Workplace wellbeing: the interaction of monitoring and evaluation in workplace physical activity interventions

University of Essex - The School of Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences

This fully funded studentship offers an annual stipend of £14,777 plus Home/EU tuition fees and for International students; the studentship would cover fees (£14020) with the remainder paid as a small stipend, for a maximum of 36 months.  Start date is 1st October 2018.


Adults spend around one third of each week in the workplace. De-industrialisation and automation mean fewer labour-intensive activities.  For most, the workplace represents a significant contribution to increasingly sedentary lifestyles known to be detrimental to health.  Addressing this sedentary behaviour in a workplace setting makes sense for the employee but also makes business sense, in that reduced absenteeism and improved presenteeism are beneficial for the bottom line. 

Initial research will involve secondary analysis of existing data (e.g. Biobank or Understanding Society) to help to understand the associations of sedentary behaviours and physical activity with physical and psychological health. Following a review of current strategies, new interventions will be designed to tackle inactivity and decrease sedentary behaviour. The main focus will be to examine how different levels of support monitoring and feedback alter outcomes for wellbeing.

You will initially undertake secondary analysis of existing data sets using advanced methods of statistical analysis. The findings of your analysis will then inform the design of workplace interventions evaluated using experimental and quasi-experimental approaches.

You will gain skills in physiological and psychological evaluation of human health. We will also provide bespoke training in how to access, clean and treat secondary data and the statistical techniques required to perform secondary analysis of large datasets.  The end goal of this work is to feed directly into workplaces, and to be part of local and national policy discussions around workplace wellbeing.

You will work alongside Dr Gavin Sandercock and Dr Valerie Gladwell who regularly publish work in this research area and have extensive PhD supervisory experience.

The Student

You will have a good undergraduate and/or master’s degree in a related subject (e.g. Public Health, Sport and Exercise Science, Physiology, Human Biology) and a broad interest in workplace health and physical activity. You will relish the opportunity to develop your career in a vibrant and well-equipped research group and answer questions of societal importance. You must possess well-developed oral and written communication skills and be able to manage your time effectively.

The project will be supervised by Dr Gavin Sandercock and Dr Valerie Gladwell.  For informal discussions about this studentship, please contact Dr Valerie Gladwell ( and/or Dr Gavin Sandercock (

How to apply

You should submit a full application for a PhD in Sport and Exercise Science (via and include on the application form the title of the studentship under ‘Proposed research topic or area of research’.  In addition to the required application documents, you should upload a 1500 word research proposal.  The closing date for applications is 8th August 2018.  Interviews for shortlisted applicants will be held on 16th August 2018.

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South East England