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PhD Studentship: Understanding the Incidence and Predictors of Physical Comorbidities in People with First Episode Psychosis

University of East Anglia

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Norwich
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students, International Students
Funding amount: £18,622 Competition Funded Project (Home and International)
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 31st October 2023
Closes: 15th January 2024
Reference: ODUOLAS_U24FMH

Background                                           

Psychosis is a mental illness characterised by hallucinations, delusions and thought disorders. Studies have shown that people with the most severe form of the illness, e.g., schizophrenia, have 15-20 years of reduced life expectancy compared to everyone else. Emerging evidence also suggests that people with psychotic disorders are at increased risk of developing a range of metabolic disorders, such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Sometimes, side effects from antipsychotic medications make these physical comorbidities worse.   

The earlier people receive appropriate treatment for first episode psychosis (FEP), the better their outcomes. Therefore, the FEP phase offers an opportunity for prevention and early intervention in physical ill-health trajectories, but there is limited evidence on physical comorbidities in FEP populations.  

Aims & Research Methodology 

This PhD study aims to investigate which demographic groups might be at risk of poor physical health and explore factors that may explain the differences, informing the development of specific interventions.  

A cohort study design will utilise data from de-identified electronic health records at the South London and Maudsley Foundation Trust. You will work with clinical data on a cohort of people aged 18 – 64 years first diagnosed with a psychotic disorder in SLaM adult services between 1 Jan 2016- and 31 Dec 2020. The cohort data will be linked to the de-identified primary care clinical records, and patients will be followed until Dec 2025 to identify their physical health comorbidities (e.g., type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer). Data relating to age, gender, ethnicity, area-level deprivation and antipsychotic medication will be collected. You will analyse the data to explore factors associated with physical health comorbidities and mortality, then assess whether these differ by type of antipsychotic medication prescribed.   

Training

This PhD programme will provide robust training in advanced quantitative methods, including but not limited to:

Applied Statistical Modelling and Health Informatics

Natural Language Processing

This interdisciplinary study will also enable you to work with leading social and psychiatric epidemiology experts at the NIHR Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre, King’s College London.

Person specification

2:1 or above and a Masters degree in health or related subject. 

This PhD project is in a Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences competition for funded studentships. These studentships are funded for 3 years and comprise UK (Home) fees, an annual stipend of £18,622 and £1,000 per annum for research training (RTSG). International applicants may apply but are required to secure additional funding to fund the difference between UK and overseas tuition fees (visit: https://www.uea.ac.uk/study/fees-and-funding/fees for details of Home and Overseas fee rates).

Primary Supervisor: Sheri Oduola

Start Date: October 2024

For more information on this project, please visit https://www.uea.ac.uk/search/courses/

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