Assisting working people with Multiple Sclerosis

MS WorkSmart: an online intervention for working people with Multiple Sclerosis

Degree type


Closing date

29 October 2021



Citizenship requirement

Domestic/International Onshore

About the research project

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a complex neurological disorder of the central nervous system which causes a wide variety of symptoms including problems with fatigue, walking difficulties, pain, cognitive issues, and difficulties with speech, bladder function, and vision. Nearly a third of the total cost of MS in Australia results from a loss of income due to sickness and early retirement.

We have developed a 10-week online program for employed individuals with MS, titled ‘MS WorkSmart’.  It is designed to keep people with MS in the workforce for longer and to maximise their work productivity. During the intervention, participants are encouraged to use a newly designed App called ‘My SymptoMS’. Prior to testing the intervention in a fully powered randomised controlled trial, we will conduct a feasibility study. In this feasibility study we aim to:

  1. Demonstrate that we are able to recruit people with the required eligibility criteria, and examine the profile of eligible participants by using data available from the Australian MS Longitudinal Study.
  2. Examine the engagement data and demonstrate a low drop-out rate by the end of the intervention.
  3. Conduct a process and cost analysis, using quantitative and qualitative data, in order to improve the intervention and the clinical trial process/materials.
  4. Examine data from the My SymptoMS App.

This PhD will allow a student to develop skills in both quantitative and qualitative research methods, including App data. The student will gain hands-on experience in the development of research processes and survey tools and conduct of the research. The student will also have the opportunity to be involved in the fully powered randomised controlled trial.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Prof Ingrid van der Mei


Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $28,597 per annum (2021 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.


The project is open to domestic (Australian and New Zealand) and international applicants who are already in Australia (onshore) at the time of submitting their application.

Due to current Australian COVID-19 travel restrictions the University cannot accept applications from international applicants who are currently overseas.

Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements and the following additional eligibility criteria specific to this project:

  • Minimum entry requirements in Psychology, Sociology, Science, Health Science, Public Health, or a related field

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Experience in psychology, epidemiological, clinical or related research
  • Experience in mixed methods research
  • Experience in conducting statistical analysis

Application process

There is a three-step application process:

  1. Select the project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact the Primary Supervisor, Prof Ingrid van der Mei, if you have any questions about the project; and
  3. Click here to submit an application by the closing date listed above.
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • As part of your application you will be required to submit a covering letter, a CV including contact details of two referees and your project research proposal.

Following the application closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email.

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