• The effect of breaking up sedentary time on cardiometabolic disease risk markers in South Asian adults

      Dey, Kamalesh Chandra (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2022-05)
      South Asians are at higher risk of developing cardiometabolic disease, including cardiovascular diseases (CVD) and Type 2 diabetes than any other ethnicities (e.g., Caucasians) in the UK. Engaging with a high sedentary behaviour could contribute to these diseases as sedentary behaviour is associated with developing CVD and Type 2 diabetes. The primary aim of this thesis was to investigate the effects of breaking up sedentary time on cardiometabolic disease risk markers and metabolic health in South Asians. This thesis presents four novel inter-related studies, included a systematic review and three acute experimental studies in controlled laboratory and free-living settings. In study one (chapter 4), a systematic review reported total sedentary time in South Asians. The key finding is that South Asians engage in a mean daily sedentary time of approximately 7 h (424 ± 8 min). Daily sedentary time appears to be higher by 111 min when measured using objective methods (527 ± 11 min) than self-report methods (416 ± 19 min). Study two (chapter 5) and three (chapter 6) employed a two-condition randomised cross-over design and identical methods in normal-weight and overweight/obese South Asians, respectively. In the normal-weight South Asians (study two), breaking up sedentary time with 5 min bouts of self-perceived light-intensity walking (LPA) every 30 min following a high glycaemic index (GI) breakfast and lunch only improved postprandial triglyceride (TAG) concentrations over 5 h when compared with prolonged sitting, whereas the overweight/obese South Asians (study three) benefited from attenuated postprandial glucose, TAG, and metabolic load index (MLI) over 5 h (but not the area under the curve (AUC)), and increased postprandial resting energy expenditure (REE), and overall fat and carbohydrate (CHO) oxidation. No effects were observed for plasma insulin, mean arterial pressure (MAP), and heart rate in either group. Data from studies two and three suggest that the cardiometabolic health benefit of breaking up sedentary time with LPA can be generalised to a wider range of cardiometabolic variables (e.g., postprandial glucose) in overweight/obese versus normal-weight South Asians, possibly due to having a higher percentage of body fat composition than normal-weight South Asians. Study four (chapter 7) findings revealed that it was possible to manipulate overweight/obese South Asian adults’ sedentary time and physical activity (PA) levels in free-living conditions over 4 days, but continuously measured glucose responses were unaffected by such manipulations. To summarise, South Asians appear to engage in a high volume of sedentary time habitually, which could compromise their cardiometabolic health. Breaking up sedentary time with 5 min bouts of LPA every 30 min can acutely improve some cardiometabolic risk markers in normal-weight and overweight/obese South Asians in a controlled laboratory setting. In free-living settings, reducing and breaking up sedentary time does not appear to affect continuously measured glucose responses in overweight/obese South Asians. The studies within this thesis were novel due to the population; thus, this is the first time these findings have been reported. Reducing and breaking up sedentary time could play a crucial role in improving cardiometabolic health in this under-researched population in the short term. Further research should investigate the effectiveness of reducing and breaking up sedentary time in long-term interventions for improving cardiometabolic health in the South Asian population.
    • Muscle activity and kinematic differences between a range of hip dominant resistance exercises

      Maddams, George John Michael (University of Bedfordshire, 2022-04)
      The purpose of this study was to compare four commonly used hip extension exercise from a kinematic and muscle activation perspective to try and identify the best lift for posterior chain (PC) development. Twelve males (age: 19 ± 2 years; height: 1.81 ± 0.81 m; body mass: 85.64 ± 10.87 kg) who were injury-free for the previous six months where included in the study. Ten participants (four aged 17 years old: six aged 18 years old) were selected from a 1 XV Rugby Union scholar athlete training group at Oundle School, and were resistance trained (> 1 years’ experience). Two participants (21 years old) where considered experienced at resistance training (> 3 years). All participants took part in a repeated measure, study design, in which they performed four hip extension exercises: conventional deadlift (CDL), sumo deadlift (SDL), hex bar deadlift (HBD) and hip thrust (HT) at 90% one repetition maximum (1 RM) for three repetitions, and 100% 1 RM for one repetition. A 4 x 2 x 2 ANOVA compared muscle activation, knee and hip kinematics and load lifted at two lifting intensities. Results indicated for 100% 1 RM lifting the erector spinae (ES), rectus femoris (RF), vastus medialis (VM), muscle activity and knee peak joint flexion and joint range of motion (ROM) was significantly greater in the HBD compared to the HT. In 90% 1 RM, ES muscle activation was greater in HBD, and RF, for the HBD, CDL, SDL, compared to the HT. Knee joint ROM was significantly larger in the three styles of deadlift for all lifts compared to the HT. Hip joint peak flexion and ROM was significantly greater in the HT compared to the HBD. Lifting at 90% 1 RM showed a greater global muscle activity when compared to 100% 1 RM. In conclusion, the CDL, SDL and HBD would seem favourable for PC development over HT. The HBD would appear to be the superior lift in regarding muscle activation of the PC, however further evidence is needed.
    • Game sense, a theoretical model for a practical reality, a discussion with performance and community rugby union coaches

