PREFER PhD project on rheumatoid arthritis


In March this year, Karin Schölin Bywall started her PhD studies at Uppsala University. Her project is part of PREFER. It will look at how rheumatoid arthritis patient preferences can add value when regulators make decisions on drug development.

Karin Schölin Bywall, PhD student at Uppsala University
Karin Schölin Bywall, PhD student

Drugs should benefit patients. To get a drug approved, regulators think about the benefit, quality and safety of a drug. There is an increasing demand to include patient preferences in this regulatory process. Karin Schölin Bywall’s PhD project will find out when, and to what extent, patient preferences can add value in the regulatory process.

Her project focuses on patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). These patients suffer from constant inflammation in their joints.  The inflammation causes joint tenderness, swelling and damage. This can led to disability and premature death. There are different treatment options with different risks and benefits. This is a reason why RA makes an interesting case for preference studies. If patients can have a treatment that matches what they want, they will probably be more satisfied and take their medication more regularly.

According to Karin Schölin Bywall, the PREFER project offers the chance to work with PhD students from other universities. PREFER also allows her to develop research questions with senior researchers from universities and the pharmaceutical industry. This collaboration also ensures stakeholder perspectives in her PhD project. Working with patient organisations, industry, health technology assessment bodies and regulators also means learning how these stakeholders interact and work together towards the same goal.

“Being part of a large project like PREFER means a possibility to learn several methods, instead of one or two for my PhD. It is a unique opportunity to be part of something that can contribute to increasing patient influence on care”, says Karin Schölin Bywall.

About the PhD project

Karin Schölin Bywall will defend her thesis at Uppsala University in the spring of 2021. The project is part of PREFER and is supervised by Mats G. Hansson (PREFER coordinator), Ulrik Kihlbom (main supervisor and public co-lead for the methodologies work stream) and Jorien Veldwijk (public co-lead for the clinical case studies work stream).  The supervisors are all from the Centre for Research Ethics & Bioethics (CRB) at Uppsala University. CRB is a multi-disciplinary research environment with several ongoing PhD projects looking at preferences, mainly using Discrete Choice Experiments. The projects’ focus range from genetic risk information, antibiotics resistance to cardiovascular risk information and communication.

Read about the project

Read about DCE's

About PhD students in PREFER

PREFER involves five PhD students from the University of Leuven, the Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam and Uppsala University. The students have their own PhD projects with specific thesis topics that all relate closely to PREFER. Students are involved in project activities and will publish several papers within the PREFER framework. Students also work closely with both stakeholders, public and private partners to inform their work.

By Josepine Fernow

Last modified: 2021-11-10