PhD Studentship available in the Department of Health Sciences, University of Leicester

Tackling inequalities in neonatal outcomes: an investigation of variation in care pathways following antenatal diagnosis of a severe fetal anomaly.

An exciting, cross-disciplinary doctoral studentship exploring socioeconomic inequalities in pregnancy and neonatal outcomes is available in the Department of Health Sciences, University of Leicester.

Wide socioeconomic inequalities exist in the rates of infants born with a severe congenital anomaly and consequently infant mortality rates, with much higher rates of infant mortality in the most deprived areas. These inequalities arise predominantly from wide socioeconomic variation in termination of pregnancy for congenital anomaly following antenatal detection, with much lower rates of termination seen in disadvantaged areas.

This studentship will study in detail parents' experiences of the care pathway following diagnosis of a severe anomaly with a poor prognostic outcome. The challenge is to better understand the variation observed and to identify potentially modifiable factors affecting service delivery that could reduce such variation in the future. The student will use qualitative research methods to explore the extremely sensitive and complex issues throughout the pathway including access to prenatal testing services; communication and interpretation of risk of mortality and morbidity; attitudes towards anomalies and disability; decision making processes around termination of pregnancy and access to termination services where appropriate. These areas will be explored with both parents and antenatal care providers such as midwives and clinicians.

This studentship is suitable for someone with qualitative research skills and with an interest in applied health services research and/or medical sociology. An undergraduate degree in health or social sciences is essential. A master's degree in a relevant subject is highly desirable. Applications from health professionals are welcomed.

This PhD studentship will be based in the University of Leicester's Department of Health Sciences, a multidisciplinary group of social scientists, statisticians, epidemiologists and clinicians, and will span two research groups: SAPPHIRE (Social Science APPlied to Healthcare Improvement Research) and TIMMS (The Infant Mortality and Morbidity Studies). The student will be supervised by Dr Natalie Armstrong, a medical sociologist based in SAPPHIRE, and Dr Lucy Smith, research fellow in health inequalities based in TIMMS.

More details on the studentship, the department, the supervisors, and how to apply can be found here:
http://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/health-sciences/PG/pgr/phd-studentship
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