I recently received a question about medical EPQ question ideas so here I am writing this blog post. If you read the few posts I wrote about the EPQ right after I had done it I did mention I’d maybe put together a post brainstorming some ideas for it, but somehow never got round to it, but here we are now…

My Original Shortlist

I still have the note on my iPad from when I was brainstorming my EPQ questions, so here are some questions I wrote up and was trying to decide between at the time:

• What are the effects of space travel on the immune system? (T cell activation on ageing)
• How much does space travel affect an astronaut’s health?
• Can you print a human kidney? (ethical considerations + new technology)
• Do anti-depressants actually work?
• Is the pursuit of perfection through fetal genetic screening ethical?
• Should the NHS provide IVF for women over 40?

I eventually went for: Is there a link between synaesthesia and autism?

Popular topics

Popular topics that students tend to go for with the EPQ tend to be surrounding the following areas:

• Stem cells
• Cancer
• Dementia
• Obesity
• Ethics of treating people with “self-inflicted” illnesses
• Euthanasia/abortion
• History of Medicine
• Antibiotic resistance
• Organ donation

I personally didn’t want to go for something “popular” as I wanted something more unique, however, the advantage of choosing a more popular topic is that there’ll be a lot more easy to read information on it.

More Unique Ideas

• What are the environmental causes of birth defects?
• How does substance abuse affect fetal development?
• Can suicide ever be rational?
• How does epilepsy affect childhood development?
• What’s the function of sleep?
• What are the racial and ethnic disparities in healthcare?
• How does skin age differently across ethnic groups?
• How can artificial intelligence be used to deliver healthcare?
• Is intelligence a genetic or environmental trait?
• What’s the relationship between mental health and physical health?
• Schizophrenia: nature or nurture?
• What are the benefits of social prescribing?
• How is personalised medicine transforming healthcare?
• Do gamers make good surgeons?
• High profile cases of medical negligence
• What are the ethics of cryopreservation?
• How does chemotherapy work?
• How significant is the placebo effect?
• How are memorises formed and stored?
• How do health outcomes vary based on geographical location?
• What are the effects of drinking no water and water intoxication?
• Do we have a cure for autoimmune diseases?
• How does experiencing depression change your brain?
• How can we use food as Medicine?
• What are the bio-psychosocial predictors of postpartum depression?
• What’s the significance of language testing during awake brain surgery?
• What are “never events” in medicine and how do they happen?

General Advice

It’s important to choose a topic that you’re going to find interesting and has enough easily accessible informtation on it. It might also be better if you don’t choose a topic that involved very complex Science as its likely to be more difficult to do. Instead, if you choose a question that has both a scientific and an ethical component, both of these elements will help broaden your understanding and also help with writing up the report.

A way I brainstormed for my question at the time was by looking at the Medicine TED Talks and listening to a few to see whether certain topics interested me. You could do the same with documentaries, new articles etc. Before you settle on a question, research around the area so you can judge how much there’s out there and also whether the sub-topics within your chosen question will interest you.


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Posted by:Life of a Medic

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