Psychology PhD Studentship Available

Systematic development of an intervention to support midwives and health visitors in helping women to address multiple health behaviours in pregnancy and after birth

Applications are invited for a funded full-time PhD Studentship based in the Centre for Health & Behaviour Change of the Psychology Division in collaboration with the Chief Scientist Office NMAHP Research Unit.

The PhD studentship will be associated with the newly founded Scottish Improvement Science Collaborating Centre (SISCC) and focus on the develop a behaviour change intervention to support maternity health care professionals to perform evidence-based maternity care behaviour which support women in changing and maintaining their health behaviours.  Current NHS care for pregnant women is delivered primarily by midwives, who are asked to promote a multitude of health behaviours (not smoking, no alcohol during pregnancy, healthy foods, avoiding obesity, regular exercise and breastfeeding). The promotion of maternal health behaviours often requires change in maternity healthcare professionals’ behaviours, while some practices are already being implemented and need to be maintained.  Little evidence exists on how to promote, support and sustain evidence-based maternity health care professionals’ behaviours.  A recent systematic review of interventions to support maternity healthcare professionals’ behaviours to support women's weight management for instance found no studies in this area.  Interventions that support midwives in their practice to directly promote health behaviour change has the potential to impact multiple behaviours beneficial for maternal and child health in pregnancy and beyond.

Financial Support:

The studentship is available for three years and includes a tax-free stipend of £13,863 p.a. tuition fees will be met by the University at the home /EU rate. If the appointee is from overseas, the difference between the home and overseas fee must be met from other sources. Subject to satisfactory progress review at the end of the first year, the studentship will be renewed for a second year and thereafter for a third year. The studentship will have an anticipated Registration date of 1 April 2015.

Application Requirements:

  • Eligible Applicants have to hold at least a Bachelor (Hons.) Degree of either First Class/Upper Second Class in Psychology or another related discipline.
  • An MSc in Health Psychology or related discipline would be desirable.
  • Experience in working with health care professionals, particularly in the maternity sector would be an advantage.

 To apply please include:

(i)  One A4 page covering letter outlining your suitability, why you are interested in pursuing a PhD in this area, and any other information relevant to the application

(ii)  One A4 page outlining your views on what is needed to support maternity health professionals to support behaviour change supported by relevant evidence

(iii)  Your academic CV with contact details for two academic referees (one of whom should be a project supervisor)

(iv)  Copies of your academic transcripts

To apply online via ‘Research Degree in Psychology’:

The University of Stirling

Few universities can equal the opportunities offered by Stirling.  It is quite simply a great place to live and work.

While we are right in the heart of Scotland, we have an ambitious global outlook. With highly respected teaching, world-class facilities and committed colleagues, Stirling is one of the UK’s leading research universities in the fields of health and wellbeing, environment, culture and society, enterprise and the economy, and sport. Add to that an innovative spirit, and it is easy to see why Stirling is the ideal environment for motivated individuals to realize their aspirations.

The Stirling campus is one of the most beautiful in the world.  It is set within the ancient and magnificent 310 acre Airthrey estate, close to Bridge of Allan and some two miles from Stirling city centre.  The MacRobert Arts Centre, the Stirling Management Centre, the 18th century Airthrey Castle and outstanding sports facilities all combine to make this an enviable and unique place to work.

Inclusivity and friendliness characterize Stirling’s culture which is what makes it such an attractive environment for our 11000 students and 2000 staff, and is why people from all over the world choose to work and learn with us.

Division of Psychology

Psychology at Stirling is committed to internationally recognised and excellent scientific research, coupled with innovative and reflective research-led teaching and learning.

Working in an inclusive and vibrant research environment, we are committed to conducting high quality, internationally recognised research.

The PhD studentship will be located in the Centre for Health & Behaviour Change which aims to develop and apply psychological theory and methods to health and social behaviours.  Facilities include a purpose-built Health Laboratory, and the centre has close collaborative links with NHS partners, including Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, Western General Hospital in Edinburgh and Ninewells Hospital, Dundee.

The Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions Research Unit (NMAHP RU)

The NMAHP RU ( is a national research unit, core funded by the Scottish Government’s Chief Scientist Office, with bases at University of Stirling and Glasgow Caledonian University. Its remit is to develop high quality research which is has a direct impact on the wellbeing of the people of Scotland. The unit strives to involve NMAHP practitioners in all its research activity and to develop capacity and leadership in research through clinical academic research engagement. We currently have approximately 50 members of staff covering diverse professional backgrounds and academic disciplines. The NMAHP Research Unit develops and conducts research on NMAHP interventions for fundamental care and therapy, and research in how to improve the quality and delivery of NMAHP practice and decision making. Researching NMAHP interventions involves conducting different types of studies ranging from systematic reviews to multi-centre randomised or cluster randomised control trials. Improving the quality and delivery of NMAHP practice also involves using a wide range of study designs and methods to investigate:-

  • who delivers care – e.g. health professionals, para-professionals, patient involvement in self care, their carer, friends or voluntary sector partners; and how to improve judgements and decisions around the transition of care between these different groups;
  • where it is delivered – e.g. focusing on issues around the effectiveness of out of hospital delivery which we have already considered in relation to paramedic care, and the issues surrounding transfer between different care settings; and
  • how to improve clinical effectiveness and professional practice, to identify and reduce variation in care standards and develop and test most effective models of care delivery.

 For further project information please contact Dr Stephan Dombrowski ( or Linda Cullen ( Tel: +44 (0) 1786 466854).

 Deadline for applications: 28 February 2015

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