      Hall, James (University of Bedfordshire, 2022-03)
      The study seeks to discover the extent of understanding, opinions, and the utilisation of Game Sense by current senior rugby union coaches’. GS was developed in the mid-1990’s by Thorpe and the Australian Sports Commission (Light, 2013). The Game Sense coaching model places an emphasis on players developing knowledge and skills through the playing of conditioned games (Light, 2006), and incorporates questioning and discussion between players and coaches’ as a key learning tool (Light and Evans, 2013). Six coaches were interviewed for the study. The interviews involved discussions on their backgrounds in coaching, their coaching philosophies, their current practice, their learnings as a coach and their opinions, understanding and utilisation of GS. The Coaches agree that Game Sense is a vital coaching model, but it must be balanced out with other forms of practice, The coaches highlight that both players and coaches may not have the knowledge and ability to perform in a GS session, further, that environment does not enable them to utilise Game Sense. Coaches suggest that coaching does not work with using one model or another and that instead, practice must suit the environment they are in, this results in the coaches adopting the Cafeteria Coaching approach.
    • Examining the implementation and engagement of reproductive and sexual health services for young people

      Adakpa, Itodo (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2022-01)
      Background and Rationale Young people are becoming more sexually active and are forming relationships during the early stages of their lives, sometimes engaging in sexual risk-taking, which contributes to high rates of conception and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Findings from past studies have shown that young people, especially those at risk of STIs and unplanned pregnancy, are less likely to access reproductive and sexual health promotion programmes and services (RSHPPs) especially at mainstream clinics. This was attributed to concerns about judgemental attitudes of healthcare staff, confidentiality, fear of the unknown and worries about being seen entering venues providing RSHPPs. In the UK, the response to this is contained in the Government’s sexual health policy aimed at reducing the impact of poor reproductive and sexual health outcome in the population. There is the need to improve our understanding about how the voices of young people can be incorporated into the design and implementation of RSHPPs to better address their RSH needs. Study aim The aim of this research study is to examine the factors affecting the design, implementation, and engagement of RSHPPs for young people aged 16 - 25. Study design A mixed methods design was utilised to examine the design, implementation and engagement of RSHPPs for young people aged 16-25. Qualitative methods utilised two case studies involving four community-based organisations (CBOs) and two general practice surgeries (NHS-GP surgeries). Interviews and review of documentary evidence were utilised to explore the views and experiences of managers and health promotion workers (HPWs) regarding the design, implementation and engagement of RSHPPs for young people. A total of 25 managers and HPWs were interviewed across four community-based organisations and two GP surgeries. Qualitative data were analysed using the framework analysis. Similarly, quantitative methods utilised survey questionnaire involving 317 young people to examine their engagement with RSHPPs through six RSHPPs constructs, namely RSH knowledge, sexual behaviour, RSH seeking, attitude and expectation of RSHPPs, rating RSHPPs use and HPWs, barriers to accessing RSHPPs. SPSS was utilised to describe the data and to examine the association between the six RSHPPs constructs and demographic characteristics. Key findings The qualitative findings from the two case studies involving managers and HPWs indicate that RSHPPs afforded young people the opportunity to access RSE, chlamydia screenings and contraceptive services, especially within outreach settings as a first easy step to engaging with other RSHPPs. Quantitative findings from young people aged 16-25 indicate that the facilitators of RSHPPs include more frequent RSHPPs (35%), awareness of RSHPPs (31%) and the need for privacy (29%). Barriers to accessing RSHPPs include confidentiality (19.3%), embarrassment (19.1%) and was corroborated by managers and HPWs who reported that worries about confidentiality and embarrassment were the most cited barriers to accessing RSHPPs by young people. Implication for practice Addressing the local health priorities like reducing teenage pregnancies and STIs requires organisations to provide RSHPPs at both non-clinical and clinical settings to ensure that RSHPPs are accessible to young people. RSE should be tailored to meet the evolving RSH needs of young people before they initiate sexual activities to enable them to make informed decisions about their RSH. Embedding RSHPPs within youth related activities provide young people with some level of anonymity. Future evaluation of RSHPPs could explore the views and experiences of young people and service providers to understand how such collaboration could deliver better RSH outcomes for young people.
    • Design of implantable antennas for biomedical applications

