Sheffield Hallam University PhD Scholarship on Exercise Prescription and Physical Activity Promotion for Cancer Survivors

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Sheffield Hallam University, often referred to as SHU, is a dynamic and highly regarded institution of higher education situated in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, United Kingdom. With a rich history dating back to 1843, it has evolved into a modern, forward-thinking university known for its commitment to academic excellence, innovation, and community engagement.

About the Project

Applications are being accepted for a PhD scholarship at the Academy of Sport and Physical Activity (ASPA), hosted by the Sport and Physical Activity Research Center (SPARC), focused on exercise prescription and physical activity promotion for cancer survivors. The start date of the scholarship is February 1, 2024 (negotiable depending on circumstances).

The scholarship is for three and a half years full-time study and covers home PhD fees, currently £4712 pa, and pays an annual stipend at the living wage foundation rate of £ 19,053 per year in 23/24. This stipend payment will increase annually based on the rate set by the living wage foundation for the duration of the scholarship.

NB: The recipient of this scholarship must be employed full-time and must have finished all prior coursework at the time the scholarship is awarded.SPARC conducts research activity in a number of key areas and hosts four Research Groups;

  • Sport Engineering Research Group
  • Sport and Human Performance
  • Physical Activity, Wellness and Public Health
  • Sport Industry Research Group

Learn More about Sparc pn SHU Website

In the 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF), 88% of our research was rated as internationally excellent and world-leading (4* and 3*), and 100% of our research environment was rated as 3* or 4*. Additionally, 80% of our research impact was rated as world-leading (4*), with the remaining 20% being rated as 3*.

You are encouraged to contact the Director of Studies, for further information prior to applying.

About the PhD

The aim of the PhD project is to determine whether or not written exercise prescriptions, when combined with a motivational package, can help adult cancer survivors to engage in more physical activity.

It is commonly known that physical activity (PA) is essential for a healthy trajectory of survivorship. Cancer survivors are more likely than the general population to experience functional decline, cardiovascular disease (CVD), and secondary cancers, even though their survival rate is on the rise (Baade et al., 2006; Keats et al., 2017). PA lowers the risk of cancer-related death and mortality (Friedenreich et al., 2019), as well as CVD (Stewart et al., 2017). Nonetheless, a small proportion of cancer survivors meet the global PA guidelines, which call for ≥150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous PA per week, ≥75 minutes of vigorous-intensity PA per week, or an equivalent combination of the two (≥150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous PA per week) (Arem et al., 2020). Therefore, finding efficient strategies to raise PA in cancer survivors is imperative.

Although PA interventions have become common, only a small percentage of cancer survivors receive routine care that includes PA advice or referral (Fisher et al., 2015; Nadler et al., 2017; Park et al., 2015a). Patients often view oncologists as authority figures, and they frequently review their patients on a regular basis—often for years after diagnosis. As a result, they are in a unique position to encourage PA uptake. Supporting oncologists in promoting PA is necessary because interventions that avoid the oncologist are unlikely to be scalable or to reach a large number of patients (Hardcastle & Cohen, 2017). The literature currently lacks information on the viability and efficacy of quick interventions given by oncologists to encourage PA.

The PhD will have two research strands:

(i) To explore Oncologists’ attitudes towards PA promotion and their confidence and support needs to promote PA to cancer survivors;

(ii) To conduct a randomised controlled trial comparing the effects of an Oncologist written exercise prescription and an Oncologist written exercise prescription, combined with an attendant motivational package on PA and sedentary behaviour compared to usual care. There may be an opportunity to collect data for this project in Western Australia.

Who should apply?

Applicants should hold a BSc (1st or 2:1) honours degree (or equivalent) in sport or exercise science, Psychology, Public Health or a related area. An MSc qualification in a related area is desirable, as would experience of working with clients or patients in health promotion or exercise settings. We are offering this as a full-time PhD scholarship. We welcome applications from all members of our community and are particularly encouraging those from diverse groups, such as members of the LGBTQIA+, BAME and disabled communities.

For any applicant to Sheffield Hallam whose first language is not English, they must also meet the mandatory English language requirement of IELTS 7, or an equivalent language qualification.A minimum score of 7 across all test areas is required for this qualification, which should have been completed in the last two years.

How to Apply

Please fill out and submit an application form along with a comprehensive 1,500-word research proposal addressing the project title “Exercise Prescription and Physical Activity Promotion for Cancer Survivors” in order to apply for the PhD studentship.

Kindly include the project title in the application’s Personal Statement field. Make sure that the application system has received all of the attachments.

Application must be submitted before the deadline (Wednesday 22nd November at 12 noon GMT) and research proposal must contain atleast detailed 1,500 words, else application may not be considered.