Older adults are the fastest growing segment of the population in the UK. Many of these adults want and need to be close to others as they grow older. For some, this includes the desire to continue an active, satisfying sex life. While the frequency of sex activity often declines with age, many older adults can and do have sex. Alongside this, many older people express a need for continued intimacy and keeping physically and emotionally connected with partners. That said, and even though sexual wellbeing is considered an important measure of the quality of life for the majority of older adults, there are a number of problems that can arise with age. From the normal aging process to medical conditions to the partner gap, there are many changes that can affect the sexual wellbeing of older adults regarding, feeling satisfied with their sex and intimate lives. Although sexual wellbeing is a vital part of general health, healthcare professionals are ill prepared in understanding and addressing the sexual challenges faced by older adults.
This has resulted in sexual care not be adequately addressed. Cultural ignorance, creates misinformation and stereotypes about older adult sexuality. Evidence of agism regarding sexual care provision is well known. Older adults themselves have been denied important sexual health information and support. Many have internalised these negative messages and are not proactive in getting the support they need to get their sexual needs met. Many people have a need for sexual wellbeing information and optimal sexual experience, regardless of their age. Yet challenges of physical frailty, chronic illnesses, lack of privacy, safety, and consent are often neglected by healthcare professionals. Maximising the sexual wellbeing of older adults as part of their overall health is significantly under researched and often unaddressed.
Healthcare professionals acknowledge they are not trained to address sexual wellbeing issues and frequently ignore or underestimate older adults’ sexual health concerns. Problems with intimacy and sexual wellbeing in older people are often not recognised and generally go untreated. Research has focused on ‘ill health’ rather than promoting ‘wellbeing’. A more ‘person-centred’ and less ‘disease-focused’ approach is required to promote the sexual wellbeing of older people.
The aim of this study is to develop and evaluate a personalised, tailored, resource for older people to promote their sexual wellbeing. Through a ‘person based approach’ a systematic literature review, qualitative interviews and the input of an expert group, a tailored based intervention will be developed. Following iterative formal evaluation of the will take place.
This evaluation will include both qualitative and quantitative methods. The proposed supervisory team has extensive experience in conducting studies of this kind. Prof McCaughan has expertise in the ‘Person based approach’ methodology and her research relates to sexual wellbeing. Dr Laird and Prof Ryan have clinical and research experience in the care of older people.
- To hold, or expect to achieve by 15 August, an Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree or equivalent from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed to be equivalent via UK NARIC) in a related or cognate field.
If the University receives a large number of applicants for the project, the following desirable criteria may be applied to shortlist applicants for interview.
- Relevant professional qualification and/or a Degree in a Health or Health related area
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 support 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 support 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 support 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 £15,285 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 support 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
The Doctoral College at Ulster University
Ulster University has very enhanced independent learning. I strongly recommend my students to go abroad to broaden their vision to get new motivation. I tell them that when studying at Ulster University, they will receive an abundance of knowledge, new experiences and strong technology to enhance their life.
Professor Stenver Lin - PhD RadiologyWatch Video
My career has spanned working within the community for both voluntary and statutory organisations. After completing my degree (Psychology) and Masters many years ago I was drawn once again to the academic life and the challenge of a PhD. I was tremendously privileged a secure a fellowship from HSC R&D office to fund my PhD. After having most recently worked within a health Trust supporting family carers, I wanted to investigate the impact of support services for family carers. I knew that male carers were 'hidden' and as such were particularly in need of support, so my PhD was within this area.I'm definitely most proud of MYSELF! My proudest moment was when I initially secured the funding for the PhD. My favorite memories involved data collection with the wonderful interview participants; and also the camaraderie of my PhD peers, who were always on hand to share the laughter... and the tears. I'll never forget.... my viva!
Anne Fee - PhD in Nursing and Health
I am a medical doctor by training, graduating from the University of Khartoum. I have a clinical MD in Community Medicine from Sudan Medical Specialization Board and a Masters in Molecular Medicine in from Institute of Endemic Diseses/University of Khartoum. I was the head of the Community Medicine Department at Shendi University in Sudan from 2010 – 2013 before moving to Northern Ireland to complete a Master of Public Health at Queen’s University, Belfast. I moved to Northern Ireland to complete a Master’s of Public Health at Queen’s University, Belfast in 2012/13. I was awarded the Ulster University Vice Chancellor’s Research Scholarship (VCRS) to undertake a PhD in the prevalence and risk factors of congenital heart disease in Northern Ireland which contributes to the primary prevention of congenital heart disease in Northern Ireland by determining the extent to which specific maternal risk factors are associated with the risk of having a baby with
Hafi Saad - PhD in Nursing and Health
I am currently the Director for the Department of Nursing-midwifery and Women's Heath at NTUNHS. I studied at Ulster University for 3 years and it was a very happy time. Ulster is very good for study, not only in academic work but it also shows you how to be a good teacher.
Professor Chein Huei Kao - PhD Health Science of NursingWatch Video