor qualitatively explored the underlying factors that can explain what influences decisions to use Accident and Emergency services. This research endeavours to do this, thus aiming to inform policy on how to reduce unnecessary hospital visits thus shape future interventions in line with other health service promotion to essentially support the individual needs of the public.


Crohn’s disease as an “invisible” disease: Using virtual ethnography to understand emitted narratives of people with Crohn’s disease.

Supervisor: Dr Yannis Pappas


Alternative ways of consultation in General Practice in the UK.

Supervisor: Dr Yannis Pappas


Barriers and facilitators to genetic testing for breast and ovarian cancer risk among ethnic minority women in the UK: An exploratory study

Supervisor: Dr Shuby Puthussery

Approximately 5-10% of all breast and ovarian cancer can be accounted for by mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 cancer genes. Awareness and availability of genetic testing to identify BRAC1/2 mutation has grown over time in the general population, but cancer genetic services are generally underused among ethnic minority groups. Underuse of counselling and testing services is problematic since these services can help provide women access to preventive services to reduce the risk of breast and ovarian cancer and recurrence, information and referrals for prophylactic surgery, and increased surveillance to enhance early detection. Using a qualitative methodological approach, the study will explore barriers and facilitators to genetic testing for breast and ovarian cancer risk among ethnic minority women in the UK.


Sociocultural influences on the maternity care experiences of UK born South Asian women

Supervisor: Dr Shuby Puthussery

The impact of socio cultural influences in facilitating women’s transition to motherhood has been widely recognized in a number of studies with the general population in many countries. Studies on migrant women’s birth experiences in western countries have mainly focused on the impact of social meanings and cultural practices in understanding their behaviour, choice and experiences. Very little is known about the influences of social and cultural circumstances on the experiences of second generation mothers, whose norms and practices may differ from migrant women as a result of acculturation, differing social network and support systems. Using a qualitative methodological approach, the study will explore the social and cultural influences on the needs and experiences of UK born South Asian mothers in caring for themselves as well as their babies during pregnancy, child birth and in the immediate postnatal period.


South Asian women with breast cancer – Impact of family relations and social network on quality of life

Supervisor: Dr Shuby Puthussery

There is very little work within the current breast cancer literature in the UK that captures the experiences of South Asian women in general or their quality of life following diagnosis.  Few studies that have looked at various ethnic groups show that while there are similarities in the women’s experiences (e.g. recurrence of cancer and body image issues), there are also unique cultural-specific life experiences (e.g. cultural factors related to beliefs, gender role and family obligations) that need to be addressed. One of the most important factors in adjustment to cancer is the familial and social context, especially as experienced through close interpersonal relationships. Support from partner, family, friends, relatives, health care professionals, and the wider social network are all considered extremely important for quality of after diagnosis of breast cancer. The familial and social networks also deserve keen attention as a potentially modifiable aspect that can contribute to outcomes. Using a qualitative or mixed method approach, the study will explore the impact of family relations and social network on quality of life among South Asian women following a diagnosis of breast cancer to assess the need for an intervention.


Child abuse and neglect: Prevalence and prevention

Supervisor: Dr Hala Evans

Background

A significant proportion of children suffer from abuse and neglect. Child maltreatment is underreported and only a small proportion of cases are likely to come to the attention of services, and sometimes service providers overlook cases of child abuse.

The NSPCC estimates that one million secondary school students in the UK have suffered severe maltreatment at one point of their life. The  NSPCC study in 2009 shows that  around 19% of  11-17 year olds reported having been severely maltreated, mostly (13.4%) at the hands of parents or guardians.  Almost 7% of young people (11-17 year olds) had experienced severe physical abuse throughout their life and girls were at greater risk of sexual abuse than boys were. The perpetrators in two thirds of all sexual abuse cases had been other children or young people. Over a fifth of those who had been physically hurt by a parent or guardian did not inform anybody about it, rising to over 80% of cases of sexual assault by a peer.

The NSPCC in 2010/11 has received nearly 36,000 contacts from people who were worried about a child being abused, and from March 2011, 42,330 children in England were the subject of a child protection plan.

Aims

The aims of this PhD are to (1) identify the characteristics of children abusers, (2) highlight the impact of child abuse and neglect on young people, (3) explore how can young people report abuse, (4) protect children from abuse and neglect.

