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PhD Research Project

Promotion of physical activity in middle aged and older adults with lower limb osteoarthritis

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Prof J Duda
No more applications being accepted
Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

This is a 3 year project funded by the MRC-Arthritis Research UK Centre for Musculoskeletal Ageing Research ( The project is a cross-institutional collaboration between the University of Birmingham and the University of Nottingham and will be primarily situated at the University of Birmingham in the School of Sport Exercise & Rehabilitation Sciences.

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common disease of the joints and is one of the most widespread of all chronic diseases. It is estimated that 15 % of the UK population are affected by joint pain attributed to OA, which can negatively impact on their daily functioning, QOL, and work productivity, is often associated with other co-morbidities, and holds significant public health and economic consequences. OA is a complex disorder with multiple risk factors, including ageing, obesity, genetics and trauma. Recent systematic reviews have indicated that regular light to moderate low impact physical activity (PA) (including exercise to increase muscle strength) is beneficial for people with OA. Existing studies have shown that regular (and appropriate) PA has implications for primary and secondary prevention and, regarding the latter, can reduce pain and fatigue, improve joint mobility, muscle strength, and mood in adults with OA. However, research also demonstrates that adults with lower limb (knee and/or hip) OA are particularly inactive, find adherence to PA difficult and recommendations regarding PA are not currently routinely followed by many clinicians consulting with these patients.

Major health organisations (e.g., ARUK, RF and the CDC in the US) have called for interventions which promote PA and prevent progression of OA-associated structural damage, symptoms, activity limitation, and reduced QOL. The proposed PhD project will provide the necessary pilot work and evidence-base for the development and evaluation (within a RCT) of a psychological/theory-based intervention centred on promoting an active lifestyle in adults with OA (knee and/or hip).

Specific aims of the project:
1. Conduct systematic reviews of: (a) the barriers to and enablers of physical activity in people with lower limb OA, and (b) interventions to enhance physical activity engagement in adults with OA
2. Conduct focus groups with adults with OA, their GPs/nurses, rheumatology and orthopaedic consultants regarding their understanding of the role of PA in managing OA symptoms as well as factors which promote and inhibit PA in this population
3. Examine the social psychological (including motivation-related) correlates of PA engagement and reported joint pain (and incidence/severity of OA) in a large sample of adults
4. Validate measures of motivation for PA engagement and well-being in the case of adults with OA

Person Specification
Prospective candidates are expected to have or obtain at least an Upper Second Class Honours Degree in a relevant subject.

How to apply
Applications including a CV, names and addresses of two referees and a covering letter should be sent to Alison Fletcher, C/o Research and Knowledge Transfer Office, College of Medical and Dental Sciences, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT or email

Enquiries can be directed to Professor Joan Duda: Email

The closing date is Monday 27th January 2014 and Interviews will be held on Thursday 6th February 2014

Funding Notes:

This position is fully funded for university fees and a stipend at standard RCUK rate (for an October 2014 start).

How good is research at University of Birmingham in Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 34.40

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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