The Master of Research (MRes) Science course is a postgraduate course that will provide applicants with an excellent opportunity to focus their research interests on one or two areas of science whilst also giving them the opportunity to work towards being able to translate their learning into research related outputs (e.g. submission for a peer reviewed publication, peer reviewed research/knowledge transfer grant application, presentations).

The MRes Science can be studied either full time (one year) or part time (two years) and will enable students to develop a wide variety of skills, experience and competence throughout their studies. The MRes will provide a thorough grounding should students consider moving towards Doctoral (PhD) students, or pursue research related activities as a career.

Oral health status and dental access patterns of socially disadvantaged adults receiving oral health checks in the community

Supervisors: Dr Kristina Wanyonyi, Dr David Radford and Prof Chris Louca

The basic oral health check programme, which is supported by the University of Portsmouth Dental Academy (UPDA), is targeted towards socially disadvantaged adults in the Portsmouth area. UPDA conducts basic oral health checks at outdoor settings, soup kitchens and neighbourhoods of high deprivation. The goal of this programme is to help seldom-heard groups gain access to primary dental care, and to improve how they care for their teeth. 

This research project aims to establish the impact of the basic oral health check programme on the oral health status and dental attendance patterns of adults who engage with the programme.

This a mixed method project which will involve secondary analysis of oral health check and dental attendance records.

NB: This project has already received approval from the Health Research Authority

Older people and oral health in primary dental care

Supervisors: Dr Kristina WanyonyiDr David Radford and Prof Chris Louca

The population is ageing and people are retaining their teeth longer. This is expected to impact on the demand for complex dental care for older patients in the future. It is worth considering how best to cater to this demand and consider the ease of accessing dental care for this age group. Often older people experience barriers to dental access related to cost, time and physical accessibility. This often leads to an increase in unmet dental need. For those who are fortunate enough to gain access dental care, it is helpful to understand their experiences, whether their perceived needs were addressed and the impact of the process on their oral health. This will provide useful insight for the shaping of effective dental services.

The aim of this study is to ascertain the dental access journey and oral health of older patients seen in primary dental care.

Mixed method study to look at secondary data and examine views and perceptions of older people who have been seen in primary care using interviews/focus groups.

Understanding effective teacher feedback to students

Supervisors: Prof Chris Louca and Prof Chris Brown

Feedback in clinical education has been defined as “specific information about the comparison between a trainee’s observed performance and a standard, given with the intent to improve the trainee’s performance” (De Ridder et al., 2008). It has been suggested that the provision of feedback by clinical trainers can lead to a positive impact on trainee’s learning and performance. However, little is currently understood of what effective assessment comprises and best practice is, in dental education. The aim of this project is to understand the state of the art of feedback practices. Examining feedback in education (in terms of teacher training and ongoing teacher professional development) and elsewhere, a proposed systematic review of effective feedback practices could be used to shape both policy and practice in dental education.

The proposed study will seek to assess the state of the art on effective educational feedback practices that can be used to improve dental education and ultimately impact on the oral health of patients as individuals and across communities. The project will require a systematic literature review that explores the different traditions of feedback under consideration (which will not only comprise feedback in schools and for teachers but also effective feedback in other relevant disciplines and sectors). To consider the differences in focus and theories of action associated with feedback across these different disciplines, an approach based on the ‘Meta-Narrative Approach’ to systematic reviewing (Wong et al., 2013) will be adopted. The Meta-Narrative Approach is one that seeks “to illuminate a heterogeneous topic area by highlighting the contrasting and complementary ways in which researchers [from different academic disciplines] have studied the same or a similar topic” (Wong et al., 2013).

The key stages in Meta-Narrative reviews are (Greenhalgh et al. 2005):

  1. A stepwise search strategy: an initial scoping of the literature ‘led by intuition, informal networking and ‘browsing’, with a goal of mapping the diversity of perspectives and approaches’; this is followed by citation tracking for seminar conceptual papers; and finally, searching for empirical papers by electronic searching key databases, hand searching key journals and ‘snowballing’ (references of references or electronic citation tracking).
  2. A mapping phase to describe, the key actors, key concepts, theories, and identified impacts associated with the different types of feedback.
  3. An appraisal phase for judging the validity and relevance of each study to the review question, and summarising the findings.
  4. A synthesis phase for identifying important dimensions associated with effective feedback.

The project will draw on the existing expertise in how evidence can aid education policy and practice from the School of Education and Childhood Studies and expertise on clinical dental education from the Dental Academy.

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Characterising emergency patients attending a primary dental care service

Supervisors: Dr Kristina Wanyonyi and Prof Chris Louca

Often patients who attend emergency clinics have severe dental disease. Regular attendance has the potential to sustain good oral health, which has an impact on quality of life, eating, socialising and work. Research suggests that factors such as cost and anxiety are barriers to regular dental attendance. In a facility such as UPDA where services are free at the point of delivery, it is useful to understand what additional factors predict emergency attendance.

This study aims to establish the factors predicting emergency attendance in a service which is free at the point of delivery.

This study will involve mixed methods which include secondary analysis of electronic dental health records and interviews to establish the relationship between emergency patients’ socio-demography and treatment need. Depending on the MRES students experience either of these methodologies will be employed.

