Study As
Full Time

Principal Supervisor
Associate Professor Tasha Stanton

Main Campus
City East

Applications Close
30 May 2024

Study Level

Applications Open To
Domestic Candidate

Tuition Fees:

All domestic students are eligible for a fee waiver. Find out more about fees and conditions.

Project Stipend:
$32,500 p.a. (2024 rates) available to domestic applicants only

About this project

Improve treatment outcomes for knee replacement patients 

If you are excited about making a real-world difference in the health, medical & care industry and keen to develop new best practice treatment standards for osteoarthritis, the University of South Australia – Australia’s University of Enterprise – is offering a hands-on project-based PhD within IIMPACT in Health, in partnership with Noigroup Pty Ltd. 

One in two Australians aged over 65 years has painful knee osteoarthritis (OA). Joint replacement surgery is usually offered when the pain becomes unmanageable. This is often regarded as a cure, but unfortunately, up to 15% of people experience moderate-to-severe long-standing post-surgical knee pain. This can limit their ability to engage with valued life activities.  

Post-surgical pain is very difficult to treat once established, so the key is to prevent it from occurring.  

If we get people moving and target poor outcomes quickly after surgery, people tend to do better. But people undergoing total joint replacement surgery do not feel that they receive optimal care. They get very little information on what to expect and what types of symptoms are normal. This makes them unsure about whether they should engage in certain activities and afraid of damaging the prosthetic.  
Pain science education aims to help people better understand their pain and to re-engage with activities (understanding that these activities are safe). It may play an important role in helping reduce uncertainty after surgery and return people to activities which can reduce chronic post-surgical pain. However, pain science education is currently not included in any pre- or post-surgical education.  

Our study aims to adapt current pain science education for use in joint replacement surgery (pre/post-surgery), working with people with OA and clinicians to create a new intervention. Then, our project will test the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary clinical efficacy of this new intervention relative to usual care. This information could help change current care pathways. 

You will become part of IIMPACT in Health – a research concentration that brings together over 100 members from numerous research backgrounds to better understand and treat chronic disease (e.g., pain, stroke, breathlessness, paediatrics, rural health). You will also join the Persistent Pain Research Group, within the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute. This vibrant group includes postdoctoral fellows, and PhD, Masters, and Honours students undertaking work on varying topics.  

We are closely linked with Noigroup and both public and private hospitals undertaking joint replacement surgery. You will benefit from support from all sites and connect with other research students. Access to mentorship schemes and training support for new topic areas relevant to research (including research communication) will also help you thrive during your studies. 

What you’ll do 

In this project-based research degree, you will work directly with end users (people who have knee OA who are considering or have undergone joint replacement surgery). You will also work with clinicians involved in surgical and rehabilitation care (physiotherapists, orthopaedic surgeons) to co-design a new pain science education-optimised care intervention to be used in Adelaide private and public hospital care pathways.  

Working with the Noigroup, you will gain experience in the private health care education sector while helping to develop new surgical-specific resources. There may also be an opportunity to undertake an industry internship with Noigroup. This hands-on experience is sure to give you a competitive edge in the job market.  

We will provide you with opportunities to travel locally to different hospitals in Adelaide, and interstate/internationally for conferences. This will help you develop your communication and networking skills and abilities and help you build strong industry connections.  

Where you’ll be based 

You’ll be based within the IIMPACT in Health research concentration. Our vision is to enable and empower people with chronic conditions to reach their potential for recovery, independence and wellbeing. 

We will achieve this vision by impacting individuals, health service delivery, outcomes and education through strategic collaborations, bold ideas, outstanding research and exemplary communication. 

We work together with consumers and clinicians to identify real-world problems. 

We undertake qualitative, behavioural & neurophysiological experiments to find new solutions. 

We conduct clinical trials to test those solutions. 

We undertake implementation projects to optimise uptake of effective solutions and identify remaining problems.

Supervisory team

Financial support

This project is funded for reasonable research expenses. Additionally, a living allowance scholarship of $32,500 per annum is available to Australian and New Zealand citizens, and permanent residents of Australia, including permanent humanitarian visa holders.  Australian Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander applicants will be eligible to receive an increased stipend rate of $50,291 per annum (2024 rate maximum RTP rate). A fee-offset or waiver for the standard term of the program is also included.  For full terms and benefits of the scholarship please refer to our scholarship information. International applicants are not invited to apply at this time.

Eligibility and Selection

This project is open to applications from Australian or New Zealand citizens, and Australian permanent residents or permanent humanitarian visa holders. International applicants are not invited to apply at this time.

Applicants must meet the eligibility criteria for entrance into a PhD. Additionally, applicants must address the following criteria:
  • Experience in qualitative research methodology
  • Experience in working with people who have chronic osteoarthritis pain
  • Experience with pain science education
  • Licenced physiotherapist with experience in treating people with orthopaedic pain conditions.

All applications that meet the eligibility and selection criteria will be considered for this project. A merit selection process will be used to determine the successful candidate. 

The successful applicant is expected to study full-time and to be based at our City East Campus?in the heart of Adelaide. 

Essential Dates 

Applicants are expected to start in a timely fashion upon receipt of an offer. Extended deferral periods are not available. Applications close on Thursday, 30 May, 2024.

How to apply:

Applications must be lodged online, please note UniSA does not accept applications via email.

For further support see our step-by-step guide on how to apply , or contact the Graduate Research team on +61 8 8302 5880, option 1 or email us at You will receive a response within one working day.

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