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Please see below for details of two doctoral research studies being undertaken by Sara Ronzi, University of Liverpool and Kath Hennell, University of Lancaster.  These phds are connected to SPHR's ageing well and alcohol research programmes.

AGEING WELL: Evaluation of public health policies and interventions for healthy ageing. 

Sara Ronzi, PhD Student, Liverpool University 

Supervisory team: Professor Nigel Bruce, Dr Daniel Pope, Dr Lois Orton


Within the context of healthy ageing, the importance of urban environments in influencing the health and wellbeing of older people is increasingly recognised. In facing the challenges posed by an ageing population the World Health Organisation (WHO) launched the ‘Age-Friendly Cities’ Initiative in 2007 and introduced the concept of ‘age-friendly city’ as a means to promote healthy ageing within the community, with particular emphasis on supporting older people to maintain an active and meaningful role in society. A checklist of eight age-friendly domains was developed, all intrinsically interconnected in influencing the way in which individuals get old.

As a part of my PhD, a focus on exploring the domain of respect and social inclusion is proposed. Social inclusion refers to enhancing the opportunities for older people to cultivate social relationships, have access to resources and support and feel a part of their community.

Research aims

The area of research of my PhD is the evaluation of complex public health interventions for healthy ageing. In particular, my PhD project is related to the NIHR School for Public Health and Research ‘Age Friendly Cities’ (AFC) project led by Professor Nigel Bruce, and is looking at evaluation of interventions which promote respect and social inclusion in older people. The main objective is to identify a set of criteria/measures to evaluate the health impact of interventions in the domain of respect and social inclusion in the context of age-friendly cities. This research will inform the development of a tool for assessing intended age-friendly (or ageing well) interventions as part of the wider AFC project.


Various methods will be used over the course of the PhD project which include:

  1. A systematic review to identify what is the evidence of the impact on health of interventions which foster respect and social inclusion in older adults;
  2. Needs assessment to determine priority issues (Liverpool);
  3. Consultation with key informants to gather information on (i) perspectives on needs, (ii) organisation of age-friendly cities interventions, wider policy and influences, and (iii) their views on the challenges associated with making Liverpool an age-friendly city (in relation to the domain of respect and social inclusion);
  4. Community-based participatory approach to explore age-friendly and non-age-friendly features within the city of Liverpool according to older people’s perceptions (in relation to the domain of respect and social inclusion).

ALCOHOL: Weekend intoxication: young people, alcohol and risk

Kath Hennell, PhD Student, Lancaster University 

Supervisory team: Dr Mark Limmer and Professor Maria Piacentini


Young people who drink are more likely to engage in drinking to intoxication in one session than any other age group. This drinking practice is characterised by weekday restraint and weekend excesses sometimes described as the culture of weekend intoxication. This study will explore the drinking practices of young people and how they come together to form this weekend of intoxication and how configurations of gender, socio-economic and ‘risk’ status impact on the practice using the lens of social practice theory. The study will consist of a literature review to develop our understanding of the elements of young people’s drinking practice and how these practices have developed over time and a series of group interviews with four friendship groups of young people over a 12 month period using their drink related postings on social media as a focus for the interviews.

Research aims

To explore young people’s configurations of practice that come together and form the weekend of intoxication and how configurations of gender, socio-economic status and ‘risk status’ impact on the practice as performance through the lens of Social Practice Theory.

  1. To identify previous configurations of bundles of alcohol consumption practice and related practices
  2. To identify the configurations of practice that come together and form the culture of weekend intoxication
  3. To identify the elements that connect and come together to form these practices
  4. To develop an understanding of the capture and commitment of carriers to these practices
  5. To identify configurations or combinations of practice which are either ‘risky’ or moderate risk
  6. To identify elements where policy makers and practitioners could make interventions


A literature review of secondary sources will be undertaken to develop our understanding of the elements of young people’s drinking practice as an entity and connected practices and identify how drinking practices are composed and transformed in everyday life and how these practices have developed.

A qualitative approach will be used to capture the lived experiences of young people and the practice of weekend intoxication as performance. Four friendship groups of six/seven young people who can draw on existing relationships and shared drinking experiences will be recruited to participate in the study. Four group interviews will be undertaken with each friendship group over twelve months.

The researcher will also ‘friend’ and/or ’follow’ each group of young people involved in the study on social media and in this way capture the practice experiences as performed on social media. For example how are hangovers performed on facebook. Each group/individual interview will be audio recorded and each interview will be based around a theme or themes using the facebook narrative as a structure and around links between practices and how individuals are captured into practices.

The recordings from each interview will be transcribed and identifying details anonymised. Thematic analysis of the data will be used to interpret and understand the information collected. Data from social media will be analysed with NVivo 10.