Study As
Full Time

Principal Supervisor
Dr Vijay Suppiah

Main Campus
City West

Applications Close
26 Feb 2023

Study Level

Applications Open To
Domestic 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:
$29,863 p.a. available to domestic applicants only

About this project

Improve outcomes for those taking psychotropic drugs in South Australian prisons

Are you passionate about improving psychotropic drug use in SA prisons? The University of South Australia – Australia’s University of Enterprise – is offering a contemporary project-based PhD with strong community impact within the UniSA Clinical Health Sciences Unit, in partnership with SA Prison Health Service, and HPS Pharmacy.

The prevalence of psychotropic medication use is ever-increasing, and it is common for patients with mental diagnoses to be treated with multiple psychotropic medications. Psychotropic polypharmacy has been known to cause metabolic syndrome and increase the risk of QT prolongation and excessive sedation, leading to poor health outcomes in patients. 

Those in prison are at a much higher risk of developing poor health outcomes, further contributing to and worsening depression and anxiety levels. This study will investigate the prevalence of psychotropic polypharmacy and the spectrum of medications that are commonly prescribed in the prison population.

This study will also investigate the prevalence of metabolic syndrome and other know risks associated with the use of multiple psychotropic medications. Data will then be used to pilot measures for safer use of psychotropic medications and better health outcomes for the prison population.

You will benefit immensely from being exposed to the research cultures at UniSA and the SA Prison Health Service. The project will expose you to the contemporary pharmacy practices unique to the prison health service, giving you specialised knowledge and expertise. 

There is a large support network available to you, both within the UniSA Clinical Health Sciences Unit and externally, and your supervisory panel are world-leading experts in their fields – you will benefit from their extensive experience and strong collaborative networks.

What you’ll do

In this project-based research degree, you will undertake data analysis and generate research papers/reports. You will also coordinate with HPS Pharmacy and the SA Prison Health Service in piloting measures for safer use of psychotropic medications in the prison population. 

The project includes a placement within the SA Prison Health Service requiring you to travel to various SA prisons to coordinate with and carry out education programs for nursing staff. 

Upon completion, you will be able to draft appropriate ethics paperwork, undertake longitudinal clinical audits of a large cohort of participants, design educational materials for healthcare workers and implement interventional studies. You will posses sound skills in project management, writing and critical thinking, and presenting, and will have experience in liaising and collaborating with colleagues. 

There will be opportunities for you to present your work at local, national and international seminars/conferences, helping you build a strong professional network. 

Your highly sought-after skills in pharmacy practice and quality use of medicine will open doors for you in both academia and industry.

Where you’ll be based

You will be based both in the UniSA Clinical and Health Sciences Unit and the SA Prison Health Service’s main office at Marden. We address critical and emerging health needs while improving the quality of patient care. Every day, our researchers investigate the best ways to help improve patient outcomes and create positive change in the health industry.  

We present our insights to the people who need it most, through our collaborations and partnerships with local industry and community, government and research institutions worldwide. UniSA Clinical and Health Sciences is a community of ideas and innovation. We produce versatile graduates, generate new knowledge that contributes to a healthier society, and translate our research into successful healthcare strategies.

Supervisory Team

Financial Support

This project is funded for reasonable research expenses. Additionally, a living allowance scholarship of $29,863 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 $46,653 per annum (2023 rates). 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 meet the projects selection criteria: 

  • Hold a Pharmacy degree with Honours and/or a Master of Clinical Pharmacy 

Applicants who can also demonstrate the following will be highly regarded:

  • Strong interest in mental health or other relevant cotemporary pharmacy practice areas
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills with demonstrable ability to work collaboratively in a team environment

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 be based at our City West 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 Sunday, 26 February 2023.

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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