The University of Newcastle, Australia

Improving the Translation of School-Based Interventions Targeting Health Risk Behaviours for Chronic Disease

Closing Date: 10 July 2020Apply Now

PhD Scholarship

Expressions of interest are sought from highly motivated candidates interested in pursuing a PhD program focused on chronic disease prevention within schools under the supervision of researchers from Hunter New England Population Health Research Group (HNEPHRG), the NHMRC-funded National Centre of Implementation Science and Cochrane Public Health.

Children playing

Research Project Background:

Tobacco and alcohol use, physical inactivity, and diet are primary modifiable risks for chronic disease that collectively represent an enormous global burden of disease. Despite the existence of effective school-based interventions targeting each of these health risk behaviours, such interventions are not translated into routine practice.

A key impediment is the lack of alignment between research that is undertaken and the informational needs of policy makers and practitioners to guide policy and practice decisions regarding intervention selection. Evidence-based information is lacking regarding the broader beneficial effects, unintended adverse consequences, cost effectiveness, acceptability and methods to successfully impact interventions at scale.

The PhD project is focused on identifying these evidence gaps by generating research investigating the health, educational, and psycho-social co-benefits of school-based chronic disease prevention interventions, including their acceptability, costs and adverse effects; and identifying strategies to improve the implementation of school-based chronic disease prevention interventions at scale.

Role of the PhD Candidate:

The PhD candidate will be expected to contribute to the development of research and intervention design, undertake implementation, undertake data analyses and lead research manuscripts commensurate with the requirements of a thesis by publication.

Research Group HNEPHRG:

Research Group HNEPHRG is co-located and collaborates with Hunter New England Population Health (HNEPH), one of Australia’s largest population health unit to conduct applied chronic disease prevention and health services research. The group approach involves active co-production of evidence with end users to generate pragmatic interventions that can be easily translated. Collectively, the group publishes over 60 manuscripts per year, and are consistently successful in obtaining nationally competitive grants annually from the NHMRC or Australian Research Council (ARC).

The group also collectively supervises up to 20 PhD students undertaking complex interventions in a range of community and health care settings. HNEPHRG has conducted of some of the largest trials in the world to improve the implementation of health promotion policies and practices in community settings such as schools, childcare services, and sporting clubs, including Australia’s largest child obesity prevention program ($7million) Good for Kids, Good for Life. Interventions recently conducted by the research group have been awarded a NSW Premiers Award for the Prevention of Childhood Obesity and a NSW Health Preventive Health award.

Additional Support and Professional Development Opportunities:

The students will be a member of a multi-disciplinary team and co-located with their nominated supervisor and given opportunities to engage with leading public health researchers, health psychologists, dietitians, education consultants and health promotion practitioners, within Australia and internationally. The student will have access to administration support, statisticians, IT and be provided with office space.

The position will also be supported by the research environment of the University of Newcastle and Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) and the appointed students will be encouraged to join in staff development, meetings and other opportunities. Students will also be eligible for membership of the University of Newcastle’s Priority Research Centre for Health Behaviour and have access to funding to support travel, statistical analyses and open access publication

PhD Scholarship details

Funding: $28,092 per annum (2020 rate) indexed annually. The living allowance scholarship is for 3.5 years and the tuition fee scholarship is for four years. Scholarships also include up to $1,500 relocation allowance.

Supervisor: Dr Rebecca Hodder

Available to: Domestic students


Eligibility Criteria

The PhD scholarship is for a PhD student commencing before the end of August 2020. Applicants from a variety of backgrounds, including the health, education, social and behavioural sciences are able to apply.

Applicants should have an interest and/or background in public health and health promotion.

Eligibility criteria:

  1. A strong academic/research track record with; an undergraduate grade point average equal to or greater than 5.25; OR a first or 2A class honours degree (or equivalent); OR a Masters degree with 25% research training minimum;
  2. Excellent organisational, time management, written and verbal communication skills;
  3. The ability to work both independently and in a team environment;
  4. Demonstrated ability to write reports or peer-reviewed manuscripts;
  5. Commitment to Indigenous health
  6. The successful applicant must meet the University of Newcastle’s admission eligibility criteria.
  7. The successful applicant must be able to commence by 30 August 2020

Application Procedure

Interested applicants should e-mail their CV, academic transcript and a brief outline of how they meet the above criteria. Following this, applicants may be invited to discuss their application further at interview.

Please phone Melinda Phillips for any inquiries +61 2 4924 6472

Please send the email expressing interest to by 5pm on 10 July 2020.

Applications Close 10 July 2020 Apply Now

Contact Dr Rebecca Hodder
Phone +61 2 4924 6472

PhD and Research MastersFind out more