PhD Studentship in Communication: A Non-Specific Component within the Context of Wellbeing that may Influence Treatment Efficacy of Low Back Pain (LBP)

Bournemouth University - Faculty of Health and Social Sciences

Lead Supervisor name: Carol Clark

Low Back Pain is a major health problem, causing more global disability than any other health condition. This match-funded studentship (matched by Bournemouth University and AECC University College) with input  across three HEIs aims to explore non-specific factors that influence treatment efficacy for low back pain (LBP) following manual therapy.

These so-called “non-specific” or more accurately, contextual factors associated with treatments that influence outcomes, have been described broadly as “social, environmental and psychological factors”. It has been proposed that there are five domains: i) patient-professional interaction; ii) patient beliefs, iii) practitioner beliefs; iv) healthcare environment and v) treatment characteristics. Functional MRI has shown that pain related words can activate brain circuits in a similar way to an external pain source (e.g. metabolite accumulation in an exercising muscle). It is suggested that patient beliefs and practitioner’s beliefs about LBP and the patient-professional dialogue may be powerful mediums that influence treatment efficacy.

Listening to a person’s story and communicating within the context of the human dimensions of illness and healing are believed to be integral to the therapeutic management of pain.  Little if any research has explored the influence of non-specific factors, such as the modulation of language, alongside a treatment intervention for LBP, particularly within manual therapeutic approaches within  chiropractic care.

This project provides an exciting opportunity for an aspiring individual with an interest in exploring ‘non-specific’ factors that contribute to treatment efficacy of manual therapy techniques. The team behind the project are Dr Carol Clark (BU) Dr Dave Newell (AECC University College) Dr Clare Killingback (BU) with Dr Felicity Bishop as an advisor from the University of Southampton.

What does the funded studentship include?

Funded candidates will receive a maintenance grant of £14,777 per annum (unless otherwise specified), to cover their living expenses and have their fees waived for 48 months.

In addition, research costs, including field work and conference attendance, will be met.

Eligibility criteria:

Candidates for funded PhD studentship must demonstrate outstanding qualities and be motivated to complete a PhD in 3 years.

Studentship candidates must demonstrate outstanding academic potential with a 1st class honours degree and/or a Master’s degree with distinction. An IELTS (Academic) score of 6.5 minimum (with a minimum 6 in each component) is essential for candidates for whom English is not their first language.

Additional Eligibility:

Clinicians with a 1st class honours degree/masters degree and registration with either: General Chiropractic Council, Health Care Professions Council, Nursing and Midwifery Council, General Medical Council.


Applicants with a 1st class honours degree or Master’s degree in Psychology

Closing date: The first call for applications will close on 9 May 2018.

For further information on how to apply click the ‘Apply’ button below or email

Share this PhD
  Share by Email   Print this job   More sharing options
We value your feedback on the quality of our adverts. If you have a comment to make about the overall quality of this advert, or its categorisation then please send us your feedback
Advert information

Type / Role:



South West England