PhD Research Project: Understanding multimorbidity in the working age population

United Kingdom
Jul 27, 2017
Aug 18, 2017
Organization Type
University and College
Full Time

One year. Start date: 25th September 2017.

A Masters in Research (MSc by Research) studentship based in the Institute of Applied Health Research at the University of Birmingham is available as part of Theme 4 of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Collaborations for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) West Midlands (

Increasing numbers of patients have multimorbidity (multiple long-term conditions), and the management of these patients presents unique challenges to the NHS and social care organisations, which are often not set up to respond in a coordinated way to patients’ physical, psychological and practical needs.

Studies have found that patients with multimorbidity may find it difficult to manage multiple hospital or primary care appointments, and sometimes undergo repeat tests and attend consultations with a number of different clinicians who may give conflicting advice about how their conditions should be managed. Patients are often on multiple drugs which may interact with each other or be burdensome, and patients often say their care is poorly coordinated and that communication between services could be improved. As a result, healthcare use is high in this group, and evidence suggests that patients with multimorbidity account for more than half of all primary care consultations in the UK, have higher rates of hospital admission and more hospital outpatient visits than patients without multimorbidity.

Although most studies have focused on older patients, multimorbidity is more prevalent in absolute terms in those aged under 65. However, the impact of multimorbidity in those aged between 40 and 64 is under-researched, and we know little about the clinical and sociodemographic characteristics of the working age population with multimorbidity, their patterns of health and social care use, and the potential changes that could be made to services to manage these patients better.

We have obtained a large, anonymised national patient dataset that includes data on over 500,000 participants aged between 40 and 69. We are looking to appoint a MRes student to analyse the data to develop an understanding of the prevalence and characteristics of multimorbidity in the working age population. This could include:

- Assessing how best to define multimorbidity in this population
- Understanding multimorbidity prevalence
- Understanding which patient characteristics are associated with multimorbidity
- Assessing which conditions are associated with increased healthcare use

This Masters studentship offers an opportunity to work on an issue where new approaches are required, and which is of crucial importance to the NHS. You will need good quantitative skills and to be confident in managing and analysing epidemiological data. You must also be able to support these quantitative skills with a clear approach to addressing gaps in the current evidence base on multimorbidity in the working age population. You will be encouraged to disseminate research findings at research meetings, conferences, and in established scientific journals.

The successful applicant will join a team that includes specialists in epidemiology, qualitative and quantitative research methods, health services research and systematic reviewing. The detail of the project for this MRes will be agreed with the supervisors once the post holder has been appointed.



• A first or upper second class honours degree in a relevant subject area
• Key essential skills include:
o Experience in statistical analysis of large datasets
o The ability to prioritise your own workload and work to deadlines;
o High levels of motivation;
o Excellent oral and written communication;
o Strong analytical skills and the ability to produce clear and concise syntheses of findings

For further information, please contact Dr Sarah Damery (; Tel 0121 414 3343)


Formal applications require:

- CV to include the names and addresses of two referees (postal and email)
- Covering letter explaining why your experience and research interests make you suitable for this MRes
- One side of A4 giving a structured outline of your proposed research topic including research question(s) and a summary of the methods you might use

Please send your application to Cat Taylor

Funding Notes

As funding is only available for 12 months, we are only able to offer this MSc by Research to a full-time student.

This post is open to UK/EU students only. The University of Birmingham registration fee and stipend of £14,553 is covered for 1 year.

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