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Processes & Procedures to Improve Participation In & Communication About DNACPR Decisions

  • Delivery:
    Full time according to Funding Council definitions

PhD Studentship- The development of processes and procedures to improve participation in and communication about Do Not Attempt Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation decisions.

We are looking for a highly motivated postgraduate student to undertake a PhD in the very sensitive area of communication of decisions about care towards the end of a person’s life. This project can be undertaken full-time over 3 years [with no clinical practice element] OR full-time over 4 years [3 days on the study and 2 days in clinical practice per week].  Please clearly state which option you are applying for.

This is a fully-funded PhD studentship which includes a stipend of £14,000 each year to support your living costs.

Key information

Next start date:

September 2017


Bournemouth University, Lansdowne Campus


36 months full time (with no clinical practice element) or 48 months part time (3 days on the study and 2 days in clinical practice per week).

Entry requirements:

Preferably a 1st class honours degree and/or a relevant Master's degree with distinction or equivalent Grade Point Average. If English is not your first language you'll need IELTS 6.5 (Academic) or above. For more information check out our full entry requirements.

All candidates must be a registered nurse and be eligible to practice in the UK.

Project details

The Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, Bournemouth University working in partnership with Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (RBCH) is offering a Matched-Funded PhD Studentship.

There is one studentship but two options to choose from in order to complete this studentship:

Full-time over 3 years. The 3 year option will consist of working 5 days a week on the PhD study.


Full-time over 4 years.  The 4 year option will consist of working 3 days a week on the PhD and 2 days a week in clinical practice at RBH over 4 years. This is ideally suited for those who wish to retain or develop their profesional practice skills whilst undertaking a PhD study. For those seeking this option applicants must have a UK registred health professional qualification

The studentship will begin in September 2017. You will be supported by an annual £14,000 stipend and an additional sum to support training and development costs during the Studentship.

We are looking for a highly motivated postgraduate student to undertake a PhD in the very sensitive area of communication of decisions about care towards the end of a person’s life.

There are three major components to effective communication of clinical decisions. First, that the clinicians responsible for carrying out communication have the appropriate knowledge and skills to do so effectively. Second, that policies and procedures pertaining to communication procedures are effective. Third, that patients and loved ones are provided with resources to attain a sustained understanding of its outcome.  It should be noted that problems in relation to communication do not necessarily entail problems with all these components, and it is important to differentiate them in order to ascertain which is problematic and which is not.

The aim of the project is to develop processes and procedures to improve participation in and communication about decisions not to attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Specific objectives include:

1. To identify the barriers to and facilitators of effective communication and sustained understanding of DNACPR decisions.

2. To identify mechanisms that can counter barriers and promote facilitators.

3. To develop processes and procedures that incorporate these mechanisms in a manner that takes account of the social, organisational and cultural context of RBCH.

Methods that will be used:

1. A systematic realist literature review of educational strategies to train healthcare professionals to engage in difficult conversations.

2. A scoping realist review of policies and procedures for conducting difficult conversations.

3. A systematic realist review of interventions designed to supplement healthcare information given by professionals.

4. Semi-structured interviews to identify stakeholders’ experiences and interpretations of current context and practice In RBCH.

5. Analysis of stages 1-4 to identify programme theories about the mechanisms required to support effective communication and sustained understanding.

6. Incorporation of programme theories into a model of communication.

7. Realist interviews with stakeholders to refine the programme theories and to enhance the feasibility of the model.

At the end of the project, we aim to have developed an intervention for enhancing participation in and communication of decisions about resuscitation.

 View the full project description here.

The closing date for applications is 4 July 2017.


Professor Samuel Porter 

Sam Porter is a sociologist by academic training and a nurse by profession. His wide research interests reflect this combination. His main areas of interest are palliative and end-of-life care; supportive care for cancer survivors and carers; maternal and child health; the sociology of health professionals; and the use of arts-based therapies. Recently, he has combined his interests through leadership of a randomised controlled trial to assess the effectiveness of music therapy in improving the well-being of children with behavioural problems, and a current pilot trial examining whether music therapy can reduce the anxiety of people reaching the end of their lives. In line with existing research strengths in the Faculty of Health and Social Sciences relating to the experiences of older people, he is taking an increasing interest in issues around palliative care for the elderly.

Sam has adopted a wide range of methods in his research, ranging from the above-mentioned randomised controlled trials to the use of qualitative approaches such as ethnography. He is a strong advocate of realist approaches to knowledge, which provide a robust rationale for the use of mixed methods. In his advocacy of a realist philosophy of science, he has enjoyed a number of contentious debates.

Sam teaches on social theory, research methods and the sociology of health.

