MPhil/PhD Scholarship: Living with total spinal fusion surgery for idiopathic scoliosis: an interpretive phenomenology study

University of Greenwich - Faculty: Education and Health, Avery Hill Campus

Title: Living with total spinal fusion surgery for idiopathic scoliosis: an interpretive phenomenology study

Description: Idiopathic scoliosis commonly affects adolescents at puberty; there is no proven cause, although genetic and embryological theories are proposed. Unequal development of spinal musculature causes thoracic (chest), lumbar (lower back) or thoracolumbar (chest and lower back) curvatures and twists which sometimes respond to external bracing. For unresponsive curvatures, spinal fusion surgery with internal permanent fixation is the optimal treatment. Extensive research has guided refinement of best surgical practices and despite risks and costs, clinical outcomes are usually excellent with very low complication rates. Quality of life linked to clinical outcomes has been measured quantitatively in the post-operative period, using validated tools. The minimal qualitative evidence has explored immediate post-operative experiences of clinical aspects, including pain. However, evidence suggests that long fusion (from neck down to second or third lumbar vertebra) may significantly impact on gait mechanisms. Fusion surgery affects trunk mobility and reduces pelvis, hip and shoulder motion, affecting walking and mobility. The muscular mechanical work required to move the body in its surroundings is, because of these permanent fixations, excessive. Long fusion may therefore have a meaningful yet unseen impact on the social world of the adolescent / young person. Using appropriate qualitative methods and philosophical principles, this interpretive phenomenology study aims to reveal the life-world of young people living with long spinal fusion and demonstrate how this compares with currently available health information about idiopathic scoliosis.

For further information please contact the supervisor:  

Dr Lesley Dibley -; 020 8331 9703

Bursary available (subject to satisfactory performance):

Year 1:  £14,777 Year 2 and Year 3: In line with RCUK rate

The successful candidate will receive a contribution to tuition fees equivalent to the university’s Home/EU rate, currently £4,260, for the duration of their scholarship. International applicants will need to pay the remainder tuition fee, currently £9,240, for the duration of their scholarship. This fee is subject to an annual increase. Scholarships are available for three years, full-time study, from the date scholars first register as an MPhil/PhD student with the university. Applicants must meet the programme entry requirements. 

For additional information about the scholarship please go to: 

Please read this information before making an application. Applications need to be made online via   No other form of application will be considered.

All applications must include the following information.  Applications not containing these documents will not be considered.

  • Scholarship Reference Number (Ref) – included in the personal statement section together with your personal statement as to why you are applying
  • A research proposal* - An outline proposal of how you would design and deliver the project with reference to philosophical principles of interpretive phenomenology
  • a CV including 2 referees *
  • academic qualification certificates/transcripts and IELTs/English Language certificate if you are an international applicant or if English is not your first language or you are from a country where English is not the majority spoken language as defined by the UK Border Agency *

*upload to the qualification section of the application form. Attachments need to be in PDF format.

The closing date for applications is midnight (UTC) on 9 May 2018.

The scholarship must commence before31 October 2018.

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