Smoking is a prevalent public health problem, with a total societal cost greater than £1.1 billion per year in Scotland alone, and the preventable loss of over 9,000 lives a year. Despite ambitious targets to quarter smoking rates by 2034, the decline in prevalence of smoking in Scotland has plateaued in recent years. Scientific understanding and related policy recommendations are further complicated by findings that while it can take a number of quit attempts to succeed, most individuals who quit smoking long-term do so unassisted. Little is currently known about these self-quitters, often because they achieve cessation outside of any formal program.
This PhD studentship, in collaboration with Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Scotland, will be supervised by Dr. Blair Saunders (primary supervisor), Professor Nick Hopkins (secondary supervisor), and Sheila Duffy (Chief Executive of ASH Scotland). The project will apply a self-regulation framework to a) provide evidence-based insights into unassisted cessation, and, b) test if the psychological mechanisms underlying unassisted cessation predict and encourage cessation in new-quitters. Recent frameworks indicate that self-regulation comprises a range of strategies that support long-term goal attainment (e.g., going smoke-free), and the recruited student will seek to learn from community members that have achieved cessation unaided or sought to do so, often despite challenging circumstances. The project will take a mixed-method approach, combining structured interview techniques with online survey methods and field experiments to investigate health behaviors in community members who have achieved, and are working towards, smoking cessation.
Collaboration with ASH Scotland—the independent Scottish charity taking action to reduce the harm caused by tobacco—will be embedded across all stages of the project. Through this collaboration, the student will benefit by jointly setting an impactful research agenda and making contact with frontline organisations and communities to ensure that the research is generalizable to those most affected by tobacco. The collaboration will further focus on dissemination, ensuring that the findings are impactfully and inclusively communicated to a range of academic, public policy, and community stakeholders.
Applicants must meet the following essential criteria:
• Have obtained, or expect to obtain, a first degree (at least 2:1), preferably with a social science component
• Demonstrate an interest in, and knowledge of, health psychology, behavior change, self-regulation, decision making, or other closely related areas.
• Have a good grounding in research methods, and willingness to work respectfully and conscientiously in both academic (University of Dundee) and third sector (ASH Scotland) environments and in communities.
Students must meet ESRC eligibility criteria. ESRC eligibility information can be found here*: https://esrc.ukri.org/skills-and-careers/doctoral-training/prospective-students/
The scholarship is available as a +3 or a 1+3 programme depending on prior research training. This will be assessed as part of the recruitment process. The programme will commence in October 2020. It includes:
• an annual maintenance grant at the RCUK rate
• fees at the standard Home rate
• students can also draw on a pooled Research Training Support Grant, usually up to a maximum of £750 per year http://www.sgsss.ac.uk/studentship/leveraging-process-models/
Applications will be ranked by a selection panel and applicants will be notified if they have been shortlisted for interview by April 8th. Interviews will take place on April 22nd.
All scholarship awards are subject to candidates successfully securing admission to a PhD program within the School of Social Science at the University of Dundee. Successful scholarship applicants will be invited to apply for admission to the relevant PhD programme after they are selected for funding.