Methods

Mixed approach of qualitative and quantitative method will be implemented in this research. The quantitative data (questionnaire) will assist us to explore the prevalence of child abuse and neglect; while the qualitative data (case studies) will highlight the impact of abuse and why it occurs and how it can be illuminated.

References

  • Bellis, M.A., Hughes, K., Perkins, C. and Bennett, A. (212) Protecting people, promoting health, a public health approach to violence prevention for England. Department of Health: NHS
  • Cawson P, Wattam C, Brooker S, et al (2000) Child maltreatment in the United Kingdom. London: NSPCC
  • Chaplin R, Flatley J, Smith K. (2011)  Crime in England and Wales 2010/11 London: Home Office
  • Department for Education (2011) Referrals, assessments and children who were the subject of a child protection plan. London: Department for Education
  • Krug EG, Dahlberg LL, Mercy JA, et al (2012) World report on violence and health. Geneva: World Health
  • NSPCC (2011) Child cruelty in the UK: The facts. London: Organization, 2002
  • Radford, L., Corral, S., Bradley, C., et al (2011) Child abuse and neglect in the UK today. London: NSPCC

Youth and violence: Motivation and prevention

Supervisor: Dr Hala Evans

Background

Youth involvement in violence is increasing. In 2010/11 almost 13,000 emergency hospital admissions for assaults were among youth (age range 13-24 years old). One in 7 involved a knife or sharp object. The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) shows that 8% of young females (aged 16-24) were victim of violence in the past year. Half of all violence reported by adults was committed by youth. Also,  8% of 10-15 year olds reported suffering a violent crime in the past year, an estimated 566,000 violent crimes are within this age group and over two thirds of violent incidents resulted in injury.

Gang and knife-related youth violence is a serious concern. Since 2000, the involvement of young people in fatal and non-fatal violence has increased. For instance, homicides among 13-24 year olds increased  in 2007/08 and emergency hospital admissions for violence peaked in 2006/07.

Bullying in school and the community has increased and it has severe impacts on both the community and the individuals and their well-being. In 2009, a survey of over 250,000 of 10-15 year old school children in England found that almost half (46%) had been bullied at school and a fifth (21%) had been bullied elsewhere at some stage of their lives. One in three (29%) had been bullied in the past year.

Many incidents of youth violence involve excessive alcohol drinking.  Across England and Wales, one in five incidents of violence occurs in or around pubs, bars or nightclubs. Assault attendances increased  at weekend nights, when a large proportion of assault occurs among young males who happen to be drinking at bars and nightclubs.

Aims and objectives

The main aims of this PhD are to: (1)  understand what motivate young people to be involved  in violence; (2) to prevent young people from violence; (3) illuminate the use of violence among young people and (4) introduce effective strategies to influence young people behaviour.

Method

To understand fully why young are involved in violence, a qualitative method including focus group discussions and in depth interviews will be used in this research. If accessible, a secondary quantitative datasets will be used.

References

  • Bellis,  M.A., Hughes, K., Perkins, C.  and Bennett, A. (212) Protecting people, promoting health, a public health approach to violence prevention for England. Department of Health: NHS
  • Chamberlain T, George N, Golden S, et al (2010) Tell us 4 national report. London: Department for Children, Schools and Families
  • Chaplin R, Flatley J, Smith K. (2011) Crime in England and Wales 2010/11. London: Home Office
  • Office for National Statistics  (2012) Crime in England and Wales, quarterly first release to March 2012. London: Office for National Statistics
  • Peirce BH, Boyle AA (2011) ‘How has the Licensing Act (2003) changed the epidemiology of assaults presenting to a Cambridgeshire emergency department? Before and after study’. European Journal of Emergency Medicine 18:351-56.
  • Quigg, Z., Hughes, K. And Bellis, MA. (2012) ‘Data sharing for prevention: a case study in the development of a comprehensive emergency department injury surveillance system and its use in preventing violence and alcohol related harms’. Injury Prevention doi:10.1136/ Injury prev-2011-040159

Maltreatment of the elderly: Vulnerability and prevention

Supervisor: Dr Hala Evans

Background

People over the age of 65 can be vulnerable to abuse and neglect by family members, friends or carers in their own homes and in elderly establishments (e.g. care homes). Although awareness of elderly abuse has improved overtime, yet this form of violence remains largely hidden.

