ESF-CUC PhD Studentship Opportunity in medicine at Plymouth University

Pelvic girdle pain during pregnancy: evaluating the effectiveness of a novel intervention, the dynamic elastomeric fabric orthoses (DEFO).

We are seeking to award a PhD studentship entitled “Pelvic girdle pain during pregnancy: evaluating the effectiveness of a novel intervention, the dynamic elastomeric fabric orthoses”.
This studentship is based within the School of Health Profession, Faculty of Health and Education at Plymouth University and will be supervised by Dr Jenny Freeman, Professor Jonathan Marsden and Professor Robert Freeman (Peninsula Medical School of Medicine and Dentistry). It will be undertaken in close collaboration with DM Orthotics Ltd, Cornwall and NHS Maternity Units.

Description of the study
Pelvic girdle pain (PGP) is common in pregnancy, occurring in up to 70% of pregnant women. Of those affected, 25% have severe pain and 8% severe disability, such that the individual requires crutches or is unable to walk. Typically pelvic girdle pain is managed by the use of orthoses such as pelvic belts, which are thought to improve pelvic joint stability; the outcome in terms of pain reduction and improved function is, however, often poor. Recent systematic reviews highlight this limited evidence of effect and recommend that better designed studies to evaluate support belts are required. Recently, dynamic elastomeric fabric orthoses (DEFO`s) have been developed for pelvic girdle pain management in athletes, with good effect. Two case reports in pregnant women with PGP provide preliminary evidence of benefits in terms of pain, function and comfort. We postulate that a customised DEFO may be more effective than other commercially available pelvic belts in managing pregnancy related PGP. This project offers you the unique opportunity to explore this hypothesis by undertaking a blinded randomised comparative clinical trial to determine relative effectiveness of this novel intervention compared to that of a standard pelvic belt, in reducing pregnancy related PGP. You will work in close collaboration with academic researchers (health care researchers and health economists), clinicians (obstetricians, midwives, physiotherapists and orthotists), and industry to develop and implement this clinically meaningful trial. You will be supported in learning all aspects of the research process, and will also have the opportunity to attend post-graduate modules to further assist this learning process.

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Entry requirements
Applications are welcome from graduates with a first- or upper second-class degree in health sciences (such as medicine, physiotherapy or midwifery) or MSc in a related subject.

The studentship is supported for three years from 1 October 2011 and includes full Home/EU tuition fees and a stipend of £13,590 p.a. (tax free).

Application procedures
For an application form, and full details on how to apply, please visit In order to apply you will need to complete the standard postgraduate application form along with a covering letter detailing suitability for the individual studentship. In section 9 of the application form (Funding Information) please ensure that you declare that you are applying for an ESF-CUC Studentship. On completion send your application form to Alison Bendall by posted to Faculty of Health, Room 109, Nancy Astor Building, Drake Circus, Plymouth, PL4 8AA or email ([email protected]).

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Further information on the terms and conditions of a PhD at the University of Plymouth can be found on Official Website. Informal enquiries can be made to Dr Jenny Freeman at [email protected]. We strongly encourage you to make such contact prior to application.

Closing date for applications: 12 noon, Friday 3 June 2011

We expect to short-list by mid-June and to hold interviews for shortlisted candidates on Friday 24th June 2011.


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