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Implementing digitally delivered psychological interventions for managing symptoms in people with multiple sclerosis

Start date

1st October 2024


Three fully-funded 3.5 year PhDs funded by the MS Society.  


We are excited to offer the opportunity to apply for one of three fully funded PhD studentships available at King’s College London’s Doctoral Training Centre in Symptom Management for people with multiple sclerosis (pwMS) funded by the MS Society and an industry partner – Avegen . This is a unique opportunity to contribute to cutting edge, impactful digital research. 

Each PhD will contribute to the development and testing of three novel digital psychological interventions which will be made available to patients on the “MS Digital Symptom Toolkit” platform as a single point of care for symptom management in MS. A broad description of each PhD is listed below. Students will have the opportunity to provide their own novel insights to inform the details of the design. The overlap in research designs presents an opportunity for shared learning across each PhD.  At the same time, each project will research different pathways for people with MS to access the Apps so that we can ascertain the most efficient and cost-effective form of delivery.

1)    Studentship 1 Aim: To develop and test in a real-world NHS setting, an app to manage symptoms of psychological distress in the context of MS.

The PhD includes adapting an existing therapist supported evidence-based cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) intervention for managing depression and anxiety in MS (COMPASS) so that it can be delivered using an app unsupported by a health care professional. The app, Orbi already exists to promote wellbeing in people with long term conditions but needs to be adapted to be MS specific.  The app will be developed with iterative feedback from patient and health care professionals. The app will then be tested in a real-world NHS setting as part of an implementation feasibility study to examine improvements in mood outcomes and levels of adherence. People with MS will also be interviewed to explore their views on the usability and acceptability of the app.

Supervisors: Dr Joanna Hudson:; Prof Rona Moss-Morris:; Dr Sam Norton:

2)    Studentship 2 Aim: To develop an App to reduce the impact of pain in pwMS and to test a “hub-based” delivery model to provide guided support for an intervention to reduce pain.  

The content of the intervention will be informed by a previously designed, theory based blended CBT/ACT intervention for pain in MS and co-design with people with MS.  The hub-based service delivery model will be informed by stakeholder engagement and existing research. Once the app is built a randomised feasibility trial will evaluate the potential efficacy of a hub-based therapist supported app to reduce pain symptoms in MS. Qualitative interviews with both patients and therapists who delivered the intervention will be conducted at the end of the feasibility study.

Supervisors: Dr Emily McBride:; Prof Rona Moss-Morris:; Dr Joanna Hudson:;

3)    Studentship 3 Aim: To develop an App version of an existing manualised psychosexual intervention to improve sexual difficulties in PwMS and to explore a direct to consumer route to access the app.

The development of the app will be informed by a previously designed, theory-based ACT informed psychosexual intervention to improve sexual difficulties in PwMSand co-designed with people with MS.  A planned randomised feasibility trial will evaluate the potential effectiveness of the app on sexual difficulty outcomes delivered using a direct-to-consumer route (e.g. outside of the NHS context). Qualitative interviews will also be conducted with pwMS to explore their experience of using the app.

Supervisors: Dr Ashley Brown:; Prof Rona Moss-Morris:; Dr Joanna Hudson:

When completing your application please indicate, which if any of the three of these PhD’s would be your preference and why.   Please also note if there are any of the three you would prefer not to do.  


Doctoral Training Centre Co-Leads: 

Symptom specific leads: 

  1. Psychological disress: Dr Joanna Hudson 

  2. Pain in MS: Dr Emily McBride

  3. Sexual Difficulties: Dr Ashley Brown

Entry requirements

Applicants should have (or be expected to obtain) a Bachelors degree with 2:1 honours (or Overseas equivalent). A 2:2 degree may be considered only where applicants also offer a Masters with Merit.

Award types and eligibility

Students will be fully funded for three and a half years full time, to include home tuition fees, annual stipend and some research and travel costs. Costs of creating the digital apps will be covered by our industry partner. Overseas applicants may apply but will need to cover the difference in fees. Currently the tuition fees for a full-time Overseas student is £28,260 and for a home student £7,500.

To be treated as a Home student, candidates must meet one of the following criteria:

  • A UK national (meeting residency requirements)

  • Settled status

  • Pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements)

  • Indefinite leave to remain or enter

Further information

About the IoPPN (

Studying at the IoPPN (

Research degrees at the IoPPN (link to

How to apply

Applicants must complete and submit an online admissions application, via the admissions portal by midnight (23:59 GMT) on 7 February 2024.

On the ‘Choosing a programme’ page, please select Psychology Academic Research MPhil/PhD (Full Time).

In your application, you will be asked to include:

  • Academic Transcripts – where applicable, academic transcripts must be submitted with the online admissions application

  • Details of your qualifications (you will need to attach copies)

  • A personal statement describing your interests and why you wish to apply for this project. Please include this as an attachment rather than using the text box.

  • Academic References – all admissions applications require one supporting reference. If the applicant is relying on thier referees to submit a reference directly to the College after they have submitted thier admissions application, then the applicant must ensure that (1) their chosen referee is made aware of the funding deadline (i.e. 7 days from application deadline) and (2) that the reference needs to be sent from an institutional email address.

In the Funding section, please tick box 5 and include the following reference: JH-HEALTHPSY-24

Please note there is no need to complete the Research Proposal section in your application as the project has already been set.

If you have any queries regarding the application process, please contact the Education support team at

References must be received by the deadline for the applicant to be eligible. Only shortlisted applicants will be contacted.

Closing date

7th February 2024 (23:59 GMT)


21 February 2024


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