PhD Advanced Course: Advanced research methods in health and pharmacy practice

Short Introduction

Pharmacy practice is an area of study within health services research that focuses on the role of pharmacists in promoting the safe and effective use of medicines and medical devices. As a result, interventions that focus on optimising the responsible use of medicines are likely to be developed as a core function of pharmacists’ role. Therefore, pharmacy practice research studies come to play and can adopt varied formats, resorting to methodologies used initially in epidemiology, including observational and experimental studies, whilst combining these with methods primarily used in the social sciences. These methodologies enable a more person-centred approach to understanding the experience of people living with illness and relying on medication and medical devices to maintain their health and well-being.

Gaining in-depth knowledge in health services research is essential for pharmacy doctorates to develop their research projects by selecting the most appropriate methodologies for reviewing state of the art in their areas of interest, selecting suitable study designs, collecting and analysing data emerging and producing high-quality evidence that supports the advancement of this area of practice.

Goals and Learning Outcomes

This advanced doctoral course aims to equip the enrolled students with the most effective methodological options in pharmacy practice research.

At completion, it is expected that the participants are able to:

    • identify a conceptual framework for a research study, showing the hypothesised causal variables and the expected outcomes;
    • identify the most suitable study designs in pharmacy practice interventions, including those focused on medicine use;
    • be able to recognise the state-of-the-art by undertaking a literature review and critically appraising it;
    • efficiently resort to primary and secondary data sources, analyse extracted data and be able to recognise the possibilities and limitations of each data source;
    • understand patient-reported outcomes and recognise the existing questionnaires to assess varied outcomes, including the need to engage in validation work and cross-cultural adaptation;
    • communicate and disseminate research findings through different platforms and to varied target audiences.

Main teaching methodologies will be based on experts’ introductory presentations, followed by real case studies, problem-based learning, simulation, hands-on databases, and briefing-debriefing activities, where appropriate.


Students will be assessed both at individual and group levels. Students will share their ideas regarding their research topic and potential ways to respond to a research question in the first week. In the end, each student will present their ‘research project’ demonstrating the application of the gained knowledge. This component weighs 40% of the final grade. Students working in groups at home will choose a methodological paper (from those available in Moodle) and deliver a critical review during the course, contributing 20% to the final grade. A final written assessment (20 multiple-choice and five open-ended questions) contributes 40% to the final grade. The final grade can increase to 10% for students sustaining active participation.


Dates: 12 Oct – 04 Nov 2022 (Wednesdays and Fridays)

Online Course through Zoom Platform

Programme: PhD Advanced Course on Advanced pharmacy practice research methods

This course will cover critical issues in health services research, comprising methodological options to assess the effect of pharmacists’ interventions to optimise medication use. The content will cover exploratory and observational studies to experimental and quasi-experimental designs. Data sources will be explored, including observation, surveys and clinical records. Data analysis, including statistical and qualitative approaches, will be detailed. Literature search principles and methods, including critical appraisal and meta-analysis, will also be covered. All presentations will be made available to students with a minimum of two weeks’ notice to allow time for preparation, maximising time in class for in-depth discussions.

Course Coordinator

Course Coordinator:

Afonso Miguel Cavaco, Faculdade de Farmácia da Universidade de Lisboa

Filipa Alves da Costa, Faculdade de Farmácia da Universidade de Lisboa

Registration and Fees


The registration is through the FenixEdu Platform until October  7   , 2022.

Registration Guide (Portuguese or English)

Tuition Fee:

  • Registration with evaluation: 125€
  • Registration without evaluation: 100€

This course is free for 1st year PhD students of FFUL.