Funding has been secured from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) for BU to undertake a randomised controlled trial that will offer Tai Chi to people with dementia. With support of the Peninsula Clinical Trials Unit (PenCTU), a trial team at BU led by Dr Samuel Nyman will test the intervention in the Southampton and Bournemouth areas. The study will assess the effectiveness of Tai Chi to improve postural stability (dynamic balance), which is a strong predictor of falls risk. It will also assess the feasibility of conducting a larger trial that will subsequently test the effect of the intervention on preventing falls. One PhD student is already working on the project to qualitatively obtain feedback from people with dementia and their carers on participating in the 20-week Tai Chi intervention.
The purpose is to support the trial with everyday management and data collection and to conduct an evaluation of the behaviour change component of the Tai Chi intervention. The evaluation will include focus on quality of life, a secondary outcome of the trial. This studentship will carry out the following research:  Psychometric validation of a quality of life scale intended for healthy older people, to see if it can be used directly with people with dementia; the ICEpop CAPability measure for Older people (ICECAP-O).  Detailed analysis of older people with dementia’s adherence to the Tai Chi intervention. This will include their attendance at the Tai Chi classes and their participation in daily home-based Tai Chi exercises, and to see whether adherence is correlated with improvements in quality of life measured before and 6 months later at the end of the intervention.  Detailed analysis of the completion of the behaviour change components (goal-setting, self-monitoring, action plans, and coping plans), and correlate this with adherence to the intervention. Along with a detailed review of the existing literature, the successful candidate will develop a substantial body of work that will help in developing the Tai Chi intervention further, and will help others seeking to promote physical activity and quality of life among people with dementia.
This PhD studentship provides an excellent training and development opportunity. As well as completing a doctoral thesis you will work as part of a wider project trial team. You will have the opportunity to attend regular team meetings and learn more about the processes of conducting randomised controlled trials. You will also benefit from working in the supportive research environments of the Psychology Department’s Behaviour Change Research Centre, the BU Dementia Institute and the BU Clinical Research Unit. You will be supported to disseminate your research in peer-reviewed journals and at international conferences.
This studentship would suit a candidate with an interest in behaviour change techniques, people with dementia, clinical trials, psychometric validation and statistics, and health psychology. We would prefer you to have a clean and valid licence to drive a motor vehicle in the UK. Please note that interviews will be held in Bournemouth on Monday 16 May 2016.
Funded candidates will receive a maintenance grant of £14,000 (unless otherwise specified) per annum, to cover their living expenses and have their fees waived for 36 months. In addition, research costs, including field work and conference attendance, will be met. Funded Studentships are open to both UK/EU and International students unless otherwise specified. This studentship would suit a candidate with an interest in behaviour change techniques, people with dementia, clinical trials, psychometric validation and statistics, and health psychology.