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Health Dissertation Topics

Health Dissertation Topics

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Example health dissertation topic 1:

Within mental health provision: The reliance upon cognitive behavioural therapy has become too great - a discussion.

The National Health Service (NHS) has invested heavily in the promotion of cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) for adults with mental health issues. However, the efficacy of CBT has been under consideration, and questions remain whether the NHS is taking into account the individual needs of mental health patients. This study examines the virtues and disadvantages of the large scale adoption of therapy nationwide, across a variety of ages and psychological phenomena, and explores whether other forms of psychological intervention are overlooked in the NHS.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Scott, T. (2007) ‘Psychotherapy in the NHS', in, Lister-Ford, C. (ed.), A short introduction to psychotherapy. London: SAGE, pp. 92-98.
  • Wilkinson, P. (2009) ‘Cognitive behavioural therapy with older adults: Enthusiasm without the evidence?' The Cognitive Behaviour Therapist, Vol. 2, pp. 75-82.

Example health dissertation topic 2:

The fat tax: A discriminatory measure upon the vulnerable?

David Cameron's consideration of a ‘fat tax', in line with those introduced by countries such as Denmark and Hungary, raised community awareness of the obesity epidemic. This dissertation examines the efficacy of the application of higher taxes on foods deemed ‘unhealthy' and conducts a wide review of the literature currently available for measures such as this. The study considers whether the tax is an appropriate compensation for the taxpayer in light of the additional costs placed upon the NHS because of increased strains caused by obesity, or whether a fat tax would merely inflict greater suffering on those sectors of the community struggling not only with their own health issues but with wider socio-economic matters.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Donahue, T. (2005) ‘Obesity: Your problem or mine?: Using a fatty food tax to fight the obesity epidemic'. BA thesis, University of Oregon.
  • Mytton, O., Gray, A., Rayner, M. and Rutter, H. (2007) ‘Could targeted food taxes improve health?' Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, Vol. 61, pp. 689-694.

Example health dissertation topic 3:

An analysis of the Coalition Government's proposals for reform to the NHS: A necessary step to recovery or the death knell of the NHS?

The Coalition Government's publication of the White Paper Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS has caused consternation amongst the guardians of the health service. This paper reviews whether Health Minister Andrew Lansley's proposals that primary care trusts and strategic health authorities should be eliminated in favour of greater power in the hands of GPs, and the return of public health responsibilities to local authorities is a step back into the past rather than the future. Consideration is also given to the haste with which the proposals were prepared. Primary research takes the form of surveys with GPs and health care professionals, and a comprehensive literature review is undertaken.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Ham, C. (2010) ‘The coalition government's plans for the NHS in England', BMJ; 341:c3790.
  • Walshe, K. (2010) ‘Reorganisation of the NHS in England', BMJ, 341:c3843.

Example health dissertation topic 4:

‘Free at the point of delivery': A critical review of the extent to which this founding principle of the NHS has been undermined since the 1960s

The founding ideology of the NHS was that service would be free at the point of delivery. However, this dissertation suggests that this was little more than illusory and was a slogan that, within fifteen years of the formation of the NHS, was no longer appropriate. The introduction of dental costs and prescription charges by consecutive Labour governments was therefore, this dissertation suggests, therefore, a betrayal of founding ideologies by the very political party that always seeks to portray itself as the ‘saviour of the NHS',.

A range of primary source interviews with clients, practitioners and patients would supplement the secondary reading and theory that underpins this dissertation.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Jackson, E. (2010) ‘Top-up payments for expensive cancer drugs: Rationing, fairness and the NHS', Modern Law Review, Vol. 73(3), pp. 399-427.
  • Klein, R. (2010) The new politics of the NHS: From creation to reinvention (6th edn). Abingdon: Radcliffe.
  • Morrison, L. (2006) ‘We risk forgetting what it means to be free', BMJ, 333(7581): 1277.

Example health dissertation topic 5:

GPs as accountants: A critical appraisal of the changing role of GPs through the development of the internal NHS market and primary health care trusts.

