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  Understanding associations between metabolic risk factors and social exclusion among older adults in the age of digitalisation


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  Dr Sinead Keogh, Dr Martin O'Neill, Dr Ken VanSomeren  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The Postgraduate Research Programme Translational Health Research Innovation preVention & Equity (THRIVE) offers 12 PhD research scholarships to commence in 2024. Each project will include an enterprise placement of minimum 12 weeks duration.

PhD Project Title: (THRIVE 11) Understanding associations between metabolic risk factors and social exclusion among older adults in the age of digitalisation.

The overarching aim of this study is to explore the associations between metabolic risk factors (e.g. high blood pressure, excess abdominal weight) and social exclusion of older adults on the margins of society. We will investigate if digitalisation and technological interventions (e.g. smart phones, wearable and connected medical devices) can mitigate against or compound the metabolic risk factors for people experiencing social exclusion. The separation of individuals and groups from mainstream society, or social exclusion, is multi-dimensional and encompasses loneliness, isolation, civic participation or lack thereof and decreased mobility.  

Loneliness, in particular, is the public health crisis of our age and a key theme in current social policy debates. So much so that in 2018 a Loneliness Taskforce was established to coordinating a response to the epidemic of loneliness and social isolation in Ireland. The likelihood of experiencing loneliness increases with age and the problem is compounded for those on the periphery of society. This is hugely challenging given the effect of loneliness on mental and physical health. Identifying wearable and connected health and fitness devices that simultaneously impact metabolic risk factors and multi-dimensional social exclusion could potentially improve the health and wellbeing of various groups of older people while delivering cost-savings.  

Project Objectives: 

1. To systematically review the relationship between social exclusion for older people and digitisation.

2. To explore relationship between availability and access to technology and social inclusion.

3. Assess how metabolic risk factors can be impacted (controlled) by technology.

4. Develop, trial and deliver a training programme in partnership with CROI, that educations and guides older adults in the use of smart health and fitness technologies. 


A minimum of 2.1 honours degree (Level 8) in a relevant discipline.

Project Duration:

48 months (PhD)

Preferred Location:

ATU Galway Campus


Application Form / Terms and Conditions can be obtained on the website:

The closing date for receipt of applications is 5pm, (GMT) Monday 29th April, 2024.

Only selected applicants will be called for an online interview (shortlisting may apply).

Business & Management (5) Computer Science (8) Economics (10) Medicine (26) Nursing & Health (27) Sociology (32)

Funding Notes

TU RISE is co-financed by the Government of Ireland and the European Union through the ERDF Southern, Eastern & Midland Regional Programme 2021- 27 and the Northern & Western Regional Programme 2021-27.
Funding for this Project includes:
• A student stipend (usually tax-exempt) valued at €22,000 per annum
• Annual waivers of postgraduate tuition fee
• Extensive research training programme
• Support for travel, consumables and dissemination expenses
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