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Asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases in children and adults, with an estimated 5.4 million people receiving treatment for asthma in the UK. Severe asthma exacerbations requiring hospitalisation or emergency treatment are also associated with more rapid decline in lung function. Diagnosis and monitoring of asthma is mainly managed in primary care, with an estimated six million consultations related to asthma each year.

The Infectious diseases and Acute Care Research Group

Our research group is involved in important nationally funded research to improve the management of asthma in primary care. We have been awarded a £2.6 million NIHR Programme Grant to develop and evaluate the effectiveness of an online FeNO-guided asthma management intervention designed for use during routine primary care asthma reviews (RP-PG-0618-20002).  A large randomised controlled trial (RCT) is due to commence in February 2022 to determine the effectiveness of the intervention at reducing acute exacerbations of asthma compared to usual care.

What do we do?

We are also exploring the management of asthma in primary care in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, asthma management in primary care has undergone significant changes and created challenges for patients and healthcare professionals (HCPs). HCPs may have had difficulties in diagnosing asthma, monitoring patients with asthma, and diagnosing and treating acute asthma exacerbations due to limited face-to-face contact with patients, resulting in fewer opportunities to perform physical examinations, respiratory testing and other investigations and measurements.  Our research therefore addresses an important gap in our understanding of HCPs’ perspectives of these issues through a series of longitudinal qualitative interviews with HCPs who manage asthma in primary care.  Our findings will have potential help inform strategies for rebuilding and maintaining robust community-based care for asthma patients.

What are we looking for?

This doctoral opportunity will enable the student to engage in an extensive, impactful programme of research to improve how asthma is managed in primary care.  The student will have access to a range of opportunities depending on their interests, which may include:

  • Taking a lead role in day-to-day running of the RCT.
  • Analysis and write-up of RCT findings.
  • Conducting a mixed-methods process evaluation to investigate factors influencing engagement with the intervention.
  • Conducting a longitudinal qualitative interview study to explore HCPs’ perspectives on how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted on the management of asthma in primary care.

Who should apply?

This project would be an ideal opportunity for a student looking to gain experience in trial methodology, mixed methods and qualitative research.  Important subject themes within this programme include asthma management, personalised medicine and health care service delivery.