Understanding and optimising patient activation for successful self-management in Fibromyalgia


An opportunity to apply for a funded full-time PhD in the College of Health, Science and Society, UWE Bristol.  The studentship will be funded by the UWE Bristol.

Ref 2324-OCT-HSS13

The expected start date of this studentship is 01 October 2023.

The closing date for applications is 08 August 2023.

Studentship details

Fibromyalgia (FM) is a complex long-term condition affecting up to 5.4% of the UK population. It is associated with chronic pain, fatigue, sleep problems and concentration difficulties. FM guidelines recommend exercise and self-management as a core treatment of FM symptoms. However, the effectiveness of non-pharmacological interventions often depends on the level of engagement and adherence.

A recent feasibility randomised controlled trial (RCT) testing the effectiveness of a self-management intervention for adults in a community setting found that overall attrition to the intervention was high. The qualitative findings showed that participants’ activation and readiness to change influenced their engagement. Patient activation comprises skills, abilities and behaviours that contribute to how able people can take an active role in managing their health. Increased activation is associated with better physical and psychosocial outcomes, including more frequent exercise, increased self-efficacy and lower psychological distress. While readiness to change appears to influence engagement and attendance at a self-management intervention, recent research highlighted that it could predict improvements in outcomes for patients living with chronic pain.

In people with inflammatory arthritis (IA), patient activation is positively correlated with self-efficacy, internal locus of control and health literacy, making these appropriate targets for interventions to increase patient activation in IA. However, determinants of patient activation in FM have yet to be identified. This research aims to explore how patient activation impacts self-management and whether it can predict those likely to engage with self-management interventions. The research will also create tools and resources aimed at improving patient activation.

For an informal discussion about the studentship, please email Dr Jen Pearson at jen.pearson@uwe.ac.uk.


The studentship is available from 01 October 2023 for a period of three and half years, subject to satisfactory progress and includes a tax exempt stipend, which will be £18,622 per annum. 

In addition, full-time tuition fees will be covered for up to three years. 


Applicants must have at least a BSc degree in a health-related subject. 

An MSc degree or evidence of M-level credits would be preferred. Previous experience in mixed methods health research would be advantageous.

A recognised English language qualification is required.

How to apply

Please submit your application online. When prompted use the reference number 2324-OCT-HSS13 .

Supporting documentation: You will need to upload your research proposal, all your degree certificates and transcripts and your proof of English language proficiency as attachments to your application, so please have these available when you complete the application form.

References: You will need to provide details of two referees as part of your application. At least one referee must be an academic referee from the institution that conferred your highest degree. Your referee will be asked for a reference at the time you submit your application, so please ensure that your nominated referees are willing and able to provide references within 14 days of your application being submitted.

Closing Date

The closing date for applications is 08 August 2023.

Further Information

It is expected that interviews will take place on weeks commencing 13 September 2023. If you have not heard from us by 05 September 2023, we thank you for your application but on this occasion you have not been successful.

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