phd studentship in psychology: health information seeking in crisis situations: detecting and targeting patients needs

phd studentship in psychology: health information seeking in crisis situations: detecting and targeting patients needs

United Kingdom 19 Jan 2021
University of Bath

University of Bath

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State University
Host Country
19 Jan 2021
Study level
Opportunity type
Opportunity funding
Full funding
Eligible Countries
This opportunity is destined for all countries
Eligible Region
All Regions

Funding for: UK and EU Students

Funding amount: £15,285 p.a. in living costs (current rates) and Home tuition fees.

Hours: Full Time

Closes: 19th January 2021

The University of Bath (Department of Psychology) is pleased to offer a PhD project for October 2021 entry, supervised by Dr Janina Hoffman(Psychology),Dr Theresa Smith (Mathematical Sciences) and Dr William Tillett (Bath Royal National Hospital).

Poor quality guidance often leaves individuals feeling uncertain and ill-informed about their health and wellbeing during crisis situations, such as the current pandemic on the global level or the detection of a serious disease on the individual level. Pressure on the health system may limit time and ability of medical staff to adequately respond to each patient’s information needs and to adjust the communication to the patient’s capabilities (Hoffmann et al., 2020; Tillett et al., 2014). As trust and confidence in health professions declines (Blendon et al., 2014), individuals often turn to online resources for medical advice where the sheer amount of information is overwhelming and misinformation widespread (WHO, 2020). 

Typical paradigms for health communication are insufficient to address the patient’s information needs in such dynamic and highly uncertain situations. This PhD project will investigate health information seeking in a patient group who were left particularly vulnerable and in a high state of uncertainty during COVID-19: rheumatology patients. In doing so, this PhD project combines approaches from health science, data science, and decision science to develop a new methodology for identifying health information needs on the individual level and design targeted health messages. 

A first step towards reaching this goal may involve developing adaptive questionnaires assessing patient health literacy and testing their effectiveness in identifying patients’ information needs. These adaptive instruments will then be used to design health messages targeted towards fulfilling patients’ needs and test their effectiveness in promoting patient literacy and reducing reliance on unsubstantiated internet sources. 

  • We expect a sound background in research methodology (e.g. questionnaire design) and basic statistical techniques demonstrated by a 1st in research methods modules during the BSc. An MSc degree in a relevant subject, such as Health Psychology, is highly desirable.
  • We offer an interdisciplinary supervisory team involving data scientists, decision scientists, and rheumatologists from the Bath Royal National Hospital.
  • The prospective PhD student will have the opportunity to learn state-of-the methods to investigate information search, from decision science paradigms to adaptive design to machine learning techniques. 

The successful applicant will be supported in applying for an ESRC or internal PhD studentship. Full studentships cover UK/home tuition fees and provide approx. £15,285 p.a. in living costs for 3 years. Students also receive a personal allowance for training and conference attendance. 

What to do next: 

Please contact Dr Hoffmann ( ) with a CV to express your interest in applying for this studentship and find out more about the proposed project. 

Please contact Dr Hoffmann by 30th November 2020. This is earlier than the 19th January 2021 deadline set by the University of Bath for full studentship applications, and will enable the successful applicant to be supported in developing a research proposal.

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