PhD Opportunities

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Project Details

We have a range of study options available and our Senior Research Fellows are available for PhD supervision.

We offer PhD Scholarships with the Centre of Research Excellence in Disability and Health. These are for candidates interested in disability related health inequities, social epidemiology,  public policy and health economics.


Current PhD Candidates 

Zoe Aitken

How do demographic and socioeconomic characteristics influence the effect of disability acquisition on mental health?

Individuals who develop a disability experience substantial mental health deterioration; however, the extent of the deterioration varies among this group. My PhD thesis aims to form a better understanding of how people’s demographic and socioeconomic circumstances influence the effect of disability acquisition on mental health, in particular to identify protective factors which decrease the probability of experiencing poor mental health outcomes.  I will conduct a comprehensive investigation of the factors that explain the heterogeneity of observed mental health effects among people who acquire a disability, by identifying demographic and socioeconomic factors that modify and mediate the association between disability acquisition and mental health. This will enable me to firstly identify subgroups that are particularly vulnerable to poor mental health, and secondly disentangle the pathways linking disability and mental health to understand the causal mechanisms at play.  The identification of characteristics that attenuate or exacerbate mental health effects among people who acquire a disability may highlight factors that are amenable to realistic and effective public health interventions to improve mental health and reduce the mental health inequity currently experienced by people with disabilities.

Supervisors: Professor Anne Kavanagh,  Professor Julie Simpson, Associate/Prof Rebecca Bentley

Funding: Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship and a National Health and Medical Research Council Postgraduate Scholarship.

Alex Devine

The life circumstances of job seekers with psychosocial disability and their engagement with Disability Employment Services.

Supervisors: Professor Anne Kavanagh and Dr Cathy Vaughan

Australians with disabilities are less likely to have access to employment compared to people without disabilities (53.4% vs 83.2%), of which, persons with psychosocial disability have the lowest labour force participation rates (29%) and the highest unemployment rate (19%). This study aims to explore whether and how the life circumstances of job seekers with psychosocial disability are influenced by their engagement with government funded Disability Employment Services (DES) providers. This study is taking place in the context of forthcoming reforms to the DES sector which will be introduced in July 2018. It is conducted in conjunction with the ARC Linkage Project Improving Disability Employment Study (IDES), a prospective cohort quantitative study of approximately 2500 jobseekers with disabilities. Alexandra will be analysing the relevant data from the IDES quantitative survey as well as conducting longitudinal, qualitative, semi-structured interviews with approximately 20-24 job seekers with psychosocial disability.

Funding source: PhD Scholarship funded through the Improving Disability Employment Study with support from research partner Ostara Australia

Liz Gill-Atkinson

Supervisors: Dr Cathy Vaughan and Professor Marilys Guillemin

Research Group

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For further information about this research, please contact the research group leader.

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Centre for Health Equity

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