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  Communicating benefits of population vaccination and screening programmes for optimal uptake and improved longevity in areas with regional disparities.


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  Dr Louise McBride, Dr Richeal Burns, Dr Gabriela Gliga, Dr Carmel Heaney  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The Postgraduate Research Programme Translational Health Research Innovation preVention & Equity (THRIVE) offers 12 PhD research scholarships to commence in 2024. Each project will include an enterprise placement of minimum 12 weeks duration.

PhD Project Title: (THRIVE 4) Communicating benefits of population vaccination and screening programmes for optimal uptake and improved longevity in areas with regional disparities

Objectives of Public Health strategies include the control and/or eradication of communicable diseases, early detection of disease onset and monitoring of adherence and associated outcomes to national programmes. Despite the robust and extensive evidence base around the effectiveness and societal impact of national vaccination and screening programmes, uptake varies across a range of factors and the levels are sub-optimal. This results in level of disease prevalence, delayed diagnosis and early mortality that has an economic and societal burden and could have been prevented. In 2024, we have seen a significant increase in Measles across Europe, particularly in the UK. Uptake rates in Ireland remain at just under 90%, lower than the WHO recommended uptake needed of 95%. Similarly, a HSE report highlighted the perception of the importance of childhood vaccination decline of 6% from 91.5% to 85.5% in 2022.

Screening programme uptake across Breast, Cervical and Colorectal vary with education levels, socio-economic status and region of residence identified as drivers of low adherence. The aim of this research project is to identify drivers of vaccine hesitancy and reluctance to partake in screening programmes in order to develop combative communication strategies to improve uptake. 

Project Objectives:

1. Develop an up-to-date evidence-base of uptake levels of national vaccination programmes and screening programmes in the Republic of


2. Determine drivers of variation across programme uptake and adherence by undertaking a mixed-methods study.

3. Examine the international evidence on communication strategies for improved public health campaign uptake.

4. Develop bespoke, targeted multimedia communication strategies using a co-design model.

5. Estimate the economic benefits of implementation of novel multimedia communication strategies for improved literacy on national

vaccination and screening programmes. 


Subject areas / disciplines: We are seeking applications from highly talented and dedicated students with a 2:1 honours degree (Level 8) or higher in the field of social sciences, public health, psychology, allied health care, health policy, health economics or related disciplines. An MSc degree in a relevant discipline area is desirable though not necessary. Previous experience working in relevant areas, disciplines or communities is desirable.  

A minimum of 2.1 honours degree (Level 8) in a relevant discipline.

Project Duration:

48 months (PhD)

Preferred Location:

ATU Donegal Campus


Application Form / Terms and Conditions can be obtained on the website:

The closing date for receipt of applications is 5pm, (GMT) Monday 29th April, 2024.

Only selected applicants will be called for an online interview (shortlisting may apply).

Nursing & Health (27) Psychology (31)

Funding Notes

TU RISE is co-financed by the Government of Ireland and the European Union through the ERDF Southern, Eastern & Midland Regional Programme 2021- 27 and the Northern & Western Regional Programme 2021-27.
Funding for this Project includes:
• A student stipend (usually tax-exempt) valued at €22,000 per annum
• Annual waivers of postgraduate tuition fee
• Extensive research training programme
• Support for travel, consumables and dissemination expenses
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