      Malik, Nabeel Ahmed (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2022-01)
      Biomedical telemetry has gained a lot of attention with recent developments in the healthcare industry. This technology has made it feasible to monitor the physiological signs of a patient remotely without traditional hospital appointments and follow up check-ups. Implantable Medical Devices (IMDs) play an important role in monitoring patients through wireless telemetry. IMDs have a wide range of applications which includes wireless endoscopy, blood pressure monitoring, wireless drug delivery, cardiac defibrillation, pacemakers and blood sugar level monitoring etc. IMDs consist of nodes and sensors in which the antenna is a major component. The selection of the antenna is a challenging task in IMD design as it dictates performance of the whole implant. Various factors need to be considered for implantable antennas such as miniaturization, patient safety, biocompatibility, low power consumption and providing robust and continuous operation within a harsh environment. The human body is a very lossy medium and affects the working of the antenna significantly. Therefore, designing an antenna to operate from inside the body is a very challenging task. Three novel implantable antennas are designed using a simple methodology. Computer Simulation Technology (CST) Microwave Studio software is used to design and simulate the antennas. The antennas are compact in size, light weight and show good performance in implantable conditions. A circular patch antenna is designed for operating in Industrial, Scientific and Medical (ISM) band at 915 MHz using coaxial probe feed. The overall volume of the antenna is (π×42×0.38) mm3. At 915 MHz the antenna has a peak gain of -28.8 dBi and has a bandwidth of 90 MHz when simulated in simplified skin layer phantom of the human body. The radiation efficiency of the antenna is -31.6 dB at resonant frequency. The 1-gram(g) and 10-gram(g) average(avg) SAR values for this antenna are 1218 and 125.2 W/Kg when the input power of the antenna was 0.5W. The antenna satisfies the requirements for implantable applications. A microstrip rectangular patch antenna is designed operating in Medical Implantable Communication Service (MICS) band (402-405) MHz and ISM bands of (902-928) MHz and (2.4-2.45) GHz. The antenna resonates at 402 MHz, 915 MHz and 2.4 GHz when simulated in simplified fat layer phantom of the human. The size of the antenna is (6×5×0.5) mm3. At resonant frequencies the peak gain of the antenna is (-47.7, -37.2, -25.5) dBi. This antenna offers a bandwidth of (108, 170, 250) MHz with a radiation efficiency of (-52, -42, -32) dB at operating frequencies. The 1g avg. SAR values of rectangular patch antenna at operating frequencies are (122, 184, 863) W/Kg and 10g avg. SAR values of rectangular patch antenna at operating frequencies are (12.25, 18.42, 86.42) W/Kg when the antenna was excited with an input power of 0.5W. Finally, design of a compact size antenna operating at 915 MHz is presented. The antenna has a size of (4×4×0.26) mm3. When simulated in simplified skin layer phantom the antenna offers a bandwidth of 170 MHz with a peak gain of -34.7 dBi at resonant frequency. The radiation efficiency of the antenna is -36.5 dB. SAR values of this antenna are 1069 W/Kg for 1g avg. and 108 W/Kg for 10g avg. with 0.5W input power. All of the designed antennas are simulated in simplified human body phantom model and multilayer tissues. After that the antennas are subjected to different implant depths to investigate their performance with varying implant depths. Different thicknesses of insulation layer are used to analyse the effects on antenna resonance. To check the antenna integration with sensors, dummy electronic components are used, and antennas are simulated which shows the diversity of designed antennas. The designed antennas are simulated in anatomical body model and the results showed a good match between anatomical body model and phantom body model. A size reduction of 15%, 29% and 47% and overall performance improvement of 9%, 15% and 12% is achieved for the designed circular patch antenna, rectangular patch antenna and compact size antenna which proves that the designed antennas are best match for the implantable applications.
    • Public attitudes towards autism in Nigeria: the role of awareness, knowledge and other explanatory factors of autism stigma

      Adejumoke, Awosanya A. (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2021-12)
      The study aimed to examine attitudes, awareness, and knowledge levels of autism among the Nigerian general public. It also assessed the theoretical explanatory drivers of autism stigma in Nigeria and create a theoretical model explaining the relationships between autism stigma and the theoretical drivers. This study employed two distinct methods but sequential in approach. The first phase involved a systematic scoping review (SSR) of autism stigma research in Africa. Twelve articles met the inclusion criteria, and the articles reported autism stigma data from six different countries: Zimbabwe, Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya Coast, Nigeria, and South Africa. Ten studies reported on the types of autism stigma identified among the various populations under study; public stigma, self-stigma, and secondary stigma (stigma by association) were consistent across articles. Seven studies reported on the degree and levels of autism stigma and all the studies reported low levels of awareness and stigmatising attitudes within the different study populations. All the articles included in the SSR highlight one or more factors that may influence autism stigma within the context of their studies. Across all studies, factors associated with autism stigma include culture, knowledge, awareness, geographical location, religion, experience, gender, age, beliefs, and education. The second phase was a pilot study carried out to test the data collection instrument and procedure. The pilot study involved 48 Nigerians living in the UK, and generally, participants were well satisfied with the administration process and questionnaire. The final phase was the cross-sectional quantitative data collection, involving a structured, questionnaire survey tool (n=312). Over half of the study participants had higher knowledge and awareness score (54.2%), yet 66.6% of the study participants had higher stigma scores. The analysis identified a statistical relationship between age, geographical location, religion, religiosity, and knowledge and awareness. However, only knowledge and awareness were significantly correlated with autism stigma. Overall, the quantitative findings supported the SSR results but also revealed some added theoretical insight. Based on the findings from this study, a new theoretical model that explains the relationship between autism stigma, significant sociodemographic variables, autism knowledge and awareness within the context of this study was developed. The study also discusses the methodological issues and limitations associated with data collection in Nigeria.
    • The role of hedgehog signalling in the biology of eosinophils

      Lochhead, Lewis Jake (University of Bedfordshire, 2021-10)
      Eosinophils are central to T-helper 2 (Th2) immune responses and allergy and asthma pathogenesis. Their degranulation in response to allergen is a cause of airway hypersensitivity and remodelling in allergic airway disease. Previous work showed active Hedgehog/Gli Signalling via Sonic Hedgehog (SHH) in the lungs of asthmatic murine models. Murine eosinophils can transduce SHH signals, however functional effects of SHH signalling on eosinophils remain unclear. The aim of this project is to elucidate these effects. Therefore, the HL60 myeloid cell line was differentiated into a human eosinophilic population (HL60-eos) via Sodium Butyrate treatment. HL60-eos cells were cultured in the presence or absence of (1) recombinant SHH ligand or (2) GANT61, a Gli antagonist and therefore Hh signalling inhibitor. Cellular phenotype and genotype were studied via qPCR, ELISA, Flow Cytometry, and cytochemical staining. We found that culture with SHH upregulates EPX and TGF-β expression in HL60-eos cells. EPX encodes Eosinophil Peroxidase, a constituent of eosinophilic granules and responsible for cell damage during degranulation. TGF-β1 encodes the cytokine TGF-β, important for lymphocyte regulation, eosinophil chemotaxis, fibrosis, and wound healing. Further investigation is needed to characterise the eosinophilic response to SHH/GANT61 when immunostimulated, as they would be in vivo during an immune response.
    • A systematic risk management approach for small medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria manufacturing sector

