Health Sciences: Fully Funded Health Care Research Wales PhD Scholarship: Co-producing and improving care for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

  • Phd
  • Full cost of UK/EU tuition fees, plus a stipend
  • 13 August 2018

Fully Funded Health Care Research Wales PhD Scholarship: Co-producing an intervention to improve care for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders:聽A cross-disciplinary mixed-methods study
Subject areas: Health Sciences, Public Health, Education, Psychology, Improvement science and quality improvement, Epidemiology, Sociology, Public health, Qualitative Research Methods, Mixed methods
Applications are invited from a highly motivated, enthusiastic graduate with an interest in early childhood interventions to join a well-supported, friendly research team. Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are complex life-long conditions, yet delays in diagnosis are commonplace and specific evidence-based interventions are lacking. This causes significant hardship to individuals and families, and leads to substantial service costs across several systems. Care for individuals with ASD is complex, involving a range of different individuals and agencies including healthcare, education services as well as the individuals themselves and their families. Identifying and facilitating improved care pathways is therefore essential, but few studies using health improvement methods and involving co-production by researchers and key stakeholders have been conducted. To address this gap, the student will need to conduct reviews of relevant literature and liaise with a broad group of individuals including children with ASD, their families, school teachers, health professionals, educational and clinical psychologists, and other allied groups.
This mixed-methods study will utilise both qualitative and quantitative techniques and will involve scoping current services and identifying current good practice before working together with key stakeholders to design an intervention to improve communication. By doing so, this PhD research is expected to provide information to inform policy and practice, to improve cross-agency care for children with ASD.
Supervision of the project will be led by Professor Sharon Williams from Swansea University (College of Human and Health Sciences), with co-supervision by Drs Lisa Hurt and Kate Langley at Cardiff University (Schools of Medicine and Psychology). The student will also receive advice and support from other members of the Autism Collaborative Research group, (ACRe), including individuals based at Cardiff Metropolitan University (Humanities Department), and University of Wales Trinity St David (Faculty of Education and Communities).
Project Description:
The aim of this PhD study is to co-produce an intervention with key stakeholders to improve the communication between families, school staff and health professionals, and therefore improve the delivery of an integrated care pathway for children of primary school age with ASD. To achieve this, a mixed methods study is proposed that will include the following:
路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Conducting a scoping study of integrated care pathways for children with ASD (or other pervasive neuro-developmental disorders) in high income countries.
路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Conducting a literature review on the effectiveness of experience-based co-design and co-production approaches.
路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Conducting an ethnographic study with key individuals involved with the care of children with ASD in Wales
路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Working with stakeholders to identify potential interventions/pathways to improve communication.
There will be some opportunities for the student to develop and pursue their own interests within the framework of the project.
Training will be available on systematic reviews, quantitative and qualitative methods, the student will be responsible for data collection and analysis and for writing papers.
This PhD research is expected to provide information to inform policy and practice and improve cross-agency care for children with ASD, by developing an improved understanding of the current evidence-base on the use of multi-agency care pathways to improve care for children with ASD. 聽A new integrated autism service is currently being launched in Wales. This work will be of direct benefit to the new service, by developing a better way for professions and organisations to work together to support children with ASD and their families with the individuals who deliver and receive care.
Study Supervisors:
This is an interdisciplinary project between Swansea University (the host Institution) and Cardiff University. The supervisory team includes experts in quality improvement and pathway design, neurodevelopmental disorders, epidemiological methodologies (including systematic reviews), the development and testing of interventions.
Professor Sharon Williams聽鈥 Primary Supervisor at host Institution 鈥 Swansea University, with expertise in Quality improvement and pathway design.
Dr Lisa Hurt聽鈥 Second Supervisor 鈥 in the Division of Population Medicine, Cardiff University School of Medicine, with expertise in epidemiological methodologies (including systematic reviews) and the development and testing of interventions in the early years.
Dr Kate Langley聽鈥 Third Supervisor 鈥 at School of Psychology, Cardiff University with expertise in neurodevelopmental disorders including ASD and public engagement.
The PhD advisory panel will also include other members of the ACRe group who have specific expertise in equity education, statistical techniques for applied and interdisciplinary research and English and Creative writing, and patient and public involvement representatives
Deadline for applications is 5pm, 13 August 2018 and interviews will take place on 21 August 2018.


Candidates must hold a 2.1 or above in their undergraduate degree and/or a master's degree in聽Health Sciences, Public Health, Psychology, Epidemiology, Education,聽Quality improvement/Improvement science,聽Sociology or other health related discipline.
Previous research experience is desirable.聽
We would normally expect the academic and English Language requirements to be met by point of application. For details on the University鈥檚 English Language entry requirements, please visit 鈥撀爃ttp://
Due to funding restrictions, this scholarship is open to UK/EU candidates聽only.


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This scholarship covers the full cost of UK/EU tuition fees, plus an annual stipend of 拢14,979 and up to 拢1,000 across the duration of their candidature.


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