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Function and physical activity in survivors of critical illness following discharge from the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

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  • Full or part time
    Prof J Bradley
    Prof B Blackwood
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description


Overall aims and purpose: To explore physical activity in survivors of critical illness following discharge from the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
• To explore patterns of physical activity in survivors of critical illness following discharge from the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) over at least one year.*
• To determine the feasibility (safety, practicality and acceptability) of conducting assessment of physical activity in patients discharged from hospital following critical illness.
Background to the project: Currently the pattern of physical and functional recovery of survivors of critical illness is unknown, yet it has been clearly recorded that overall Health Related Quality of Life (HRQoL) is markedly reduced even up to 5 years following discharge after critical illness. The trajectory of physical and functional recovery in this population has not been previously explored. This makes it difficult to know which patients are at risk of poorer function after critical illness, and which patients might benefit from follow up rehabilitation. Data which could help to predict outcomes in this population, and direct future care pathways is essential. The urgent need for research in this area has been highlighted in recent guidelines (NICE 2009).

This research links to an established programme of work by this research team and with an existing group of internationally renowned collaborators.2-4 The team have recently completed a phase 2 clinical study and this planned work will help to inform a further funding stream.

Outline Plan of Investigation
*This study will contribute data to a proposed prospective longtitudinal cohort study which will recruit patients from HSC trusts in Northern Ireland who have been discharged home following critical illness. Functional and physical assessment will be conducted following hospital discharge at baseline (T0), after 3months (T2) and after 1 year (T12). Further follow up is planned a part of a larger study at time points up to 3 years after study commencement.
Measurements will include: exercise capacity (Incremental Shuttle Walk Test), physical activity (step counts, time spent in walking/sitting/lying using activity monitors) and Quality of Life (SF36). Feasibility of conducting the assessments of physical activity will be determined by recording information relating to e.g. safety, completion of outcome measures, attendance, patient and researcher views and preference, and retention.

Outcome of the research. This study is part of a larger collaborative progamme of research will help to identify factors and measurements which predict those at risk of poor physical and functional ability as well as those who return to healthy pattern of physical and functional ability after critical illness.


This project will involve Regulated Activity (working with children and/or vulnerable groups).

The successful applicant will be required to supply their details to the School Postgraduate Office in order for a criminal history check to be undertaken (Enhanced Disclosure Checks). The project will be conditional on the successful applicant being issued with a satisfactory Enhanced Disclosure Certificate.


Candidates should have or expect to obtain a 2:1 or higher Honours degree or equivalent in a relevant biomedical or life sciences subject.

English Language

Candidates applying from countries where the first language is not English should produce evidence of their competence through a qualification such as IELTS or TOEFL score.

The minimum recommended score for the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Science is:
• IELTS score of 6.0 with not less than 5.5 in each of the four component elements of listening, reading, speaking and writing taken within the last 2 years;
• TOEFL score of 80+ (internet basted test), taken within the last 2 years, with minimum component scores of; Listening 17, Reading 18, Speaking 20, Writing 17);
• A valid Certificate of Proficiency in English grade A or B;
• A valid Certificate of Advanced English grade A; or
• A first or upper second class honours degree from a university based in the UK, Republic of Ireland or other suitably quality assured location in a country deemed by the UK Border Agency to be majority English speaking.

For a list of English Language qualifications also accepted by the School and University please see the following link:

The English Language Unit (ELU) offers both pre-sessional and in-sessional courses in English for academic purposes and study skills. Courses vary in length and full information can be obtained from the ELU

Funding Notes


DEL Research Studentships

Eligibility for both fees and maintenance (£14,057 for 2015/16, 2016/17 TBC) depends on the applicants being either an ordinary UK resident or those EU residents who have lived permanently in the UK for the 3 years immediately preceding the start of the studentship.

Non UK residents who hold EU residency may also apply but if successful may receive fees only.

For further details re eligibility criteria (including academic, citizenship and residency criteria) please click on the following link:


Please visit the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, Centre for Infection and Immunity, website for further details about the Centre:

When applying, please choose 'MEDICINE' as your subject area/School.

Related Subjects

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