PhD Studentship: What role can hospitals play in protecting children and young people from exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke? Developing a novel intervention to support families to change their smoking behaviours.

University of Birmingham - Institute of Applied Health

Exposure to second hand 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]. 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 change their smoking behaviours.

Current 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 [4-10]. Paediatric healthcare visits, such as a hospital admission, may provide an opportunity to intervene with smoking parents [11]. 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 SHS interventions.

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 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 based within the Institute of Applied Health Research at the University of Birmingham but will work closely with Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

Person Specification
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 with knowledge of tobacco control and health promotion desirable. Candidates should have a good understanding of qualitative and quantitative methods. Experience of working with stakeholders relevant to the project 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;
  • Names/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 where they will be expected to undertake skills based tasks.

Additional Funding Information
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.

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Midlands of England