(BRC) Person-centred Physical Activity Intervention for individuals with lupus (PPAI-LUPUS): intervention development and randomised pilot study

   Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

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  Dr Benjamin Parker, Dr Katie Druce, Dr Michelle Barraclough, Dr Tiago Pecanha  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic autoimmune inflammatory disorder that can affect multiple systems and cause different symptoms, such as fatigue, pain, and mood (e.g., anxiety and depression) and sleep disorders. Even medically optimized patients with SLE may present with persistent symptoms, which highlights the importance of investigating the effects of interventions that can have an adjuvating effect on SLE-related symptoms.

Physical activity is a promising non-pharmacological intervention for symptoms in SLE that are not always alleviated by standard medication. Engagement in physical activity can promote clinically meaningful improvements in a wide range of symptoms in this population. However, despite the well-described health benefits associated with physical activity, patients with SLE usually have low levels of physical activity and increased sedentary behaviour. Part of the low engagement with physical activity in this population may be due to the lack of person-centred physical activity programmes, co-developed with direct input from patients. Also, the fluctuating nature of SLE symptoms imposes additional barriers to the long-term engagement with physical activity in this population.

This PhD studentship project will develop and test the preliminary efficacy and feasibility of a person-centred, symptom-regulated, physical activity intervention for patients with SLE. The first phase of this project will involve the co-development of a Person-centred Physical Activity Intervention for individuals with SLE (PPAI-LUPUS) through patient involvement activities and meetings. The second phase of this of this project will involve the execution of a randomised controlled trial investigating the efficacy of the PPAI-LUPUS to increase participants’ physical activity levels and improve relevant SLE-symptoms, as well as testing the intervention’s feasibility. Participants with SLE will be randomly assigned to perform 3-months of the PPAI-LUPUS or control intervention. The PPAI-LUPUS intervention will be a multicomponent individualised physical activity intervention that will employ educational and motivational techniques to increase the participants’ physical activity levels and reduce their sedentary behaviour in line with current physical activity recommendations.

Participants assigned to the control intervention will only be instructed to increase their physical activity levels but will not receive any additional support. Before and after the intervention, participants will have their physical activity levels measured using physical activity trackers. A wide range of SLE symptoms (mental and physical fatigue, mood profile, sleep quality, cognitive function, and pain) will be assessed using specific questionnaires. The intervention feasibility will be assessed in relation to the study recruitment and attrition rates, adherence, and acceptability of the intervention. 

Supervisory team profile webpages:

Prof Ben Parker


Dr Michelle Barraclough


Dr Tiago Pecanha


Dr Joseph Firth


Dr Katie Druce



Applicants must have obtained or be about to obtain a First or Upper Second class UK honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in a relevant discipline.

Before you Apply 

Applicants must make direct contact with the primary supervisor before applying to discuss their interest in the project. It is your responsibility to make arrangements to meet with potential supervisors, prior to submitting a formal online application.  

How to Apply 

To be considered for this project you MUST submit a formal online application form - full details on how to apply can be found on the BRC website https://www.bmh.manchester.ac.uk/study/research/funded-programmes/manchester-brc-phd-studentships/ 

Your application form must be accompanied by a number of supporting documents by the advertised deadlines. Without all the required documents submitted at the time of application, your application will not be processed and we cannot accept responsibility for late or missed deadlines. Incomplete applications will not be considered. If you have any queries regarding making an application please contact our admissions team.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion  

Equality, diversity and inclusion is fundamental to the success of The University of Manchester, and is at the heart of all of our activities. The full Equality, diversity and inclusion statement can be found on the website https://www.bmh.manchester.ac.uk/study/research/apply/equality-diversity-inclusion/  

Biological Sciences (4) Medicine (26) Psychology (31)

Funding Notes

This studentship covers tuition fees and stipend and is open to both the UK and international applicants. We are able to offer a limited number of studentships to applicants outside the UK. Therefore, full studentships will only be awarded to exceptional quality candidates, due to the competitive nature of this scheme.


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