The changing nature of the NHS and the introduction of the internal market within the 1980s/1990s led to a change in the role of doctors and GPs within the service. Where treatment was to be offered, costs had now also to be considered. This process was continued and augmented under Labour with primary care trusts and a resultant rise in the number of practice managers has been noted in official literature of the period. This dissertation evaluates the extent to which the ‘cost benefit analysis' of care has resulted in better patient care at GP level since the 1980s onwards and makes a number of comments as to how the present proposal for reform can be seen to feed into this longer-term movement.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Kmietowicz, Z. (2011) ‘Cameron proposes radical changes to England's NHS reforms', BMJ, 342, d3624.
  • Reynolds, L. and McKee, M. (2012) ‘GP commissioning and the NHS reforms: What lies behind the hard sell?', Journal of the Royal Society for Medicine, Vol. 105, pp. 7-10.
  • Wilkinson, E. (2011) ‘NHS reform: Take two', The Lancet, Vol. 378(9786), pp. 114-115.

Example health dissertation topic 6:

From National Health Service to a health service for the nation: Can treatment abroad be justified?

Founded in the immediate aftermath of WWII the NHS has traditionally been seen as a localised service in which patients have been served by their locality. This dissertation questions the on-going appropriateness of this idea by suggesting that treatment abroad (provided that it is paid for by the NHS) not only serves the nation but may also serve the patient better if waiting list times are cut. Against this ideological suggestion there remains, however, a need to balance the needs of relatives and the suggestion that such treatment mechanisms would prohibit them from visiting loved ones who are recovering. Give this personal dynamic it is envisaged that this dissertation will also use primary data collection techniques in the form of interviews with patients, relatives, and staff.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • McHale, J. (2011) ‘Health care, the United Kingdom and the Draft Patients' Rights Directive: One small step for patient mobility but a huge leap for a reformed NHS?' Health Care and EU Law, Vol. 2, pp. 241-262.
  • Watson, R. (2011) ‘European Parliament agrees rules on cross-border health care', BMJ, 342: d492.

Example health dissertation topic 7:

Role models to health problems: The problem of body image and the catwalk

This dissertation seeks to address the issue of catwalk models and the obsession with size zero in a health context. In so doing it suggests that the ‘body beautiful' image presented by catwalk models has led to a dramatic rise in eating disorders within teenage girls that costs the NHS an increasing amount of money each year. Rather than seeing ‘size zero' models as a cultural phenomenon this dissertation suggests that they should be seen as a negative influence on health. How then, in a world obsessed with image are the health realities of ‘following the size zero dream' to be communicated - using first hand evidence this dissertation proffers a number of reasoned suggestions.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Dittmar, H., Halliwell, E. and Stirling, E. (2009) ‘Understanding the impact of thin media models on women's body-focused affect: The roles of thin-ideal internalization and weight-related self-discrepancy activation in experimental exposure effects', Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, Vol. 28, pp. 43-72.
  • Quick, V. and Byrd-Bredbenner, C. (2011) ‘Effects of photographs of lower- and higher-body mass index fashion models on body dissatisfaction of young women', Topics in Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 26(1), pp. 57-67.

Example health dissertation topic 8:

Follow the smoking ban: Learning the lessons with regards to alcohol consumption

After decades of campaigning health care professionals have finally succeeded in getting cigarette advertising banned and packets removed from ready display within shops. Given the health concerns relating to alcohol and how they can be seen to mirror those relating to tobacco, this dissertation asks whether the time has come for a similar approach to be adopted to alcohol: no advertisement and no products in ready view of consumers. Set within the context of suggested minimum alcohol unit prices this dissertation is at the cutting edge of health preventative measures within the UK and offers an array of primary data collection opportunities.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Anderson, P. (2009) ‘Is it time to ban alcohol advertising?' Clinical Medicine, Journal of the Royal College of Physicians, Vol. 9(2) , pp. 121-124.
  • Anderson, P., Chisholm, D. and Fuhr, D.C. (2009) ‘Effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of policies and programmes to reduce the harm caused by alcohol', The Lancet, Vol. 373(9682), pp. 2234-2246.
  • Nicholson, M. and Hoye, R. (2009) ‘Reducing adolescents' exposure to alcohol advertising and promotion during televised sports', Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 301(14), pp. 1479-1482.

