Relevant Thesis-Based Degree Programs
Physical activity and public health - intervention development and evaluation
Complete these steps before you reach out to a faculty member!
- Familiarize yourself with program requirements. You want to learn as much as possible from the information available to you before you reach out to a faculty member. Be sure to visit the graduate degree program listing and program-specific websites.
- Check whether the program requires you to seek commitment from a supervisor prior to submitting an application. For some programs this is an essential step while others match successful applicants with faculty members within the first year of study. This is either indicated in the program profile under "Admission Information & Requirements" - "Prepare Application" - "Supervision" or on the program website.
- Identify specific faculty members who are conducting research in your specific area of interest.
- Establish that your research interests align with the faculty member’s research interests.
- Read up on the faculty members in the program and the research being conducted in the department.
- Familiarize yourself with their work, read their recent publications and past theses/dissertations that they supervised. Be certain that their research is indeed what you are hoping to study.
- Compose an error-free and grammatically correct email addressed to your specifically targeted faculty member, and remember to use their correct titles.
- Do not send non-specific, mass emails to everyone in the department hoping for a match.
- Address the faculty members by name. Your contact should be genuine rather than generic.
- Include a brief outline of your academic background, why you are interested in working with the faculty member, and what experience you could bring to the department. The supervision enquiry form guides you with targeted questions. Ensure to craft compelling answers to these questions.
- Highlight your achievements and why you are a top student. Faculty members receive dozens of requests from prospective students and you may have less than 30 seconds to pique someone’s interest.
- Demonstrate that you are familiar with their research:
- Convey the specific ways you are a good fit for the program.
- Convey the specific ways the program/lab/faculty member is a good fit for the research you are interested in/already conducting.
- Be enthusiastic, but don’t overdo it.
G+PS regularly provides virtual sessions that focus on admission requirements and procedures and tips how to improve your application.
ADVICE AND INSIGHTS FROM UBC FACULTY ON REACHING OUT TO SUPERVISORS
These videos contain some general advice from faculty across UBC on finding and reaching out to a potential thesis supervisor.
Graduate Student Supervision
Doctoral Student Supervision
Dissertations completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest dissertations.
Children’s independent mobility is defined as a child’s freedom to travel and play in their neighbourhood without adult supervision. While independent mobility is associated with a range of benefits there is also evidence that a number of children today have less independent mobility than previous generations. The purpose of this dissertation was to explore children’s independent mobility and 1) identify and examine the social-ecological correlates of children’s independent mobility and 2) explore the nuances of children’s independent mobility from children’s and parents’ perspectives as a family unit. This multi-method dissertation adopted a social-ecological approach to examine children’s independent mobility. Study 1 was a systematic review (n=43 articles included) examining the correlates of children’s independent mobility in primarily Western, industrialized countries. This review identified significant correlates at every social-ecological level and highlighted that Canadian studies were geographically limited. Study 2 was a multi-site school-based study examining correlates of children’s independent mobility across different sites in Canada (n=1699 participants). Independent mobility varied across study sites, but parental perceptions of safety and the environment were consistently associated with independent mobility. Study 3 was a qualitative study exploring children’s and parents’ perspectives of children’s independent mobility within the family unit through face-to-face interviews (n=66 participants; n=22 families) across three neighbourhoods in the Greater Vancouver Area. This study highlighted key preconditions associated with helping children and their parents negotiate independent mobility including 1) parents’ positive interpretation of their childhood experiences of independent mobility, 2) a positive appraisal of children’s individual characteristics by both children and parents, 3) communication within the family unit, and 4) positive perceptions of the neighbourhood social environment. This dissertation builds on existing literature, highlights the complexities of independent mobility, and provides supporting evidence for multi-level and multi-sectoral initiatives that are aimed at promoting children’s independent mobility.
