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Developing a novel psychological intervention to address fear of falling in older adults

   Department of Brain Sciences

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  Dr Toby Ellmers, Prof A Bronstein  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Fear of falling is reported by up to 50% of older adults, and is linked to reduced quality of life and increased risk of falls. Current clinical interventions typically target fear of falling indirectly, through exercise and balance training. However, these strategies are relatively ineffective. Researchers have instead identified the importance of directly targeting fear of falling using psychological strategies. Despite this, there is currently no routine practice to directly address fear of falling within clinical settings. The advertised PhD seeks to address this gap.

Through collaboration with the Falls-Prevention Service within University College London Hospitals NHS Trust, the successful student will develop a novel psychological intervention which directly targets fear of falling in older adults. The intervention will be informed through interviews conducted with service providers (physiotherapists, occupational therapists, geriatricians and psychiatrists) and service users (older adults fearful of falling), as well as a consultation with an expert panel of UK clinicians. This intervention will then be piloted in a sample of older adults who are fearful of falling, and evaluated using a mixed-method approach (e.g., interviews, questionnaires, balance assessment, etc.

Funding Notes

The studentship is for three years and is jointly funded by the ESRC London Interdisciplinary Social Science (LISS) Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) scheme.
The studentship will fund payment of Home Fees and provide a stipend of £17,609 per annum.


Enquiries and full applications including an up-to-date curriculum vitae, a completed application form (found at, academic transcripts, and the names and addresses of two academic referees should be sent to
In order to be eligible for a Studentship, students must satisfy the usual eligibility criteria, including adequate academic qualifications and UK residence. Applicants must have obtained at least a 2:1 from a UK University or the overseas equivalent in an area related to social sciences (e.g., psychology) and/or public health. A Masters degree is also essential, and candidates need to have covered at least three of the four major ESRC core research methods areas - social theory, qualitative methods, quantitative methods, and research design – in level 7 (Master’s) modules. Further information regarding these ESRC core research training areas can be found at
Applicants must also meet Imperial College’s English language requirements – further details can be found at
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