Dental Hygienists and Dental Therapists experiences of psychological wellbeing within their profession

Supervisor: Dr Marina Harris

This project intends to draw on new research which has examined stress and psychological wellbeing within the dental hygienist and therapist undergraduate training environment, and extend this to the examine stress and wellbeing among qualified dental hygienists and dental therapists. Specifically, the project will examine the nature of stress within the dental practice environment, and its association with the positive psychological wellbeing of this group of registrants.

This project will explore the psychological wellbeing of dental hygienists and therapists using a mixed method study which will use a range of valid and reliable instruments, along with semi-structured one-to-one interviews to measure positive and negative psychological wellbeing.

Oral Health and Systemic Disease: Pulmonary Disease and Asthma

Supervisors: Dr Kristina Wanyonyi

The oral cavity possesses a vast microbiome, many bacterial species found within are opportunistic pathogens which can become the causative agents of periodontal disease and many other disease types. Inflammation associated with periodontal disease (PD) and dental caries, that is also related to cytokines, unregulated hydrolytic enzymes and dysfunctional immune response, is thought to be a mechanism that links to a variety of systemic conditions. Aspirated or swallowed bacterium from oral biofilms are problematic and may influence progression of several disease-types, such as asthma and other pulmonary diseases; due to the neighbouring proximity of the oral cavity and pharynx to the oesophagus.

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that affects an estimated 235 million people, and has been steadily increasing as of late. Research indicates that individuals with asthma, both children and adults, have a higher incidence of gingivitis and PD than healthy controls (Moraschini et al., 2017). Although many studies have indicated that there is a link between the prevalence of periodontitis in individuals with asthma, the full mechanism of the relationship has yet to be uncovered. Many studies have also uncovered a link between current asthma treatments and specific oral health conditions (Stensson et al., 2011).

This project aims to investigate the relationship between oral health and asthma, by conducting a mixed method study with patients suffering from asthma.

There are a number of methodologies which can be employed to answer this research question including, surveys, interviews, focus groups and clinical examinations. Depending on the MRES students experience either of these methodologies will be employed.

Oral Health and Systemic Disease: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and Variceal Complications

Supervisors: Dr. Kristina Wanyonyi

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease NAFLD and periodontal disease (PD) are both chronic inflammatory conditions with few subjective or early symptoms. Epidemiologic trials show that periodontal pathogens are associated with the progression of atherosclerosis, which stems from both types of fatty liver disease (FLD); non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and alcoholic fatty liver disease (AFLD) (Kudo et al., 2016). NAFLD is found in adults and children alike and affects 20-30% of the world population. Recent evidence suggests that high sugar diets, especially consumption of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), increase the risk for NAFLD and NASH (non-alcoholic steatohepatitis). Research suggests that PD could have a direct correlation with NAFLD-morbidity rates, thus the treatment of PD may have a consequential effect on NAFLD morbidity and drug therapy dosages.

The link between NAFLD and the manifestation of oesophageal bleeding through portal hypertension has also been investigated. Portal hypertension is the most important non-neoplastic complication of chronic liver disease that leads to high morbidity and mortality. Approximately 90% of patients with NAFLD will develop gastro-oesophageal varices within a 10-year period; due to portal pressures exceeding 10mm Hg, which can be linked to inflammation (McKay & Webster, 2007). Variceal haemorrhages occur when portal pressure exceeds 12mm Hg, raising mortality rates to as high as 25-50%, thus making preliminary prophylactic measures imperative to counteract an initial variceal bleed.

Currently there are no dental clinical pathways for these patients. This project aims to investigate the relationship between oral health and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and or variceal complications, by conducting a mixed method study with patients suffering from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and or variceal complications

There will be a number of methodologies which can be employed to answer this research question including, surveys, interviews, focus groups and clinical examinations. Depending on the MRES students experience either of these methodologies will be employed.

Oral Health and Systemic Disease: Liver and Kidney Transplants

Supervisors: Dr. Kristina Wanyonyi

Kidney and liver transplantations have become the primary prophylaxis for their end-stage of disease. Since kidney or liver transplant recipients (KTRs or LTRs) are more susceptible to the development of systematic complications, they are at an increased risk for orofacial complication and morbidity, sometimes a direct result of immunosuppression drug interactions themselves. Appropriate dental care during the pre-treatment preparation is crucial, to reduce any sources of infection in the drug-induced immunosuppression phase of the transplantation process to reduce chronic rejection (Gašpar et al., 2015).

Research shows that the release of oral bacterial metabolites from infected teeth and dental caries into the bloodstream triggers a local, host inflammatory immune response. Chronic inflammation found in the oral cavity can stem from several pathogens, biofilm formations, unregulated hydrolytic enzymes, and the dysregulation of immune response. This propensity of chronic periodontal disease (PD) to provoke low levels of systemic inflammation is thought to be the main mechanism linked to the variety of systemic conditions associated dental caries and periodontal disease (Sandoval et al., 2017). Research has also shown that high fructose corn syrup plays a dominant role in the promotion of liver cirrhosis through lipogenesis, the most common causative agent for the requirement of a liver transplants (Mock et al., 2017).

This project aims to investigate the oral health of Liver and Kidney Transplants patients, by conducting a mixed method study with patients recovering from Liver and Kidney transplant.

There are a number of methodologies which can be employed to answer this research question including, surveys, interviews, focus groups and clinical examinations. Depending on the MRES students experience either of these met.

Other Research Projects

Discover the current research projects available in each of our schools and departments: 

Please note, this list is not exhaustive and you'll need to meet and discuss the project you're interested in with a member of research staff before you apply.

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