Studentship Exploring Adherence to Methotrexate in Rheumatoid Arthritis

Centre for Musculoskeletal Research

Dr Kimme Hyrich, Dr Suzanne Verstappen & Dr Lis Cordingley

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic debilitating inflammatory disease. For the majority of patients, the drug methotrexate (MTX) is considered first line treatment. Unfortunately up to 30% of patients will not respond to MTX or develop treatment limiting side effects. It is currently not possible to predict which patients will have a good response and which will have to stop treatment. Benefits are also greater with close adherence to the prescribed treatment regimen resulting in better suppression of the disease and fewer long-term consequences.

It is now recognised that adherence to arthritis medications drop significantly within a few months of initiation. Reasons for medication non-adherence are not fully understood but appear to be related to beliefs about medications and concerns about occurrence of side effects. The primary aims of this PhD are to:

- Describe patterns of adherence in a cohort of patients with RA to whom MTX is prescribed for the first time and identify the self-reported reasons given by patients for not taking MTX as prescribed.

- Explore the associations between cognitive, mood and behavioural factors with MTX adherence using validated mixed-methods tools. 

– Study the impact of non-adherence on response to treatment.

The outcomes will provide an improved understanding of MTX adherence in RA as well as an insight into improved ways to communicate medication information to RA patients.

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Extensive training will be provided in the analysis of longitudinal clinical epidemiological data using up-to-date statistical techniques. The study will be conducted within the Centre for Musculoskeletal Research, an internationally recognised hub of musculoskeletal expertise, comprising over twenty existing PhD researchers. Upon completion, the PhD would provide an excellent grounding for progression into a postdoctoral role within epidemiology and/or psychology.

The 3-year full-time studentship will provide full support for UK/EU tuition fees, an annual tax-free stipend of £13,726 and cover all research expenses. The project is available to UK/EU nationals only due to the nature of the funding and is due to start September 2013.

This PhD would suit a candidate with a background in health psychology or related applied health area. Experience in both quantitative and qualitative methods is desirable. Applicants should hold (or expect to obtain) a minimum upper-second honours degree (or equivalent) in psychology, health psychology, epidemiology, statistics or related area. A Masters degree in a similar area in addition to previous statistical and qualitative analysis experience would be advantageous.

Please direct applications in the following format to Dr Kimme Hyrich (, via the ‘Apply’ button below:            

  • Academic CV
  • Official academic transcripts
  • Contact details for two suitable referees
  • A personal statement (750 words maximum) outlining your suitability for the study, what you hope to achieve from the PhD and your research experience to date.

Any enquiries relating to the project and/or suitability should be directed to Dr Hyrich at the address above.

Deadline for applications: 31 July 2013

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