Home / Northern Ireland / PhD Studentship – Reducing Sedentary Behaviour and Promoting Physical Activity in Children: Developing, Feasibility and Pilot Testing a Low-Cost, Multicomponent, School-Based Classroom Intervention at Ulster University

PhD Studentship – Reducing Sedentary Behaviour and Promoting Physical Activity in Children: Developing, Feasibility and Pilot Testing a Low-Cost, Multicomponent, School-Based Classroom Intervention at Ulster University

This project is funded by: Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke (NICHS)

Summary

Many primary schoolchildren in Northern Ireland are insufficiently active and spend long periods sitting. If continued into adulthood, these behaviours lead to poor health and increased risk of non-communicable disease. Cost-effective interventions, which increase childhood physical activity (PA) and reduce sedentary behaviour (SB) are needed to prevent future ill-health. Effective interventions are likely to be multicomponent, targeting the individual and their social and physical environment. School-based interventions ensure all children benefit irrespective of socioeconomic status. There is evidence that school-based interventions which focus on increasing PA outside of formal physical education may have positive benefits.

Transform-Us! is an Australian multi-component school- and family-based intervention developed for Australian primary school children (Salmon et al. 2011). Key features of the intervention include its approach to delivery of school curriculum and homework in less sedentary and more active ways. This studentship will test the feasibility of and pilot an intervention modeled on the Transform-Us! approach in a Northern Ireland school setting. If a low cost, feasible intervention, developed to target PA and SB in schoolchildren could be scaled-up across all primary schools in Northern Ireland, it would have significant potential to impact population health and well-being.

This four-year studentship is funded by Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke. The successful candidate will undertake a one-year funded MRes which will (subject to satisfactory progress) lead directly to a three-year funded PhD studentship and will use current research evidence and international best practice to design and feasibility/pilot test a classroom intervention to increase PA and decrease SB.

The planned project includes systematic review of evidence on the effectiveness of classroom interventions to change physical activity and sedentary behaviour (completed in year one and contributing towards the MRes award) followed by a qualitative study of children, teachers, and parents to inform an intervention, the design of an intervention involving individual and environmental components drawing on an international model and feasibility/pilot testing of the intervention in primary school classrooms in a clustered randomised controlled design.

Primary outcomes will be device measured PA (minutes spent in low, moderate, and vigorous intensity activity) and sedentary time (minutes spent sitting, number and length of sitting bouts). Secondary outcomes will be determined by the student in consultation with supervisors and the project advisors.

The studentship will include an opportunity for the successful candidate to spend time at Deakin University in Melbourne with Professor Jo Salmon and colleagues who developed the Transform-Us! intervention.

Essential Criteria

  • Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed equivalent via UK NARIC).
  • Sound understanding of subject area as evidenced by a comprehensive research proposal.

Funding

This 4 year studentship will cover tuition fees and maintenance of not less that 14,777 per annum (subject to satisfactory progress). Applications are invited from UK, European Union, and overseas candidates.

Submission Deadline: Friday 18 May 2018.

Interview Date: To be confirmed.

CONTACT SUPERVISOR: Professor Alison Gallagher (Telephone: +44 28 7012 3178, Email: am.gallagher@ulster.ac.uk).

OTHER SUPERVISORS: Professor Marie Murphy; Dr Angela Carlin; Professor Jo Salmon, Deakin University, Melbourne. 


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