Recording of SDHI webinar on the ‘Spatial dimensions of repeat prescribing safety in UK general practice…’ now available

If you missed today’s webinar on the ‘Spatial Dimensions of Repeat Prescribing Safety in UK General Practice: An Ethnographic Study‘ here is another opportunity to listen and view the presentation by Dr Suzanne Grant, Social Anthropologist and Lecturer in Population Health Science at the University of Dundee. To view the recording, click here. Please share the presentation link with your colleagues. Send comments and queries directly to the presenter at s.m.grant@ or to the SDHI team at sdhi@

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Phil Hanlon presents ‘Afternow’ Project

The Centre for Environmental Change and Human Resilience (CECHR) team host a seminar with Professor Phil Hanlon, Public Health at the University of Glasgow on his ‘Afternow‘ project on Thursday the 13th of February 2014 at 4pm in the Dalhousie Building (3G02 LT1).  More information can be found on the website

Please register at for the event

ESRC Studentships Available for 2014 across 24 Academic Pathways

The Scottish Graduate School of Social Sciences has now released details for upcoming PhD studentships. if you wish to apply for an ESRC studentship through the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science please read the information below. It is essential that prospective students apply and NOT their potential academic supervisors following the process laid out in detail on the website. There are  a number of Award Competitions annually through which studentships can be secured. They are:

The Pathway Competition
The Advanced Quantitative Methods (AQM) Competition
The Open Competition
The Collaborative Competition
The first three competitions are administered through one single process. ESRC studentships in the Pathway Competition are assigned to our 24 pathways and the pathways award them to applicants on the basis of academic merit. If an applicant is proposing using or developing advanced quantitative methods through their research then they may be considered in the AQM Competition in parallel to being considered in the Pathway Competition.

Applicants who are unsuccessful in securing a studentship through the Pathway Competition and/or the AQM Competition are then automatically considered within the Open Competition. ESRC studentships in the Open Competition are awarded by the Scottish Graduate School, again on the basis of academic merit, through a cross-pathway competition.

Check here for details and deadlines linked to the application process. 

The Collaborative Award Competition is managed separately. Up to 9 PhD studentships in social science subjects will be co-funded. The awards will likely commence in October 2014.

Proposals from academics across the SGS-DTC accredited pathways are welcome.

‘Collaborative’ is defined broadly and covers collaboration with private sector companies, public sector bodies or voluntary organisations. The SGS-DTC Board has allocated up to 9 awards to the collaborative studentship competition for 2014.

 Time Frame for Collaborative studentships

Deadline for applications: Mon 10 February 2014

Decisions communicated to applicants: Mon 10 March 2014

Further Details

 The application form is available for download here.

Interested parties should download and read the guidance notes.


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New publication: How the availability of choices of secondary care providers differ across the four countries of the UK

SDHI Team Member, Deborah Baldie reports on findings from this study. For the full article, please see citation at the end as well as the links provided to the full publication.

A UK wide four country case study of patient choice of secondary care provider has recently been published in the Journal of Health Services Research. Researchers from SDHI worked with research teams across the UK to compare patients’ choices when referred to secondary care providers by their general practitioner (GP) to examine the changes that have resulted from the explicitly pro choice policy in England.

Interviews were conducted with providers of two high-volume surgical specialties, Ear, Nose and Throat and Orthopaedics, purchasers of these services and those responsible for referring to acute services.

Choice of provider
In England, patients had a choice of any provider, but in practice patients were only provided with a limited list of local providers. There was no national system for facilitating choice in the three other countries and therefore patients tended to be referred to the local provider and may have a choice of hospital sites managed by that provider. Referral further afield in all countries was very rare and only occurred in exceptional cases.
Choice of Specialist
Choice of specialists was reported to be available at the discretion of providers in England, Scotland and Wales but not Northern Ireland. The reason for restricting choice of specialist in all cases was reported to be the need to reduce or control waiting times. Most GPs in all cases were asked to refer to generic teams rather than individual consultants.
Choice of date and time of appointment
Choice of date and time of appointment was available to patients when they were referred to a provider in all cases through two key systems – partial and full booking. Data collected indicates that rather than enhance choice these systems operated primarily to manage waiting times.
Management of choice along the referral pathway
A range of triage systems to direct patients to appropriate secondary care services operated in orthopaedic services. They appeared to limit choice for patients, particularly in triage systems that had no access to the electronic booking system. GPs did however GPs often bypass the triage service if they felt this was clinically indicated.
Referrer’s communication of choices to patients
Interviewees’ understanding of the availability of choices was often confused and differed within sites. A common area of confusion concerned referral pathways and if triage systems existed and were mandatory or optional. Discussion of choice with patients tended to be very limited with GPs in England and most tended to limit choice to 5 local providers. In the three other countries discussion of choice was largely not commenced unless initiated by the patient. GPs indicated that lack of discussion of choice with patients was largely due to patients being confused by and not interested in choice.
While the explicit patient choice policy in England would suggest greater possibilities for choice compared with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, in practice differences were more nuanced. All countries had some degree of choice of provider, limited choice of specialist but restricted choice of date and time of appointment or admission. Choices were far more limited in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The limited range of choices made available in these countries were seen to be affected by geography and population spread however even in urban areas in England, GPs reported patients preferring stay close to home and this acted as a further limiting factor.
Choice of time and date of appointment were was viewed as a very useful tool for managing capacity. Confusion over referral pathways and choice of specialist was there at times amongst GPs in all four countries. Patient experience of choice was therefore dependant to some extent on GPs’ knowledge. GPs reported having similar conversations with patients about choice in all four countries and tended to be led by what they thought best suited the needs of individual patients and patients’ appetite for choice which was perceived by GPs in all cases to be small.

