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Towards better diabetes care: How can self-management support be designed and delivered to improve the health and wellbeing of people with type 2 diabetes?

   Department of Psychology

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  Dr Charlotte Dack, Prof Fiona Gillison  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project


Type 2 diabetes (T2DM) affects 3.8 million adults in the UK and a further 5 million people in England are at high risk of developing T2DM (Diabetes UK, 2019). Diabetes is one of the most common causes of ill health and years lived with disability in England (IHME, 2015). As well as this impact on patients, treatment accounts for almost £9 billion a year of the NHS budget (9%).

The good news is that much of this premature ill health, disability and cost can be reduced if people with T2DM or at high risk of T2DM are supported to understand and self-manage their risk/diabetes (Davies, Heller, Skinner et al. 2008; Deakin, 2011; Khunti, Gray, Skinner et al. 2012; Murray, Sweeting, Dack et al. 2017). Despite the central role of both support and self-management in improving patient outcomes, research has found that health professionals do not see supporting self-management beyond referral to diabetes self-management education as part of their role (Ross, Stevenson, Dack, Pal, May, Michie, Yardley & Murray, 2019). In addition, the number of patients who report attending diabetes self-management education in the UK is low (<9%).

This PhD will address these problems in a series of studies to understand the impact of both individual and system level factors on the delivery and uptake of self-management support for people with T2DM in Bath and North East Somerset CCG (B&NES).

Study 1 will use mixed methods (audits/reviews/surveys/interviews) to answer the research questions a) what self-management support is available in B&NES? and b) what are patient’s and health professionals experiences of this support and their suggestions for additional provision (including digital options).

Study 2 will test a mediation model of the association between self-management education uptake/non-uptake and objective health outcomes, mediated by patient reported hypothesized psychosocial predictors of treatment adherence (e.g., illness perception, diabetes-related stigma and distress). 

Study 3 will use conversation analysis on audiorecordings of patient/health professional consultations in the diabetes care pathway (identified in Study 1) to provide in-depth analysis of how health professionals promote self-management activities and the types of responses from patients to these recommendations.

Study 4 will draw evidence together from Studies 1-3, to develop practice guidance and an implementation plan to improve the delivery and uptake of self- management support for people with T2D.

Preferred start date – late March 2022

Application criteria

Applicants should typically have or expect to receive a 2:1 or above in a BSc or BA (Hons) Psychology degree or a related discipline and an MSc Merit degree (or non-UK equivalent). Exceptional candidates without postgraduate qualification will be considered especially if they have relevant experience working in or with health agencies.   

English language entry requirements must be met at the time of application to be considered for funding, see

Enquiries and Applications:

Informal enquiries are welcomed and should be directed to Dr Charlotte Dack ([Email Address Removed]).

Formal applications should be made via the University of Bath’s online application form for a PhD in Psychology clearly stating the name of the project.

More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found on our website.

Funding Eligibility:

In order to be considered for the available studentship, you must qualify as a Home student. In determining Home student status, we follow the UK government’s fee regulations and guidance from the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA). Further information may also be found within the university’s fee status guidance.

EU/EEA citizens who live outside the UK are unlikely to be eligible for ‘Home’ fees and funding.

Funding Notes

A studentship includes Home tuition fees, a stipend (£15,609 per annum, 2021/22 rate) and research/training expenses (£1,000 per annum) for up to 3 years. Eligibility criteria apply, see Funding Eligibility section above.