PhD: Promoting physical activity participation and maintenance in individuals with long-term conditions using digital health interventions

The aim of this PhD project is to determine the feasibility of using digital health for the promotion and maintenance of physical activity in individuals with long-term conditions.

Project description

Physical inactivity is a global health problem that contributes to increased morbidity and mortality. Physical inactivity increases an individual’s risk for developing cardiovascular disease, metabolic disease and some cancers, and is now the fourth leading cause of global mortality.

Despite the World Health Organisation (WHO) developing comprehensive physical activity guidelines for general health, many individuals with long-term conditions struggle to meet or maintain appropriate levels of physical activity. Promoting physical activity is imperative for the management of many long-term conditions, however, longitudinal engagement in physical activity for these individuals is challenging. There is increasing evidence that the use of digital health to promote participation and maintenance of physical activity may be beneficial for individuals with long-term conditions.

Digital health is a relatively new field and is defined by the WHO as “the use of information and communication technology in support of health and health-related fields”. The use of digital health for promoting physical activity has many benefits including: (i) a more convenient and cost-effective approach for users and care providers; (ii) easier information updating and; (iii) personalised interventions and feedback to users can be provided in a timely manner which may enable self-driven physical activity. However, the feasibility of using digital health for the promotion and maintenance of physical activity in many long-term conditions is still not fully understood.

Methods

This an an exciting opportunity for a PhD student to work in collaboration with a network of international collaborators in the area of digital behaviour change interventions to support the maintenance of physical activity for adults with long-term conditions.

The proposed project will be separated into three phases. Phase one will involve conducting a comprehensive review of the literature surrounding the area of digital health physical activity interventions in individuals with long-term conditions in order to gain a greater insight into the research that has been conducted in the area to date.

The second phase will involve conducting qualitative research including focus groups, structured interviews and the development of questionnaires in order to better understand the determinants of physical activity participation in individuals with long-term conditions.

Lastly, phase three will focus on determining the feasibility and acceptability of using digital health interventions, such as commercial wearable devices for promoting engagement and maintenance of physical activity in individuals with long-term conditions in the community setting.

Tenure: Four years

Specification

Minimum requirements:

  • At least a 2.1 degree in a health-related discipline, including, but not limited to, physiotherapy, exercise physiology or exercise science
  • A keen interest in a health-promoting role

Desirable candidate specifications include:

  • Experience in a clinical setting
  • A good understanding of research methods
  • Excellent communication, organisational and administrative skills 

Application process

There is an open rolling registration for this position.

Please apply with an up-to-date CV, a 500-word statement outlining your interest in and suitability for the position, and contact details of two referees to suzannemcdonough@rcsi.com.

Successful candidates will be able to attend a virtual interview if they wish.