Nursing & Midwifery

Use of a prediction scoring rule to identify women in need of breastfeeding support and target intervention accordingly

This could involve the development of a prediction score tool (based on findings of a previous study) which was completed by women during pregnancy.  Women could be identified who are ‘at risk’ of stopping breastfeeding early and these women could be targeted and offered extra support in the postnatal period

Note: There is no funding availabe for this project. It is only open to students who provide their own funding or who are applying through the Brazilian Science Without Borders Scheme.

Heart failure - what does it mean to me?

Supervisor - Dr Karen Smith

Heart failure is a common, disabling condition associated with high levels of morbidity and mortality.  We know from clinical practice that people often do not understand what heart failure is or its implications for them as individuals.  Within other cardiovascular conditions (e.g. myocardial infarction and angina) misconceptions about the patients’ cardiac condition have been shown to have a negative effect on rehabilitation and recovery. 

Predictors of coping and recovery following Internal Cardiovertor Defibrillator (ICD) implantation

Approximately 100,000 people experience Sudden Cardiac Death in the UK. Following cardiac arrest, survival rates remain are poor and 15% of survivors of cardiac arrest are likely to experience a further event within 12 months.  The development of implantable devices such as Internal Cardiovertor Defibrillator (ICD) have been life saving and clinical indication and national guidance for the use of these devices has led to increasing number of implants worldwide. 

Outcomes of Elderly ICU survivors

Our understanding of physical and psychological outcomes after intensive care has improved over the last 10-15 years.  Research studies focusing on older ICU survivors are scant, and variable.

A potential PhD study could explore specific outcomes and needs of this subgroup of ICU patients, and in particular look at cognitive function in this vulnerable group.  Leventhal’s commonsense model could also be applied within this study, but other approaches could be considered. 

Caregivers of ICU patients

Survivors of intensive care can be left with a significant burden of physical and psychological problems, and this creates heavy demand on health care resources.  These problems, coupled with a prolonged recovery period can be difficult issues for caregivers who support patients during this time.  We have limited understanding of the effect of such an experience on caregivers’ subsequent health, function and emotional outcome.  Importantly we have limited knowledge of the influence that caregivers’ outcomes have on patient recovery.


Dr Orr is interested in three broad areas of research that fit within the School of Nursing and Midwifery’s research theme ‘Inequalities’.

Potential PhD projects could be developed in the following areas:

1)   Research that explores patients’ experiences of living with long term health conditions (LTC), with a view to producing recommendations about how health professionals may best offer advice and support to patients and carers.

Ethical dimensions of compassion and care

The ethical issues which face nurses, nursing and healthcare today are complex, ever changing and challenging.  The relationships between history and the present, suggest that there are lessons to be learned in today’s caring setting.   ‘Care’ and ‘caring in a compassionate manner’ are timely phrases, yet often nursing and other healthcare staff find themselves caring in a more fiscally orientated setting where a different normative order begins to emerge. Often this normative order changes to perceive what can be tolerated and what cannot.

Examine the roles of rehabilitation health professionals in supporting self-management of rehabilitation activities in long-term disabling health conditions.

Projects that might be undertaken would examine or compare the roles played by different rehabilitation health professionals in supporting patients to self-manage rehabilitation and the barriers they face in doing so. 

The projects may also look at development of strategies to support professionals to help their patients to self-manage and to determine outcomes to assess whether people are effectively self-managing their rehabilitation activities or not.

Develop interventions to support engagement in physical activity in particular long-term disabling conditions.

The benefits to health and wellbeing of regular engagement in physical activity in long-term disabling conditions are now indisputable.  There are many initiatives to engage people with long-term disabling conditions in physical activity.  However, frequently, interventions are limited to a short course of classes or individual support, with little in the way of support for long-term engagement.  Strategies to enhance engagement in physical activity, or adherence to a prescribed programme of physical activity, must address the physical, psychological, social and environmental barriers faced


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