• Room 02.015 - Clinical Science B

    United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Dr Hunter has opportunities available to get involved in two core programmes of research: - The role of social networks and network interventions for behavior change - Developing and investigating the public health impact of population level built and social environment interventions


Research output per year

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Personal profile

Research Interests

My general research interests are in physical activity and public health, particularly regarding the development and evaluation of complex interventions for behaviour change at the individual, community and population level.

My research involves investgating the role of social networks, incentives (both financial and non-financial) and the built environment for physical activity behaviour change. Current research projects include investigating the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of a novel physical activity loyalty scheme for maintained behaviour change and evaluating the public health impact of a large urban regeneration project (Connswater Community Greenway). 

Most recently I have been awarded a NIHR Career Development Fellowship to investigate the role of social network enabled interventions for physical activity behaviour change involving collaborations with the University of Southern California, Harvard University and the University of Cambridge.

Although primarily focussed on physical activity I am involved in other research projects investigating other behaviours such as smoking, diet, sedentary behaviour and skin cancer awareness.


  • National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Career Development Fellowship 2015-2017 - Social Network Enabled Interventions for Physical Activity Behaviour Change
  • Vice-Chancellor's Early Career Researcher Impact Award 2013
  • Best Paper and Best Demonstration at the International e-Health conference, Malaga, 2011 for work entitled "Effectiveness of a novel Physical Activity Loyalty Scheme for Physical Activity Behaviour Change".


Dissertation supervisor

PhD; BSc Human Biology; BSc Biomedical Sciences; BSc Intercalating Medical Sciences.

SSC Programme

I am module co-ordinator for four SSC modules regarding Community Healthcare Issues. The modules involve medical students undertaking 3-week placements with local community organisations and introduces students to the role that the community and voluntary sector play in health. Key learning objectives include understanding the role of the community worker, understanding the basic principles of community development, and appreciating the social and economic issues affecting specific communities.

I also deliver lectures and tutorials on the following SSCs:

  • Lifestyle through the Lifecycle
  • Physical Activity

Other teaching roles

I deliver several tutorials and lectures on population research, study designs/research methodology, health promotion and physical activity to undergraduate Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Science students. 

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Research Output

Open Access
  • 1 Citation (Scopus)
    66 Downloads (Pure)

    Confirmatory factor analysis comparing incentivized experiments with self-report methods to elicit adolescent smoking and vaping social norms

    Murray, J. M., Kimbrough, E. O., Krupka, E. L., Ramalingam, A., Kumar, R., McHugh Power, J., Sanchez-Franco, S., Sarmiento, O. L., Kee, F. & Hunter, R. F., 25 Sep 2020, In : Scientific Reports. 10, 15818.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Open Access
  • 6 Downloads (Pure)

    Effects of a physical activity program potentiated with ICTs on the formation and dissolution of friendship networks of children in a middle-income country

    Guerra, A. M., Montes, F., Useche, A. F., Jaramillo, A. M., Gonzalez, S. A., Meisel, J. D., Obando, C., Cardozo, V., Hunter, R. & Sarmiento, O. L., 20 Jul 2020, (Accepted) In : International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Mechanisms of physical activity behavior change in an incentive-based intervention: Mediation analysis

    Murray, J. M., French, D. P., Kee, F., Gough, A., Tang, J. & Hunter, R. F., 2020, In : Health Psychology. 39, 4, p. 281-297 17 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Open Access
  • 1 Citation (Scopus)
    234 Downloads (Pure)

    MECHANISMS Study: Using Game Theory to assess the effects of social norms and social networks on adolescent smoking in schools – study protocol

    Hunter, R., Montes, F., Murray, J., Sanchez-Franco, S. C., Montgomery, S., Jaramillo, J., Tate, C., Kumar, R., Dunne, L., Ramalingam, A., Kimbrough, E., Krupka, E., Zhou, H., Moore, L., Bauld, L., Llorente, B., Sarmiento, O. L. & Kee, F., 04 Aug 2020, In : Frontiers in public health. 8, 14 p., 377.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Open Access
  • 9 Downloads (Pure)


  • Career Development Fellowship

    Hunter, Ruth (Recipient), 01 Jan 2015

    Prize: Fellowship awarded competitively

  • Chartered Society of Physiotherapists (CSP) "Best Student" Award

    Hunter, Ruth (Recipient), 20 Jun 2009

    Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

  • Vice Chancellors Early Career Researcher Impact Prize

    Hunter, Ruth (Recipient), 23 Nov 2013

    Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

  • Activities

    Health in conflict and humanitarian settings: Developing an interdisciplinary research network

    Ruth Hunter (Organiser), , Chris Jenkins (Organiser), , Hastings Donnan (Organiser), & Diarmuid O'Donovan (Organiser)

    03 Feb 2020

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

    PhD External Examiner - Dublin College University (DCU)

    Ruth Hunter (Examiner)

    22 Jan 2019

    Activity: Examination typesPhD external examination

    International Society for Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity (ISBNPA) Annual Conference

    Ruth Hunter (Organiser)

    04 Jun 201907 Jun 2019

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

    Invited Keynote Speaker at the 2nd Latin American Social Network conference

    Ruth Hunter (Keynote speaker)

    05 Aug 2019

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited or keynote talk at national or international conference

    4-day WHO Europe course: Implementation Science for NCD Prevention and Management

    Ruth Hunter (Organiser)

    12 Feb 201915 Feb 2019

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in workshop, seminar, course


    Associations between physical activity of older adults and built environment features in and around parks: A Belfast case study

    Author: Kou, R., Dec 2020

    Supervisor: Ellis, G. (Supervisor) & Hunter, R. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy

    Physical activity and Gastrointestinal Cancer: A deeper understanding of risk and underlying mechanisms

    Author: Mallon, K., Dec 2019

    Supervisor: Cardwell, C. (Supervisor), Coleman, H. (Supervisor) & Hunter, R. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Masters ThesisMasters


    Physical activity interventions in socio-economically disadvantaged communities

    Author: Cleland, C., Jul 2013

    Supervisor: Cupples, M. (Supervisor), Kee, F. (Supervisor), Tully, M. (Supervisor) & Hunter, R. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy