Diabetes has been described as a global epidemic (Bassett, 2005) with an estimated 451 million people experiencing the illness in 2017 (Cho et al., 2018). The disease necessitates strict self-management practices for patients and leads to significant health costs (Fernandes et al., 2016) at a time when public health funds are under increasing pressure. While there are known links between diabetes and obesity (Kahn et al., 2006), a range of environmental variables are associated with diabetes (e.g. socioeconomic status and rurality). Furthermore, studies also indicate strong links between obesity and “activity spaces” (Kestens et al., 2010) and “foodscapes” (Mackenbach et al., 2019).

This research project aims to investigate the relationship between socioeconomic data and foodscapes and diabetes rates across Northern Ireland.

Specific objectives are:

1.To use a Geographic Information System (GIS) based approach to map longitudinal diabetes data (2013-2017) at Super Output Area (SOA) level across Northern Ireland.

2.To create a spatial database that consists of (i) socioeconomic data and (ii) a measure of accessibility to a range of fast food outlets.

3.To investigate the relationship between diabetes and socioeconomic and foodscape variables using statistical techniques.

It is hypothesized that diabetes rates will be positively correlated to a range of socioeconomic and environmental variables. This project would suit a student with a health sciences background. While IT experience is advantageous, GIS training will be provided as part of the MRes programme. Knowledge and experience of statistics would be desirable.

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.

Funding and eligibility

The Doctoral College at Ulster University