Lack of difference between countries may because free choice of any provider in England was still bedding down at the time of this study. Other factors more closely related to GPs perceptions and knowledge of choices available indicated however that overall, a longer term culture shift on the part of GPs is needed in all four countries if patients are to be made fully aware of choices available to them.

Sanderson M , Allen P, Peckham S, Hughes D, Brown M, Kelly G, Baldie D, Mays N , Linyard A, Duguid A. Divergence of NHS choice policy in the UK: what difference has patient choice policy in England made?J Health Serv Res Policy 2013 18: 202 -208

SDHI Webinar – Gun Violence, Disability and Recovery

We are delighted to announce a further Webinar led by Cate Buchanan, Director, Surviving Gun Violence Project to be held on Wednesday 18th December at 3pm (GMT).  Cate will provide an overview of the book ‘Gun Violence, Disability and Recovery‘.  This Webinar will be hosted by Dr Damien Williams, School of Medicine, University of St Andrews and responded to by Dr Thilo Kroll, SDHI.


For further information on the project visit and

If you would like to join this webinar, please contact Rosanne Bell (r.c.bell or Fred Comerford (fac1

Further information is available on the webinar flyer

SDHI 10th Anniversary Research Fair – Cancelled Due to Uncertainties of Industrial Action

Dear Colleagues and Friends of SDHI,
With great regret we have to inform you that the SDHI 10th Anniversary Research Fair planned for the 3rd December has now been cancelled due to the uncertainties of the industrial action scheduled to take place on that day.
We value your support for SDHI and its mission and we can assure you that we will continue to arrange opportunities to bring together researchers, professionals and public in the future. Please engage with our Anniversary Twitter feed @SDHIresearch #SDHI10 and stay informed on regular updates on our research and activities on our website .
Kind regards,
Thilo Kroll & Huw Davies
– on behalf of the SDHI Team

Celebrate SDHI at 10 wherever in the world you are

Our countdown is on for SDHI’s 10th Anniversary celebration on the 3rd December in the Gateway in St Andrews. We would like to invite you to celebrate with us in person or virtually wherever you are. Join our anniversary Twitter feed #SDHI10 and share your thoughts, experiences, views and expectations with us. Engage in a debate with us about the future direction of SDHI, about memories of past SDHI events, anecdotes and critical milestones. Over the course of the coming weeks we will use the hashtag #SDHI10 to stimulate discussion. We would like to hear from you irrespective of whether you are or have been part of SDHI. We are extending our local community and inviting people from around the globe to share their insights, information resources and experiences. Three easy steps: (1) Join Twitter; (2) Follow SDHI @SDHIresearch and (3) Engage in the celebration and discussion, remember to use #SDHI10 in your posts and to view related posts.

Strong SDHI representation at the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting and Expo in Boston

Like in the previous year, SDHI affiliated researchers had a substantial presence at this years largest academic and professional public health conference with an estimated 13000 delegates. SDHI Associate Director Professor Peter Donnelly (St Andrews) hosted a special session on the recent Sandy Hook School Shooting in Boston, which brought together different perspectives ranging from parents, criminologists to policy makers.

Damien Williams presented posters on the relationship between community and domestic violence and football matches in Glasgow as well as on alcohol use quantities and patterns among university students at St Andrews.  Thilo Kroll contributed to a special session organised by the Disability Chairs Forum of the APHA Disability Section on ‘The a Construction of Disability and Health: The Role of Spaces and Places’, a discussion which continues on Facebook, and to a presentation entitled ‘Addressing the psychosocial support needs of cancer co-survivors in low income communities’ as part of a session on ‘Social Determinants of Behavioral Health: Addressing Root Causes through Public Policy and Community Practice’ . The latter also introduced SDHI’s sister platform, FRED (family focused research, education and development), which aims to bring together researchers, practitioners and families globally to examine and tackle social deprivation and marginalisation issues related to health. At present researchers from the Unites States, Finland and the UK are engaged in this effort. Thilo also presented three posters relating to a recently completed study on outcome measurement after stroke. The posters focused on rehabilitation professionals’ attitudes to outcome measure use, rationale for selecting outcome measures, and engagement of stroke survivors with aphasia in the discussion about what matters after stroke.  Shiraz Sheriff, PhD student who is supported by SDHI team directors Ed Hall and Thilo Kroll presented his poster, entitled ‘Asthma, deprivation and the urban environment in Scotland: Evidences, challenges and directions‘. For the first time SDHI was also involved in the APHA Film Festival where Lisa Nicoll’s film ‘Wasteland’ was shown. A productive evening session with PhD students has further linked SDHI’s research portfolio and support for postgraduate researchers to a wider international group, which is part of the internationalisation ambitions of SDHI. The presence of SDHI at APHA was particularly poignant this year as the motto of the conference was ‘Think global, act local: Best practices around the world’.

Positive SDHI Postgraduate Retreat

After a hiatus of two years SDHI held its annual retreat for postgraduate students and early career researchers in Kindrogan on October 30-31 again. A diverse group of students and staff from many disciplines from St Andrews and Dundee discussed – in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere – what it means to undertake a PhD, how to address challenging methodological questions, career pathways, how to write for publication and how to maximise impact of research. Students and researchers presented their work and stimulated debate and constructive feedback. We feel encouraged by the positive feedback to continue with these workshops in the following years. For a personal reflection on the retreat, please visit this blog entry.