Potential PhD outlines

Potential PhD outlines in HERU


See the PhD Funding page for potential sources of Funding for the PhD outlines detailed below and information on how to apply for PhDs detailed below is available from the Study Here website. 


  •  Non-market valuation (Discrete choice experiments).

Supervisors: Dr Verity Watson (HERU) and Professor Mandy Ryan (HERU) 

The Health Economics Research Unit (HERU) is internationally recognised for the excellence of its research in the development and application of discrete choice experiment (DCE) methodology. DCEs are commonly used in applied economics to observe how individuals choose among multi-attribute products/services (e.g. choice between two competing treatments). We welcome PhD proposals exploring the development and application of DCEs in health economics. We encourage interested individuals to visit the Methods of Benefit Valuation theme on the HERU website for more information on our methodological areas of interest. Proposals on shared decision making, health information processing, doctor-patient relationship and incentive compatibility of stated references are encouraged.

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  • The role of business risk in the sustainability of General Practice partnerships.

Supervisors: Dr Verity Watson (HERU) and Dr Rainer Schulz (Aberdeen University Business School)

In the UK, general practices are often small businesses that are run independently from the NHS. Under the traditional structure, the practice is owned by a single GP or a partnership of GPs. In both cases, GPs work as medical doctors and as entrepreneurs. This exposes owners to the business risk specific to the practice. Medical doctors working for the NHS in hospitals are not exposed to such risk. The system of local health care provision through general practices has become unsustainable in recent years. There are not enough GPs who want to replace the retiring business partners and this leads to practice closures. This PHD will examine why the traditional GP business structure seems unattractive to the current generation of GPs. The PhD could take a qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods approach. Qualitative analysis may include primary data collection to explore GP decision making and comparative studies to understand if other countries or professions face similar problems. Quantitative analysis may use administrative data or primary data collection to explore the factors that predict practice closure.  

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  • Understanding and predicting non-compliance in randomised experiments

Supervisors: Professor Marjon van der Pol (HERU), Dr Verity Watson (HERU) and Dwayne Boyers (HERU)

Randomised experiments are used extensively to evaluate the causal effect of interventions including medical treatments and health behavior interventions.  However, the theoretical advantages of randomisation can be undermined by non-compliance to the intervention allocation.  Levels of non-compliance can be high especially when participants are allocated to an arm which results in a change in the treatments and services they usually receive.  Non-compliance can potentially bias the estimate of the treatment effect.  In order to reduce non-compliance within randomised experiments, it is crucial increase our understanding of the determinants of non-compliance.  Economics can make an important contribution in terms of understanding the role of individuals’ preferences for treatment options and individual characteristics such as education and age.  This PhD will assess the suitability of stated preference methods (Discrete Choice Experiments) to predict non-compliance in randomized experiments. 


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