PhD in Screening, Public Health and Population Medicine: Factors influencing engagement with emerging technology in colorectal cancer screening and prevention

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    Cardiff University
    United Kingdom
    Natural sciences
    Professions and applied sciences
    Social sciences


Applications are invited for a 3 year PhD studentship funded by Tenovus Cancer Care at the School of Medicine.


Uptake in the bowel cancer screening program in Wales (~54%) is a significant problem. Previous studies suggest that various participant, organisation and test related factors seem to influence screening uptake. These factors include perceptions of risk, test characteristics (eg stool disgust), cancer fear, lower awareness of benefit and embarrassment related to symptoms and tests.

Research into blood and stool biomarkers of bowel cancer, markers of risk and technological advances in bowel examination has developed rapidly and mainly focused on comparative efficacy for cancer detection. These new technologies however require systematic investigation of their acceptability, their likelihood of increasing screening uptake and their likelihood of influencing prevention related behaviour. Also, advances in precision medicine in a wider context needs to include the study of the impact of tailoring screening strategies to individual preferences.

Project aims and methods

The research question for this work is: How are technological advances in bowel cancer screening and risk stratification likely to influence engagement with screening?

The aims of the proposed PhD studentship are to assess:

  • whether there are individual characteristics (e.g. prior symptom awareness, help seeking attitudes/behaviour, family history, screening participation) that may be related to preferences for alternative screening
  • the acceptability of new technology to those currently eligible for screening
  • whether risk information (e.g. polyp identification, genetic risk information, lifestyle behaviours) might influence people’s willingness to participate in screening and/or modify their behaviour and why
  • attitudes towards genetic sampling for bowel cancer risk stratification.

This work will be undertaken through analysis of responders to a Healthwise Wales (HWW) bowel module. This module asks questions on bowel symptom awareness, help seeking, prevention and risk reduction behaviour, family history, preferences and perceptions of alternative screening technologies and test specific delivery of screening. There will be the opportunity to contact participants for further data collection (eg additional questionnaire, in-depth qualitative interview).

Analyses will likely include both quantitative and qualitative methods. Quantitative analyses of HWW bowel module data will be performed to examine possible associations between preference for screening with alternative technology and individual characteristics.

The HWW bowel module data will also be linked to Bowel Screening Wales participation and outcome data for analyses regarding screening uptake. Associations between risk factors and perception of risk with screening participation will also be explored.

Qualitative analyses will be used following in-depth interviews to further understand the reasons for preferences, perceptions and behaviour intentions.

What is funded

For more information on what is funded in this studentship please visit: https://www.cardiff.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/funding/view/phd-in-screening,-public-health-and-population-medicine-factors-influencing-engagement-with-emerging-technology-in-colorectal-cancer-screening-and-prevention


3 years


For more information on eligibility for this studentship please visit: https://www.cardiff.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/funding/view/phd-in-screening,-public-health-and-population-medicine-factors-influencing-engagement-with-emerging-technology-in-colorectal-cancer-screening-and-prevention


The responsibility for the funding offers published on this website, including the funding description, lies entirely with the publishing institutions. The application is handled uniquely by the employer, who is also fully responsible for the recruitment and selection processes.