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Research Assistant

University of Stirling

Location: Stirling
Salary: £29,605 to £36,024 per annum, pro rata
Hours: Part Time
Contract Type: Fixed-Term/Contract
Placed On: 7th February 2024
Closes: 5th March 2024
Job Ref: FAC01903

The Post

Research Assistant position to work with Professor Gozde Ozakinci on a NIHR funded project ‘PET-CT guided, symptom-based, patient-initiated surveillance versus clinical follow-up in advanced head neck cancer (PETNECK 2)’.

Head and neck cancer is increasing rapidly, with 12,000 patients diagnosed in the UK each year. Currently, people finishing treatment attend a clinic review every 2-6 months for 5 years to check if the cancer has come back (called recurrence). If caught early, there is a better chance of successful treatment. However, most patients feel they are seen too frequently, which increases their worry about cancer recurrence. It is also inefficient because few cancers are found this way, and clinical services struggle with increasing demand. Recurrent cancers are much more likely to be found when patients ask to be seen because their symptoms have changed. Studies also show that a new type of scan, called PET-CT, done 1-year after treatment can identify patients who are unlikely to get recurrence and could therefore be followed up less frequently.

We have developed a new way of following up patients, called patient-led follow-up, which proposes patients have a PET-CT scan 1-year after finishing treatment. If no cancer is detected, they will be given an education session, by a nurse, about what symptoms of recurrent cancer to look out for. The information will also be given in print and online. They will then be on an ‘open urgent appointment’, which guarantees review by their clinical team within 2 weeks if they develop worrying symptoms, instead of regular clinic visits. We are now running a multi-centre national clinical study, comparing this new PET-CT guided, patient-initiated follow-up with the current routine follow-up (https://www.petneck2.com/).

We aim to find out:

  1. which way of follow-up is better at detecting cancer recurrence,
  2. what effects these two ways have on patients’ experience, worry about recurrence and quality-of-life,
  3. which follow-up way costs less, although this is not the main reason for running this study

The postholder will work with the wider PETNECK2 team and will be based at the University of Stirling, examining the fears of cancer recurrence both qualitatively and quantitatively between the two arms of the study. The postholder will conduct and analyse some baseline and follow-up interviews on fear of cancer recurrence as well as analyse questionnaire data collected as part of the clinical study.

Description of Duties

  • Project coordination for qualitative interviews
  • Questionnaire compilation and statistical analysis
  • Conducting qualitative interviews with the PETNECK2 research participants
  • Transcribing and analysing existing and follow-up qualitative interviews
  • Data entry and cleaning
  • Producing Interim reports for research team meetings as well as supporting the writing of the manuscripts for publications

Essential Criteria

  • Master’s degree, in the field of Health Psychology or a cognate discipline
  • Evidence of being able to conduct empirical research/enquiry independently.
  • Evidence of research experience, in quantitative and qualitative study designs
  • Evidence of good administrative and project management skills

For further information, including a full description of duties, essential criteria and details on how to apply, please click the 'Apply' button, above.

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