Kent-Lille Cotutelle: Advancing communication between children and paediatricians: a cross-linguistic contribution

University of Kent
March 24, 2023
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Scholarship value

Tuition fees and stipend at the standard Research Council rate (Home rate only: £4,596 (fees) and £17,668 (stipend) in 2022/23). The 2023/2024 rate is yet to be announced by the UK Research Councils.


Applications must be received by Sunday Friday 24 March 2023, 23:59 GMT


Open to home and international fee-paying students. Home fees only are provided, the shortfall in international fees would need to be self-funded.

Scholarships are available on a cotutelle (dual award) basis only.

Students have to spend at least 12 months at Kent and Lille.

Key attributes and skills for prospective applicants:

  • The applicant will need excellent English and French spoken and written skills as they will have to engage routinely with nurses, doctors, parents and children in Lille and Kent, collect and analyse French and English linguistic data, and write up their thesis in English.
  • Their UG and/or PG degrees should contain key Linguistics elements; in particular, pragmatics, child language development and psycholinguistics; they should also have some knowledge of methods used to analyse verbal and non-verbal interactions.
  • Ideally, the applicant will have some familiarity with tools such as CLAN, ELAN and Praat, and demonstrate basic knowledge of statistics and statistical software such as SPSS and/or R.
  • Strong communication skills are essential since the applicant will be conducting interviews with parents of child patients, nurses, and doctors.
  • Further details

    Kent-Lille Cotutelle: Advancing communicative interactions between children and medics: a cross-linguistic contribution to paediatric patient care

    The project expands on a funded Lille-Ghent-Kent interdisciplinary collaboration (3(i) Cross-Border Collaboration Scheme) between paediatricians (Ghent) and linguists (Lille and Kent) examining the way in which communication between paediatricians and child patients can be developed.


  • Primary: Dr Vikki Janke (University of Kent)
  • Secondary: Professor Ilse Depraetere (University of Lille)
  • Relevance: Recent research has identified the short- and long-term consequences of children’s experience of medical encounters. Procedures in which children remain anxious and frightened lead to them experiencing heightened pain, engaging less with procedures, and to poorer health outcomes. However, most advice given to medics on how to calm children is copied and pasted from that existing for adults – with no clinical evidence of its efficacy with children, who have different levels of linguistic and cognitive development. Further, the advice focuses primarily on vocabulary, ignoring other essential dimensions to communicative exchanges.

    Aims: the project has two strands:

    (a) analysis of recordings of medical encounters, looking at verbal and non- verbal exchanges, with the aim of documenting strategies being used, and linking these to procedural outcomes,

    (b) collection of qualitative data from parents, nurses and doctors on their views of what works well with children, what could be developed and factors that would help them further incorporate child-centred communicative strategies into their practice


    From strand (a), through critical engagement with theoretical and experimental literature on communication, the student will have developed a portfolio of fundamental aspects of successful communicative exchanges between children and medical caregivers (vocabulary, structure of verbal exchanges, ways of questioning, intonation, gesture, eye-gaze). This will produce the first clinically based evidence on child-centred encounters. Practically, the student will have honed fundamental research skills in the analysis of non/verbal exchanges and use of experimental tools that enable the creation and modification of audio and visual data.

    From strand (b), the student will have collected, collated and analysed qualitative data from semi-structured interviews with medical personnel and patients’ families. Thus, this strand will have uncovered how practitioners and families view the quality of their communicative exchanges, what they would like to see change, and how best they could be supported to bring these changes into effect. The student will have developed excellent interviewing skills, knowledge of qualitative data handling, and will have learnt how to link the results from strand (a) to those in (b) to achieve practical outcomes.

    How to apply

    To apply please go to https: // www. (PhD in Linguistics).

    You will need to apply through the online application form on the main University website. Please note that you will be expected to provide personal details, education and employment history and supporting documentation (Curriculum Vitae, transcript of results, two academic references). Applications should state that you would like to be considered for this Kent- Lille studentship project and be submitted with a supporting statement from the Kent Lead Supervisor.

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