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Applications open for NIHR School for Primary Care Research PhD fellowship

National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) School for Primary Care Research logo

18 March 2023

Applications are invited from individuals with a strong academic record who want to develop a career in primary care research and can start a PhD in October 2023.

Deadline: 20 April 2023. Interviews 4 May 2023.

Applicants should have a first degree relevant to primary care research. They will be expected to complete the PhD by 2026.

The fellowship will fund tuition fees up to the value of Home/EU fees. This will be an annual tax-free stipend normally of £17,668 and a contribution towards research and training costs. Students with overseas status are welcome to apply but will need to fund the remainder of their fees from alternative sources.

This PhD opportunity is funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research School for Primary Care Research (NIHR SPCR).

About the Centre for Academic Primary Care

The Centre for Academic Primary Care (CAPC) at the University of Bristol is one of the largest and most productive centres for primary care research in the UK. It aims to provide high quality evidence to address some of the most important health challenges relating to NHS primary care.

Our research themes are:

COVID-19: Projects evaluating responses to, and impact of, the pandemic, and identifying ways in which primary care and public health can respond.

Appropriate and effective care: Diagnosis and management of illness mainly treated in primary care, with a focus on cancer, cardiovascular disease, childhood health, depression and anxiety, domestic violence, eczema, infection.

Organisation and delivery of care: The role of primary care within the health care system, with a focus on commissioning and quality, service delivery, avoidable hospital admissions, multimorbidity and long term conditions, prescribing, new technology and complementary therapies.

Methodology: We conduct methodological work in collaboration with other groups such as the MRC ConDUCT Hub for Trial Methodology Research and the NIHR School for Primary Care Research. The University has a site licence for the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD), a large dataset of anonymised records from NHS primary and secondary care for research purposes. There is methodological expertise in relation to qualitative and ethnographic approaches, development and evaluation of complex interventions, analysis of large primary care data sets, systematic review and evidence synthesis, mixed method studies, randomised controlled trials, and patient and public Involvement and stakeholder consultation.

Our research includes the use (and misuse) of antibiotics, skin and allergy problems diagnosed and managed in primary care, and trauma-informed approach to care, as reflected in these advertised PhD projects.

CAPC is a friendly and thriving centre with around 140 members, which includes academic GPs, primary care scientists, professional service staff, doctoral and post-doctoral students. See our current projects.

CAPC is based in Bristol Medical School and has strong links with the Bristol Biomedical Research CentreApplied Research Collaboration (ARC) West and the NIHR Health Protection Research Unit (HPRU) in Behavioural Science and Evaluation at the University of Bristol.

CAPC offers excellent training opportunities, including an internationally recognised programme of short courses offered within Bristol Medical School. These cover a range of health services research and epidemiological methods, as well as generic and specific research skills.

The opportunity

We have funding for one PhD fellowship available from October 2023. We are proposing the following topic areas but would except the candidate to bring their own interests and ideas to the PhD.

Tenative project titleDescriptionMethods might includePrimary supervisor/main contact

Co-producing a programme theory and framework for evaluating trauma-informed organisational change interventions in UK primary care

This project aims to co-produce with patient and professional stakeholders a programme theory and evaluation framework that are applicable to trauma-informed organisational change initiatives in UK general practice and community mental health services. Co-production with stakeholders. Theory informed approach. Realist evidence synthesis Qualitative research methods. E.g., ethnographic case studies. Dr Natalia Lewis
The management of young people's mental health in primary care This project aims to quantify GP-recorded mental health consultations and prescribing in young people using routine data. The second aim is to conduct interviews with key stakeholders e.g., GPs, young people, Children and Young People’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies project (CYP-IAPT). 

Mixed methods.
Quantitative – analysing Clinical Practice Research datalink (CPRD) data.

Qualitative interviews with key stakeholders.

Dr Charlotte Archer

Exploring health inequalities in accessing primary health care

This project aims to conduct an in-depth analysis of health inequality in primary care, using mixed methods including a primary care dataset analysis. Interviews will be conducted with patients from underserved communities and primary care clinicians working in those communities to explore their experiences and identify practices that promote or reduce inequalities in primary care.

Mixed methods.

Quantitative analysis of large System Wide dataset (Big Data) covering all of Bristol, North Somerset, and South Gloucestershire Integrated Care Board.

Qualitative interviews with clinicians.

Dr Christie Cabral


Prospective candidates are strongly encouraged to contact the primary supervisors of the project/projects they are interested in, prior to their application.

Short-listed candidates will be invited for interview.

How to apply

Please make an online application for this project at Please select Faculty of Health Sciences and Population Health PhD on the Programme Choice page. You will be prompted to enter details of the fellowship in the Funding and Research Details sections of the form. For general enquiries linked to the online application process, please email

Candidate requirements

Candidates should have either an undergraduate degree OR a master’s degree. The PhD candidate will ideally have a background in applied health research or another relevant (social science or medical) discipline.


This is a fully funded three-year PhD fellowship that includes all tuition fees. The student will receive the standard NIHR SPCR stipend for PhD students (currently £17,668 per annum). Consumable costs to cover project expenses, directly incurred as a part of the research are included and a small training and conference budget.


Interested and suitably qualified candidates should make any general enquiries to Dr Alyson Huntley, SPCR Bristol PhD training lead (

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