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Supporting multiple behaviour change among people living in disadvantaged communities

   Faculty of Medicine and Health Science

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  Prof Wendy Hardeman, Prof A Minihane  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Smoking, physical inactivity, poor diets and excessive alcohol consumption are responsible for almost half of years of life lost in the UK. People in disadvantaged communities are much more likely to engage in all four unhealthy behaviours. This largely explains the 19-years difference in healthy life expectancy between low-income and the most affluent communities. Despite knowing for more than 10 years that unhealthy behaviours cluster, we don’t know how best to support multiple behaviour change. 

This project provides a unique opportunity to identify promising approaches, e.g., family-based, to support multiple behaviour change through a systematic review and qualitative study, and conduct intervention development or optimisation work. The research will be co-produced with people who live in difficult circumstances in disadvantaged communities and with community organisations who work with and support residents. The findings will enhance our understanding about how best to support multiple behaviour change in these communities, inform future multiple behaviour change research, and contribute to government policy. The findings will be disseminated in the Thesis, peer-reviewed publications, at conferences and summary documents for the community organisations. 

The student will join a multi-disciplinary team conducting world-class research into behavioural science, social deprivation, eating behaviours and physical activity. The training programme includes behavioural science methods, mixed methods, dissemination/impact, and personal development. We are seeking a student with a good first degree (at least 2:1) and preferably a Masters in a related topic area (e.g., behavioural science, health psychology, social science, nutrition, physical activity) or equivalent research experience. The student will have an interest in multiple behaviour change, reducing health inequalities and working with people living in disadvantaged communities, and be committed and self-directed. Applications for a part-time PhD are welcomed. We are particularly interested in students who have lived experience in these ‘hard to research’ communities. 

Funding Notes

This PhD project is a Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences competition for funded studentships. The studentships are funded for 3 years and comprise UK tuition fees, an annual stipend of £15,609 (2021/22 rate) and £1,000 per annum to support research training. International applicants (including EU) may apply but are required to fund the difference between UK and International tuition fees (details of tuition fees can be found on our website


Griffin SJ, Simmons RK, Prevost AT, Williams KM, Hardeman W, Sutton S, Brage S, Ekelund U, Parker RA Wareham NJ, Kinmonth AL on behalf of the ADDITION Plus study team (2014). Multiple behaviour change intervention and outcomes in recently diagnosed type 2 diabetes: the ADDITION-Plus randomised controlled trial. Diabetologia DOI 10.1007/s00125-014-3236-6.
Hanson H, Gilbert D, Landy R, Okoli G, Guell C. Cancer risk in socially marginalised women: An exploratory study. Social Science & Medicine 2019, 220, 150-158
Spring B et al Multiple health behaviours: overview and implications. J Public Health (Oxf). 2012 Mar; 34(Suppl 1): i3–i10. doi: 10.1093/pubmed/fdr111.
King’s Fund (2012), Clustering of Unhealthy Behaviours over Time
King’s Fund (2018). Tackling Multiple Behaviours.
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