Study As
Full Time

Principal Supervisor
Dr Sarah Wallwork

Main Campus
City East

Applications Close
18 Dec 2022

Study Level

Applications Open To
Domestic Candidate or International Candidate

Tuition Fees:
All domestic students are eligible for a fee waiver. International students who receive a stipend are eligible for a fee waiver. Find out more about fees and conditions.

Project Stipend:
$28,854 p.a. available to domestic and international applicants

About this project

If you are seeking to advance your career in allied health and chronic pain and interested in improving children’s health and well-being, the University of South Australia – Australia’s University of Enterprise – is offering a project-based PhD with real-world outcomes, based within IIMPACT in Health. Pain is a global problem, with 1 in 4 adolescents and 1 in 5 adults experiencing chronic pain. Despite our increasing understanding, the prevalence and burden of chronic pain is not improving.

According to social learning theory, we develop our beliefs and understanding of our world through personal experiences and observing others, and our proposed models of understanding are reinforced through conscious and subconscious learning. Children likely develop their fundamental understanding of pain and injury in a similar way – their understanding of pain, injury, and recovery is likely guided by their own experiences, their parents’ behaviours, as well as broader socio-cultural influences. This project will investigate the role of language in the delivery and messaging of pain and injury-related information to children, adolescents and their parents. Recent work published by our research group has identified communication strategies that parents and caregivers can use to encourage recovery and resilience in young children after minor injury. This project will extend this work, investigating the nuances in language when communicating with children during common pain experiences (i.e., minor bumps, scratches) and during a clinical encounter for acute pain (i.e., tummy pains, growing pains, significant injuries).

This project will involve end-user engagement. Researcher-led workshops for parents, caregivers, and adolescents will help us to identify optimal ways to reach and communicate project findings to parents and caregivers. These workshops will be used to develop resources that provide parents and caregivers with evidence-based information about optimal ways to communicate with children and adolescents about pain, injury, and recovery. You will join the ‘Persistent Pain’ and ‘Child Health’ cohorts within IIMPACT in Health. As a valued member of the Body in Mind research group you will have the opportunity to engage in group meetings and seminars, and receive mentorship from other PhD and post-doctoral fellows. This project provides you with avenues to travel and connect and work with world experts in this field.

What you’ll do

In this project-based research degree, you will develop a project proposal, undertake a literature review, write ethics applications, recruit participants, collect and analyse qualitative and quantitative data, run workshops (online and face-to-face) with parents and adolescents, write scientific articles, and develop resources to disseminate research findings to the community.

Upon completion, you will have strong set of skills in communication research, time management, project development, data collection and analysis, and scientific writing. You will also gain specific skills in qualitative data collection and analysis (including Nvivo, REDcap, and other platforms). With the opportunity to be involved in other projects within the research group you may also learn how to conduct systematic reviews and meta-analyses. Project outcomes are directly relevant to end-users, so this project gives you the valuable, job-ready experience of engaging with the broader public (i.e., via workshops, media interest).

Where you’ll be based

You’ll be based within UniSA’s IIMPACT in Health. 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 $28,854 per annum is available to eligible applicants. Australian Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander applicants will be eligible to receive an increased stipend rate of $45,076 per annum. 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 for domestic students or international students. 

Eligibility and Selection

This project is open to application from both domestic and international applicants. Applicants must meet the eligibility criteria for entrance into a PhD. 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, Sunday 18 December 2022.

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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