PhD Studentships: Oral Health Unit 2011

June 2, 2011 at 10:07 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Oral Health Unit and Health Policy, Politics and Organisation (HiPPO) Group at the University of Manchester invite applications for two PhD studentships in dental public health.

Examining the policy context for role delegation within dentistry and how this influences service delivery

The objective of this 3-year project is to explore role delegation in primary dental care and identify new approaches to encourage its development.

The PhD will examine the regulatory, professional and financial context of role delegation by undertaking policy analysis. Role delegation involves the replacement of dentists with dental therapists or other dental care professionals. Such analysis will seek to identify the changes required to encourage role delegation in primary dental care. The use of existing models for policy analysis will be utilised as appropriate, but the development of new approaches to policy analysis for this professional group will also be encouraged.

This area of research is unexplored and therefore highly novel. The provision of dental services has developed historically and is influenced by remuneration structures within the NHS, ‘professional culture’ and the regulatory framework within which the service is provided. Translating efficacy and potential gains in efficiency into the primary care environment is therefore highly dependent on understanding the barriers and opportunities at play.

We expect this project to have significant impact on policy in terms of shaping the NHS dental workforce, as well as international influence – this area is yet to be approached from a social or political science perspective.

Rationing dental services: Understanding the political and sociological barriers

The objective of this 3-year project is to identify the political and sociological barriers to reducing the scope of treatments offered by NHS dental services.

There is currently significant clamour for ‘downsizing’ dental services against a context of falling population need and increasing financial constraints. This PhD research will undertake a political analysis to identify the barriers to rationing and downsizing primary dental care. It will capture views from patients and the public to identify their expectations of state funded dental health care from a sociological perspective.

This area of research is unexplored and therefore highly novel. With rapidly falling dental healthcare needs, pressure on public finances and steady or increasing demand for access to dental healthcare the NHS is in a bind. It faces the situation of providing expensive services that patients and the public want but, according to normative measures, fewer members of the public actually need. A significant proportion of dental care is cosmetic in nature and such treatments offer little in terms of improving health outcomes. If the NHS is to provide services in which supply is matched to need policy makers need to understand the political and social barriers to reducing the supply of dental services.

We expect this project to be high profile as it seeks to determine the sorts of treatment the NHS should and should not provide in an era of shrinking NHS budgets. It also has the potential for international influence – this area is yet to be approached from a social or political science perspective.

Further info

The two studentships provide full support for tuition fees, associated research costs and an annual tax-free stipend of £13,590. The projects are due to commence in October 2011 and are open to UK/EU nationals only due to the nature of the funding.

Research will be conducted primarily in the Oral Health Unit, an academically independent national group, set up to develop and deliver high quality applied dental research in primary care. There will also be opportunity to gain from the expertise in the Health Sciences Research Group. The successful candidate will develop an understanding of policy development and implementation both in the UK and internationally. They will also master skills in qualitative research and policy analysis techniques. Upon completion, progression into a postdoctoral research career within dental public health, primary care or the health sciences would be anticipated.

Applicants should hold, or expect to obtain, a minimum upper-second honours degree (or equivalent) in one of the social or political sciences. A Masters qualification in a similar area would be beneficial but not essential.

Please direct applications in the following format to Professor Martin Tickle (

  • CV
  • Academic transcripts
  • Contact details for two academic or professional referees.
  • A personal statement (750 words maximum) outlining your suitability for the study, what you hope to achieve from the PhD and your research experience to date.

Any enquiries relating to the projects and/or suitability should be directed to Professor Tickle at the address above.

Deadline: 20 June 2011 


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