Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) affects up to 1-in-3 adults in the UK. It represents a spectrum of liver disease ranging from simple fatty liver through to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH – liver inflammation), life threatening cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver failure, and has become a common cause of liver transplant. Overall, approximately 40% of patients with NAFLD will develop progressive liver fibrosis and ultimately, 5-11% of these patients develop end-stage liver disease. NAFLD is directly linked to being overweight or obese, usually caused by chronic excess calorie consumption and a lack of physical activity and exercise. Currently, there are no approved drugs to specifically target or treat NAFLD. As such, the recommended treatment is lifestyle behaviour change to initiate and maintain weight loss to improve liver health. However, people with NAFLD find weight loss and weight loss maintenance a significant challenge, and clinicians struggle to support patients with NAFLD due to a lack of specific training, interventions and referral pathways.
Our previous research has involved the development of an evidence and theory-informed NAFLD-specific digital lifestyle behaviour change intervention called ‘VITALISE’. However, the intervention hasn’t yet been tested with patients in the clinical setting.
The aim of this PhD studentship is to evaluate VITALISE in the clinical setting. The project will involve a feasibility study to gain insight into whether patients find VITALISE acceptable, and whether it is feasible to deliver within routine clinical care. The outcome of this research will inform optimisation of the digital intervention and help to identify ways to implement it within routine clinical care.
Applicants should hold an undergraduate degree (2:1 or above) in Psychology or a health related degree such as Nursing or Dietetics, and a master’s degree in health psychology, behavioural science, health services research or a closely related subject. Experience in intervention development, evaluation, and qualitative research methods, as well as working with clinical populations would be highly desirable.
Further details of the expected background may appear in the specific project details. International students will be subject to the standard entry criteria relating to English language ability, ATAS clearance and, when relevant, UK visa requirements and procedures.
How to Apply
Applicants should apply online for this opportunity at: https://e-vision.tees.ac.uk/si_prod/userdocs/web/apply.html?CourseID=1191
Please use the Online Application (Funded PHD) application form for the year starting ‘October 2021’. When asked to specify funding select “other” and enter ‘RDS’ and the title of the PhD project that you are applying for. You should ensure that you clearly indicate that you are applying for a Funded Studentship and the title of the topic or project on the proposal that you will need to upload when applying. If you would like to apply for more than one project, you will need to complete a further application form and specify the relevant title for each application to a topic or project.
Applications for studentships that do not clearly indicate that the application is for a Funded Studentship and state the title of the project applied for on the proposal may mean that your application may not be considered for the appropriate funding.
For academic enquiries, please contact Professor Leah Avery [Email Address Removed].
For administrative enquiries before or when making your application, contact [Email Address Removed].