Funded PhD Studentship; The Challenges of Seeking to Avoid Overdiagnosis and Overtreatment

Funded PhD Studentship; The Challenges of Seeking to Avoid Overdiagnosis and Overtreatment

A funded PhD studentship is available in the Social Science Applied to Healthcare Improvement Research (SAPPHIRE) Group, Department of Health Sciences at the University of Leicester.

Title: The challenges of seeking to avoid overdiagnosis and overtreatment: Exploring defensive practice.

Many potential drivers of overdiagnosis and overtreatment have been identified and professionals’ fears of future litigation and their consequent defensive practice are commonly cited as important, but our understanding of these concerns, their validity, and their consequences for patient care remain underdeveloped.

This project will draw on relevant social science theory around diagnosis, the management of risk and uncertainty, and accountability, governance and regulation to examine a purposive sample of clinical case studies. Using qualitative methods including interviews, observations, and documentary analysis these case studies will explore in detail professionals’ concerns about the potential implications of seeking to do less rather than more for their patients and how features of the way in which the healthcare system is organised and governed make it challenging for clinicians and patients to behave in ways that might be considered ‘deviant’. These accounts will be analysed in the context of UK law on medical negligence and professional ethics.

The PhD will be supervised by Professor Natalie Armstrong and aligns to her ongoing Health Foundation Improvement Science Fellowship on health system change to mitigate overdiagnosis and overtreatment. It also fits with wider interests in the SAPPHIRE Group on the management of uncertainty related to diagnosis and treatment. This is a multidisciplinary PhD drawing on strengths from the SAPPHIRE Group and working collaboratively with the medico-legal cluster within Leicester Law School.


Further information and how to apply can be found here. Deadline for applications is 31st January 2019.

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