This opportunity is now closed.

Funded PhD Opportunity

Mindfulness and physical activity in the management of menopausal symptoms

Subject: Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience


In addition to the essential criteria noted below, the Degree (or equivalent) qualification must be in Psychology or a closely related discipline. We will accept applications from candidates who are about to hold

* a minimum of and Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree in Psychology or closely related discipline (or overseas award deemed equivalent via UK NARIC) .

*An additional Desirable criteria that may be applied is holding, being about to hold, a Master's level qualification in Psychology or a closely related discipline.

*You must provide official, final results of qualifications used to meet the academic requirements before the start of the studentship

Research indicates that around 75% of women experience a range of troubling symptoms, such as hot flushes, palpitations, mood disturbance, anxiety, insomnia, aches and pains, pre, peri and post menopause. Borkoles et al. (2015) explored the role of Type D personality (depression) in relation to menopausal symptoms and found that this personality type, along with low income and caring responsibilities was associated in increased intrusion of psychological, physical/somatic, vasomotor and sexual symptoms.

Interventions to ameliorate menopausal symptoms have shown benefits from mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR, Woods et al. 2014) and physical activity (PA, Borkoles, et al, 2015). However, to date no studies have explored the use of a combination of MBSR and PA to reduce symptoms in this population. However, one of the barriers to engaging in health behaviours, such as PA, is motivation, which impacts on adherence, a concept commonly referred to as the ‘intention-behaviour gap’.

The Health Action Process Model (HAPA, Schwarzer & Lippke, 2011) has been used successfully to predict and change behaviour with the use of action plans, coping plans and self-efficacy, ultimately bridging the ‘behaviour intention gap’. This project will explore the effectiveness and acceptability of a PA and MBSR programme based on HAPA to manage menopausal symptoms and improve quality of life in pre, peri and post menopausal women.


Sequential mixed methods design; effectiveness of the intervention will be assessed via patient reported outcome measures and user acceptability explored using focus groups.  The intervention duration and content will be informed and refined by a systematic review. Additionally, tailored PA interventions will take into account each participant’s PA goals and expectations in terms of symptom control.


Females will be randomised into two groups: control (education about the menopause) and PA plus MBSR intervention (incorporating HAPA model).


Baseline measures will include demographic information on age, caring responsibilities, educational status, income, and smoking status. Type D personality will be measured using the DS14 (Senollet, 2015), menopausal symptoms by the Green Climacteric Scale (1998) and PA by the Kaiser PA Survey (Baecke et al, 1982), along with the  HAPA variables (motivation - risk perception, outcome expectancies, behaviour intentions and volition – action, maintenance.

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)
  • Experience using research methods or other approaches relevant to the subject domain
  • Sound understanding of subject area as evidenced by a comprehensive research proposal
  • A comprehensive and articulate personal statement


    Vice Chancellors Research Scholarships (VCRS)

    The scholarships will cover tuition fees and a maintenance award of £14,777 per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). Applications are invited from UK, European Union and overseas students.


    The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £ 14,777 per annum for three years. EU applicants will only be eligible for the fees component of the studentship (no maintenance award is provided).  For Non EU nationals the candidate must be "settled" in the UK.

Other information

The Doctoral College at Ulster University


Completing the MRes provided me with a lot of different skills, particularly in research methods and lab skills.

Michelle Clements Clements - MRes - Life and Health Sciences

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Key dates

Submission deadline
Monday 18 February 2019

Interview Date
w/c 11th March 2019


Coleraine campus

Coleraine campus
Our coastal and riverside campus focussing on science and health

Contact supervisor

Dr Lynn Dunwoody

Other supervisors


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