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Studying occasion-level relationships between health-related behaviours

School of Health and Related Research

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Dr J Holmes , Prof P Meier , Prof Sarah Salway No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Background: Health-related behaviours including alcohol use, smoking, eating and physical activity are typically measured in surveys as averages (e.g. typical weekly alcohol consumption, average hours of physical activity per week). We have much less quantitative understanding about the individual occasions in which people drink, smoke, eat or engage in physical activity. For example, we know little about when, where, with whom, why and alongside which other activities these behaviours take place. The University of Sheffield’s Alcohol Research Group are developing several research projects aiming to understand the characteristics of alcohol drinking occasions and what role other health-related behaviours play in these. This work is particularly focused on a large-scale diary dataset detailing the characteristics of people’s drinking occasions between 2001 and 2016. More information on our work to date can be found in the follow links:
Journal article:
Conference presentation:

Aims: This PhD project aims to explore the relationships between drinking occasions and occasions involving other health-related behaviours (e.g. drinking alcohol with a meal or (not) going to the gym following a night out). Potential areas of interest include examining the prevalence of occasions involving multiple health-related behaviours, what different ‘types’ of occasions are observed, how these occasions differ across the population, why occasions involving different behaviours are connected to each other in time or space, what implications occasion-level relationships between behaviours might have on health inequalities and how these occasions and relationships between them are changing over time.

Methodological approach: The methodological approach will be determined by the student and their particular interests. We anticipate the project having a significant quantitative methods component but encourage applicants to consider also including qualitative components. The project is likely to involve engaging with existing diary and time use datasets such as the diary data described above, the Health Survey for England’s diary data and the National Diet and Nutrition Survey.

Research environment: The successful candidate will join the Sheffield Alcohol Research Group, an internationally-leading centre of excellence for alcohol policy research. We are an interdisciplinary group of researchers with backgrounds in public health, psychology, operational research, mathematics, systems engineering, behavioural science, social policy, demography and economics. The group attracts significant grant income, and publishes in leading academic journals including the Lancet, BMJ and PLOS Medicine. In addition to Sheffield’s excellent doctoral training programme, the candidate will have the opportunity to engage in a wide range of research activities of the group, contributing to publications, gaining experience of writing funding applications and developing their teaching experience.

Candidates must have a first or upper second class Honours degree, and a Merit at masters or significant research experience. At least one of these degrees should be in a relevant discipline (e.g. public health or a social science).
This PhD project would suit candidates with strong quantitative or mixed methods skills and an interest in health-related behaviours, inequalities and typological or trend analyses. We particularly encourage applications from students aiming to use their PhD as a springboard to a scientific career.
The project will focus on detailed analyses of health-related behaviours in England, so candidates should have some prior familiarity with, or knowledge of, this research context.

Funding Notes

Funding for this project covers UK/EU fees only. Overseas applicants should demonstrate in their application how they intend to fund the additional fees for international students.
Funding includes a stipend of £14,296 and and field costs of £5,000 per year for three years.

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