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Oral health behaviour change and the role of technology-aided interventions

   Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

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  Dr M Goodwin, Dr George Kitsaras, Dr Juliana Gomez  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Individual behaviours are key for the promotion and maintenance of optimal oral health. Oral health is generally improving but there are still pockets of high disease prevalence. Sugar intake, oral hygiene behaviours, smoking, alcohol intake and attendance/engagement with dental professionals are all key behaviours for avoiding development and progression of dental disease. Recently, important developments on policy, industry and clinical practice have all highlighted the importance of oral health behaviour change. Technology-aided and supported interventions can also play a crucial role for changing and sustaining changes in individual behaviours. 

Despite recent developments, and as highlighted in an international, consensus statement, two major areas of oral health behaviour change require further exploration: (a) how to successfully develop and deliver an intervention to create sustained changes on individual’s behaviours to achieve optimal oral health and (b) how to harvest the role of technology on oral health behaviour change and capitalise on current technological advancements in data capturing and intervention delivery for oral health.  

This proposed PhD project will deploy a robust, user-inclusive, and user-led exploration of the role of technology in delivering oral health behaviour change to promote and sustain optimal oral hygiene practices. Overall, the proposed project will follow a stepped approach, where each step informs and directs the next. The key stages in the proposed project include:

- Systematic review focusing on role of technology within behaviour change for health, role of technology within behaviour change for oral health and oral health behaviour change interventions

- Qualitative exploration of target behaviour within a specific, high risk, population to understand barriers and facilitators

- User-inclusive design and development of a technology-aided intervention for oral health behaviour change

- Feasibility, proof-of-concept study to test the intervention

- Implementation, pathfinding project to explore routes for future, wider implementation of the intervention

Entry Requirements

Applicants are expected to hold (or about to obtain) a minimum upper second class undergraduate honours degree (or equivalent) in dentistry, oral health sciences, public health, psychology, statistics or similar. A Master's degree in a relevant subject and/or experience in dentistry, public health, dental public health is desirable. Successful candidates should also have an interest in behavioural science (general), as applied to health and the role of technology. Prior research experience is welcome, including experience in conducting research projects during undergraduate and/or postgraduate studies.

Applicants interested in this project should make direct contact with the Primary Supervisor to arrange to discuss the project further as soon as possible.

How To Apply

To be considered for this Studentship you MUST submit a formal online application form - full details on how to apply can be found on https://www.bmh.manchester.ac.uk/study/research/apply/

Please select Dental Health Sciences under academic programme when completing your online application.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Equality, diversity and inclusion is fundamental to the success of The University of Manchester, and is at the heart of all of our activities. The full Equality, diversity and inclusion statement can be found on the website https://www.bmh.manchester.ac.uk/study/research/apply/equality-diversity-inclusion/

Funding Notes

Studentship funding is for a duration of 3 years to commence in September 2022 and covers UKRI equivalent fees and stipend (£16,062 per annum 22/23)
Funding will cover UK tuition fees and stipend only. The University of Manchester aims to support the most outstanding applicants from outside the UK. We are able to offer a scholarship that will enable a full studentship to be awarded to international applicants. This full studentship will only be awarded to exceptional quality candidates, due to the competitive nature of this funding.


McNeil, D. W., Randall, C. L., Baker, S., Borrelli, B., Burgette, J. M., Gibson, B., ... & Newton, J. T. (2022). Consensus Statement on Future Directions for the Behavioral and Social Sciences in Oral Health. Journal of dental research, 00220345211068033.
Kitsaras, G., Goodwin, M., Allan, J., & Pretty, I. A. (2021). Defining and measuring bedtime routines in families with young children—A DELPHI process for reaching wider consensus. PloS one, 16(2), e0247490.
Kitsaras, G., Goodwin, M., Kelly, M. P., & Pretty, I. A. (2021). Bedtime Oral Hygiene Behaviours, Dietary Habits and Children’s Dental Health. Children, 8(5), 416.
Asimakopoulou, K., & Newton, J. T. (2015). The contributions of behaviour change science towards dental public health practice: a new paradigm. Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology, 43(1), 2-8.
Office for Health Improvement and Disparities, Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England. (2021). Delivering better oral health: an evidence-based toolkit for prevention.
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