Individuals with schizophrenia have a greatly reduced life expectancy compared to the general population due in part to higher rates of diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. Individuals with schizophrenia also engage in lower volumes of physical activity and engage in more sedentary behaviour, which contributes to poor overall health. Evaluating time spent in such movement behaviours accurately is necessary to engage in all phases of behavioural epidemiology and for developing interventions to induce behaviour change.This dissertation evaluates whether the most commonly used self-report questionnaire, the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ), for measuring time spent in physical activity (Chapter 2) and sedentary behaviour (Chapter 3) among people with schizophrenia is an accurate representation of movement behaviours in people with schizophrenia compared to accelerometry derived scores. After quantifying the discrepancy between measurement methods, Chapter 4 explores individual level correlates of this discrepancy to understand what factors may contribute to less accurate IPAQ scores, and regression-calibration adjustments to IPAQ scores were evaluated using a 5-fold cross-validation approach as a possible method to improve score accuracy. Subsequently, Chapter 5 assesses whether accelerometry protocols were adhered to consistently in the sample and accelerometry data were used to evaluate the composition of movement behaviours in this sample across the week; an isotemporal substitution approach is used to determine whether replacing one movement behaviour with another (e.g. sedentary behaviour with moderate intensity physical activity) is associated with health and demographic factors while controlling for all other movement behaviours. The results of these studies suggests that IPAQ scores should no longer be used as a measure of time spent in movement behaviours in individuals with schizophrenia; researchers and medical professionals are recommended to use more direct methods of movement measurement such as accelerometry or leverage the already widespread adoption of consumer smart devices to collect movement behaviour data that better represents how individuals with schizophrenia spend their waking day.
The purpose of this dissertation was to 1) use a systematic and phased process to develop an evidence-based resource (toolkit) about exercise and depression for health care providers working with adults with depression in Canada (based on treatment guidelines) and 2) provide a step by step guide for translating knowledge into action for health care interventions. This dissertation was guided by the Knowledge to Action Framework and the AGREE II (Appraisal of Guidelines for Research & Evaluation) instrument. Study 1 was a scoping review to identify the barriers and facilitators to engagement in physical activity (PA) and exercise for adults with depression. A behavioural analysis informed by the Theoretical Domains Framework (TDF) determined that future intervention should target the emotion and social influences domains. Study 2 was a scoping review to identify the barriers and facilitators to PA promotion by health care providers (HCP) working with individuals with mental illness. The most prominent barriers and facilitators were within the domains of beliefs about the consequences and environmental context & resources. Study 3 was a qualitative study to guide toolkit development. Interviews were conducted with adults with lived experience with depression (AWD) and HCP. Study 4 described the systematic and phased process used to develop the evidence-based ‘Exercise and Depression Toolkit’ for HCP working with AWD. The four phases included: reviews of relevant literature, formative interviews, an expert panel meeting, and final toolkit development. Various stakeholders were involved throughout the process including HCP, AWD, researchers, and exercise professionals. Study 5 evaluated the ‘Exercise and Depression Toolkit’ in practice by HCP working with AWD and attained feedback on the toolkit to inform national dissemination and uptake. The toolkit was found to be acceptable and have positive innovation attributes. Concerns about effort and time to use it in practice informed dissemination plans and selection of end users. Together, the studies in this dissertation have resulted in the first evidence-based resource, the ‘Exercise and Depression Toolkit’, to help health care providers and individuals with depression collaboratively consider exercise as a treatment.
Educators working in early childhood education and care receive little to no training in physical activity or physical literacy. However, they are expected to adhere to government standards for physical activity and skill development during the childcare day. This dissertation sought to determine what characterizes a successful intervention aiming to train educators in physical activity and/or physical literacy, what barriers and facilitators educators identify in meeting daily activity standards, what the physical literacy of educators is, and if educator physical literacy is associated with their behaviours and intentions to provide physical activity or physical literacy activities regularly. A systematic review was undertaken to parse apart the distinct characteristics of effective training interventions in physical activity or physical literacy. Training programs that provided ongoing support, relied on a theoretical framework, and objectively measured study fidelity were more successful. Educators were interviewed (n=24) to assess facilitators and barriers they face when implementing policy mandated activity standards. Results demonstrated that the personal values of educators facilitated adherence, and if physical space was poor, or resources were low, adherence was inhibited. Finally, a cross-sectional study measured the physical literacy of educators (n=94), and utilized regression analysis to determine relationships between measured physical literacy and self-reported behaviours and intentions to provide physical activity and/or physical literacy opportunities daily. Physical activity behaviour and understanding were high, but the remaining components of physical literacy were moderate. A relationship was found between educator self-reported intentions and behaviours for providing physical activity opportunities and the physical literacy component of understanding, but no relationship was found for the other components of physical literacy. The results of these three studies demonstrate that educators are trainable in physical activity and physical literacy, but high-quality training programs that provide continued support and/or training for educators are needed. Training programs may not need to focus on the personal physical literacy of educators. Mandating training for educators to provide quality physical literacy opportunities to children should be a high public health priority.
