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PhD Studentship (ESRC South Coast DTP) - Carers and loneliness in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing

Gerontology

Location:  Highfield Campus
Salary:   £14553
Annual stipend of £14553 plus payment of programme fees.
Closing Date:   Wednesday 28 June 2017
Reference:  879817CC

Carers and loneliness in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing

A fully funded studentship awarded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) South Coast Doctoral Training Partnership (SCDTP)

Supervisory Team:

Dr Rosalind Willis (R.M.Willis@soton.ac.uk), Dr Athina Vlachantoni

Loneliness is a subjective feeling of inadequacy of relationships, which negatively affects quality of life. People who provide informal care are known to be at higher risk of poor mental and physical health (carer burden), and many find themselves isolated in their caring role. Research on rates of loneliness among carers to date has shown mixed results. This PhD will explore the relationships between caring, loneliness, and health outcomes among people aged 50 and over using statistical analysis of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. The findings will be used to make policy and practice recommendations.

Research questions:

1. Do carers have different levels of loneliness than non-carers in the ELSA dataset?

2. Do the determinants of loneliness differ between carers and non-carers?

3. What are the health consequences of loneliness among carers and non-carers?

Background and rationale:

Loneliness is a subjective feeling of inadequacy of relationships, either their number or their quality (Peplau and Perlman 1982). Loneliness negatively affects well-being and quality of life and is associated with greater use of health and social care services, and earlier mortality. Loneliness is highest among the young (15-24) and the oldest-old (80+). People who provide informal care are known to be at higher risk of poor mental and physical health, collectively referred to as carer burden, and many carers find themselves isolated in their caring role. Research on rates of loneliness among carers to date has shown mixed results. For example, Carers UK reported that 80% of carers of all ages in the UK were lonely or isolated (Carers UK 2015). However, research from Sweden shows that older carers had lower levels of loneliness than older non-carers, although the age range studied (75-90) had a poor health profile so younger groups may have a different pattern (Ekwall et al. 2005). The age group in the UK most likely to provide informal care is the 50-64 group. The proposed PhD will explore the relationships between caring, loneliness, and physical and mental health outcomes among people aged 50 and over using the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. The methods will include regression analyses both cross-sectionally and longitudinally. The findings will give a greater understanding of pathways to loneliness and its consequences, and ways in which policy makers and health and social care services can intervene to help carers in need of support.

Skills required of the PhD student:

Essential: Background in Social Sciences, preferably in Gerontology

Essential: Cross-sectional and longitudinal quantitative analysis

Desirable: Experience of analysing ELSA or other large scale survey

Funding

South Coast DTP Funding provides an annual maintenance grant (tax free) of £14553, plus payment of all programme fees.  Other funding available for SCDTP funded students can be found on the SCDTP website (southcoastdtp.ac.uk).

Funding is provided for 3 years full-time PhD study (pro-rata for part-time students).  Applications for 1+3 funding for students completing a Master's year prior to the commencement of PhD study are also welcome (details available at southcoastdtp.ac.uk).

Application Procedure

The closing date and time for applications is noon on 28th June 2017.  The full application procedure, the funding application form, and more information on the South Coast Doctoral Training Partnership can be found at:

http://southcoastdtp.ac.uk/how-to-apply/

For further information about this project, please contact the lead supervisor detailsed above.  For questions relating to the application procedure, or for more information about the SCDTP, please visit the SCDTP website or contact us at scdtp@soton.ac.uk

The closing date for this job opportunity has now passed, and applications are no longer being accepted for this position

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