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Co-design and real-world testing of an intervention to implement an evidence- and theory-based long-term physical activity intervention into stroke rehabilitation pathways (PARAS-IMP) (REF: SF22/HLS/SER/MOORE)

   Faculty of Health and Life Sciences

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  Dr Sarah Moore  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

The Department of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation at Northumbria University, Newcastle has a global reputation for academic excellence that is underpinned by a vibrant, high-quality research-rich environment. We are seeking enthusiastic and talented PhD candidates for the following project:

Background: Physical activity (PA) is low following stroke despite the known benefits of targeting this behaviour. Current stroke rehabilitation pathways do not consistently address long-term PA behaviour change, focusing instead on functional impairment. We developed a person-centred, supported self-management stroke PA change intervention (Physical Activity Routines After Stroke: PARAS) The feasibility of PARAS has been established within a research context, how to implement/optimise delivery within real world settings, however, has not been determined. This project aims to co-design and test a PARAS’ implementation intervention to inform implementation optimisation.

Project objectives:

  1. To co-design a tailored implementation intervention for delivering PARAS within North East (NE) and North Cumbria stroke services
  2. To apply and assess the impact of the tailored implementation intervention on delivering PARAS within NE and North Cumbria stroke services

Method: PARAS’ feasibility study results, a scoping review and a survey of barriers and enablers to implementation will inform an initial PARAS implementation intervention plan. Co-design workshops will subsequently be delivered with NE and North Cumbria stroke services (NHS and charities) determining initial intervention modification. Evidence-based taxonomies will be applied to inform the choice of implementation strategies/operationalisation. The implementation intervention will then be tested in regional stroke services investigating: acceptability; adoption; appropriateness; costs; feasibility; fidelity; penetration and sustainability from the perspectives of healthcare professionals and stroke survivors. A mixed-methods design will be adopted with an implementation-theory informed approach applied during analysis.

Long-term goal: PARAS optimisation to allow future wide-scale efficacy testing and development of implementation guidelines for complex rehabilitation interventions.

Project opportunities: This project offers an opportunity to develop applied research skills. You will be working closely with stroke services in the North East and North Cumbria to co-design and test a new implementation intervention. The project will enable development of a range of mixed-method research skills. Working alongside the stroke services to design the intervention will expand knowledge of clinical pathways, behaviour change and implementation science. You will be supervised by a multidisciplinary team of Northumbria University experts from the fields of stroke rehabilitation research (Dr Sarah Moore), implementation science (Dr Sebastian Potthoff) and physical activity (Prof Florentina Hettinga). The supervisory team have extensive local, national and international collaborations in their fields.

Candidates with a background in (health) psychology, exercise science with an interest in clinical populations, human movement science, implementation science, physiotherapy, stroke, physical activity and/or any other related subject, and an interest in applied clinical research would be welcomed. Knowledge of clinical stroke services and mixed-methods is preferred.

Eligibility and How to Apply:

Please note eligibility requirement:

  • Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
  • Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
  • Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere or if they have previously been awarded a PhD.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. SF22/…) will not be considered.

Deadline for applications: Ongoing

Start Date: 1 October 2022 or 1st March 2023

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff and students. We welcome applications from all members of the community.

Informal enquiries to Dr Sarah Moore ([Email Address Removed]).


Moore, S.A., Avery, L., Price, C.I. and Flynn, D., 2020. A feasibility, acceptability and fidelity study of a multifaceted behaviour change intervention targeting free-living physical activity and sedentary behaviour in community dwelling adult stroke survivors. Pilot and Feasibility Studies, 6, pp.1-13.
Moore, S.A. Hrisos, N. Flynn, D. Errington, L. Price, C. Avery, L. (2018) How should long-term free-living physical activity be targeted after stroke? A systematic review and narrative synthesis international journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity. 15 (1): 100 (IF 5.548)
Presseau, J., Byrne-Davis, L.M., Hotham, S., Lorencatto, F., Potthoff, S., Atkinson, L., Bull, E.R., Dima, A.L., van Dongen, A., French, D. and Hankonen, N., 2021. Enhancing the translation of health behaviour change research into practice: a selective conceptual review of the synergy between implementation science and health psychology. Health psychology review, pp.1-28.
Potthoff, S., Presseau, J., Sniehotta, F.F. et al. Exploring the role of competing demands and routines during the implementation of a self-management tool for type 2 diabetes: a theory-based qualitative interview study. BMC Med Inform Decis Mak 19, 23 (2019).
Hoekstra F, Hoekstra T, van der Schans CP, Hettinga FJ, van der Woude LHV, Dekker R; ReSpAct-group. The implementation of a physical activity counseling program in rehabilitation care: findings from the ReSpAct study. Disabil Rehabil. 2021 Jun;43(12):1710-1721. doi: 10.1080/09638288.2019.1675188. Epub 2019 Oct 17. PMID: 31622120.
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