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PhD Studentship: Uncertainty during potential cancer diagnosis in the ERICA trial, Medical School

University of Exeter - Medical Science

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Exeter
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: £15,009 per annum
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 17th April 2019
Closes: 3rd June 2019
Reference: 3521

About the Award

The University of Exeter’s College of Medicine and Health, in partnership with the Dennis and Mireille Gillings Foundation, is offering a fully-funded PhD studentship with an annual stipend of £15,009 plus UK/EU tuition fees, for a maximum of 36 months.

The start date is September 2019 or as soon as possible thereafter.

Project Description

The studentship is embedded within the ERICA trial: A large randomised controlled trial in a planned 530 English practices examining whether integrating electronic cancer diagnostic algorithms (known as electronic Risk Assessment Tools, or eRATs) into GP clinical software allows earlier detection of cancer.

The PhD studentship explores important aspects of the trial relating to uncertainty during potential cancer diagnosis.

The doctor-patient relationship is a critical aspect of patient care with implications for health outcomes. Clinical consultations that include a potential cancer diagnosis may be shrouded in uncertainty for both the patient and the general practitioner (GP).  Under conditions of uncertainty both the GP’s and patient’s information processing are impacted – patients may misunderstand the risk information and/or have their perception of risk affected by their emotional reaction to the situation; clinicians may rely on mental heuristics, or biases, in their decision making. The consequences of such uncertainties mean i) GP decision making may lead to inequity in patient care, ii) patients may adopt different preferences about the degree and detail of information they wish to receive about the consequences of investigations and a potential cancer diagnosis. Uncertainty within both parties has the potential to threaten the doctor-patient relationship.

The programme of work will explore the impact of uncertainty on both the patient’s and GP’s information processing and lead to the development of a toolkit to support both parties and strengthen the doctor-patient relationship.

About us

The research will be supervised by five experienced research staff from the College of Medicine and Health: Prof Sarah Dean, (lead supervisor), Dr Mark Tarrant, Dr Raff Calitri, Dr Liz Shephard, Professor Willie Hamilton (clinical supervisor).

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