A UK based study in 2006 found that one in forty older patients do suffer from abuse or neglect nearly 3% of old people who were living  in private households were maltreated by family members, close friends or care workers. The prevalence of maltreatment was highest in those aged 85 and over. Females  reported more maltreatment (4%) than males (1.1%). Maltreatment includes neglect was the most common form of maltreatment, financial abuse , psychological and physical abuse.

This prevalence is not comprehensive because it did not include vulnerable elderly populations with severe dementia or those who are living in communal establishments. A study of family carers of people with dementia living at home, half reported having ever committed some form of abusive behaviour towards their dependent with a third (34%) reporting abusive behaviour in the past three months.

Verbal abuse was the most common type of abusive behaviour reported. Almost half a million older people in England receive essential home care paid for, at least in part, by local authorities. An enquiry into this home care found that whilst half of those consulted were satisfied with the care they received, there were failures elsewhere. Examples included the failure to provide adequate nutrition, regular theft of money, disregard for privacy and  dignity, and the use of unnecessary physical force. With an ageing population, growing numbers of older individuals are requiring care and support. By 2035, it is estimated that almost a quarter (23%) of the English population will be aged 65 or over.

Aims

This PhD project aims to understand the roots of violence towards elderly people, explore ways of encouraging people to report abuse and how explore how maltreatment of old people can be prevented.

Methodology

Qualitative  method will be used in this study. This will include interviews and focus group discussions with elderly people, careers and service providers.

References

  • Biggs S, Manthorpe J, Tinker A, et al. (2009) ‘Mistreatment of older people in the United Kingdom: findings from the first national prevalence study’. Journal of Elder Abuse & Neglect;21:1-14
  • Cooper C, Selwood A, Blanchard M, et al. (2009) ‘Abuse of people with dementia by family carers: representative cross sectional survey’. BMJ 338:b155
  • Equality and Human Rights Commission (2011) An inquiry into older people and human rights in home care. Manchester: Equality and Human Rights Commission
  • Office for National Statistics (2012) Population ageing in the United Kingdom, its constituent countries and the European Union. Newport: Office for National Statistics.
  • Department of Health (2011) Briefing note: issues highlighted by the NHS Staff Survey in England. London: Department of Health

Dying well with childhood cancer

Supervisor: Dr Dong Pang

Decision making in patients, families, physicians, and policy makers in the end-of-life (EOF) care needs reliable epidemiological data. To provide baseline information for palliative care in children with cancer, the PhD will explore secondary data from hospitals or other organisations: a) To describe how children with cancer are dying in England, including the direct causes of death, diseases and co-morbilities, place of death, and the remaining life span; b) To make comparisons by socio-demographic characteristics; c) To make cross-culture comparisons among different ethnic groups. In addition, determinants of quality of EOF care will be investigated. The quality of EOF care will be described by experiences of physicians, patients and their families.

References

  • Pamela S. Hinds, Jennifer Brandon,Caitlin Allen, Nobuko Hijiya, Rachel Newsome, Javier R. Kane. Patient-reported Outcomes in End-of-Life Research in Pediatric Oncology J Pediatr Psychol. 2007;32(9):1079-1088.
  • L Brook, R Hain. Predicting death in children Arch. Dis. Child.. 2008;93(12):1067-1070.
  • Johnston DL, Nagel K, Friedman DL, Meza JL, Hurwitz CA, Friebert S. Availability and use of palliative care and end-of-life services for pediatric oncology patients. J Clin Oncol. 2008;26(28):4646-50.
  • Hayley Hunt, Unnur Valdimarsdottir, Lorelei Mucci, Ulrika Kreicbergs and Gunnar Steineck. When death appears best for the child with severe malignancy: a nationwide parental follow-up. Palliat Med. 2006;20(6):567-577
  • Bronna D. Romanoff. Meaning Construction in Palliative Care: The Use of Narrative, Ritual, and the Expressive Arts Am J Hosp Palliat Care. 2006;23(4):309-316.
  • Craig A. Hurwitz, Janet Duncan, and Joanne Wolfe. Caring for the Child With Cancer at the Close of Life. JAMA. 2004;292(17):2141-2149

Palliative care: a cross-cultural comparison between the UK and China

Supervisor: Dr Dong Pang

Culture plays an important role to determine how individuals make meaning out of dying and relevant suffering. With increasing diversity in the UK, it is required to know the cultural differences to avoid cross-cultural misunderstandings at the end of life. In this PhD research project, you will carry out a study to compare palliative care in the UK and in China, and explore issues involved in cross -cultural care in the UK, including cultural beliefs, values, practices, and communication techniques etc.