      Omoyajowo, Olaniyi Olawale (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2021-10)
      Small and Medium-sized Enterprises play a vital part in most developing countries' economies (Burgstaller and Wagner, 2015). For Small and Medium-sized Enterprises in Nigerian manufacturing sector to be productive and relevant in today's competitive global environment; it must be able to respond to changes (in culture and practices) that influence Risk Management practices. The management of risk techniques and approach in manufacturing production-line of developed country recommend methods through which profit and productivity can be increased via RM practices. Thus, Omoyajowo (2016, p1410) reiterated that there is a continuous need for the manufacturing sector in Nigeria to invest a significant amount of resources to manage risk, which in turn optimises the production output and hence increases the profitability of this sector (if implemented properly). Abubakar (2015) pointed out that the manufacturing industries are one of the essential sectors that modern-day economies are driven by, without any regards to whatever the governing factors might be. To help improve the effective implementation of the existing Risk Management practices in Small and Medium-sized Enterprises in the Nigeria manufacturing sector, the researcher develops a Systematic Risk Management process. This study explores the challenges that contribute to ineffective Risk Management in the Nigeria manufacturing sector, focusing on Small and Medium-sized Enterprises. This study discovered that the Nigeria Factory Act implementation and organisational culture have proved to be the significant challenges encountered in this sector. In tackling the four research questions raised, a mixed-method data collection approach involving a range of stakeholders was adopted. Sixty-four questionnaires were distributed among targeted participates, 18 one-to-one semi-structured interviews conducted among managerial staffs, and six non-managerial staff participated in the Focus Group session. Data collected provided in-depth insights into the issues affecting Risk Management practice in this sector. Data were coded using NVivo, and SPSS was used in analysing the quantitative data collected. Vensim Decision Support System was used to develop the System Dynamic model and simulate five scenarios that could help risk managers with swift policy formations. The outcome of this study is an empirical basis for policy formation and decision-making vis-a-vis SMEs in the Nigeria manufacturing sector. Besides, the researcher proposed a systematic Risk Management framework in achieving an effective Risk Management practice.
    • Autism and learning disabilities: developing a relationship-centred approach for support workers in social care

      Urbistondo Cano, Francisco (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2021-10)
      Adults labelled as ‘having autism and learning disabilities’ in England receive the support of the social care system through the assistance of paid staff called ‘care and support workers’ or ‘personal assistants’. The market offers different kinds of training for care staff, such as Active Support, Person-centered Thinking and Planning, Positive Behaviour Support (PBS), Low Arousal Approach, and the SPELL framework, amongst others. As a systemically-oriented Counselling Psychologist, in this inquiry I critically reflect on the main approaches available and invite a shift from what in social care is called ‘person-centred’, to what I call a ‘relationship centred approach’. Through a relational ethnographic and fiction-based approach this study portrays different learning experiences, working alongside care workers and service users in different contexts. A collection of fiction-based composite case studies illustrates the complexities of such work involving personal, professional, and socio-cultural perspectives. The examples portray common scenarios from practice which most care workers will recognise. I use a range of systemic and counselling psychology practice theories to discuss the examples. This inquiry contributes learning to the field of professional support for autistics with learning disabilities by inviting examination of personal and professional experiences, stimulating professional debate, and generating knowledge in relation to working alongside care workers and their clients from a dialogical, relational, and social constructionist stance.
    • An exploratory analysis of shock advertising in the tourism industry: the destination manager and tourist perspective

      Evans, Augusta Ifeanyichukwu (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2021-09)
      Starting since the 80s, shock advertising has gained interest at both academic and marketing levels. Its use lies in the real power of grabbing consumer attention and influencing consumer behaviours. Although shock advertising is transversal to many sectors and industries, studies in tourism are quite rare. However, shock advertising has begun to be used to contrast and prevent tourist misbehaviours such as binge drinking, balconing, prostituting, taking illegal drugs, and so on. A mixed-method approach was implemented, which was based on semi structured interviews with destination managers to see how they understood shock advertising and their willingness to air it on their destinations. Quantitively, questionnaires were employed, and three ads were presented to tourists in Spain and the United Kingdom. The aim of this study is two-fold, firstly, to examine the destination managers’ perceptions of the use of shock advertising in managing tourist misbehaviour and destination image. Destination managers are essential decision makers in the process of designing and planning destination communication campaigns and messages; hence, their perceptions of creative strategies are crucial in understanding the selection of some strategies over others. Then, the study aims to examine tourists’ reaction to the use of shock advertising, their attitude towards such advertisements and most importantly, their behavioural intentions after viewing the ads. Data were inputted into SPSS and ANOVAs were used for data analysis. This was employed to test the hypotheses. The findings confirmed shock advertisements are a useful tool when applied in the right context for changing attitudes and behavioural intentions. This research makes several significant managerial and theoretical contributions and provides preliminary answers to the components of a successful shock ad campaign that can be used in the travel and tourism industries and how it can be implemented. In general, the study also encourages the use of shock ads in the travel and tourism industry and destination management. Finally, implications for both scholars and experts are discussed.
    • AQUACOLD: Aggregated Query Understanding and Construction Over Linked Data

