Developing an instrument to measure independence in the context of rheumatoid arthritis remission


An opportunity to apply for a funded full-time PhD in the Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences at UWE Bristol.

The expected start date of this studentship is 1 January 2023.

The closing date for applications is 19 August 2022

Please note: out of the eight projects being advertised for the Dean’s Studentship, the faculty will fund four. The projects for funding will be selected based on the merit of applicants following the process outlined below.

There will be a two stage interview process. Supervisory teams of each project will shortlist the best candidates for an initial interview with the supervisory team. Following this first interview, two candidates will be selected; a first-choice candidate and a reserve candidate. The first-choice candidate (or the reserve, if the first-choice candidate is unavailable) will then be interviewed by a Faculty Panel (the second interview). The Faculty Panel will be chaired by Pro-Vice Chancellor and Executive Dean and will consist of senior Faculty staff. The Faculty level interview will take place on the 31 October 2022.

Unsuccessful candidates will have the opportunity for self-funded places.

Studentship details

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 UWE Bristol to develop a measure for independence in the context of remission in rheumatoid arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a systemic, inflammatory condition causing painful and swollen joints, which can result in permanent disability. Remission (“disease activity as good as gone”) is used as an outcome measure in clinical trials, and can prompt medication change, yet the definition remains controversial. Current American College of Rheumatology-European Alliance of Associations for Rheumatology (ACR-EULAR) criteria for RA remission have been criticised due to the lack of patient perspective included.

Previous work from our international research group identified that the domains most frequently prioritised by participants for defining remission were: pain, fatigue, and independence. Validated measures exist for pain and fatigue, and these were shown to predict functional outcome in patients with low disease activity. However, a validated measure does not exist for independence.

Outcome Measures in Rheumatology (OMERACT) is an independent initiative of international stakeholders interested in outcome measures. At the last meeting (2020) 90% of delegates (94% of patient delegates) voted in favour of further investigating the domain of independence. International focus groups are currently in progress to understand how patients define independence in the context of RA remission and this proposed studentship would build on this work.

The overall aim of the studentship is to produce an internationally recognised definition of independence in the context of RA remission, and to develop and validate an instrument for measuring this. The programme of research will provide the successful candidate with an excellent opportunity to develop both qualitative and quantitative research skills and gain a broad range of experiences, with the potential for the work to provide a pathway to post-doctoral study.

The successful candidate will become a Fellow of the OMERACT ‘RA remission: patient perspective’ working group and will be expected to contribute to monthly team meetings of this international group. The PhD researcher will be primarily based at Frenchay campus, UWE Bristol within the Department of Social Sciences and the Centre for Health and Clinical Research.

This studentship will be supervised by Dr Caroline Flurey, Dr Mwidimi Ndosi, and Dr Bethan Jones at UWE Bristol, and Prof Susanna Proudman at Royal Adelaide Hospital and University of Adelaide.

For an informal discussion about the studentship, please email Dr Caroline Flurey at 


This is a Dean’s PhD studentship and is funded for a period of three years, subject to satisfactory progress and includes a tax-exempt stipend, which is currently £16,602 per annum.

In addition, full-time tuition fees will be covered for up to three years. The studentship will also fully cover the research costs (consumables budget).


Applicants must have minimum of 2:1 in a health-related discipline and ideally will have a Masters.

A recognised English language qualification is required.

How to apply

Please submit your application online. When prompted use the reference number 2223-JAN-HAS11.

Supporting documentation: When the online application form requests a research proposal, please upload a cover letter instead. Please upload all degree certificates and transcripts and proof of English language proficiency as attachments to your application so please have these available when you complete the application form.

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 may be asked for a reference from 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 19 August 2022.

Further information

Please note that the following selection process applies.

Interviews by the prospective supervisory team will take place on 23 September 2022. 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.

Following the initial interview, two candidates will be selected; a first-choice candidate and a reserve candidate. The first-choice candidate (or the reserve, if the first-choice candidate is unavailable) will then undertake a second interview by a senior faculty panel on the 31 October 2022. The PhD will be awarded following a successful second interview.

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