References

  • Kagawa-Singer M, Blackhall LJ. Negotiating cross-cultural issues at the end of life: “You got to go where he lives”. JAMA. 2001;286(23):2993-3001.
  • Wei-Chen Tung, Hospice Care in Chinese Culture: A Challenge to Home Care
  • Professionals Home Health Care Management & Practice 2011: 23(1) 67–68

Application of statistical methods for missing data in epidemiological research

Supervisor: Dr Dong Pang

Missing data are very common in epidemiologic research and are often poorly handled. Although there is plenty theoretical research on the topic (Rubin 1976 and 1988; Little 1976), a number of new statistical approaches, such as multiple imputation, have been developed (Sterne et al, 2009) and used in some epidemiologic studies (Pang et al 2010). In a recent review of 1,105 original studies published during two calendar years in epidemiology journals (the American Journal of Epidemiology, the Annals of Epidemiology, Epidemiology, and the International Journal of Epidemiology), there were only 16 studies (<2%) that used multiple imputation, inverse probability weighting, or the expectation-maximisation algorithm (Klebanoff 2008).

There is a growing need to identify and evaluate current methods, and develop the best methods for analysing epidemiological studies with missing data.

The PhD. will focus on the following: a) To review current general methods in the literature of biostatistics, in particular mainstream methods, such as weighting methods and multiple imputation; b) To develop or tailor tools in the analysis of missing data for epidemiologic studies, such as case-control, cohort and cross-sectional studies.; c) To test the tools by means of comparisons of different imputation methods and sensitivity analyses with conventional methods in real epidemiologic studies.

References

  • Rubin DB. Inference and missing data. Biometrika 1976;63:581–92.
  • Little RJA. Inference about means for incomplete multivariate data. Biometrika 1976;63:593–604.
  • Rubin DB. An overview of multiple imputation. Proceedings of the Survey Research Methods Section of the American Statistical Association. 1988:79–84.
  • Klebanoff MA and Cole SR. Use of multiple imputation in the epidemiologic literature. American Journal of Epidemiology. 2008: 168 (4): 355-357.
  • Sterne JAC, White IR, Carlin JB, Spratt M, Royston P, Kenward MG, Wood AM, Carpenter JR. Multiple imputation for missing data in epidemiological and clinical research: potential and pitfalls. British Medical Journal, 2009: 339:157-160.
  • Pang D, Jones G, Power C, and MacFarlane GJ. Influence of childhood behaviour on the reporting of chronic widespread pain in adulthood: results from the 1958 British Birth Cohort Study. Rheumatology, 49(10): 2010: 1882-8.

Modelling chronic disease prevention in life-course approach

Supervisor: Dr Dong Pang

To estimate and evaluate the potential effectiveness of strategies, such as high risk and population approaches etc. to the primary prevention of chronic diseases in life-course setting.

The PhD will apply epidemiological perspectives to the study of relationships between biological, psychological and social factors as they develop over the life course and how they contribute to chronic diseases by reviewing evidence of cohort and randomised controlled trials as well as other observational studies.

You will conduct secondary analysis of longitudinal birth cohort and panel studies and build disease models using modern sophisticated analytic approaches, such as multiple equation model, Bayesian method, multiple imputation of missing data and machine learning in addition to classical statistical methods.

The strategies to the prevention of rare diseases or of common diseases but in a minority group (socially advantage group) or at the individual will be explored. It is unique that you combine conceptual issues linking risk factors to chronic diseases, the modern methodological base of epidemiology, statistical analysis, and policy.

References

  • Rose G. The strategy of preventive medicine. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 1992.
  • Murray CJ, Lopez AD. Global mortality, disability, and the contribution of risk factors: Global Burden of Disease Study. Lancet. 1997 17;349(9063):1436-42.

