Cardiovascular risk in young adults: a co-designed lifestyle intervention delivered through learning management platforms | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Cardiovascular risk in young adults: a co-designed lifestyle intervention delivered through learning management platforms

Applications are currently open.

Cardiovascular disease affects more than 4 million Australians and accounts for the second largest share of health expenditure at ~$12 billion per annum. Our preliminary data show that ~30% of male and 8% of female university students <25 years of age have above-normal blood pressures at ≥130 mmHg and/or diastolic ≥85 mmHg, which is an established risk for future cardiovascular events (RR 1.35).

Furthermore, 20-40% of Australian university students are overweight or obese and ~20% have insulin resistance, 90% do not meet fruit or vegetable recommendations, and 20-40% do not achieve sufficient physical activity. Indeed, young adults today have the worst cardiovascular risk profile in history, yet they are severely under-represented in risk reduction strategies. Novelty of the proposed intervention is delivery via learning management systems (LMS).

Current digital interventions utilise phone apps, messaging, and specific websites; often requiring simultaneous engagement with multiple modalities, and user time and commitment to learn their operation. LMS have been designed to deliver engaging learning materials, which are already accessed by students on an almost-daily basis. LMS can be leveraged for intervention delivery, with no requirement to learn its operation and content tailored to a specific groups’ needs and preferences. Importantly, irrespective of delivery, embedding of behaviour change theories and stakeholder involvement in digital behaviour change interventions have shown greater efficacy with respect to increasing vegetable intake in adults. This project will co-design and pilot a digital behaviour change intervention delivered via Canvas for UniSC students.

The candidate will be trained in writing systematic reviews, analyses of both quantitative and qualitative health behaviour data, intervention co-design with a focus on evidence-based behaviour change techniques and facilitation of co-creator working groups, dietary assessment (online recalls), physical activity and sedentary behaviour assessments (survey and accelerometer), and vascular function measures. Supervision will be led by Dr Linda Gallo and Prof Chris Askew, and likely 1-2 other members of the research team to ensure project outcomes are achieved.

We are seeking a candidate who has a strong interest in the links between lifestyle behaviours and physical wellbeing, particularly in relation to cardiovascular health. The candidate should be intrinsically motivated to learn and achieve set goals; have excellent attention to detail, organisational, and time-management skills; have a willingness to collaborate with the research team, participants, and other stakeholders; and demonstrate resilience to overcome challenges.

  • Be accepted into a Higher Degrees by Research program at the University of the Sunshine Coast
  • Only Domestic applicants can be considered 
Selection criteria
  • Criterion 1: Academic Achievement
  • Criterion 2: Research Capability
Eligible programs
PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Number available
  1. Stipend value of A$34,449.95 p/a paid in fortnightly instalments. Payment is is for 3 years to align with thesis submission (possible extension in line with relevant policies and procedures)    
  2. Tuition offset scholarship for 4 years to cover cost of tuition fees, also aligned with thesis submission (possible extension in line with relevant policies and procedures) - approximate value of A$87,000  
  3. A$2,000 Allowance (Standard with a RTPS for relocation, Publication and thesis costs as per scholarship conditions

This will be a two-stage application process:

Stage 1 - Expression of Interest: Reference code UniSC_RS_2305_GALLO

Contact Person - Contact Person - Dr Linda Gallo (

  • Download and complete the USC Research Scholarship (USCRS) application form.
  • Email your Expression of Interest (EOI) to the contact person and attach:
    • USCRS application form
    • Cover letter
    • Current CV
  • The scholarship panel will review the EOI. If shortlisted, you will be invited for interview.
  • The preferred applicant will be invited to formally apply for HDR program and Scholarship.

Stage 2 - Formal application (only if you have been invited to apply)

  • Read the important information on How to Apply for a HDR Program at USC.
  • Submit your USCRS application form as a supporting document when submitting your HDR Program application.

Note: scholarship offer is subject to applicant meeting the eligibility requirements for entry into a higher degree by research program at UniSC.