PhD Studentship: Developing and applying methods to evaluate natural experiments in public health: The impact of public health interventions on British drinking occasions

University of Sheffield - School of Health & Related Research

Suitable candidates: This PhD project would suit candidates with a strong mathematical or statistical background and an interest in large datasets, trend analysis, typological models or modelling of complex social change. We particularly encourage applications from bright students aiming to use their PhD as a springboard to a scientific career.

Background: Governments often seek to change the drinking culture of their country. However, the quantitative characteristics of drinking cultures, how these change over time and how they are affected by public health interventions are all poorly understood. The University of Sheffield’s Alcohol Research Group are developing quantitative methods to analyse change in Britain’s drinking culture using a large-scale diary dataset detailing the characteristics of people’s drinking occasions between 2001 and 2016. More information on our work to date can be found in the follow links:

Journal article: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/add.13397/abstract

Conference presentation: http://www.fead.org.uk/video/dr-john-holmes-using-social-practice-theory-to-measure-british-drinking-culture/

Aims: This PhD project aims to develop and apply methods for evaluating how interventions enacted between 2001 and 2016 affected British drinking, specifically the different types of occasions in which people drink. Interventions the student could evaluate include the ban on smoking in pubs, reduction of the Scottish drink driving limit, incremental increases in alcohol taxation over time, the 2003 Licensing Act which introduced so-called ’24-hour drinking’ and/or the effects of the 2008 economic crisis. Special topic or methods interests (e.g. gender, health inequalities, typological analysis, complex adaptive systems modelling etc) can be accommodated through involvement of relevant additional supervisors.

Methodological approach: The project will employ quantitative evaluation methods and the student will have freedom to develop their own methodological approach. They will collaborate with the research group to align their work with other analyses of the same dataset.

Research environment: The successful candidate will join the Sheffield Alcohol Research Group, an internationally-leading centre of excellence for alcohol policy research. We are an interdisciplinary group of researchers with backgrounds in public health, psychology, operational research, mathematics, systems engineering, behavioural science, social policy, demography and economics. The group attracts significant grant income, and publishes in leading academic journals including the Lancet, BMJ and PLOS Medicine. In addition to Sheffield’s excellent doctoral training programme, the candidate will have the opportunity to engage in a wide range of research activities of the group, contributing to publications, gaining experience of writing funding applications and developing their teaching experience.

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Type / Role:

PhD

Location(s):

Northern England