Dr Michele Board

Michele is a Senior Lecturer in Nursing Older People, in the Faculty of Health & Social Sciences at Bournemouth University. Michele is passionate about the quality of care patients receive, and this influences all her teaching and research. She teaches on the undergraduate nursing course with a specific focus on nursing older people and dementia. She is the unit lead for the CPD course, Living Well with Dementia unit which is delivered at the university and within health care settings including the acute hospital setting and nursing home sector. Michele is also the programme lead for the new Degree and Master’s Degree on the Care of the Older Person being developed at Bournemouth University, with a start date of September 2015. Michele’s PhD explored the meaning of home for six baby boomers. Using participant generated images the participant revealed a deep sensual meaning of home. A new ‘Five Sense of Home Framework’ has been developed from the PhD research findings.

Dr Vanessa Heaslip

Dr Vanessa Heaslip is a Principal Academic in the Faculty of Health and Social Science at Bournemouth University. She has extensive experience in nursing and nurse education. In 2015, she was awarded Bournemouth University Postgraduate Research Prize for her unstinting commitment and dedication to the pursuit of higher knowledge concerning disadvantaged and marginalised groups. In addition, she had also been nominated for numerous awards for innovative approaches in medical education as well as the inclusion of the patient voice in nurse education.

Dr Heaslip is Head of Widening Participation for the Faculty of Health and Social Sciences and Co-Principal Investigator of the Bournemouth University Fair Access Research project which involves academic researchers, support staff, widening participation practitioners and students exploring Fair Access within the university. She is also currently part of the Supporting Professionalism in Admissions National Expert Think Tank leading a project exploring Additional Admission Assessments.

Her general research interests are in the field of vulnerability and vulnerable groups in society whose voices are not traditionally heard in the academic and professional discourse. In particular, she is interested in marginalised communities who experience inequity of opportunity in accessing health care services and education. She has worked on National groups such as; steering committee for the Mary Seacole Awards which encourage projects to address health inequalities experienced by Black and Ethnic Minority Groups, as well as with the Department of Health and regional groups on Values Based Recruitment.


This project can be undertaken full-time over 3 years [with no clinical practice element] OR full-time over 4 years [3 days on the study and 2 days in clinical practice per week]. A fully-funded Studentship includes a maintenance grant of £14,000 per year to contribute towards living expenses during the course of your research, as well as a fee waiver for 36 or 48 months accordingly.

Associated costs, such as for fieldwork and conference attendance, will also be met under the Studentship.

Academic Support

When undertaking a research degree at BU, you will develop research skills in your specific project area and discipline, and you will also have an opportunity to develop wider, transferable skills which will assist in your future employment, whether within or outside academia.

The Researcher Development Framework, developed by the Doctoral College in line with the Research Councils UK (RCUK), will enable you to enhance your abilities in areas which are not necessarily discipline-specific.

An added benefit is the opportunity to meet researchers from other academic schools at BU through the activities of our Doctoral College and benefit from their experiences, skills, and perspectives.

Full entry requirements

Studentship candidates must demonstrate outstanding academic potential with preferably a 1st class honours degree and/or a Master’s degree with distinction or equivalent Grade Point Average. An IELTS (Academic) score of 6.5 minimum (with a minimum 5.5 in each component) is essential for candidates for whom English is not their first language. In addition to satisfying basic entry criteria, BU will look closely at the qualities, skills and background of each candidate and what they can bring to their chosen research project in order to ensure successful completion.

Additional Eligibility

For those opting for the 4 year option only you must be a health care practitioner and be eligible to practice in the UK. For both 3 and 4 year option applicants we will also be looking closely at the qualities, skills and background of each candidate and what they can bring in order to ensure successful and timely completion of the project (within 4 years). As this is a matched funded studentship with RBCH NHS Foundation Trust, the applicant will be interviewed by a representative from the Trust as well as by the BU supervisory team, the interview will take place in RBCH.  The applicant will be required to have enhanced disclosure and barring service clearance and demonstrate the values of the NHS Constitution.    

International entry requirements

If English is not your first language, you will need to provide evidence that you can understand English to a satisfactory level. English language requirements for this course are normally: 

  • IELTS (Academic) 6.5 with minimum 5.5 in each component or equivalent.

View further information about our English language requirements.

A number of pre-sessional English and preparatory programmes are offered through our partner institution, Bournemouth University International College, and will get you ready for study at BU at the appropriate level.

You can also find further details of the international qualifications we accept, and what level of study they apply to, on our postgraduate entry requirements page.

How to apply

Click the green ‘Apply now’ button at the top of the page and complete the online application form. You can find further guidance about applying for a postgraduate research degree in our Postgraduate Research section.

The closing date for applications is 4 July 2017.


A research degree can open new career opportunities in commercial research and development, consultancy, or could lead you to starting your own business. You may alternatively consider a career in academia. You may wish to undertake research to contribute to your knowledge of a specialist subject, or develop your employability by enhancing your skills in project management and analysis.