Márcia Carvalho

Márcia Carvalho

PhD Trainee
University of Galway

Project Title: SUSTAIN T2DM: Using behavioral science to understand how self-management support interventions for type 2 diabetes can better support the maintenance of self-management behaviors.

Márcia is a PhD scholar in Health Psychology at the University of Galway and a Health Behaviour Change Research Group (HBCRG) member. The HBCRG is a national hub and internationally recognized centre of excellence in the application of behavioural science to the development, evaluation, and implementation of health behavioural interventions. She obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology (2017) and a Master’s degree in Clinical and Health Psychology (2019) from the University of Porto, Portugal. During her Master’s, Márcia completed a nine-month internship at the Centre for Predictive and Preventive Genetics (CGPP) at the Institute for Research and Innovation in Health (i3S), where she contributed to the development and validation of a Portuguese scale for quality assessment of genetic counselling by patients. After completing her Master's, Márcia was awarded an Erasmus+ grant to undertake a 9-month traineeship at the HBCRG. During this period, she collaborated on different projects related to health behaviour change and health services research. She has also worked on a HRB-funded project to explore enablers and barriers to attending a community-based cardiac rehabilitation programme. Márcia’s research interests include health behaviour change, chronic disease prevention and management, and health services research.

Primary supervisor: Dr Jenny Mc Sharry, University of Galway; Co-supervisor: Prof Molly Byrne, University of Galway

Project description: Sustained engagement in type 2 diabetes self-management behaviours is critical to reduce the risk of disease progression, improve health outcomes and quality of life, and potentially even achieve remission of the condition. Self-management education and support programmes for type 2 diabetes improve short-term clinical outcomes, but difficulties maintaining behavioural changes attenuate long-term impact. To address this gap, this PhD project aims to conduct a strategic behavioural analysis applying a number of behavioural science tools to explore how existing self-management education and support programmes can support people with type 2 diabetes to sustain behavioural changes in the long term.
The project comprises three studies. First, a systematic review of qualitative studies will be conducted to identify the enablers and barriers to sustaining self-management behaviours after attending a self-management support intervention for type 2 diabetes. Then, using a multiple case study approach, focused on two self-management education and support programmes currently on offer in Ireland (CODE and DESMOND), the project will be divided into two strands of data collection, and analysis:  (1) a systematic documentary analysis of both programme materials to describe and specify intervention content using behavioural science tools; and (2) a longitudinal qualitative study to explore how CODE and DESMOND participants make and maintain behavioural changes, and identify their post-programme care and support needs. Barriers and enablers to sustained engagement in self-management behaviours will be characterised according to the Capability-Opportunity-Motivation-Behaviour (COM-B) model to enable the identification of theoretically appropriate intervention content to target the enablers/barriers identified. The intervention content will then be compared with the current content of each of the programmes to identify potential opportunities for refinement. This project will provide an evidence base for refining and developing type 2 diabetes self-management programmes.

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