PhD Research Project: What role can hospitals play in protecting children and young people from exp

United Kingdom
Jul 27, 2017
Sep 04, 2017
Organization Type
University and College
Full Time

Applications are invited for a three year fully-funded PhD Studentship to start by January 2018 at the latest.



Exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke (SHS) has been causally linked with mortality and morbidity in non-smokers, disproportionately affecting the health of children and young people [1] and placing a substantial burden on health services [2]. There is no safe level of exposure [3]. Whilst exposure in England has declined recently [4], 39% of children who live with smokers are still regularly exposed to SHS at home [5]. The most effective way to reduce children and young people’s SHS exposure is to encourage their parents to quit; however, for parents who cannot or will not quit, there is a need to support families to initiate behaviour change to protect their children from harm.

The current systematic review evidence suggests that there are a range of intervention strategies that may protect children from SHS exposure, but that no particular approach can be recommended over another [6-12]. Settings, such as hospitals, may require specific interventions, but again, evidence on what should be done remains unclear. Paediatric healthcare visits, such as an admission to hospital, may provide a teachable moment to raise parental awareness of the harms of children’s exposure to SHS and an opportunity to motivate parents to make changes to their smoking behaviours [13]. Hospitals may therefore provide an ideal setting within which smoking families can be identified and where they may be receptive to intervention around their smoking behaviours. There is a need to further explore, using mixed-methods, how hospitals currently address the issue of SHS exposure with smoking families and whether there is scope and support for developing hospital based interventions to address children and young people’s exposure to SHS.

The overarching aim of this PhD research is to develop and feasibility test a novel hospital based intervention that supports families to change their smoking behaviours to protect children and young people from SHS exposure. This overall PhD research aim will be achieved via the objectives of the four interlinked work packages:

1. to systematically identify and synthesise the current evidence on interventions aiming to reduce children and young people’s SHS exposure that are initiated and/or delivered within a hospital or specialist outpatient setting;
2. to explore smoking families’ and healthcare professionals’ attitudes, perceptions and acceptability of potential SHS intervention/s initiated and/or delivered within a hospital setting;
3. to develop and describe a novel SHS intervention/s initiated and/or delivered within a hospital setting;
4. to assess the feasibility and acceptability of delivering the SHS intervention and the feasibility of recruitment, retention and follow up.



The researcher will be primarily based within the Institute of Applied Health Research at the University of Birmingham but will work closely with Birmingham Children’s Hospital (BCH), part of Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust. BCH was recently recognised by the Care Quality Commission as the UK’s first Outstanding standalone children’s hospital.


Person Specification

Candidates should have a commitment to public health/behavior change research with demonstrable organisational and communication skills. Candidates should hold or realistically expect to obtain a Master’s Degree and at least an Upper Second Class Honours Degree in relevant health-related subjects.

Successful applicants will have a strong background in a relevant health-related area (e.g. health psychology, public health or social sciences) with knowledge of tobacco control and health promotion being desirable. Candidates should have a good understanding of qualitative and quantitative methods. Experience of working with stakeholders relevant to the project (e.g. families who smoke, young people, and healthcare professionals) would be beneficial.


How to apply
Informal enquiries should be directed to Dr Laura Jones ( and applications should be sent to Catherine Taylor (


To apply, please send:
• A Detailed CV, including your nationality and country of birth;
• Names and addresses of two referees;
• A covering letter highlighting your research experience/capabilities;
• Copies of your degree transcripts;
• Evidence of your proficiency in the English language (if applicable).

Applicants will be required to attend an interview. As part of the interview process applicants will be expected to undertake skills based tasks such as giving a presentation and critically appraising a research paper.


Funding Notes

This studentship is funded by the Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity (reference: 37-3-967). British and EU nationality applicants are eligible for both the cost of tuition fees and a yearly stipend (at RCUK rate) over the course of the three year PhD Programme.



1. Oberg M, Jaakkola MS, Woodward A, Peruga A, Pruss-Ustun A. Worldwide burden of disease from exposure to second-hand smoke: a retrospective analysis of data from 192 countries. Lancet. 2011;377(9760):139-46.
2. Royal College of Physicians. Passive smoking and children. A report by the Tobacco Advisory Group. London: RCP, 2010.
3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General. Rockville, MD: 2006.
4. Sims M, Tomkins S, Judge K, Taylor G, Jarvis MJ, Gilmore A. Trends in and predictors of second-hand smoke exposure indexed by cotinine in children in England from 1996 to 2006. Addiction. 2010;105(3):543-53.
5. Jarvis MJ, Feyerabend C. Recent trends in children's exposure to second-hand smoke in England: cotinine evidence from the Health Survey for England. Addiction. 2015. doi:10.1111/add.12962
6. Baxi R, Sharma M, Roseby R, Polnay A, Priest N, Waters E, et al. Family and carer smoking control programmes for reducing children's exposure to environmental tobacco smoke. The Cochrane database of systematic reviews. 2014;3:CD001746.
7. Baxter S, Blank L, Everson-Hock ES, Burrows J, Messina J, Guillaume L, et al. The effectiveness of interventions to establish smoke-free homes in pregnancy and in the neonatal period: a systematic review. Health Educ Res. 2011;26(2):265-82.
8. Daly JB, Mackenzie LJ, Freund M, Wolfenden L, Roseby R, Wiggers JH. Interventions by Health Care Professionals Who Provide Routine Child Health Care to Reduce Tobacco Smoke Exposure in Children: A Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA Pediatr. 2016;170(2):138-47.
9. Gehrman CA, Hovell MF. Protecting children from environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) exposure: a critical review. Nicotine Tob Res. 2003;5(3):289-301.
10. Rosen LJ, Myers V, Hovell M, Zucker D, Ben Noach M. Meta-analysis of parental protection of children from tobacco smoke exposure. Pediatrics. 2014;133(4):698-714
11. Rosen LJ, Myers V, Winickoff JP, Kott J. Effectiveness of Interventions to Reduce Tobacco Smoke Pollution in Homes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2015;12(12):16043-59..
12. Rosen LJ, Noach MB, Winickoff JP, Hovell MF. Parental smoking cessation to protect young children: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Pediatrics. 2012;129(1):141-52.
13. Winickoff JP, Berkowitz AB, Brooks K, Tanski SE, Geller A, Thomson C, et al. State-of-the-art interventions for office-based parental tobacco control. Pediatrics. 2005;115(3):750-60.