      Collis, Nicholas (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2021-08)
      Question Answering (QA) systems provide direct answers to natural language (NL) questions posed by humans. Linked data (LD) provides an ideal knowledge base for answering complex QA as the framework expresses structure and relationships between data which assist in parsing the question, also the open ‘web of data’ or knowledge graph formed by interlinking between LD nodes provides a vast and varied domain of knowledge to search over. Despite this, recent attempts at NL QA over LD struggle when faced with complex questions due to the challenges in automatically parsing natural language into a structured LD query language such as SPARQL, forcing end users to learn these languages which can be challenging without a technical background. There is a need for a system which returns accurate answers to complex natural language questions over linked data, improving the accessibility of linked data search by abstracting the complexity of SPARQL whilst retaining its expressivity. This thesis presents AQUACOLD (Aggregated Query Understanding And Construction Over Linked Data) a novel LD QA system which harnesses the power of crowdsourcing to meet this need. AquaCold uses query templates built by system users to answer questions, rather than an algorithmic solution, and as such can handle queries of significant complexity. AquaCold’s effectiveness as a NL LD QA answering system was evaluated using the standard IR metrics of precision, recall and f-score on the QALD-9 question set, a benchmark used by many comparable NL QA systems. 30 participants took part in the study, attempting to answer a subset of QALD-9 questions using AquaCold. Results were analysed and compared against published results for similar NL LD QA systems, for both the AquaCold system overall and with respect to the dimensions of user IT skill to evaluate the utility for non-technical users specifically and with respect to the different crowdsourced components of the system to evaluate the utility of each. AquaCold performed strongly in the QALD9 benchmark study, recording greater f-score and query coverage results than comparable systems. Non-technical users achieved better scores when all or part of the question was available to answer using a query template, but achieved worse scores when no template was available and answers had to be obtained using the query builder component instead. This indicates a viable workflow where technically skilled users create templates which less technically able users could use to answer questions.
    • How do mothers of autistic girls perceive and experience the potential affordances and constraints of diagnosis for their daughters?

      Evans-Wickens, Mairi (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2021-07)
      Research highlights increasing awareness that autism can present differently in girls, and that girls in the UK wait longer to be identified, referred, and diagnosed in comparison to their male counterparts. Whilst there is a growing body of research about girls, and the experience of mothering an autistic girl, less is known about the impact of the diagnosis itself. This study, conducted from a social constructionist viewpoint, explored the diagnostic journey of 12 mothers in the UK to identify the meanings attributed to their daughter’s diagnosis. A thematic analysis identified 18 sub-themes which were grouped into perceived affordances, perceived constraints/constraints of perception, experienced affordances, and experienced constraints. Themes were then examined through the lens of the CMM LUUUUTT model (Pearce 1999, 2007) exploring the stories lived and told by the mothers and how these stories influenced, and were influenced by, the autism diagnosis. The analysis highlighted affordances and constraints in relation to diagnosis. A significant theme was the impact of autism myths and stereotypes which influenced identification, referral, diagnosis, and ongoing support for the girls, and which led to the majority of the mothers feeling that their early concerns went unheard. Myths and stereotypes told about autism, also played a significant role in the mothers lived experience of the diagnosis and diagnostic process for their daughters. An affordance of diagnosis was a new understanding about their daughter’s needs, which led to them adapting their parenting styles, letting go of blame, and resisting perceived societal ‘oughtisms’ about how parenting should be. Whilst the diagnosis was seen as useful and relationally transformative, all of the mothers described challenges in accessing emotional or educational support for their daughter’s post assessment, with the suggestion that they were seen as ‘not broken enough’. This research has potential to inform policy and practice and to increase awareness and understanding about autism diagnosis and girls. In particular the impact of societal myths and stereotypes about autism, the importance of listening to mothers when they raise concerns about their daughters, and the need for pre assessment support and information that can support mothers, and fathers, in understanding the specific needs of their daughters with, or without, an autism diagnosis.
    • Application of optimization methods for resource allocation in cognitive radio-supported vehicular networks

      Eze, Joy Chinedu (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2021-07)
      The highly anticipated era of vehicular communication networks which is also an integral aspect of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) will undeniably improve transport safety and significantly reduce road accidents. To promote the communication of mobile vehicles, US FCC officially allocated a meagre 75 MHz spectrum in the 5.9 GHz band to enable vehicular communication. Cognitive Radio Networks (CRNs) are adaptive, intelligent and reconfigurable wireless communications systems with CR technologies capable of learning from their surroundings and deciding their operations based on the learning. The application of CR technology to vehicular networks in order to increase the spectrum resource opportunities is studied in this research. Applying CR technology to vehicular networks is crucial especially when the officially allocated 75 MHz spectrum in 5.9 GHz band is not enough due to high demands as a result of increasing number of connected vehicles as already foreseen in the near era of Internet of vehicles (IoVs), which is also known as vehicular ad hoc networks (VANETs). We proposed a novel CR Assisted Vehicular NETwork (CRAVNET) framework which empowers CR assisted vehicles to make opportunistic usage of licensed spectrum bands on the highways and developed a novel co-operative three-state spectrum sensing and allocation solution which makes CR vehicular SUs aware of additional spectrum resources opportunities on their current and future positions. Furthermore, a novel Adaptive CR Enabled Vehicular NETwork (ACRAVNET) framework is proposed to ensure high spectrum sensing efficiency and provide quality of service (QoS) support. To avoid heavy overhead usually incurred during spectrum sensing, we developed a novel CR adaptive spectrum sensing (CRASS) scheme that can reduce the spectrum sensing cost and improve sensing performance effectively. We also applied the concept of Nash Bargaining Solution (NBS) to guarantee fairness in spectral resources allocation and proposed a generalized non-symmetric NBS (GNNBS) to perform a non-symmetric cognitive inter-cell spectrum allocation in the proposed ACRAVNET framework. Both the simulation and theoretical analysis have demonstrated that our solution can significantly improve the performance of a cooperative spectrum sensing and sharing schemes and provide vehicles with additional spectrum opportunities with zero interference against the PUs activities. Additionally, the problem of joint optimal subcarrier and transmission power allocation with QoS support for enhanced packet transmission over a cognitive radio-enabled IoVs network system is also considered in this research study. To tackle the problem, a novel Symmetric Nash bargaining solution (SNBS) based wireless radio resource scheduling scheme in orthogonal frequency division multiple access (OFDMA) CR enabled IoVs network systems is proposed. The objective of the optimization model applied in this study is to maximize the overall system throughput of the CR enabled IoVs system without harmful interference to transmissions of the shared channels’ licensed owners (or primary users (PUs)), guarantee the proportional fairness and minimum data-rate requirement of each CR vehicular secondary user (CRV-SU) and efficient transmission power allocation amongst CRV-SUs. To avoid the iterative processes associated with searching the optimal solution numerically through iterative programming methods, this study developed a low-complexity algorithm. Theoretical analysis and simulation results demonstrate that under similar conditions, the proposed solutions outperform the reference scheduler schemes.
    • A longitudinal examination of the impact of ‘travel advisors’ on psycho-social predictors and physical activity

