Please note we do not have specific funding available, as this is usually sought on a case-by-case basis.
We have a number of students at the Wolfson Palliative Care Research Centre working towards their PhDs.
Funded PhD Training Fellowships/PhD studentships, when available, are listed on our funded opportunities page.
We also work with suitable students to support applications for national or regional PhD funding. This is highly competitive, so potential students will need to have a track record of interest or involvement in palliative care research already. Please email either Professor Miriam Johnson or Professor Fliss Murtagh to enquire further.
Title: CLinical OuTcomes, Symptoms and Quality of Life in cancer patients with i-PE. CLOTS-QoL study
Supervisor: Professor Antony Maraveyas (Cancer Research Group) and Professor Miriam Johnson
Aim: The overarching aim of the study is to investigate the relationship between incidental pulmonary embolism in cancer patients and performance status, symptoms, QoL and other key clinical outcomes such as venous thromboembolism (VTE) o(re)currence and haemorrhagic complications. A secondary aim is to identify clinical and demographic predictors of VTE o(re)currence, haemorrhage, QoL and PS.
Summary: Advances in medical technology have resulted in an increase in the detection of unexpected blood clots in the lung of patients with cancer. the study aiming to see the effects these blood clots may have on the survival and quality of life of these patients, when compared to cancer patients without blood clots. It is hoped that we can find a way to identify more quickly those patients who are deteriorating and are at greater risk of developing further clots.
Title: Optimisation of the detection and assessment of malnutrition, cachexia and sarcopenia in the older cancer patient
Funder: Yorkshire Cancer Research
Supervisors: Professor Miriam Johnson and Professor Mike Lind (Cancer Research Group)
Aim: To evaluate and improve the clinical diagnosis of malnutrition, to produce a single, validated, clinically relevant method of identifying elements of malnutrition, cachexia and sarcopenia in older cancer patients, to allow targeted and effective treatment.
Summary: This research aims to produce a screening tool to allow the medical team assess older cancer patients more effectively. The tool will help identify issues regarding poor nutrition and causes of weight loss, allowing the medical team to use the correct method of treatment to manage these symptoms.
Title: Psychological suffering and distress in women undergoing treatment for breast cancer in India.
Supervisors: Professor Miriam Johnson and Dr Chitra Venkateswaran
- To determine the psychological concerns of Indian women undergoing breast cancer treatment.
- To explore the experience of distress/suffering in Indian women with breast cancer living in India with special focus on patients undergoing treatment.
- To investigate the cultural context of and general awareness of healthy volunteers about the impact of breast cancer on Indian women with the disease in the community.
- The project consists of 3 parts; systematic literature review on the psychological concerns of Indian women undergoing breast cancer treatment, qualitative interviews to assess the level of suffering women undergoing treatment for breast cancer in India and focus group discussion among healthy volunteers to investigate the cultural context of and general awareness of the impact of breast cancer on Indian women in the community.
Summary: The project consists of 3 parts; systematic literature review on the psychological concerns of Indian women undergoing breast cancer treatment, qualitative interviews to assess the level of suffering women undergoing treatment for breast cancer in India and focus group discussion among healthy volunteers to investigate the cultural context of and general awareness of the impact of breast cancer on Indian women in the community.
Title: Full validation of the Integrated Palliative Care Outcome Scale for people with dementia (IPOS-Dem) living in Swiss nursing homes
Funder: Partially funded by: Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences: Gottfried und Julia Bangerter Rhyner-Stiftung
Supervisor: Professor Fliss Murtagh
Aim: The aim of this PhD project is to provide a fully validated patient-centred outcome measure (IPOS-Dem) for people with dementia (PwD), living in Swiss nursing homes.
Summary: Symptom assessment and recognition of needs is challenging in PwD. This can be aided thus improved by a patient-centred outcome measure, completed by health care staff. However, no short, holistic person-centred outcome measure is available for PwD in Switzerland. This project aims to validate the IPOS-Dem in Swiss nursing homes.
Visit the ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Sciences website for further details
Title: Identification and assessment of chronic breathlessness in primary care.
Funder: University of Hull
Supervisors: Dr Joseph Clark and Professor Miriam Johnson
Aim: To explore how chronic breathlessness is identified and assessed in primary care and to understand the impact this has on patients’ and carers’ psychological wellbeing.
