Current Student Research
Anna Cooper – 3rd year PhD student
Title of PhD: Effectiveness of a Global Oral Health Programme targeting 6-7 year old primary schoolchildren in NW England, UK
Overall this research aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of a pre-designed school oral health programme (SOHP), aimed at increasing none/once daily brushing to twice daily brushing. A unique aspect of this thesis was the use of a child-centred mixed method evaluation design. The research piloted new research tools (n=97, in 3 schools) within dental public health to effectively elicit children’s responses, and test if intervention materials were suitable for the target age and use in the UK schools. Following this a complex SOHP targeting 6–7 year olds, was evaluated using a one-month matched cluster control trial (n=258, in 8 intervention & 5 control schools), with a 6 month follow-up. Finally, the research validated a children’s self-report questionnaire (n=108, in 5 schools) against an objective measure (data loggers) in a one-month test-retest validation study. Using child-centred methods 6–7 year olds are capable of being active participants in research, and effectively expressing current levels knowledge and behaviours regarding OH, hygiene and nutrition. The use of data loggers has the potential to aid evaluations by complementing self-report and being able to provide objective feedback to children, parents and local stakeholders.
Louise Robinson – 1st year MPhil student
Title of MPhil: What factors predict recruitment and retention to pediatric randomised controlled trials?
It is well documented that many clinical trials are stopped or extended due to issues surrounding recruitment and retention of participants. Trials involving children and their families can pose other, specific problems around recruitment and retention. Being able to predict which participants are more likely to withdraw from a trial could allow researchers to develop specific recruitment strategies. A systematic review of literature will be carried out to determine existing research and evidence on predictors of recruitment and retention in pediatric trials. This study will identify, evaluate and summarise findings of relevant studies. A retrospective qualitative study will be conducted to determine whether there are any predicting factors for attrition of participants in oral health trials. This will focus on an evaluation and characteristics of ‘drop-outs’ in existing research. Studies will be analysed and compared for significant differences between participants who remain on trials and those who ‘drop-out’ of studies. Particular attention will be paid to the relevance of RCT setting as a predictor of recruitment success. Practical recommendations for maximising recruitment and retention to oral health trials involving children and families will be made.
Tamara Brown – 1st year MPhil student
Title of MPhil: Vocational Rehabilitation and cost benefit analysis
Sickness absence results in a large economic cost, not only for the organisation that the individual works for but for the individual and the wider society. Dame Carol Black estimated the annual economic cost of ill-health, in terms of working days lost and worklessness, exceeds £100 billion: equivalent to the annual running costs of the NHS (Black, 2008). As Vocational Rehabilitation Services and concepts are being increasingly used and encouraged as a method to address sickness absence levels, both within the private and public sector, it is necessary to further explore the effectiveness of Vocational Rehabilitation Services and the impacts of the use of Vocational Rehabilitation interventions on the various stakeholders (public and private organisations, individuals and society). The aims of my MPhil are to identify the outcomes of a vocational rehabilitation intervention on the organisation, the individual and society, and to develop an existing cost-benefit analysis tool to encompass fiscal, economic and societal outcomes of vocational rehabilitation interventions. Thus, providing a tool allowing for comparisons of interventions and modes of interventions, providing an aid for decision making, whilst allowing for decisions to be based not only on the economics but also from a well-being and utilitarian perspective.
GTA Student Profiles
James Chandler – 2nd year PhD student and GTA
Title of PhD: Measuring health and wellbeing in Social Enterprises
I have been a GTA at Salford for just over a year now and have found the experience to be, above all, a rewarding one. The scheme is essentially a studentship which covers tuition fees and provides a bursary in exchange for teaching responsibilities. My teaching duties have involved lecturing and holding seminars in addition to providing students with informal feedback on their assignments. Overall I think GTAs get a very good deal out of it: tuition fees and living expenses are covered in exchange for teaching services which will ultimately benefit the GTA and help to develop their career. In comparison to a conventional PhD (i.e. no teaching), I think that while the GTA route might be more challenging, it is certainly more rewarding and as a result worthwhile. My research looks at the issue of workplace health. I am researching how organisational factors impact on employee health and wellbeing at work. Specifically, I am investigating the impact that working for a social enterprise might have on employee health and wellbeing. Social enterprises are businesses that trade for a social purpose; they are specifically set up to address social problems and use their profits to pursue these goals rather than enrich shareholders. My hypothesis is that working for a social enterprise will have a positive impact on employee health and wellbeing given the nature of the work they do and their emphasis on people rather than profit. I use both qualitative (interviews) and quantitative (questionnaire) methods to investigate this.
Alex Clarke-Cornwell – 1st year PhD student
Title of PhD: Increasing healthy lifestyle behaviours and quality of life in those with or at risk of chronic conditions – a community based participatory approach
Interventions to change lifestyle behaviours such as smoking cessation, alcohol reduction, physical activity and a healthy diet, are imperative in the prevention and management of the current burden of chronic disease. Chronic diseases are a major burden to the individual, society and the health service, and the impact of these conditions will continue to increase alongside increasing life expectancy in the UIK. Preventative services to control risk behaviours is one way to reduce the morbidity and mortality of chronic disease, and in turn improve health and quality of life. Low levels of physical activity, unhealthy diets and a high prevalence of obesity result in many people being at risk of chronic disease. Changes to these modifiable risk factors can have a powerful effect on the burden of chronic disease. The aims of my PhD are to develop an understanding of health lifestyle behaviours and their influence on chronic disease, behaviour change and healthy lifestyle interventions in the community; and to develop and implement an intervention to change lifestyle behaviour using an evidence based approach, which can be delivered at the community level to those at risk of chronic conditions.
Training and Skills
All postgraduate research students are expected to attend the College’s research methods seminars during your first year of study, covering subjects such as conducting a literature review, methods of data collection, research governance and ethics, and analysis, presentation, interpretation and rigour in qualitative research. Students are also eligible to attend all sessions on the Research Methods in Public Health and Statistics & Epidemiology modules (core elements of the MSc in Public Health).
In addition, the University offers all postgraduate research students an extensive range of free training activities to help develop your research and transferable skills. The Salford Postgraduate Research Training Programme (SPoRT) has been designed to equip researchers both for your university studies and for your future careers whether in academia, elsewhere in the public sector, or in industry and the private sector.
As a postgraduate research student at the University of Salford, you are required to meet a number of milestones in order to re-register for each year of study. These ‘progression points’ are an important aid for both you and your supervisory team and it is essential that you complete them on time.
Learning Agreement: this is completed by you and your supervisor collaboratively in the first 3 months of your research programme. It encourages both of you to develop a thorough and consistent understanding of your individual and shared roles and responsibilities in your research partnership.
Annual Progress Report: this report is completed by your supervisor at the end of each year of study, and reports on your achievements in the past year, the likelihood that you will submit on time, confirmation of the Learning Agreement and relevant training undertaken.
Self Evaluation Report: this is completed by you at the end of each year of study. It asks you to comment on your academic progress, supervisory arrangements, research environment, research training, and relevant training undertaken.
Interim Assessment: this is an assessment of your progress by a panel. It takes place towards the end of your first year, and is designed to ensure you have reached a threshold of academic performance, by assessing your general progress. The assessment comprises a written report, presentation and oral examination by a Panel. You must successfully complete it in order to register for your second year.
Internal Evaluation: this will take place towards the end of the second year and successful completion is required in order to continue onto your third year of study. You will be expected to show strong progress in your PhD study reflected in the submission of a substantial piece of work, generally at least 4 chapters of your thesis.