Laura McGowan

Title: Developing an intervention to reduce sedentary behaviour in older adults.

PhD summary

Sedentary behaviour involves low energy activities undertaken whilst sitting or lying down. Research has recently established that sedentariness is a risk factor for obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and premature death, independently of how much moderate or vigorous physical activity a person engages in. Older adults represent the age group in which sedentariness is most common, therefore reducing sedentariness is a particularly promising target for this population.

Specific objectives of this research are to: (1) identify why older people choose to engage in long periods of sedentary behaviour and the reasons they may want to reduce the extent of their sedentary behaviour, (2) identify which forms of non-sedentary behaviours are most acceptable to older people, (3) identify what modes of intervention delivery and behaviour change techniques are most acceptable to them, (4) develop a intervention to reduce sedentary behaviours for older people, and (5) pilot its acceptability and provide preliminary evidence of efficacy.


September 2015 – September 2018


ESRC - University of Manchester President’s Doctoral Scholar Award

Institution name

The University of Manchester


  • Prof David French, The University of Manchester  
  • Dr Rachael Powell, The University of Manchester

Discipline area

Health Sciences – Psychology


Laura completed a BSc in Psychology in 2014 and MRes in Psychology in 2015 (both at the University of Manchester) before beginning her PhD in Sept 2015.

She has previously worked as a research assistant on a project looking at medication adherence in type 2 diabetes, led by Dr Jenny McSharry.


McGowan, L., Devereux-Fitzgerald, A., Powell, R., & French, D.P. (2017). How acceptable do older adults find the concept of being physically active? A systematic review and meta-synthesis. International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology.

McSharry, J., McGowan, L., Farmer, A. J., & French, D. P. (2016). Perceptions and experiences of taking oral medications for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes mellitus: a systematic review and meta‐synthesis of qualitative studies. Diabetic Medicine, 33, 1330-1333.

Farmer, A. J., McSharry, J., Rowbotham, S., McGowan, L., Ricci‐Cabello, I., & French, D. P. (2015). Effects of interventions promoting monitoring of medication use and brief messaging on medication adherence for people with type 2 diabetes: a systematic review of randomized trials. Diabetic Medicine, 33(5), 565-579.

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