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Drinking tools – what helps older people drink well? PhD opportunity to test and disseminate user friendly tools to help older people drink well and prevent dehydration (HooperLU19SF)

Project Description

Background and Aims:

One in every five older people living in residential care has low-intake dehydration, due to drinking insufficient fluids to replace obligatory losses (1). Dehydration is associated with increased risk of disability, hospital admission, mortality, and prolonged hospital stay in older adults. Low-intake dehydration is more common in those with dementia (1). While many have intervened to support older adults drink well, there is still no clear evidence of what works best in older adults with or without dementia (2-5).

Recently developed tools to support drinking in older adults include calibrated cups, cups with electronic sensors, and fluid-filled sweets. Their acceptability and efficacy in preventing dehydration in older adults with and without dementia need to be formally assessed.
This PhD project will focus on tools to support drinking, and formally assess the effectiveness of at least one tool.

PhD objectives:

(i) To undertake a systematic review of tools to support drinking and hydration in older people with and without dementia. This will enable us to identify promising tools that need further testing to establish effectiveness

(ii) Work alongside Public and Patient Involvement representatives to assess whether potentially effective tools are user-friendly and clinically acceptable

(iii) Develop and carry out a small randomised trial to assess effectiveness of at least one promising tool to support drinking in older people with and without dementia.

Supervision and training:

The candidate will join an established multidisciplinary research team in the Faculty of Medicine and Health where their PhD project will contribute to, and benefit from, related research projects in long-term care, including hydration. A training program in research and professional skills will be tailored for the student.

This project is suitable for candidates with experience/interest in care of older people. A degree in a health-related discipline is essential.

For more information on the primary supervisor for this project, please go here: https://people.uea.ac.uk/en/persons/l-hooper

For more information on the secondary supervisor for this project, please go here: https://people.uea.ac.uk/en/persons/d-bunn

This is a PhD programme.

The start date of the project is January, April. July or October, 2020 or 2021. The application deadline is 31 May 2021, but applications are processed as soon as they are received and the project may be filled before the closing date, so early application is encouraged.

The mode of study is full-time or part-time. The studentship length is 3 years with a 1-year registration period for full-time students and 6 years with a 1-year registration period for part-time students.

Entry requirements:

Acceptable first degree in Nursing, Medicine, Allied Health, Social Care, other health-related discipline.

The standard minimum entry requirement is 2:1.

Funding Notes

This PhD project is offered on a self-funding basis. It is open to applicants with funding or those applying to funding sources. Details of tuition fees can be found at View Website.

A bench fee may also be payable on top of the tuition fee to cover specialist equipment or laboratory costs required for the research. The amount charged annually will vary considerably depending on the nature of the project and applicants should contact the primary supervisor for further information about the fee associated with the project.


1. Hooper L, Bunn DK, Downing A, Jimoh FO, Groves J, Free C, et al. Which Frail Older People Are Dehydrated? The UK DRIE Study. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2016;71(10):1341-7.

2. Bunn D, Jimoh F, Wilsher SH, Hooper L. Increasing fluid intake and reducing dehydration risk in older people living in long-term care: a systematic review. J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2015;16(2):101-13.

3. Abdelhamid A, Bunn D, Copley M, Cowap V, Dickinson A, Gray L, et al. Effectiveness of interventions to directly support food and drink intake in people with dementia: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC geriatr. 2016;16:26.

4. Bunn DK, Abdelhamid A, Copley M, Cowap V, Dickinson A, Howe A, et al. Effectiveness of interventions to indirectly support food and drink intake in people with dementia: Eating and Drinking Well IN dementiA (EDWINA) systematic review. BMC geriatr. 2016;16:89.

5. Jimoh OF, Brown TJ, Bunn D, Hooper L. Beverage Intake and Drinking Patterns—Clues to Support Older People Living in Long-Term Care to Drink Well: DRIE and FISE Studies. Nutrients. 2019;11(2):447.

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