Factors influencing participation in recruitment of normal control research participants in epidemiologic studies

Supervisor: Dr Dong Pang

Participation rates of epidemiologic studies have been declining during the past 30 years, with particularly steep declining in normal control participants (Morton et al 2006; Galea and Tracy, 2007). Studies with substantially differential participation between patient and normal control participants are likely subject to the self-selection bias, which might threaten the generalisation of studies. There is a growing need to know factors /strategies with good recruitment in normal control participants when planning and conducting epidemiologic or clinical research.

To understand good factors and barriers in recruitment of healthy participants in the general population, the PhD will explore participant-related factors, investigator-related factors, sampling frames, mode (mail, email, in-person, internet), and monetary incentives etc. in relation to participation. The specific tasks include systematic review and meta-analysis of relevant studies and testing good factors in general population.

References

  • Morton LM, Cahill J, Hartge P. Reporting participation in epidemiologic studies: a survey of practice. Am J Epidemiol 2006; 163:197-203.
  • Galea S, Tracy M. Participation rates in epidemiologic studies. Ann Epidemiol 2007; 17:643-53.

Understanding the role of ethnicity and masculinity in men’s health seeking behaviour

Supervisor: Dr Nasreen Ali

Evidence highlights inequalities in health between men from differing socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds. Cultural beliefs and practices affect men’s decisions to seek medical help. Men’s health-seeking behaviour (the recognition of a health concern and the consequent service utilisation (Smith, Braunack-Mayer and Wittert, 2006) is affected by specific cultural notions of masculinity which prevent them seeking help (Galdas, Cheater and Marshall, 2005). In other words what masculinity means varies by ethnicity. Notions of masculinity may be an important factor in delays in seeking help among this group. Early diagnosis is vital for successful treatment and it is therefore important to understand reasons why men may not access services in a timely fashion. This qualitative study will look at the impact of cultural beliefs and practices on ethnic minority men’s health seeking behaviour for a number of/or one health problem/s: mental health, cancer, diabetes and CHD. This research has the potential to highlight culturally appropriate interventions thus encouraging timely service utilisation, ensuring better disease management, increasing survival, and reducing NHS costs.

  • Galdas, P.M., Cheater, F. and Marshall, P. (2005) Men and health help-seeking behaviour: literature review, Journal of Advanced Nursing 49, 6, 616-633
  • Smith, J.A., Braunack-Mayer, A. and Wittert, G. (2006) What do we know about men’s help-seeking and health service use? MJA, 184, 81-83.

The cultural dynamics of sex and sexual health and wellbeing among Black, South Asian and White young people

Supervisor: Dr Nasreen Ali

Young people from ethnic minority backgrounds have often been underserved by mainstream sexual health and well-being services with economic disadvantage, marginalisation and racism contributing to inequalities (Fenton, 2001). It is argued that despite the increased awareness of perceived risk safe sex practices among ethnic minority youth are undermined by negative symbolism, gender imbalance in sexual-decision making and peer pressure (Varga, 1999). This comparative qualitative study will explore how sexual dynamics, encompassing cultural notions of masculinity and patriarchy impact on the sexual behaviour and sexual health and well-being of Black, South Asian and White young people. There will be two main strands to this research. The first will involve a consideration into the way in which issues around sex and sexual practices are talked about by young people from ethnic minority backgrounds, and how these conversations influence their understanding of appropriate sexual behaviour and safe sex practices. The second strand will focus on the analysis of existing health behaviour models and how they can be fine-tuned to have a greater relevance to ethnic minority youth. The study will be informed by critical theory approaches which rigorously interrogate conventional frameworks for understanding sexual behaviour among young people of ethnic minority and culturally diverse backgrounds.

  • Fenton, K.A. (2001) Strategies for improving sexual health in ethnic minorities in Current Opinion in Infectious Diseases 14, 1, 63-69
  • Foucault, M. (1990) The History of Sexuality Volume 1: An Introduction, Pantheon Books, New York
  • Varga, C.A. (1999) Sexual decision-making and negotiation in the midst of AIDS: youth in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, Health Transition Review, 7, 3,45-6

Developing culturally competent end-of-life care for South Asian renal patients – perspectives of the family/carers

Supervisor: Professor Gurch Randhawa


Investigating the relationship between social class, age, gender, ethnicity and education of transplant donors and recipients

Supervisor: Professor Gurch Randhawa