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Wolfson Institute of Population Health

SPCR Annual Internship

Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) welcomes applications from undergraduates to apply for the internships.

Aims of the SPCR Internship scheme:

  • Provide primary care research opportunities for undergraduate students from all UK-based higher education institutes
  • Inspire undergraduate students from a wide range of degrees, including non-medical related, to consider a career in primary care research

About the QMUL scheme:

  • These are short term internships over the summer months.
  • They normally comprise of a particular piece of work that academics or practitioners have designed which take place in a research environment.
  • No further applications will be accepted for 2023. The 2024 internship will be launched Spring 2024. 


Example of Internship option 1 in 2023:

Research question: Can Assistive Technology (AT) improve health, wellbeing and quality of life of people with lung-problems such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)?

Name of supervisors: Dr Ratna Sohanpal and Dr Nina Fudge

Timing for internship: 4 weeks within June-July 2023 (dependent on study progress)

Department: Centre for Primary Care and Public Health, Queen Mary University of London

Title: Supporting delivery of a study aiming to find out whether assistive technology (AT) can improve health, wellbeing and quality of life of people with lung-problems such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and how getting and using AT can help them to live more independently.


Assistive technology (AT) are devices developed for people with disability or for those with difficulty in performing everyday routine activities. AT is wide-ranging from alarms to home adaptations like stair lifts and includes digital technology. The internship project will involve working with a multidisciplinary team including public contributors to support delivery of one to two workstreams (based on study progress) that are part of a bigger study. Workstream 1 has two parts. The two workstreams are:

(1a) To conduct a systematic review of effectiveness and cost-effectiveness in studies of AT among people with COPD and multimorbidity with use of AT linked to outcomes specific to AT to facilitate independent living.

(1b) To conduct a qualitative evidence synthesis in studies of AT among people with COPD and multimorbidity and their carers to understand service provision and use of AT.

(2) To conduct a qualitative in-depth interview study to gain insights into the AT service provision, AT use and its impact among people with COPD and multimorbidity, their carers, health and social care professionals and other AT stakeholders on what is working well, what are the challenges and how service provision might be improved.

Learning objectives:

Understanding the study topic within the wider context of ageing population and more people living with long term conditions.

Understanding the purpose of proposed methods (Systematic Review, Qualitative . study) in the study

Understanding the assistive technology pathway in health and social care.

Learning research skills by being involved in some of the steps used to carry out the proposed methods (e.g. study search, selection, data extraction, data analysis, discussion of findings, organise mock interviews, carry out mock interviews with public advisory group members)

Learning communication skills and collaborative way of working by working in a multidisciplinary team including public (patient/carer) advisory group members to deliver the study

This application is now closed.  

Example of Internship option 2 in 2023:

Research question: How can you address health inequalities through quality improvement in primary care?

Name and supervisor: Dr John Ford

Timing of internship: 4 weeks within timeframe June - September 2023

Department: Centre for Primary Care

Title: Addressing health inequalities through Quality Improvement in primary care


This internship will be supervised by Dr John Ford, a Senior Clinical Lecturer in Health Equity and Consultant in Public Health at NHS England. During the placement, the student will gain insights into public health, health inequalities, policy development and quality improvement.  The exact project will be developed based on the student’s needs and aspirations to ensure a mix of research and policy experience. It will focus on a specific project which links with an existing grant. However, we envisage the project focusing on equity-focused quality improvement in primary care. We will also create opportunities to join NHS England meetings to gain exposure to the interaction between policy and research.

The NHS undertakes thousands of Quality Improvement (QI) project each year, but rarely considers the impact of these projects on health inequalities. It is likely that some QI projects are good at addressing health inequalities, whereas other inadvertently increase inequalities. At QMUL we have been award £1.3million to examine the impact of QI on health inequalities over five years (see here for more details). This grant will focus on secondary care, however more work is needed in primary care.

The aim of the project is to examine the extent to which existing primary care quality improvement frameworks consider health inequalities.  The student will undertake a search of existing quality improvement frameworks which are used in primary care, then a document analysis to explore the extent to which these consider health inequalities. The document analysis will involve using NVivo to code key sections of text and synthesising the results. The output will be a conference presentation and possible journal article publication.

Learning objectives: 

  1. Describe quality improvement frameworks which are used in primary care
  2. Explore the extent to which quality improvement programmes impact health inequalities
  3. Understand current approaches to addressing health inequalities in the NHS
  4. Understand the day-to-day practice of an academic Consultant in Public Health

This application is now closed. 



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