Summary: During this project, literature will be searched to see how chronic breathlessness is identified across health care settings. Then a survey will be developed to identify frail older adults suffering with chronic breathlessness in primary care. Finally, interviews will be conducted with these individuals, their carers, and their health care professionals to gather experiences of chronic breathlessness in the primary care environment.
Title: Public perception of palliative care: A systematic review
Supervisor: Professor Miriam Johnson
Aim: To ascertain:
- what the public understanding and perception of palliative care is
- whether this understanding and perception has changed over time
- if there is evidence that understanding and perception impacts access to palliative care
Summary: There is misperception that palliative care is just care of the dying whereas it is an approach that improves the quality of life of people facing life-limiting illness. This misperception may impact access to cost saving, quality care. We will review the evidence of the perception of palliative care.
Outputs: Prospero systematic review protocol
Title: A complex intervention study evaluating the effect of a digitalised, patient-centered comprehensive geriatric assessment on clinical decision making and patient experience when utilised by a head and neck cancer multidisciplinary team.
Funder: Yorkshire Cancer Research
Supervisors: Professor Mike Lind (Cancer Research Group) and Professor Miriam Johnson
Aim: To develop, validate and implement a digitalised, cross-platform and integrated web and mobile service for undertaking comprehensive geriatric assessment in head and neck cancer patients.
Summary: To develop a website and mobile app to enable older people with head and neck cancer to get a complete assessment of their day to day functioning and overall health.
Title: Implementing outcome measures in Palliative Care
Supervisors: Dr Mark Pearson and Professor Fliss Murtagh
Aim: The aim and purpose of the PhD is to develop a strategic framework for implementation of outcome measures in palliative care to ensure patients’ physical, psychological and spiritual needs are met.
Summary: The PhD applies a participatory methodology that aims to involve health care professionals at all levels in the implementation of outcome measures. The project will gather empirical data about the perspectives of health care professionals during a participatory implementation process. Based on the empirically identified drivers in implementation, the strategic framework will be developed and evaluated.
Title: After body donation for medical education: identifying good practice in the interactions between Medical School Anatomy Unit staff and families
Funder: University of Hull
Supervisors: Dr Julie Seymour, Dr Trish Green, Dr Peter Bazira
Aim: To identify good practice in the interactions between Medical School Anatomy Unit staff and the families of body donors
Summary: Zivarna gained an integrated masters (MAnth) in Biological Anthropology from Durham University. Her thesis concerned engagement with the dead in public contexts. She has interests in public engagement with human remains, what is hidden and hidden work, death and the dead, and body donation for medical education.
Title: A mixed methods investigation of the screening and assessment of cachexia in primary care settings.
Funder: University of Hull cluster PhD studentship
Supervisors: Professor Fliss Murtagh and Professor Miriam Johnson
Aim: This study aims to enhance the knowledge of how the symptoms of cachexia are identified and assessed in patients with advanced chronic conditions and end-stage disease in primary care settings.
Summary: The main symptoms of cachexia are unintended weight loss and loss of appetite. It is associated with advanced diseases such as cancer, heart failure and chronic kidney disease. Cachexia can also be associated with frailty and malnutrition in elderly patients with chronic disease.
The aims of the study are to capture the views and experiences of such patients (and their family caregivers); and the views and experiences of general practice staff of how they manage unintended weight loss in frail elderly patients. An analysis of patient data will be also be used to describe this patient group and how their symptoms are assessed and managed by GPs and practice nurses.
Title: How do opioids affect older adults’ cognition
Funder: University of Hull (scholarship)
Supervisors: Dr Jason Boland and Professor Fliss Murtagh
Outputs and resources: ORCID
Aim: To improve our understanding of how opioid analgesics affect older adults cognition, and their carers, in a primary care setting using mixed methods.
Summary: To understand how opioids affect older adults memory and attention in primary care, this project will use the following three methods:
- A review of the existing literature on how opioid analgesics affect older adults’ memory and attention, as well as exploring which tools are used to identify and assess this.
- A survey to explore how opioid analgesics affect older adults’ memory and attention in primary care (including opioid use, side effects, quality of life and day-to-day living).
- Interviews with patients and carers to understand their experiences of taking opioids and how this affects their memory and attention. Their family carer will also be interviewed. Information and support needs on opioid therapy will also be discussed.