Example health dissertation topic 9:

Teenage sex: The problem of conflicting messages

Bombarded with increasingly sexualised images within advertising and upon the TV, teenagers are, the popular media inform us, over-sexualised and introduced to sexuality too soon. Further the rise in STDs amongst teenagers is seemingly rising unchecked whilst Britain, despite numerous government initiatives, retains the title of having the highest rate of teenage pregnancies within the EU. This dissertation questions the extent to which the NHS and other associated care agencies send out mixed messages to teenagers: namely,  seeking to stem the spread of STDs whilst still effectively condoning under age sex through the provision of free contraceptives. Is it time for the NHS to take a more truculent approach of advocating that the best way to avoid STDs and pregnancy is to ‘just say no'.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Moore, S.E.H. (2012) ‘Controlling passion? A review of recent developments in British sex education', Health, Risk & Society, Vol. 14(1), pp. 24-40.
  • Teitelman, A.M., Bohinski, J.M. and Boente, A. (2009) ‘The social context of sexual health and sexual risk for urban adolescent girls in the United States', Issues in Mental Health Nursing, Vol. 30(7), pp. 460-469.

Example health dissertation topic 10:

Drug and alcohol treatment and the NHS: A duty of responsibility rather than a duty of care?

Drug and alcohol related incidences put unprecedented strain on the services of the NHS (and especially A and E departments) at weekends. The NHS has a traditional ‘duty of care' to treat those in need of care who come through its doors. This dissertation questions whether, particularly in a time of tough economic choices, that ‘duty' should be reversed. Namely, that those who are repeatedly treated have a duty of responsibility to themselves and to society to amend their behaviour. Adopting the criminal ‘three strikes and you are out' approach, the dissertation looks at the effects of applying a similar to regimen within the NHS in which failure to address within a given time limit addictive and destructive behaviour should result in treatment being removed and reallocated to those who are prepared to heed medical advice.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Kneale, J. and French, S. (2008) ‘Mapping alcohol: Health, policy and the geographies of problem drinking in Britain', Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy, Vol. 15(3), pp. 233-249.
  • Millward, M. (2010) ‘Addiction beliefs: Do staff working in substance misuse and mental health services view clients with co-existing mental health and substance use problems in the same way?', PhD Thesis, University of Leicester.

Example health dissertation topic 11:

MRSA and superbugs - Recommendations for visitors

Throughout hospitals and GP surgeries signs abound of the need to ‘wash your hands'. In addition, bottles of sanitary cleaner are widely available. And yet, there is no compulsion or mechanism to ensure that all visitors avail themselves of the safeguards available by which to help minimise the spread of disease. Based on practice and observation this dissertation suggests that compulsory use of such disinfectants must be introduced if MRSA and other superbugs are to be controlled and the chances of infection minimised. Using interviews with staff, patients and visitors, a range of proposals will be proffered including ‘on the spot' fining for those who fail to act in a responsible manner.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Clock, S.A., Cohen, B., Behta, M., Ross, B. and Larson, E.L. (2010) ‘Contact precautions for multidrug-resistant organisms: Current recommendations and actual practice', American Journal of Infection Control, Vol. 38(2), pp. 105-111.
  • Mclaughlin, A., Canavan, J., McAdam, E., Mcdonagh, R., Brar, H., Hardt, J., Sinead, K., Fitzpatrick, G. and Donnelly, M. (2008) ‘What do people really know about MRSA? A survey of knowledge and attitudes in the general public and hospital visitors', Critical Care, Vol. 12(2), pp. 2-6. 

Example health dissertation topic 12:

The NHS and hospital car parking charges: A charge too far?

