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Understanding ‘dry days’ and interventions to increase them (NaughtonHSCOct2020)

Project Description

Over 10 million people in England drink at a harmful level. Alcohol is the third leading preventable cause of death and disability with huge costs to society and the NHS1. One approach to reducing drinking is the promotion of ‘dry days,’ where people choose days of the week to not drink. This is expected to reduce overall alcohol consumption and may strengthen willpower to refuse alcohol. Research is needed on dry days to show what they mean to drinkers, how they can be achieved and whether they reduce a person’s drinking over time. The promotion of dry days might also work differently for different people based on their levels of deprivation or drinking. To expand the evidence for dry days, the PhD student will: 1) Review studies evaluating approaches for reducing drinking that include dry periods; 2) Interview drinkers about their understandings and experiences of dry days; 3) Ask drinkers to measure their drinking and related factors daily over a period of time and part-way through start using Public Health England’s Drink Free Days smartphone app to take dry days. This should tell us the app’s impact on dry days and alcohol consumption and what influences this. Participant interviews will also identify their experiences and views.

Training Programme: Evidence synthesis, mixed and qualitative methods, statistical analysis including within-participant approaches, experimental evaluation, writing for publication, dissemination, and personal and professional development
Outputs: Thesis, publications, presentations, evidence to inform practice, potential future evaluation study.
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., health psychology, public health, social science, research methods) or equivalent research experience. The student will have an interest in behaviour change, relevant research methods and data analysis, and will be committed and self-directed.

More information on the supervisor for this project:
Type of programme: PhD
Start date: October 2020
Mode of study: Full-time
Studentship length: 3 years

Entry requirements
Acceptable first degree in psychology, social science, public health, health sciences - the standard minimum entry requirement is 2:1

Funding Notes

This PhD project is in a Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences competition for funded studentships. These studentships are funded for 3 years and comprise of Home/EU fees, a stipend of £15,009 and £1000 per annum to support research training. Overseas applicants may apply but are required to fund the difference between home/EU and overseas tuition fees (in 2020-21 the international fee is £19,100 for lab based projects and £15,700 for non-lab based projects but fees are subject to an annual increase).


i) Public Health England (2016). Public Health Matters.
ii) Kaner, E.F., Beyer, F.R., Garnett, C., Crane, D., Brown, J., Muirhead, C., et al (2017). Personalised digital interventions for reducing hazardous and harmful alcohol consumption in community-dwelling populations. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 9:CD011479
iii) Kwasnicka, D., Inauen, J., Nieuwenboom, W., Nurmi, J., Schneider, A., Short, C.E., et al…Naughton, F. (2019). Challenges and solutions for N-of-1 design studies in health psychology. Health Psychology Review, 13(2), 163-178.
iv) Naughton, F., Hopewell, S., Lathia, N., et al. (2016). A Context-Sensing Mobile Phone App (Q Sense) for Smoking Cessation: A Mixed-Methods Study. JMIR Mhealth Uhealth, 4(3):e106
v) Khadjesari, Z., Stevenson, F., Toner, P., Linke, S., Milward, J. & Murray, E. (2019) ‘I’m not a real boozer’: a qualitative study of primary care patients’ views on drinking and its consequences. Journal of Public Health. 41, 2, e185–e191

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