      Miah, Jolel (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2021-07)
      Introduction: 'Personal Travel Planning' (PTP) interventions are used to motivate people to change behaviour through active travel. This research aimed to investigate whether the influence of 'Travel Advisors' (TA) used in PTP interventions can motivate residents to engage in higher levels of physical activity (PA) and improve health status. Further, this research aimed to explore how behaviour change theory through the application of ‘Theory of Planned Behaviour’ (TPB) and ‘Health Belief Model’ (HBM) can be used to explain physical activity, intention and behaviour. Method: The survey targeted residents who lived in the 'PTP' target area and measured those who talked to a ‘TA’, and compared the differences to those who did not. As well as PA, health status was recorded to see if further improvements would be made for those who had spoken to a ‘TA’. Participants contained initially 831 adults, and this reduced to 242 adults by the end of twelve months. The average age was fairly consistent of 30 – 31years across each wave of the survey. Similarly, the gender split was consistent across surveys being approximately 30% male and 70% female. To measure PA, the short form International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) was used. The short-form health questionnaire (SF36) was used to report physical and mental health to measure health status. The ‘TPB’ questionnaire was selected to measure psychosocial predictors as it had been used in previous 'PTP’ research. The ‘HBM’ was used to measure public benefit in relation to health. Both questionnaires amended items to support the nature of the study. Participants were measured at three time points; Baseline, Six and Twelve months. Only those who completed all three-time points were considered to be reported in this thesis. Results: IPAQ reported that those who had spoken to a ‘TA’ recorded more PA (1852.18 metabolic minutes) than those who didn’t (649.08 metabolic minutes) after twelve months. Furthermore, the SF36 reported that those who spoke to a ‘TA’ reported better physical health (M= 95.98, S.D = 4.50) than those who did not (M=93.08, S.D = 7.01). This was also true for Mental Health (M=62.08, S.D = 8.75) compared to those who did not (M=57.98, S.D. = 8.05) after twelve months. ANOVA’s revealed that there were big significant Interaction effects for components; ‘Attitude’, ‘Intention’, ‘Perceived Behavioural Control’, ‘Subjective Norms’, ‘Benefits’, ‘Susceptibility’ and, ‘Severity’. There were smaller interaction effects for components; ‘Barriers’ and ‘Health Motivation’. The ‘TPB’ variance predicted in intention ranged from 76% to 95% in cross-sectional analyses and was 33% in the longitudinal path analyses. The variance predicted in behaviour ranged from 9.6% to 37.6% in cross-sectional analyses and was 32.6% in the longitudinal path analyses. The ‘HBM’ variance predicted in intention ranged from 79.1% to 94.2% in cross-sectional analyses and was 10.1% in the longitudinal path analyses. The variance predicted in behaviour ranged from 15.7% to 37.5% in cross-sectional analyses and was 9.7% in the longitudinal path analyses. Consistent predictors in the cross-sectional path analyses were ‘Self-Efficacy and ‘Intention’. Discussion: Those who had spoken to a ‘TA reported’ more PA and better mental health overall. There was no significant difference on physical health. It appears that a mix of ‘TPB’ and ‘HBM’ predictors play a role in predicting both intention and behaviour. ‘Self-Efficacy’ seems to be the strongest consistent predictor. Within the ‘TPB’, predictors ‘PBC’ and ‘Subjective Norms’ had greater associations with PA, while ‘Barriers’ seems strongest within the ‘HBM’ Future interventions can use the findings from this research to help make them more effective.
    • Islamic discourse on social media in Saudi Arabia