The requirement to pay for parking when visiting relatives in hospital causes widespread anger. It is, however, at the same time, a source of revenue for the NHS trust that operates the hospital in question. This dissertation firstly charts the introduction of car parking charging within NHS hospitals and then notes the academic arguments on both sides of the argument. These are then contextualised by reference to primary data collected from patients, workers and relatives. This dissertation endeavours to ultimately proffer suggestions as to how the conflict demands of sensitivity to patient care can be balanced by the need to raise much needed funds.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Kale, R. (2012) ‘Parking-centred health care', Canadian Medical Association Journal, Vol. 148(1), pp. 11-15.
  • Pitt, M. (2010) ‘Charging for non-core facilities services: The case of hospital car parking', Journal of Retail & Leisure Property, Vol. 9, pp. 261-262.
  • Tailby, S., Richardson, M., Stewart, P., Danford, A. and Upchurch, M. (2004) Partnership at work and worker participation: An NHS case study. Industrial Relations Journal, Vol. 35, pp. 403-418.

Example health dissertation topic 13:

Efficiency versus patient care: The on-going appropriateness of local community-based hospitals

There is a general assumption within the NHS that patients like to be treated ‘near home'. This, it is further suggested, is allied to the issues such as visiting, families assisting with hospital care, and being close to relatives. However, the provision of services at a local level may not always be in the ‘best care' interests of the patient. Rather, this dissertation suggests that there is value in considering the case for patients to be true wherever possible in the best centres for the particular illness for which they are being treated. Such a change in service delivery would bring with it a number of social difficulties but are these, this dissertation suggests, a price worth paying for more efficient treatment?

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Scottish Government (2006) Developing community hospitals: A strategy for Scotland. Edinburgh: The Scottish Government.
  • Shortell, S.M., Washington, P.K. and Baxter, R.J. (2009) ‘The contribution of hospitals and health care systems to community health', Annual Review of Public Health, Vol. 30, pp. 373-383.

Example health dissertation topic 14:

The treatment of alcohol abuse in the elderly: Recommendations for practice

In 2011, the Royal College of Psychiatrists drew attention to the increasing problem of alcohol abuse amongst the elderly in the paper, ‘Our invisible addicts'. Some of the issues that cause excessive alcohol consumption in the elderly include habitual purchasing patterns (for example, when the household shopping usually includes a bottle of spirits, but others in the household have died or moved away), drinking as a means of self-medication in depression, changing body reactions to personal alcohol limits, effects of medication, and so on. This dissertation considers ways to assist the elderly to review their alcohol consumption in ways that are not condemnatory, and to help them see that their quality of life will improve if recourse to excessive alcohol use is resisted. Using interviews with patients and care providers, this study will provide an arena for both primary and secondary research.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Crome, I.  and Rao, R. (2011) ‘Substance misuse and older people - Our Invisible Addicts', Mental Health and Substance Abuse, Vol. 4(4), pp. 267-269.
  • Crome, I., Li, T.K., Rao, R. and Wu, L.T. (2012) ‘Alcohol limits in older people', Addiction, not yet published.
  • Lee, H.S., Mericle, A.A., Ayalon, L. and Areán, P.A. (2009) ‘Harm reduction among at-risk elderly drinkers: A site-specific analysis from the multi-site Primary Care Research in Substance Abuse and Mental Health for Elderly (PRISM-E) study', International Journal of Geriatic Psychiatry, Vol. 24, pp. 54-60.

Example health dissertation topic 15:

Progress on the Canadian Catalytic Initiative to Save a Million Lives

This Canadian-sponsored public health initiative seeks to hasten progress on the achievement of health-based Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations. Established in 2007, it is now five years since the introduction of the initiative and this dissertation therefore seeks to assess the progress made not only in health-based MDGs but in the initiative intended to accelerate their uptake. Canada's focus is on AIDS related issues and preventative medicine within Asia and Africa, and thus it is on these goals that the dissertation also focuses. Using a combination of secondary sources such as those found within the annals of the UN, and surveys with in-field health care workers in Africa and Asia, the thesis is intended to be one that will assist Britain in its decision-making regarding matters of financial aid.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Canadian International Development Agency (2011) The Catalytic Initiative to Save a Million Lives. Ottawa: Government of Canada.
  • Vitora, C.G., Black, R.E., Boerma, J.T. and Brice, J. (2011) ‘Measuring impact in the Millennium Development Goal era and beyond: A new approach to large-scale effectiveness evaluations', The Lancet, Vol. 377(9759), pp. 85-95.

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