Comparative Effectiveness of Treatments for Osteoarthritis

Degree type

PhD

Closing date

7 March 2022

Campus

Hobart

Citizenship requirement

Domestic/International

About the research project

Osteoarthritis is a common joint disorder for which there is no cure. Recommendations for the symptomatic management of osteoarthritis include exercise, weight control, education, and self-management as the core treatment option. Muscle-strengthening exercise is effective at improving pain and function in knee osteoarthritis.

Yoga is a mind-body intervention that can provide exercise (increased flexibility, muscle strength, physical balancing, improved fitness) that is consistent with recommendations for knee osteoarthritis. The mind component of yoga (meditation, yoga philosophy) has the potential to increase psychological well-being and reduce stress, improve function, and alleviate osteoarthritis associated pain. Yoga, with its potential for improving musculoskeletal function, nervous system, and sympathetic activity, may therefore have greater benefits than commonly used strengthening exercise. Previous studies of yoga in knee osteoarthritis patients have been of low quality with a high risk of bias (often compared with a usual care group) and did not perform subgroup analyses to identify patients who may specifically benefit from yoga.

Aims:

  1. to compare the effectiveness of the 24-week yoga program (3x/week) with 24 -week strengthening exercise (3x/week) on knee pain in 126 knee osteoarthritis patients using a randomised comparative effectiveness clinical trial.
  2. to explore the effectiveness of yoga in a subgroup of knee osteoarthritis patients with neuropathic pain compared to strengthening exercise.

Positive results from this study can directly lead to the widespread use of an already popular mind-body therapy. Even if the yoga program can demonstrate a significant decrease in pain similar to the currently recommended strengthening exercise program, it will be a valuable additional physical activity option for osteoarthritis patients and easily translatable into clinical practice. Implementing conservative (non-surgical) management strategies for people with knee OA could save the health system $170 million by reducing the demand for expensive knee replacements.

Primary Supervisor

Dr Benny Antony

Funding

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 $28,854 per annum (2022 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.

Eligibility

Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements.

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:

  • Clinical research experience from academia or industry

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, Dr Benny Antony, to discuss your suitability and the projects requirements; 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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