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Funded PhD: Perspectives of minority ethnic groups on OpenNotes for mental health

About the Project

Offering service users open access to their electronic health record in mental health care has gained considerable momentum. Benefits include improved patient satisfaction and safety; furthermore, open access to the electronic health record has helped some service users more easily understand their medications and feel in control of their treatment plan. Despite the benefits, mental health care providers have expressed concern sharing electronic health records with service users. Mental health in minority ethnic communities is a rising public health concern in the UK; challenges include language barriers, stigma and fear of accessing mental health services. This exploratory PhD project will examine differing cultural perspectives on open access in mental health services in Bradford District, where 32.6% of the population are of non-white ethnicity.

Specific objectives:
  1. Explore how an open, shared mental health, electronic health record is perceived by different minority ethnic groups and probe their potential level of engagement;
  2. Elucidate the participants’ perceptions of the utility of open access;
  3. Analyse participants’ perceived barriers and facilitators to access;
  4. Explore mental health clinicians’ concerns, and barriers and facilitators regarding sharing the electronic health record with service users;
  5. Produce evidence-based recommendations for implementation of OpenNotes access across differing ethnicities and cultural groups.

The proposed research will be conducted alongside an NIHR-funded project investigating mental health patient, carer, and clinical perspectives on the risks and benefits of an open electronic health record alongside colleagues in Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust.

Key outputs:
  1. A research protocol will be co-designed and co-produced with input from stakeholders including mental health service users;
  2. A systematic literature review on perceptions about electronic health records in mental health care;
  3. A paper presenting the perceived barriers and facilitators to access OpenNotes in service users of different ethnicities;
  4. A paper presenting the concerns, and perceived barriers and facilitators to access OpenNotes from mental health clinicians’ standpoint;
  5. A paper presenting recommendations for implementation of OpenNotes access across differing ethnicities;
Positive Action Statement:

At the University of Bradford our vision is a world of inclusion and equality of opportunity, where people want to, and can, make a difference. We place equality and diversity, inclusion, and a commitment to social mobility at the centre of our mission and ethos. In working to make a difference we are committed to addressing systemic inequality and disadvantages experienced by Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic staff and students.

We recognise the importance and the benefits to research quality that come from diverse perspectives, and from belonging to a diverse research community.  Therefore, as part of our Brad-ATTAIN initiative to increase diversity and inclusion among our PGR community, the University of Bradford is offering 2 fully funded PhD studentships for UK candidates who self-identify as being from a Black, Asian or Ethnic Minority background.


Open to candidates who self-identify as being from a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic background, and have UK ‘home’ student status.

Under sections 158-159 of the Equality Act 2010, positive action can be taken where members of protected groups are under-represented. At Bradford our data show that people from Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic groups who are UK nationals are significantly under-represented at postgraduate researcher level. This this initiative offers targeted support for these students.

These are lawful measures designed to address systemic and structural issues which result in under-representation of Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic students in PGR study.

The successful applicant will hold a minimum of an upper class honours degree (2:1 or above). A Master’s degree is desirable (2:1 or above). The project may suit graduates with backgrounds in psychology, mental health, or a healthcare discipline. Previous experience of qualitative research methodology is essential.

This studentship is available on a full- or part-time basis to candidates that can commence in February 2023. The applicants should use the ‘proposal’ section of the application to elaborate on:

  1. Why this research is important.
  2. How they would conduct it.
  3. What skills they have to offer to the research.
How to apply

Formal applications can be submitted through the University of Bradford web site.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the research supervisors for the project before applying. Informal enquiries are also welcome – please contact Dr Ria Vaportzis, e.vaportzis@bradford.ac.uk