Summary

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

Background

Smoking accounts for 1 in 6 preventable deaths in Northern Ireland (PHA, 2015) and costs the health trusts £164 million per year. Smoking is a risk factor for a range of chronic health conditions and all-cause mortality (Müezzinler et al., 2015). Smoking cessation has been a targeted health behaviour for a number of years and viewed as key to improving life expectancy and well-being in later life.  Smoking over the last few years has declined in some groups but continues to increase in young adults aged 18-25 years and those from lower income groups.

E-cigarettes are being promoted as a healthy alternative to traditional tobacco smoking, although in a recent systematic review their use was related to fewer quit attempts in smokers (Kalkhoran et al., 2016). In order to design an appropriate smoking cessation tool, using e-cigarettes, it is necessary to gain a better understanding of the attitudes and perceptions of their use among smokers and their acceptability as a smoking cessation tool.

This project will build on current research within the School of Psychology at Ulster on e-cigarette use and address key PFG health targets by having an outcome based approach, addressing an issue that has the potential to promote health and well-being in the population and reduce health inequalities and informing policy and practice around smoking cessation. It will utilise the theory of planned behaviour (Aizen, 1985) as a framework to examine the attitudes and beliefs towards e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool in young adult smokers and to design an appropriate intervention to promote their use in this age group, endorsed by National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) (Taylor et al., 2006) as an evidence based way of predicting health related behaviour.

Objectives

To determine perceptions, knowledge and predictors of e-cigarette use in a young adult sample of smokers aged 18-25years.

To determine the acceptability of e-cigarette use as a smoking cessation aid in a young adult sample of smokers aged 18-25years.

To explore the factors that influence intentions to use e-cigarettes and in particular how attitudes towards e-cigarettes, the roles of one’s significant others and the ease or difficulty engaging in the behaviour facilitates or prevents their use in a young adult sample of smokers aged 18-25years

Based on the evidence from these objectives, design an appropriate smoking cessation tool for this group using e-cigarettes as a cessation aid.

Methods

A mixed methods approach will be utilised to gather data on attitudes and perceptions of e-cigarette use in young smokers in Northern Ireland, employing theory of planned behaviour as a framework for the research and intervention design. Focus groups and questionnaire based studies and will aim to determine smokers (and potential consumer) knowledge of aspects of the action of e-cigarette use and their potential benefits as well as to elucidate which factors might facilitate and prevent their use as a smoking cessation tool. This evidence will inform a smoking cessation intervention tailored to this group, using e-cigarettes.

References

Ajzen, I. (1985). From intentions to actions: A theory of planned behavior. In J. Kuhl & J. Beckman (Eds.), Action-control: From cognition to behavior (pp. 11-39). Heidelberg: Springer.

Kalkhoran, S., & Glantz, S. A. (2016). E-cigarettes and smoking cessation in real-world and clinical settings: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, 4(2), 116-128.

Müezzinler, A., Mons, U., Gellert, C., Schöttker, B., Jansen, E., Kee, F., ... & Wolk, A. (2015). Smoking and all-cause mortality in older adults: results from the CHANCES consortium. American journal of preventive medicine, 49(5), e53-e63.

Taylor, D. T., Bury, M., Campling, N., Carter, S., Garfied, S., Newbould, J., and Rennie, T. (2006). A review of the use of the Health Belief Model (HBM), the Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA), the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) and the Trans-Theoretical Model (TTM) to study and predict health related behaviour change.

Review undertaken on behalf of NICE.

Retrieved from Public health guideline [PH6]


Essential criteria

  • 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.
  • 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

    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 £15,500 (tbc) 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 £7,750 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 £ 15,500 (tbc) per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). 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


Reviews

Profile picture of Michelle Clements Clements

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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Profile picture of Katrin Lehmann

I completed my BSc in Health Studies many years ago and studied part-time through most of my career in child & adolescent mental health completing two MScs in the process. I was privileged to have received a Public Health Agency funded R&D fellowship which allowed me to complete my PhD full-time. I conducted a clinical study focused on autism trait prevalence in people attending specialist gender services in Northern Ireland under the supervision of Professor Gerard Leavey, Dr Michael Rosato and Professor Hugh McKenna.I am proud to have finished my PhD during one of the most challenging years ever. I couldn`t have got through this without the support of my supervisors and experts by experience who supported my research. I`ll never forget the generosity of participants who allowed me some insight into their lives.

Katrin Lehmann - PhD in Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience


Profile picture of Nargis Khan

My name is Nargis Khan and I am originally from Pakistan. I first came to Ulster University to study psychology at the undergraduate level and later joined a doctoral course which I have now successfully completed. I had a fantastic time studying in Ulster at both the undergraduate and postgraduate level. Throughout my PhD, I was well catered for in terms of resources with access to well-stocked libraries full of friendly and helpful staff, funding to travel to conferences, the availability of various courses (e.g., statistics) and above all a supportive and stimulating environment which fostered my academic development. The seminars organised during the term time allowed me to present my work and hear about the research of others across a range of areas. I particularly appreciated the teaching opportunities available to me during my PhD. My supervisors were supportive and generous with their time. Other members of staff in the Psychology department also took a genuine interest in the

Nargis Khan - PhD in Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience