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Examination of behaviour change techniques for increasing engagement with an online self-management programme for hearing loss

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  • Full or part time
    Dr Melanie Ferguson
    Dr Neil Coulson
    Prof Heather Wharrad
    Dr David Maidment
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

There is no current ‘cure’ for mild-to-moderate hearing loss, a long-term chronic health condition that affects the majority (92%) of adults who have hearing loss. While hearing aids are the main form of clinical management, non- or sub-optimal use can be high and it is clear that hearing aids alone are not the optimal solution. There is therefore a clear need to develop other strategies to optimise self-management of hearing loss. For long-term health conditions, including hearing loss, it is recognised that if patients are actively involved in the day-to-day management of their own care they are more likely to adopt health behaviours that lead to better outcomes. Self-management packages, often delivered online through the internet and mobile technologies (i.e. smartphones and tables PCs), combine health information with support that engages all or some of the following: informed decision-making, promotion and maintenance of health behaviours, peer information exchange and emotional support, and promotion of self-care. Our team has already developed and evaluated patient education for hearing aids and communication (www.youtube.com/C2HearOnline), and we are currently developing personalised resources to meet individual’s needs, increasing interactivity and including self-monitoring.

This PhD will further extend our existing work to identify and examine key aspects of self-management for hearing loss, with the aim to maximise patient engagement and effectiveness of digital hearing healthcare interventions. This will be based on health behaviour change theory (COM-B) and a recent conceptual framework to increase patient engagement. The PhD will involve developing and evaluating a self-management prototype package that can be delivered online to support health behaviour, with a focus on hearing healthcare. A mixed-methods approach will be used, which will involve qualitative methodologies (e.g. semi-structured interviews with people with hearing loss, their communication partners and audiologists), together with quantitative research.

The successful applicant will join a vibrant hearing research group with strong collaborative links with experts in online developments and health behaviour psychology, so will benefit from strong supervisory and peer support.

Funding Notes

This studentship is available on a full time or part time (0.6) basis starting January 2018. Interview will be held on the 26th-27th October 2017.
You should have or expect to obtain a first class or upper 2.1 honours degree (or equivalent), or an MSc/MA, in psychology, audiology or other relevant scientific discipline. Research experience in psychology or audiology, and experience of health behaviour principles, will be of particular advantage. You will have excellent communication and team working skills, be self-driven and highly motivated.


Applications should include a CV and covering letter including the names, addresses, telephone numbers and email addressed of two referees including at least one academic referee. Application should be sent to [email protected]

You should also be eligible to apply for relevant research clearances that will be required including a check with the Disclosure and Barring Service.

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