Callum Bradford

Host university

Teesside University

Title of your PhD research project

The development and feasibility of a walking football intervention for people with chronic breathlessness

Summary of your research project

This research project is concerned with developing a walking football intervention for people with chronic breathlessness, prior to evaluating its feasibility.

Approximately 9-13% of the general population experience persistent breathlessness despite optimal treatment of the underlying condition(s), with symptoms often caused by ailments such as asthma, heart failure, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), accounting for more than 75-million people worldwide. On an individual level, breathlessness is associated with a lower quality of life, decreased exercise capacity, balance, mobility, strength, anxiety, and depression. The underlying conditions for breathlessness can also lead to recurrent emergency department visits, which have been highlighted as particular triggers of panic and stress.

Cardiopulmonary rehabilitation is the gold-standard exercise-based programme for chronic breathlessness, and if exercise is maintained post-rehabilitation, the trajectory of lung capacity, health status, and quality of life can be slowed. However, such programmes are known to be short in length (6-12 weeks), have limited accessibility, low completion rates, and physical activity habits often resort to their prior levels post-rehabilitation. These limitations lead to any benefits gained from the rehabilitation often subsiding by 12-weeks.

Walking Football has been identified as a potential form of exercise which people with chronic breathlessness could maintain post-rehabilitation, however, to the best of our knowledge, an investigation regarding its feasibility for people with chronic breathlessness is yet to be conducted. A three stage plan for the project was therefore constructed:

  • Identify and synthesise the literature concerning the impact of organised sport on the physical, psychological, and social wellbeing of people with chronic breathlessness.
  • Utilise Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement (PPIE) methods to co-design a walking football intervention exclusive to people with chronic breathlessness.
  • Conduct a mixed-methods feasibility trial of walking football for people with chronic breathlessness, evaluating its safety, take-up, adherence, and sustainability.


Any info about your background or research interests that you’d like to include

My background consists of a BSc in Psychology and Counselling, plus a MSc in Health Psychology, both from Teesside University.

In addition to this ARC NENC PhD post, I hold a research associate position at Teesside University, and I am an associate member of Fuse, The Centre for Translational Research in Public Health. My research interests primarily lie within interventions for and influences on health behaviour change and wellbeing.

Examples of previous and current projects include:

  • Mindfulness meditation on psychological wellbeing.
  • Self-perceived chronotype and health maintaining behaviours.
  • The impact of COVID-19 on the hot food takeaway planning regulatory environment.
  • Exploring the mechanisms by which workplace health initiatives impact on health and business-related outcomes.
  • The Impact of Sport on the Physical, Psychological, and Social Wellbeing for People with Chronic Breathlessness: A Mixed-Methods Systematic Review
  • Development and feasibility testing of a walking football intervention for people with chronic breathlessness
  • Community Social Supermarkets: understanding how they shape access and availability to healthier foods in food insecure communities


Expected PhD completion date