Master's Student Supervision
Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.
Exercise, a subset of physical activity, is a promising treatment for mild-to-moderate depression and anxiety in adolescents (teens). Mind Fit is an 8-week, group-based, early-intervention wellness program that combines physical activity with mental health discussions for teens (13- to 18-years-old) experiencing mild-to-moderate symptoms of depression and/or anxiety in British Columbia, Canada. The purposes of this thesis were to: 1) conduct an outcome evaluation to assess short-term and 3-month effects of Mind Fit on targeted health outcomes; 2) conduct a process evaluation to examine the facilitators and barriers related to program implementation and success; and 3) assess the effects of site-specific level of program implementation on targeted outcomes over a 2-year period.To assess key outcomes, measures of depression (PHQ-9), anxiety (GAD-7), overall wellness (ORS), physical activity (GLEQ/COMPASS), and motivation were assessed at baseline, post-program, and 3-month follow-up using self-reported surveys. Overall, 184 teens participated in the evaluation across 10 sites. The following outcomes significantly improved from baseline to post-program (Time 1) and baseline to 3-month follow-up (Time 2): PHQ-9 (p=.001; d=.41), GAD-7 (p=.000; d=.51), and ORS (p=.001; d=.34). Physical activity motivation significantly improved at Time 1 (p=.035; d=.22). GLEQ/COMPASS did not significantly improve at Time 1 or 2.To examine the facilitators and barriers to Mind Fit implementation and success, 39 telephone interviews were conducted post-program with teens and 41 with program staff. Unique to this thesis, factors influencing implementation were assessed by all site Coordinators at the end of each cycle using an evidence-based questionnaire. Facilitators included: strong motivation and staff buy-in, uniqueness of Mind Fit in the community/organization, social connections among participants, supportive Instructors, and well-developed curriculum. Barriers included: available space and equipment, satisfactory staff training, and low teen recruitment. Descriptive statistics demonstrated a greater reduction in PHQ-9 and GAD-7 scores at high-implementation sites.Findings of this research demonstrate the effectiveness of community-based, early-interventions delivered ‘at scale’ to improve the mental health of teens experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety. Facilitators and barriers of program implementation and success can be used to inform future development of similar interventions.
Run to Quit (RTQ) is a national smoking cessation and learn to run program with promising cessation and physical activity outcomes. However, attrition was high with only 41.1% of participants completing the program. Determining predictors of attendance could help to improve attendance and program effectiveness in future iterations. Given that the program was offered in a group setting, the purposes of this study were to explore predictors of attendance and examine whether including group-related variables added to the prediction of attendance beyond individual variables.Blocked multiple regression analysis was used, with mean substitution for missing data (n=335). Individual predictors included in block 1 were middle aged adults, older adults, gender, home ownership, quit self-efficacy, run self-efficacy, baseline nicotine dependence (FTND), and baseline moderate-vigorous physical activity (MVPA). Group-related predictors added in block 2 were group cohesion subscales (attraction to group-task, attraction to group-social (ATG-S), group integration-task, group integration-social), transformational leadership (TL) of the coach, belonging, perceived similarity, and group size (control variable).When only individual predictors were included, the model was statistically significant and explained 4.8% of the variance in attendance (adjusted R²=.048, F(8,326)=3.111, p=.002). Both baseline MVPA (β=-.135, p=.013) and FTND (β=-.135, p=.015) were statistically significant predictors of attendance. Once group-related predictors were added, the overall model identified additional individual and group-related predictors of attendance. Both individual and group predictors were significant and adding group-related variables explained an additional 4.2% of the variance. Overall, the final model explained 9.0% of the variance (adjusted R²=.090, F(16,318)=3.067, p<.001 with="" being="" an="" older="" adult="" p=".023)," male="" having="" lower="" ftnd="" mvpa="" higher="" atg-s="" belonging="" and="" tl="" significantly="" predicting="" attendance.this="" evaluation="" identified="" both="" individual="" group-related="" predictors="" of="" attendance="" however="" the="" model="" explained="" a="" modest="" amount="" variance="" suggesting="" that="" there="" are="" additional="" factors="" predict="" such="" as="" logistical="" personal="" reasons="" further="" exploration="" is="" needed.="" future="" rtq="" programs="" may="" benefit="" from="" promoting="" aspects="" cohesion="" sense="" belonging.="">