KnowledgE, Equity and Prevalence of incontinence after childbirth: woMen and healthcare professionals Understanding of norMal? (KEEP MUM?)


Applications are invited from ambitious, self-motivated and enthusiastic candidates, with a background in a health-related discipline to work on a fully-funded PhD studentship. Funding and stipend are provided by the UWE Bristol’s Dean’s Society, Science and Health PhD funding scheme to conduct a valuable project to explore current practice and develop a pathway to identify and proactively treat postnatal incontinence following vaginal delivery that promotes equity for all.  Reference: 2022-JAN-HAS07.

The expected start date of this studentship is 1 January 2022.

The closing date for applications is Sunday 5 September 2021.

About the studentship

More than one third of women experience bladder and/or bowel leakage associated with pregnancy and childbirth and the focus is primarily on interventional deliveries or obstetric injures. However, incontinence is not restricted to these patients alone. It is not clear what is understood by women during pregnancy surrounding incontinence, and the focus placed on proactive identification and management of incontinence, but we know help-seeking is poor.

Guidance recommends directions for treatment when incontinence has been disclosed but gaps exist for the optimisation of symptom identification. Acceptance of incontinence is therefore common, yet, conservative strategies are effective and many lives could be improved, with potential for more efficient use of healthcare resources. Parallels are drawn with advances seen in postnatal depression (PND) identification and management during recent history. Increased awareness and a policy shift to identify PND and initiate treatment has realised significant increases in detection rates and subsequent treatment. With faecal incontinence prevalence equalling that of PND, and urinary incontinence occurring at approaching double the rate of PND, the potential for care improvements are significant.

This PhD will investigate factors influencing identification and treatment of urinary and faecal incontinence following vaginal delivery and develop an optimised pathway to ensure proactive identification and management of post-natal incontinence that is equitable for all. The components of the project will include a literature review, survey techniques, and observation and interviewing of practitioners and post-natal women.

The PhD researcher will be primarily based at UWE Bristol Glenside Campus, within the Centre for Health and Clinical Research, and will be expected to directly engage with a network of local services to conduct the study.

For an informal discussion about the studentship, please contact Dr Nikki Cotterill (


The studentship is available from the Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences for a period of three years, subject to satisfactory progress and includes a tax exempt stipend, which is currently £15,609 per annum.

In addition, full-time tuition fees will be covered for up to three years for Home and Overseas students.


Applicants must have a Masters qualification in a health-related discipline and qualitative research experience is preferred.

A recognised English language qualification is required.

How to apply

Please submit your application online. When prompted, use the reference number 2022-JAN-HAS02. Applications which do not include a studentship reference number cannot be considered for shortlisting.

Supporting documentation: you will need to upload your research proposal, all your degree certificates and transcripts and your proof of English language proficiency as attachments to your application, so please have these available when you complete the application form. Applications which are incomplete at the application deadline will not be considered for shortlisting.

References: you will need to provide details of two referees as part of your application. At least one referee must be an academic referee from the institution that conferred your highest degree. Your referee will be asked for a reference at the time you submit your application, so please ensure that your nominated referees are willing and able to provide references within 14 days of your application being submitted.

Closing date

The closing date for applications is Sunday 5 September 2021.

Further information

Interviews will take place on Friday 29 October 2021. If you have not heard from us by that date, we thank you for your application but, on this occasion, you have not been successful.

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