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PhD Opportunity on Health Inequalities at Lancaster University


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Transforming practice for health equity: Using the Health Inequalities Assessment Toolkit (HIAT)


There is accumulating evidence that some interventions and policies can unintentionally increase health inequalities. This is in part because approaches to reducing health inequalities often focus on modifying people’s behaviours without consideration of the wider politico-legal, economic and socio-cultural forces that shape those behaviours – a process that has been described as ‘lifestyle drift‘.

Despite this growing awareness, a health equity focus is not routinely embedded as a part of the development and evaluation of interventions and policies aimed at health improvements. In addition, there is a need for more imagination about effective ways in which front line health professionals can address the upstream social determinants of health inequalities.

Unfortunately, many practitioners, members of the public and researchers perceive that health inequalities can only be overcome by addressing macro-level determinants of health that are outside their field of influence. The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care North West Coast (CLAHRC NWC) has recognised this problem.

CLAHRC NWC has developed the Health Inequalities Assessment Tool to support all its partners to routinely incorporate an equity dimension into all their activities: applied research, evidence synthesis, capacity building, knowledge exchange, evaluation, dissemination and implementation. At the same time, the HIAT aims to infuse people with greater awareness of the structural determinants of health and stimulate more imaginative thinking about what action on inequalities is possible in their day-to-day practice as researchers, service providers, managers and commissioners.

The aim of this PhD project is to use qualitative methodologies to engage with individuals and teams that used the HIAT within CLAHRC NWC and to extend the enquiry to the NIHR School for Public Health Research, to discover what works to embed a narrative about the socio-economic causes of inequalities in health into research and knowledge transformation. The student will gain advanced expertise in qualitative enquiry and actions to tackle socio-economic inequalities in health, while developing a firm grounding in public involvement in research.

Candidates should have a 2:1 or 1st class degree in a relevant discipline. A master’s degree in a relevant discipline would be an advantage. Expressions of interest should be made to Professor Jennie Popay j.popay@lancaster.ac.uk including a covering letter, copy of your CV and contact details for two referees.

  • Deadline: 23 January 2019
  • Supervisors: Professor Jennie Popay and Dr Ana Porroche-Escudero
  • Location: Lancaster University
  • Eligibility: UK and European students only

Funding notes

This is a fully funded studentship, including tuition fees, an annual tax-free stipend of £14,777 ( index-linked) and contribution towards research and training costs. It is linked to the Liverpool and Lancaster Universities Collaboration for Public Health Research (LiLaC), which is part of the National Institute for Health Research School for Public Health Research (SPHR).

Three other fully-funded studentships are being advertised by LiLaC at the same time, on different aspects of inequalities in health. All PhD studentships appointed by LiLaC will have access to development and support opportunities through the NIHR Trainees Coordinating Centre and Academy.

Source: FindAPhD 

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