Life-Course, Development and Ageing

Leads: Lindsay Pennington & Louise Robinson

Lifecourse, Development and Ageing (LCDA) is a multidisciplinary theme which brings together a wide range of academics and clinicians to conduct applied health research across the lifespan. The group includes academic expertise in mixed methods research with representation from health psychology, medical sociology and social gerontology and clinical expertise from both primary and secondary care (including primary care, paediatrics, child psychology, geriatrics and old age psychiatry).  Our research explores the whole spectrum of healthy ageing, from development in childhood and the consequences of disability, to the health and wellbeing of the oldest old, those aged 85 years and over. The LCDA theme incorporates six research strands:

  • Ageing and Health
  • Transitions in health and disability
  • Understanding child disability
  • Improving quality of life
  • Technologies and the environment
  • Cognitive impairment and dementia.


  • To develop and deliver internationally recognised multidisciplinary, empirical research that contributes to our understanding of development, ageing and health across the life course, from childhood into old age, and improves an individual’s quality of life and the quality of care they receive
  • To conduct research into:
    • Factors that influence health across the life course, from childhood through to old age, with a focus on promoting independence, enhancing function and reducing disability
    • How new knowledge, technologies and interventions can improve individuals’ wellbeing, participation and quality of life across the lifespan, and the quality of healthcare they receive
    • Understanding the experience of health, impairment and disability across the life course, and within the family, with a particular focus on childhood
    • development/disability, cognitive impairment and dementia in later life and the health of the oldest old

NIHR School for Primary Care Research - Doctoral Studentship at Newcastle University

Applications are invited for this national PhD studentship competition from individuals with a strong academic record who wish to develop a career in primary care research. Applicants must have a first degree in a discipline relevant to primary care research and will be expected to complete a PhD during the award period. To be eligible to apply, students must be from the UK or another European Union country.  Studentship awards include tuition fees, an annual tax-free stipend normally of £16,000 and a contribution towards research and training costs.  Closing date is midday 6th January 2017. 

Interested individuals should submit a two page CV and a covering letter of not more than two pages. This letter must include an explanation as to why you want to train in primary care research.

• Please state Studentship 2017 as the subject of the email

• Please name the CV and covering letter attachments using the naming convention:

   Surname_CV_STUD17 and Surname_Letter_STUD17

• Applications must be received by 12 noon on Friday 6th January 2017

Your application should be sent by email to the School’s Senior Scientific Manager

Further information is available at:

Applicants may propose their own project, to link with primary care research within the Institute for Health and Society  In addition, the following projects are available:

Participation and loneliness in the 10th decade – a mixed methods study


This PhD would specifically be focussed on participation and loneliness. It will be a mixed methods project. (i) Quantitative - New data collection at 10 years will allow longitudinal comparisons to be made from baseline data collected at 85 years. (ii) Qualitative - the student will undertake an embedded qualitative study with a subsample of approximately 20 participants exploring “living at 95 years” and investigate more detailed aspects of participation.

Exploring primary care staff and patients’ views about data sharing between health and social care systems – whose data is it and what should or could this be used for?


This work would be linked to the learning health systems initiative and policy aspirations to connect health data across health and with social care systems to support personalised care, safety/quality improvement and research. A key issue to be explored is ‘whose information is it’ and ‘what should/could, it be used for?’ Fieldwork can be done within a general primary care context or within specific patient groups. Qualitative exploration will focus on: what data are recorded and stored in electronic records; what information is currently shared or not across primary care teams; and views about data sharing between primary and secondary health care as well as with social care professionals. Of particular interest will be patients’ expectations about what they want to see regarding their health records – and the extent to which data sharing may benefit or generate concern for them.

Co-designing assistive technologies to support NHS Dental Care pathways for older people living in care homes – a study of their organisational, social, political and policy context


It is now becoming clear that neither assistive technologies nor the people who use them can be studies effectively in isolation from the complex sociotechnical system in which they are embedded.

This PhD would aim to study assisted living technologies for dental care in their organisational, social, political and policy context, using a complex systems approach.

Ethnographic research will be used to study people’s experience of assistive technologies (micro level). These will be embedded in evolving organisational case studies that use interviews, ethnography and document analysis (meso level). This will be situated the wider national context for assisted living technologies and policy (macro level). Data will be analysed using a sociotechnical framework.

Improving Primary Care services for patients with low health literacy: Exploring the use of automated patient alerts for low health literacy in General Practice


Health literacy concerns the capacities of patients to access, understand and use information for health, and reflects to balance between patient capacities and (health) system complexity. This work builds on national policy developments to improve health services for patients with low health literacy, and the development of ‘health literacy algorithms’ to calculate the risk of individual patients of having low health literacy within GP clinical computer systems. The study is a combination of quantitative exploration of the use of the algorithm in a national GP dataset, and qualitative exploration with patients and practitioners (GPs, practice nurses etc.) of the impact of such technology on patients and patient care, and likely benefits and problems that might arise.


To mark the start of World Alzheimer’s Month, the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is showcasing some of the cutting-edge clinical research that could bring new hope to dementia patients and their families.
Over the past two years, the National Institute for Health Research has put millions of pounds of extra investment into supporting clinical research into dementia, which affects 800,000 people in the UK – a figure that is expected to rise to one million people by 2021.
Now, as part of World Alzheimer’s Month, the National Institute for Health Research has launched Aimed at the general public, the online showcase highlights some of the pioneering work supported by the NIHR, which could lead to better treatments for dementia sufferers, and improvements in the quality of life for those with the condition.

Selected Projects

Further information: