PhD Studentship Physical Activity and Health: Healthy Ireland Demonstration Project

Institution (Location)
University of Limerick
Start Date
January 1, 2017
€12,000 stipend
Position Description

Project Background:


Internationally, physical activity’s role in the
prevention and control of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) is recognised by the
Council of the European Union (2013) 1, the World Health Assembly
(2004, 2008) 2,3 and the United Nations General Assembly (2011) 4.  Strategic and policy documents including
Health 2020: the European Policy for Health and Wellbeing 5, the
Vienna Declaration on Nutrition and NCDs (2013) 6, and the European
Physical Activity Strategy (2015) 7 all advocate for EU member
states to have clear, consistent physical activity policies that require
physical activity targets, with appropriate strategies and monitoring systems
to address a 25% reduction in premature mortality from NCDs and a 10% reduction
in physical inactivity (those not meeting physical activity guidelines) by 2025
8.  Ireland, as a member state
of the EU, has signed up to these targets 6.  


Healthy Ireland Demonstration Project

the Healthy Ireland Framework9, the Department of Health identified
the promotion of health in children and the creation of healthy generations of
youth as critical to the country’s future. 
Adolescence is a critical time for intervention as it is a highly
volatile stage in life where transitional periods can influence behaviour and
where habits developed may persist into adulthood. This makes the post-primary
school-aged population, currently ~339,000 children in Ireland, a relevant and
meaningful target population for early disease prevention and health
promotion.   The school environment is an
ideal setting for accessing children of all social backgrounds. This flagship Healthy Ireland Demonstration Project
has already garnered support from the Department of Health and Department of
Education and Skills.  Through a
multi-disciplinary team from within and beyond UL (including collaborators in
UCD, DCU and across Europe) the aim of this project is to develop and assess
the feasibility of a Healthy Ireland Demonstration Project (HIDP) to enhance
physical activity, improve health behaviours and health literacy in school-aged
children, and to inform the development of a definitive RCT.  As a full-time PhD student you will be
assigned to this project and work as part of this multi-disciplinary team.


Project Objectives:

To develop the intervention model for the
Healthy Ireland Demonstration Project based on evidence and theory of existing
interventions designed to improve health behaviours and health literacy in
school-aged children.

To collaborate with school-based,
community-based and policy stakeholders to ascertain their opinions about the
proposed project and best practice for implementing the intervention based on
their specialist knowledge.

To develop the research protocols and
procedures for the feasibility study of the Healthy Ireland Demonstration

To assess the feasibility of the Healthy
Ireland Demonstration Project in the Irish setting.

To determine the effectiveness of the Healthy
Ireland Demonstration Project for modifying health behaviours and improving
health literacy over an academic year.

Post intervention, to refine intervention
content, delivery preferences, and recruitment and retention strategies.

Post intervention, to determine the most
feasible primary outcome and procedures for the definitive RCT. 

Candidate’s Qualifications (who should apply)

applicants will normally have a postgraduate qualification or an Upper Second
Class Honours Degree in physical activity and health, psychology, exercise
science, physical education or a cognate area. 
Experience of working with children is welcome and evidence of project
management and scientific writing would be an advantage.  You would need to be able to demonstrate your
ability to work independently with support of a teaching or research supervisor
and the enthusiasm to contribute to a stimulating research and teaching

How to Apply

enquiries should be directed to Professor Catherine Woods, Department of
Physical Education and Sport Sciences, University of Limerick. Tel: 00353-87-9670610;
Email: [email protected].


send a CV (full curriculum vitae with referee details) with a personal
statement outlining why you would like to pursue this research opportunity and
what you think you could contribute to this study to Professor Woods (via email
to the address above).   Closing date for
receipt of application is November 25th. Short-listed applicants
will be required to attend for interview (December 7th).