Opportunity to study for a PhD about rural palliative care provision – by David Clark

Published on: Author: David Clark 1 Comment

We are pleased to announce details of this exciting opportunity to study for a PhD in the School of Interdisciplinary Studies, University of Glasgow, Dumfries Campus. The  Dame Barbara Kelly Fellowship has been awarded by the Crichton Foundation in recognition of the ongoing contribution made by Dame Barbara to the development of further and higher education on the Crichton Campus, Dumfries. It is now open to applications. The successful candidate will have excellent qualifications at first degree/Masters level and will have a background in healthcare and/or social science.

The Fellowship provides funding for fees, living costs and research expenses for a student to undertake work for the degree of PhD, for up to 36 months full-time or 72 months part-time. The PhD supervisor will be Professor David Clark, School of Interdisciplinary Studies, University of Glasgow, Dumfries. The focus of the Fellowship and the resulting doctoral study is closely defined (see below), but the key research questions, methods and overall approach are open to full development by the successful candidate, in consultation with Professor Clark. Home/EU applicants are eligible to apply for either full-time or part-time study. The successful candidate will be expected to reside in Dumfries and Galloway for the duration of the work.

The Award

The Fellowship  will provide:

  • an annual bursary equivalent to the RCUK rate [ £13,863 (£6931.50 part-time) at 2014/15 rates]
  • fees at the standard Home/EU rate
  • a research support grant of at least £1,000 (£500 part-time) per annum

How to Apply

Full details of how to apply can be found at: http://www.gla.ac.uk/colleges/socialsciences/studentfundingopportunities/postgraduateresearch/#d.en.388180

Interested applicants are welcome to make informal enquiries in the first instance by email to david.clark.2@glasgow.ac.uk


Delivering supportive, palliative and end of life care to rural communities: the case of Dumfries and Galloway


Across Dumfries and Galloway there are people with a variety of health and social problems of a kind that can be ameliorated by person-centred care organised through services where the main goals are to reduce the burden of illness, improve quality of life and promote resilience. These goals assume particular salience in the face of life-threatening and progressive disease, and are especially relevant at the end of life. Each year there are c1,000 new cases of cancer in the region and c1800 people die (48% in hospital and only 23% at home). On any one day in the Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary 29% of the patients are in the last year of life and 9% of the patients will die on their current admission. At the same time the population of the region is ageing and demand for services is set to grow.

Dumfries and Galloway is fortunate to have a cancer support and information service, a specialist multi-disciplinary in-patient palliative care unit, specialist services for older people and a growing expertise in the care of those with dementia. But in a large rural area of dispersed population there is also considerable need for community-based services to deliver care closer to home, and to provide the benefits of holistic care – physical, social, psychological and spiritual – in more familiar and local environments. The integration of health and social care across Scotland from 2016 along with the opening of the new Dumfries and Galloway Hospital in 2018 provide many opportunities to think about such services in new ways.

The proposed study will focus on these issues and will enable a full-time postgraduate research student to: investigate in detail the challenges we face in delivering care of this type in Dumfries and Galloway; assess areas of good practice; and make recommendations for innovation and change.


1) To produce an analysis of supportive, palliative and end of life care provision in Dumfries and Galloway that can inform service development, re-design and improvement

2) To locate this analysis within a state of the art review of international best practice, focussed on the delivery of supportive and end of life care in rural areas.


  • Systematic review and meta-analysis of the design, delivery and known outcomes of supportive, palliative and end of life care services in rural areas, using up to date techniques of evidence synthesis
  • Survey of the perceptions of bereaved relatives of care given in the last year of life, in Dumfries and Galloway using an established protocol (VOICES)
  • Interviews and focus groups with Dumfries and Galloway patients and families – across diagnostic groups and stages of illness
  • Electronic survey of views and experiences among relevant professionals
  • Secondary analysis of existing audit and quality assurance data from local services


The completed study will produce:

  • An academic thesis for presentation for the degree of PhD
  • Related publications for the scientific and professional literature
  • A set of recommendations to influence future practice and service development
  • Further knowledge to add to the evidence base for supportive, palliative and end of life care in Dumfries and Galloway

Practical support and academic supervision

In March 2015 Professor Clark will begin a four year project funded by a Wellcome Trust Investigator Award concerned with the global challenges of end of life care; this will be staffed by two post-doctoral researchers, a public engagement officer and a lecturer in end of life care. The Wellcome Trust is extremely supportive of complementary work in Dumfries and Galloway that can benefit from the environment of the main project. This means that the Dame Barbara Kelly Fellow will have access not only to supervision by Professor Clark but also to an expert team of researchers, from which a second supervisor will also be selected.

The Dame Barbara Kelly Fellow will also benefit from the rich resources of data, expertise and information surrounding the main project – making for an ideal learning environment, supported within the well-established arrangements for postgraduate research at the University of Glasgow.

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