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Addressing the Polypharmacy Challenge in Older People

The Polypharmacy Challenge Blog


PhD Studentship Opportunity: polypharmacy challenge in working-age adults

We're advertising a PhD studentship funded through the NIHR CLAHRC North Thames.

The successful candidate will join the APOLLO-MM team - supervised by Professor Deborah Swinglehurst and Dr Nina Fudge. The PhD will extend the interests of the ongoing APOLLO-MM study, focusing on multimorbidity and polypharmacy in adults of working-age.


Photo by Martino Pietropoli on Unsplash

Multimorbidity (the presence of two or more ongoing medical conditions) and polypharmacy (the use of five or more medications concurrently) increasingly affects working-age people. This is particularly the case in socially disadvantaged groups. Although the prevalence of multimorbidity increases with age, the absolute number of people with multimorbidity is higher in adults aged under 65. Amongst people living in the most deprived areas, the onset of multimorbidity occurs 10 – 15 years earlier than in the most affluent areas.

The student will conduct an in-depth, longitudinal ethnographic research study in which the focus is on observing the lives, experiences and ‘medicines work’ of patients (n=12-14) living with multimorbidity in the community. The student will follow the lives of these patients over a period of 12-18 months:

  • exploring the challenges they face
  • unpacking what ‘self-management’ means in this context
  • considering how the ‘burden of treatment’ impacts on adults of working age.

The project is ethnographic in orientation and will involve a range of qualitative research methods: literature review; observations in which detailed ethnographic field notes are taken; in-depth narrative interviews; semi-structured interviews; creative ethnographic methods (e.g. the development and deployment of ‘cultural probes’ to help patients in depicting their lives).

Aside from academic outputs (the PhD thesis and related academic publications and presentations) the project lends itself to the development of creative professional and patient/public resources to support medicines optimisation in the care of patients with complex needs.


For full details and how to apply, please take a look at the advertisement on FindaPhD.

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