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Funded PhD Opportunity

Development of a web-enabled mobile training system for health professionals to enhance their communication among patients who are overweight/obese

Subject: Nursing and Health


Summary

Background: This PhD project addresses a priority health problem of obesity using advances in technologies. This connected health and healthy communities project proposes to develop a web-based M-training system for primary-care and community-based health professionals (i.e. GPs and nurses) to enhance their ability to communicate on bodyweight issues among patients who are overweight and obese in clinical practice. Rationale: Obesity is a global public health issue that must be addressed (World Health Organization, 2017).

Obesity is also a key public health issue in Northern Ireland, as over a quarter of adults (27%) were classed as obese with a further 36% classed as overweight (Department of Health, 2017). Findings from the Weight Care Project (lead by the Chair of this proposed supervisory team) highlighted that health professionals need continued support and training to enable them to effectively address weight-related issues in a sensitive manner that is acceptable to the patient (Moorhead et al. 2013). E-learning is an useful medium for providing training, which has a wide reach and can be achieved at minimal costs. However, at present no evidence-based e-learning tool is available to address these identified training needs (Moorhead et al. 2013). Research Question: Does a web-based M-training system for primary-care and community-based health professionals enhance their ability to communicate on bodyweight issues among patients who are overweight and obese in clinical practice?

Aim: To develop and evaluate web-based M-training system for primary-care and community-based health professionals to enhance their ability to communicate on bodyweight issues among patients who are overweight and obese in clinical practice.

Methods to be used: The project will progress in accordance with the guidelines in the Medical Research Council (MRC) Framework for Developing and Evaluating Complex Interventions, 2008. This project will consist of four stages:

Stage 1. Systematic literature review - This will be completed to inform the design and development of the M-training system for primary-care and community-based health professionals, and the trial design.

Stage 2. Designing the M-training system - To design a M-training system for primary-care and community-based health professionals to enhance their ability to communicate on bodyweight issues among patients who are overweight and obese in clinical practice.

Stage 3. Development of the M-training system- The M-training system will consist of two components, education and decision support.

Stage 4. Evaluation of the M-training System –  The evaluation will be in two parts, 1. Lab-based, and 2. Pilot intervention study. The purpose of the lab-based work will be to test the usability of the M-Training system. The pilot study will determine whether the system can feasibly enhance health professionals’ ability to communicate on bodyweight issues among patients who are overweight and obese in clinical practice.

Outcome: The expected outcome and impact of this project will be an evidence-based M-training system for training and supporting primary-care and community-care health professionals on communicating bodyweight issues within clinical practice.

References

Department of Health (2017).  Health Survey Northern Ireland: Results from the 2016/2017 Survey.  Belfast: Department of Health.

Moorhead, S.A., Coates, V.E. Gallagher, A.M. Nolan, G. Murphy, K., Hazlett, D.E.  Obesity communication among patients by health professionals: Findings from the Weight Care Project. Health, 2013, 5: 8A3: 100-109.

Medical Research Council (2008) Framework for Developing & Evaluating Complex Interventions (new guidance). MRC. Available from: http://www.mrc.ac.uk/documents/pdf/complex-interventions-guidance/ World Health Organization. (2017) Obesity and overweight Factsheet. www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs311/en/ Accessed on 015/11/17.


Essential criteria

  • Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree or equivalent from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed to be equivalent via UK NARIC)

Desirable Criteria

If the University receives a large number of applicants for the project, the following desirable criteria may be applied to shortlist applicants for interview.

  • Experience using research methods or other approaches relevant to the subject domain
  • Relevant professional qualification and/or a Degree in a Health or Health related area

Funding

    The University offers the following awards to support PhD study and applications are invited from UK, EU and overseas for the following levels of support:

    Vice Chancellors Research Studentship (VCRS)

    Full award (full-time PhD fees + DfE level of maintenance grant + RTSG for 3 years).

    This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees and provide the recipient with £15,000 maintenance grant per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training studentship grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Vice-Chancellor’s Research Bursary (VCRB)

    Part award (full-time PhD fees + 50% DfE level of maintenance grant + RTSG for 3 years).

    This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees and provide the recipient with £7,500 maintenance grant per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training studentship grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Vice-Chancellor’s Research Fees Bursary (VCRFB)

    Fees only award (PhD fees + RTSG for 3 years).

    This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training studentship grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Department for the Economy (DFE)

    The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £ 15,009 per annum for three years. EU applicants will only be eligible for the fee’s component of the studentship (no maintenance award is provided). For Non-EU nationals the candidate must be "settled" in the UK. This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training studentship grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Due consideration should be given to financing your studies; for further information on cost of living etc. please refer to: www.ulster.ac.uk/doctoralcollege/postgraduate-research/fees-and-funding/financing-your-studies


Other information


The Doctoral College at Ulster University


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Key dates

Submission deadline
Monday 19 February 2018

Interview Date
20th or 21st March 2018


Applying

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Contact supervisor

Dr Anne Moorhead


Other supervisors

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