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School of Health & Human Performance


MedEx DCU and the Irish Cancer Society PhD studentship

The Irish Cancer Society’s vision and ambition is nothing less than a future without cancer. Their aim is to ensure that patients diagnosed with cancer in Ireland will have access to the most cutting edge treatments and the best possible care. Research is essential to making this happen.

MedEx is a unique and new model of community-based chronic illness rehabilitation. Developed by Dublin City University (DCU) in 2006; it is a partnership between a third level educational institution and the healthcare setting. MedEx’s core concept is the provision of quality evidence-based exercise rehabilitation, supported by medical supervision, for people with diverse chronic illnesses. In 2014, MedEx caters for 500 patient visits per week across 5 separate chronic illness programmes. These programmes are HeartSmart (cardiac rehabiliatation), BreatheSmart (pulmonary rehabilitation), Smart Steps (claudication rehabilitation), Diabetes Health Steps (diabetes care) and Move On (cancer rehabilitation). MedEx applies a novel approach to exercise-based rehabilitation. Its long term aim is to develop research activity alongside each programme.

Quality exercise-based rehabilitation has been shown to improve quality of life, cardiorespiratory fitness, physical functioning and fatigue experience in cancer patients and survivors1,2. However, findings have indicated that future research needs to pay greater attention to issues of motivation and adherence in patients participating in exercise programmes3. The Irish Cancer Society in conjunction with MedEx is offering a unique PhD research opportunity to a suitably qualified candidate. This research studentship will involve an exploration and detailed analysis of stakeholder (patient, health professional and service provider) experiences of referral to, and engagement with, Move On. Over a four year period a number of studies will be crafted to i) ascertain the factors that influence stakeholder engagement with Move On; ii) collaborate with stakeholders to develop an intervention to enhance the patient experiences of Move On; iii) conduct a 6-month pilot study to determine the efficacy of the intervention on behaviour change, physical health and self-management capacity of cancer patients and iv) post intervention to refine the intervention content, delivery preferences, recruitment and retention strategies and to determine most feasible primary outcome measures for a definitive randomised control trial.

In DCU, we are committed to the all round academic and professional development of our students. The successful candidate would become part of the MedEx Research Cluster, a dynamic multi-disciplinary team within the Centre of Preventive Medicine. As such, you would have the full support and access to the resources and postgraduate laboratories within the School of Health and Human Performance (SHHP) and the School of Nursing and Human Sciences (SNHS). The expectation would be that you would complete a

PhD research qualification, including specific postgraduate modules, over a four year timeframe. During this time you will be trained in both qualitative (interviews) and quantitative (questionnaire, accelerometry and physical health measures) research methods. You will be given the opportunity to contribute to undergraduate modules. This will be agreed with your supervisor and managed to ensure that it provides necessary continuing professional development alongside the opportunity to meet your research requirements.

The studentship will cover annual postgraduate fees (€5500) and a stipend (€18,000 per annum). Successful applicants will normally have a postgraduate qualification or an Upper Second Class Honours Degree in physical activity and health, psychology, sport science and health or a cognate area. Experience of teaching group fitness instruction is welcome, and evidence of project management and scientific report writing would be an advantage. Additional professional qualifications, such as an industry standard in health and fitness instruction (REPS or equivalent) would be welcome. You would need to be able to demonstrate your ability to work independently with support of a teaching or research supervisor and the enthusiasm to contribute to a stimulating research and teaching environment.

Informal enquiries should be directed in the first instance to: Dr. Catherine Woods, School of Health and Human Performance, Dublin City University, Dublin 9, Ireland. Tel: 00353-1-7008008; Email: or Dr. Noel McCaffrey, MedEx Director, DCU, Tel: 00353-1-7007387; Email: or Dr. Sinead Smyth, School of Nursing and Human Sciences, Dublin City University, Dublin 9, Ireland. Tel: 00353-1-7007422; Email:

For further information on the Irish Cancer Society, contact Mr. Donal Buggy, Head of Services, Irish Cancer Society, 43/45 Northumberland Road, Dublin 4, Ireland. Tel: 00353-1-2310582; Email: or visit:

Please send a CV (full curriculum vitae with referee details) with a personal statement outlining why you would like to pursue this research opportunity and what you think you could contribute to this study, to Dr. Catherine Woods (via email to address above). Closing date for receipt of application is 23rd December 2014. Short-listed applicants will be required to attend an interview in DCU (January 19th, 2015)


1. Margaret L. McNeely, Kristin L. Campbell, Brian H. Rowe, Terry P. Klassen,John R. Mackey, Kerry S. Courneya. Effects of exercise on breast cancer patients and survivors: a systematic review and meta-analysis. CMAJ July 4, 2006 vol. 175 no. 1 doi: 10.1503/cmaj.051073

2. Kathryn H. Schmitz, Jeremy Holtzman, Kerry S. Courneya, Louise C. Mâsse, Sue Duval and Robert Kane. Controlled Physical Activity Trials in Cancer Survivors: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Cancer epidemiology, biomarkers and prevention 2005;14:1588-1595. 3. Ruud Knols, Neil K. Aaronson, Daniel Uebelhart, Jaap Fransen and Geert Aufdemkampe.Physical Exercise in Cancer Patients During and After Medical Treatment: A Systematic Review of Randomized and Controlled Clinical Trials. JCO Jun 1, 2005:3830-3842


28th November, 2014