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Pain Management for People Living with Multiple Sclerosis: Implementing a Digital Psychological Intervention

Start date

1st October 2024


1 fully funded 3.5 year PhD funded by the MS Society


We are seeking a highly motivated and talented individual to undertake a fully funded 3.5 year PhD to implement a digital intervention to support pain management in people living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). The successful candidate will be hosted within the KCL Doctoral Training Centre in Symptom Management for people with MS, funded by the MS Society and an industry partner - Avegen. This is a unique opportunity to contribute to cutting edge and impactful digital health research.

The PhD project would be suited to someone with interests in the field of health psychology or clinical psychology, and in MS and/or pain research

Two-thirds of the people with MS experience pain, meaning this is a great opportunity to conduct a PhD with impact. This MS and pain management project is one of 3 PhDs contributing to the development and testing of novel digital psychological interventions, which will be made available to patients on a “MS Digital Symptom Toolkit” platform as a single point of care for symptom management. The aim across the 3 PhD projects is to implement digital symptom management interventions for 1) psychological distress, 2) pain, and 3) sexual difficulties in MS. In this pain project, students will have the opportunity to provide their own novel insights to inform the details of the design of the app-based intervention.

As this is one of 3 PhDs in symptom management, 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.

Studentship Aim:

To develop and test a hub-based digital psychological intervention to reduce pain severity and interference in people with MS-related pain and provide evidence of the feasibility of a future large-scale trial.

The content of the intervention will be informed by a previously designed, theory-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy /Acceptance and Commitment Therapy intervention for pain in MS, and through co-design with people with MS. The hub-based service delivery model (i.e. components of the intervention delivered by therapists who are based remotely) 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 improve 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.


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

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 3.5 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 12th April 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)

  • Details of previous employment - please include your CV

  • 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: PAIN-HEALTHPSY-24

Please note there is no need to complete the Research Proposal section in your application as the project has already been set. You are welcome to email supervisors Dr Ashley Brown: and Prof Rona Moss-Morris: for more information regarding the project and studentship.

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

12th April 2024


2nd May 2024


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