How brief can brief interventions to promote physical activity be? The impact of intervention dur...

University of East Anglia
July 07 2017
Position Type
Full Time
Organization Type

Background: Brief behaviour change interventions could improve public health. NICE guidance supports the effectiveness of brief physical activity interventions in primary care (2013) and a systematic review their cost-effectiveness (GC et al., 2015). Very brief interventions (less than five minutes) could increase physical activity, can be delivered faithfully, are acceptable and of low cost (Pears et al., 2016). However, NICE (2013) defined several evidence gaps: the impact of duration and frequency of brief interventions on physical activity, and whether practitioners are more likely to deliver brief interventions if this can be done effectively within a few minutes. Duration and frequency affect intervention content (behaviour change techniques); and fidelity of intervention delivery. Responses of patients may also differ according to duration and frequency.

Aims and objectives: Aim: to evaluate the impact of intervention duration and/or frequency on potential effectiveness. Objectives: (1) design a research proposal, (2) conduct a systematic review; (3) develop and pilot interventions of various duration/frequency; (4) conduct a feasibility study, and (5) undergo training.

Research proposal: The systematic review will examine the impact of duration and frequency of (very) brief interventions in primary care/community on (cost-) effectiveness. Qualitative research with health practitioners and patients will explore their views and preferences about intervention duration and frequency. A number of interventions of varying duration and frequency will be developed and health practitioners will pilot them. A feasibility study will assess the impact of duration/frequency of very brief interventions on potential effectiveness, cost, recruitment, retention, fidelity and acceptability according to duration/frequency.

Training Programme: This includes evidence synthesis, intervention development and evaluation, quantitative and qualitative research methods, feasibility studies, writing for publication, thesis preparation, dissemination, and personal and career development.

Outputs: Thesis, publications, intervention package, and evidence to inform a potential subsequent large study and funding application.

Funding notes

This PhD project is offered on a self-funding basis. It is open to applicants with funding or those applying to funding sources. Details of tuition fees can be found at

A bench fee may also payable on top of the tuition fee to cover specialist equipment or laboratory costs required for the research. The amount charged annually will vary considerably depending on the nature of the project and applicants should contact the primary supervisor for further information about the fee associated with the project.

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