PhD Opportunity with the Centre For Health Policy

PhD Opportunity - Socioeconomic variation in healthcare underuse & overuse in Australian public and private hospitals

Scholarship – up to $44,400 per annum

This is a unique opportunity to complete a PhD at the Centre for Health Policy, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health (University of Melbourne), Australia’s #1 ranked School of Public Health. The successful candidate will be positioned within the NHMRC-funded ‘Wiser Healthcare’ program; a collaboration of world-leaders researching and advocating for reductions in overdiagnosis and overtreatment in Australia and around the world.

Wiser Healthcare website

Background to the Project

Evidence suggests patients may receive different care depending on whether they are of low or high socioeconomic status (SES), and are treated in public or private hospitals. In particular, it is theorised that higher SES patients in private hospitals may be at most risk of receiving low-value care, while lower SES patients in public hospitals may be more likely to miss out on care they need, driving health inequities and worse outcomes for both groups. This hypothesis has not yet been extensively tested.

The Opportunity

Australia’s hybrid public/private delivery model provides a rare opportunity to test this hypothesis by comparing the prevalence, types, and costs of care in private hospitals and public hospitals, and in higher and lower SES patients.

This will be a mixed methods project. The quantitative component will see low-value care measurement for a selection of health care services, using and advancing methods established by Professor Elshaug and colleagues. The candidate will advance their statistical training by interrogating the New South Wales Admitted Patient Data Collection (APDC).

In addition, the project will explore the out-of-pocket costs associated with this care. As an adjunct to existing data sources relating to costs, the candidate will employ citizen science methods to engage with community members on cost related elements across public and private systems.

This PhD provides a unique opportunity to undertake impactful research in the health economy, and generate results that can influence policy in Australia and have global reach. The project will be principally supervised by Professor Adam Elshaug (Director, Centre for Health Policy, University of Melbourne) and Professor Kirsten McCaffery (Director, Wiser Healthcare and Health Literacy Lab, University of Sydney) with extensive scope to draw in multi-disciplinary co-supervisors from across both Universities, Australia, and internationally.

The Funding

Selected applicant/s are expected to apply for a University of Melbourne Graduate Research Scholarship (link below) of $34,400 per year pro rata (2023 full-time study rate). If awarded the scholarship the candidate will receive a $10,000pa top-up stipend bringing the total to $44,400 per annum for full time students, and which will be available for up to 3.5 years. If their Graduate Research Scholarship application is unsuccessful, they may be offered the $34,400pa scholarship amount for up to 3.5 years.

Scholarship information

Scholarship applicants must be eligible for acceptance by the University of Melbourne into a PhD programme, and preferably be residents or citizens of Australia or New Zealand. The PhD eligibility process must have commenced at the time of submitting the scholarship application. The offer is conditional upon acceptance into the PhD programme. Applicants must have an Honours 1, or have completed a postgraduate degree in a relevant discipline with a GPA of 80% or above in related disciplines.

How to apply

Applications will be considered upon the provision of the following information:

  • Your CV (3 pages maximum);
  • Certified copies of your academic transcripts;
  • A cover letter outlining your relevant qualifications and experience along with a summary of your motivations for and goals in undertaking this PhD. The candidate should outline their methodological experience and emphasise what skills they bring to the project, and/or what skills they wish to develop to accomplish their doctorate.

Applications should be forwarded via email to Professor Adam Elshaug.

Further enquiries: If you have any questions about the PhD program or the application process please email Prof Elshaug.

Closing date: Open until candidate chosen