      Almdni, Anas Abdulrahman (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2021-07)
      This thesis seeks to add to the contemporary debate concerning how clerics employ social media to influence young people and their religious perception of online Islamic doctrine discourse. It identifies neglected elements that have impeded the adoption of the internet and social media, considers the changing coalition of influential political and religious elites since 2011 and explains how social media has had an impact on the direction of Islamic discourse in Saudi Arabia. The research employs a mixed approach, using both a quantitative method (applied to the questionnaire responses of 248 participants) and a qualitative method (with interviews from two clerics and 25 university students who were recruited through quota sampling). In addition, discourse analysis of three clerics' Twitter accounts sheds light on how clerics have embraced the internet, by sharing controversial posts and debating with their followers, to gain an enormous youthful audience. While some young people have a negative perception of clerics who seek to engage in online controversy, other young people enjoy the greater acquaintance and sense of familiarity that arises through two-way communication on social media. The fact that many young people choose to engage with, and tweet responses to, clerics’ teaching in real-time illustrates how widely accepted social media has become an educational tool for sharing Islam while providing a new platform for clerics, especially non-official ones, to amass followers. The research is limited by its size (having been based on a small sample drawn from the university population and interviews with only two clerics), its data collection approach (which could not extend to individuals in remote locations) and the way in which government control of media influences respondents' opinions. Future research should embrace a larger population and investigate a wider range of social media platforms. The implication is that moderate clerics can now gain a better insight into how to disseminate religious teachings gauging from young individuals' responses and reduce Islam's stereotypical terrorism association.
    • The evolving role of social media in customer relationship management (CRM)

      Bello, Aminu Tukur (University of Bedfordshire, 2021-06)
      Research Purpose: The purpose of this study is to investigate the role played by social media channels in customer relationship management (CRM) systems in the airlines industry. Much of the focus in this research is given on the nature of conversations between airlines and their customers through social networking sites, and hence this study explores how airline companies can harness the power of social media as an integral part of their CRM system. Method: This is a qualitative research that has adopted exploratory case study design, where data was collected from social media platforms (Facebook and Twitter) and researcher observations. Social media platforms of five airlines namely, Virgin Atlantic (VA), British Airways (BA), Emirates Airlines (EA), Easy Jet (EJ) and Spice Jet (SJ) were analysed during the Christmas and End of Year holidays for a period of three years in order to find out the kind of conversations between the airlines and their customers. Data was collected through netnography alongside participant observations, where the researcher travelled to various destinations across Europe and North America in which unstructured interviews with customers were conducted. The collected data was analysed using thematic content analysis and sentiment analysis. Theory: In building the research conceptual framework, various models including the technology acceptance model (TAM), technology task-fit theory (TTF) and Unified Theory of Acceptance and Usage of Technology (UTAUT) were incorporated into the study. Empirical Findings: About 125,808 posts/conversations were collected, while 2,515 were analysed. The airlines were categorised into two categories, where VA, BA, and EA were categorised as full-service airlines, while EJ and SJ were considered to be low-cost airlines. From the results obtained in this study, six categories of the nature of conversations that airlines had with their customers include; customer engagement, customer complaints, response to customer complaints, positive customer experiences, customer comments and customer inquiries/questions. Though the nature of the conversations were distributed evenly between full-service and low-cost airlines, the researcher observed that customer complaints were appearing more often in full-service airlines compared to low-cost airlines; which can be attributed to the high expectations that customers have on full-service airlines. Conclusion: Given the way social media provided real-time interaction between airlines and customers, it was concluded in this research that social networking sites provide effective platform through which airlines can use to improve customer relationship due to the speed of information sharing, as well as the interactivity which facilitates customer engagement.
    • Internal branding framework based on brand perceptions of managers and employees of an airline company

      Al Ketbi, Saleh (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2021-05)
      Internal branding is an ongoing process involving all agents within the company. As such, an exploration of internal branding will not only be limited to the formal understanding of internal stakeholders but will allow the subjective meanings of their understanding to be revealed as well. This investigated the perceived organizational factors, brand support behaviours, and views of managers and employees on the delivery of brand promise in an airline company case study and developed an internal branding framework based on the findings. Specifically, the research investigated how the managers and employees perceived the organizational climate and communication channels in their company; how they made sense of their brand knowledge, commitment, and citizenship; and how they viewed the delivery of their company brand promise. The consequent findings from the investigation served as the building blocks in the development of the internal branding framework in the study. The study used the qualitative design, adopted the constructivist/interpretivist philosophy; and utilized the inductive approach, with a focus on a single institution. The semi-structured interview was used to optimise data collection. A total of 30 individuals consisting of 10 managers and 20 employees participated in the study. The data was analysed using thematic analysis and phenomenological reduction and supported by sense-making tools. The study found that organizational factors contributed to the creation of a social space that allowed managers, employees, and other internal stakeholders to interrelate in various ways. It is within these social spaces where internal stakeholders re-framed their brand knowledge, commitment, and citizenship within the context of their lived experiences. As a corollary, the internal branding framework developed in the study demonstrated that the presence of a positive organizational climate and information-rich environment creates an enabling social environment that facilitates the interaction of internal stakeholders. This type of environment enables them to construct and reconstruct their knowledge about their company brand and allows them to make sense of their brand commitment and citizenship that sustain their perception of the delivery of the brand promise. The framework of internal branding developed in the study is the major contribution of this research. Furthermore, this study contributes insight into the dynamics of internal branding from detailed information derived from the perspectives of managers and employees which were used to edify the internal branding framework developed in the study. The framework demonstrates how companies can best leverage their physical and human resources to enhance their brand image through internal branding. The study also provides an analysis of a dataset on brand knowledge, commitment, and citizenship that contributes knowledge of internal branding in an economically dynamic and multi-cultural company context. Lastly, this study contributes to the growing efforts of investigating the internal branding process using a qualitative approach by demonstrating how qualitative studies can be used to explore branding concepts.
    • Exploring mental health nurses’ experiences of a patient suicide in the community

