Understanding the impact of pain on people with Multiple Sclerosis

Degree type


Closing date

29 October 2021



Citizenship requirement

Domestic/International Onshore

About the research project

Data from the Australian MS Longitudinal Study (AMSLS) has shown that pain has the second-largest impact on the health-related quality of people with MS, and is associated with significant work productivity loss. MS Research Australia conducted a Research Priorities Survey among people with MS and identified pain management as a key research priority. To address this, MS Research Australia assembled representatives from the MS community, health professionals and MS service providers to identify gaps and priorities in pain research (Pain in MS Workshop, October 2019). An outcome of that workshop was that the AMSLS team designed a survey on pain, together with health professionals and people with MS. The pain survey is running from August-October 2021.

The survey aims to obtain a deep understanding on the pain that people with MS experience and the pain management strategies they use. It will address the following research questions:

  • Which health professionals are assisting people with MS with their pain, and what is the health utilisation for pain over a six-month period?
  • Which medications and other treatments are most commonly used to treat pain and what is their perceived effectiveness?
  • Do MS disease modifying therapies alter the severity of pain?
  • Does the predictability of pain affect outcomes such as pain severity, health-related quality of life, work productivity loss, pain self-efficacy and pain catastrophising score?
  • Is there an association between pain self-efficacy and the types of pain management that people use?
  • Is there an association between pain self-efficacy and the level of health care utilisation?

This PhD will deepen a student’s epidemiological knowledge and allows for a rich set of publications, using a variety of statistical techniques. The student will be part of a team, and has the opportunity to contribute to the development of further surveys and hands-on research experience.

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 Science, Health Science, Public Health, Psychology 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 epidemiological, clinical or related research
  • Experience in conducting statistical analysis using a statistical package, such as Stata, R or SPSS

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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