Young Investigator Award Success at ECSS

ECSS Winners July 2019

Ciara O’Brien and Grace Tidmarsh, PhD students within SportExR, won prizes in the highly competitive Young Investigator Awards competition at the European College of Sport Science (ECSS) Congress in Prague this month. The ECSS congress rank among the leading sport scientific congresses worldwide, and welcomes up to 3000 participants from all over the world. One of the key objectives of the ECSS is the promotion of junior scientists and the fostering of state-of-the-art research, and our PhD students demonstrated excellence in their research at the congress this year.

Ciara O’Brien presented in the Young Investigator Award Oral Presentation competition, which involved delivering a presentation followed by a series of questions. Ciara presented: Health-related and Psychosocial Correlates of Sedentary Behaviour in People Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis: a Longitudinal Study. After being placed in the top 4, Ciara presented again in the final session of the conference in front of the whole congress. She was successfully awarded 2nd place, and has been invited to represent the ECSS as an exchange delegate for the JSPFSM – ECSS exchange in Japan, 2020. Ciara’s PhD is focused on validating objective instruments for the measurement of sedentary behaviour and physical activity in Rheumatoid Arthritis, subsequently employing them to examine the health-related and psychosocial correlates of sedentary behaviour and physical activity in this patient group.

Ciara’s study is the first to test whether 2 wearable devices measure sedentary behaviour and physical activity levels accurately in people with Rheumatoid Arthritis, then uses both of these devices to investigate the health consequences associated with engagement in these behaviours, in this population (e.g., functional disability, psychological well being). This study is also the first to investigate Rheumatoid Arthritis patients’ motivation for engaging in sedentary behaviour – by doing so, ways to help people with Rheumatoid Arthritis to reduce their sedentary behaviour can be identified which, in turn, may improve health.

Grace Tidmarsh also presented in the Young Investigator Award Oral Presentation competition. Grace Presented: A mixed methods fidelity assessment of a mental skills training programme for disadvantaged youth. Grace was placed equal 5th and has been invited to publish a review of her study in the European College of Sports Science journal. Grace’s PhD is focussed on process evaluations in the positive youth development field and subsequently using them to investigate mental health and physical activity in homeless youth.

Grace’s study is the first of its kind to evaluate a mental skills training programme that has been adapted for delivery to disadvantaged (specifically homeless) youth using observations. This study also uses self-report measures completed by the programme facilitators enabling comparison of observed and self-report scores. In doing so this enabled real-time improvements to the delivery of the programme as well as identifying barriers and enablers of delivering a sports psychology based programme in a complex community setting, which have been used to develop recommendations for future fidelity work for future complex sports psychology interventions.