      Makaza, Melsina (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2021-05)
      The aim of this study was to explore the experiences of mental health nurses after a patient dies by suicide in a community setting within the context of UK mental health services. It utilised the principles of Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) to explore the experiences of ten community mental health nurses who had experienced a patient suicide between 2002 and 2018. The study was divided into two main types of fieldwork, a pilot study and a main study. Using IPA, the ten interviews were analysed descriptively, conceptually and linguistically, which produced rich narratives reflecting their lived experience of patient suicide. Findings from this study produced three superordinate themes which capture mental health nurses’ experiences after a patient suicide: The experiential significance of a therapeutic relationship ending unexpectedly for the mental health nurse; searching for meaning of the patient suicide in the face of public scrutiny; and, after the suicide, the experience of intense grieving, learning, growing and moving on. Their stories revealed that the experience of suicide-loss survivorship as a community mental health nurse creates conflict as well as ongoing tensions between existentialism and personal ontologies. The implications of the findings suggest that although the memory of the patient who has died by suicide never leaves their psychological caseload, the community mental health nurse can be secure in knowing that they fully lived up to their part in the therapeutic nurse-patient relationship.
    • Corporate governance and triple bottom line performance of microfinance institutions: empirical evidence from South Asia

      Rasel, Md. Ali (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2021-04)
      This thesis empirically investigates the impact of corporate governance mechanisms on the triple bottom line (TBL) performance of microfinance institutions (MFIs) with particular reference to five South Asian developing economies – Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. Accordingly, the thesis at first conducts a systematic literature review on microfinance governance. It seeks to understand the extent to which research on microfinance governance has been done to date and how far it can go from here. From the review findings, there emerges, among others, a gap in the existing literature on the microfinance governance performance relationship. Specifically, the association between corporate governance mechanisms and TBL (financial, social and environmental) performance of MFIs is found non existent in the literature. The current study addresses this relationship through the lenses of agency, resource dependence and stakeholder theories. The study uses a sample of 127 MFIs from the selected five countries. These institutions are listed on the Microfinance Information eXchange (MIX) Market database, a World Bank group with publicly available data for a wide range of variables. The sampled MFIs are also registered with various network organisations in each country, such as the Microfinance Regulatory Authority (MRA) in Bangladesh, Sa-Dhan microfinance network in India, Pakistan Microfinance Network (PMN) in Pakistan, Lanka Microfinance Practitioners' Association (LMFPA) in Sri Lanka and Microfinance Investment Support Facility for Afghanistan (MISFA) in Afghanistan. The study has collected data for governance, firm-level characteristics and MFI TBL performance from MIX Market, annual reports, rating agencies and, in some cases, websites of individual MFIs. The data period is eight years, starting from 2009 and ending in 2016. Using a dynamic panel data approach, namely the two-step system generalised method of moments (GMM), the study finds some evidence of the impact of corporate governance mechanisms on MFI TBL performance in the South Asian region. More specifically, the study reveals that different governance attributes, except board gender diversity, influence each TBL performance dimension differently. This means they can significantly explain either one or two performance dimensions, but not all. However, board independence and Big-4 auditor choice are relatively significant in predicting all performance variables of MFIs. These results stand for and against the three mainline theories and the findings of some past empirical studies. Based on the results, the study accepts and rejects various hypotheses developed from the selected theories and prior empirical findings. It also recommends some future research directions. This thesis contributes to the literature on microfinance governance by examining how different corporate governance mechanisms such as board characteristics, ownership types, audit quality and capital structure influence MFI TBL performance in the context of South Asian developing economies. It develops hypotheses from three theoretical lenses. Multiple theories have been used for this study as it can be argued that any single theory does not fully explain the hypothesised relationships. Furthermore, given the dynamic nature of corporate governance and the MFI performance variables, this thesis applies GMM to control for dynamic endogeneity, which has been neglected by most prior empirical studies in this field. It is expected that the findings of this research will be of particular relevance to microfinance stakeholders. Especially, the study results provide important information to the policymakers and regulators for considering various corporate governance mechanisms to scale up the sustainability level performance of MFIs.
    • Investigating residents and municipality processes of co-creation in branding Luton – a place with a negative reputation

      Stoica, Ioana Sabrina (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2021-04)
      In consideration to place branding as a holistic and integrated concept, this thesis presents an investigation of the processes of co-creation between residents and municipality scrutinised in three branding practices (top-down, bottom-up and mixed branding approaches) of a place with a negative reputation: Luton. The study utilises a combination of concepts from corporate brands and place brands. A qualitative methodology and multi-methods were used to achieve the following objectives: (1) investigate the factors influencing participation in different branding approaches, (2) explore the processes and roles undertaken by the actors involved and (3) examine the outcomes achieved. The study examined three campaigns, one representative for each branding approach, through an interpretivist paradigm, a social construction epistemology and an iterative-inductive ethnographic approach. The investigation was undertaken in three stages, which included interviews with the municipality and residents, auto-ethnographic, netnographic data and document analysis. The findings indicate that co-creation processes can have multiple nuances in different branding approaches and most often, the theoretical and practical views of co-creation are clashing. The study proposes a framework for residents and municipality co-creation which brings insights into different factors affecting participation, four dimensions of co-creation with direct and indirect methods and active and passive actors’ roles and their outcomes. While co-creation processes usually bring positive outcomes, the data suggests that the outcomes can be both positive and negative according with the dimensions used to co-create meaning, the active and passive residents’ involvement, and the power relations in the processes. The findings contribute to the understanding of the intricacies of co-creation, participatory branding and residents’ involvement in branding places which are struggling with their reputation. The theoretical framework argues for a distinction between co-creation and participation and can support places in the process of involving residents in brand meaning co-creation, avoid “common” issues faced in participatory branding and consequently help the brand minimise representational dissonances and improve its reputation.