PhD Studentship (Graduate Teaching Assistant) in Health Psychology: Patient and Staff Experiences of Renal Dialysis Treatment (Reference HP2016/07)

Institute for Innovation in Sustainable Engineering (IISE) and Centre for Psychological Research, University of Derby, UK


Research area

In people with acute or chronic kidney failure, waste products and excess water from metabolism must be removed by dialysis to compensate for loss of kidney function and sustain life. The kidneys maintain an equilibrium level of water and solutes inside the body, function as part of the endocrine system, and excrete acidic metabolic end-products. Dialysis performs these functions through diffusion and ultrafiltration but cannot correct the compromised endocrine functions.

Positive long-term outcomes for patients are significantly compromised by blood pressure instability during dialysis treatments, which can impair blood supply (hypoperfusion) of vulnerable organs such as the heart and the brain, which over time has a degrading effect on long term organ function. This may impact not just on patient outcomes but also on quality of life and symptom burden.

The iTREND project (Intelligent Technologies for Renal Dialysis and Diagnostics) focuses on sensors, prognostics and diagnostics to perform real-time control or decision support as a technology add-on to dialysis equipment to improve patients’ long-term outcomes. It will integrate new data collection methods, sensors and intelligent analysis and control to deliver a hardware/software expert system to sit alongside existing dialysis equipment to perform closed loop control to achieve positive outcomes through improved stability during dialysis.

The PhD studentship project will add a behavioural and psychological perspective to the iTREND project, by focusing on hospital patient and staff experiences of renal dialysis treatment, including approximately 50 dialysis patients over three years. The details of the PhD study protocol will reflect the contribution of the successful candidate, but is expected to be a mixed methods project including:

  • Quantitative analysis of survival and other hospital-recorded data;
  • Quantitative analysis of patient-reported adherence, quality of life and other data using standardised scales;
  • Qualitative analysis of patient interview and/or focus group data;
  • Qualitative analysis of hospital staff interview data.

The PhD supervisory team is expected to comprise Professors Kath Mitchell, James Elander and Paul Stewart. The successful applicant will become a student member of the Institute for Innovation in Sustainable Engineering ( and the Centre for Psychological Research (


Principal accountabilities

Graduate Teaching Assistants are expected to complete their study and submit for a PhD award within 3 years, and to contribute to teaching in the relevant Departments for up to 6 hours per week. They must:

  • Undertake research and scholarly activity associated with the PhD study programme;
  • Produce excellent research outputs and high quality publications;
  • Attend appropriate academic conferences and seminars appropriate to the PhD study;
  • Provide a high level of integrity and commitment towards the project;
  • Teach or support teaching on programmes and modules within agreed curricula, particularly within the areas of research applicable to the PhD study.




  1. Good (first or upper second class honours) degree in psychology or a closely related subject
  2. Quantitative and qualitative research skills
  3. Familiarity with health psychology or related research
  4. Knowledge and awareness of research issues in health service contexts
  5. Ability to work in a multidisciplinary team
  6. Knowledge and ability to contribute to teaching in higher education


  1. MSc in health psychology or a closely related subject
  2. Experience with mixed methods research
  3. Experience with research in a health service context
  4. Knowledge or experience of multidisciplinary research
  5. Some teaching, demonstration or presentation experience


Funding details

The start date is October 2016 or soon after. The studentship covers tuition fees to the Home/EU level plus a stipend for living expenses of £14,296 per annum. If your application is successful and you are assessed as Overseas for fees purposes, you will need to pay the difference between the Home/EU fees and the Overseas fees. Funding will be awarded for a period of up to three years subject to satisfactory progress.


For details of how to apply, please see:

Use the Research Proposal part of the application form to show how you would approach an evaluation of patient and staff experiences of renal dialysis treatment as part of the iTREND project.

Complete applications should be forwarded to Stuart Wain at, quoting reference number HP2016/07.  


Informal enquiries may be addressed to Professor James Elander (, or Professor Paul Stewart ( Please note that applications sent directly to these email address will not be accepted.


Deadline for applications: Friday 9th September 2016.

Interviews are expected to be held on Wednesday 26th October 2016. If you have not heard from us by this date, please assume that on this occasion your application has not been successful.



The iTREND project is funded by The MStart Trust and is a multidisciplinary research collaboration between the University of Derby and the Centre for Kidney Research and Innovation, Division of Medical Sciences and Graduate Entry Medicine, University of Nottingham.