Making drug treatment cognition-informed

Understanding consumer needs for cognition-informed substance use disorder treatment

Degree type


Closing date

10 October 2022



Citizenship requirement


About the research project

It has been estimated in 2018 that over 2% of the global population experienced a substance use disorder. Treatment outcomes for substance use disorder are not excellent, with a relapse rate between 40-60%. Increasingly there is an awareness that cognitive functioning is a key contributor to treatment outcomes – whereby poorer levels of particular aspects of cognition are predictors of less response to treatment, earlier dropout and increased rates of relapse.

Our group have been focussing on this area for some time. We have developed and tested novel, gamified cognitive tasks that assess specific aspects of cognition and are making these open source for health workers to access. International colleagues have been focussing on the areas that clinicians feel are most important for cognitive rehabilitation as part of substance use disorder treatment. As part of this project, we want to focus on identifying the practical day-to-day issues that people seeking substance use disorder treatment feel are causing them the most challenges. We also want to review the literature to identify the particular types of cognitive deficits that have the strongest associations with poor outcomes and the way that these interact with particular types of treatment (for example, where medications are used rather than psychological interventions, is there a smaller association between a particular aspect of cognition and outcome?), and which are the most modifiable risk factors. Depending on your particular interests, you may then work with our programmer to develop a novel way of assessing the key aspects of cognition identified in the earlier parts of the study or work with our colleagues involved in substance use treatment to devise and test practical strategies for treatment providers to adapt their interventions for clients with particular deficits in cognition.

Primary Supervisor

Meet A/Prof Raimondo Bruno


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.


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:

  • As long as the candidate meets the general criteria for entering a PhD program at the university of Tasmania the scope for candidate backgrounds is broad and we would welcome applicants with backgrounds in public health, computing, information technology, psychology, sociology, and medicine among many others

Application process

There is a three-step application process:

  1. Select your project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact the Primary Supervisor, A/Prof Raimondo Bruno to discuss your suitability and the project's requirements; and
  3. 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 2 x 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 by the advertised outcome date.

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