The University of Newcastle, Australia

Qualitative Evaluation of Participation in a Randomised Controlled Trial of Post-Stroke Recovery

Closing Date: 31 May 2019


PhD Scholarship

Applications are invited from suitable domestic graduates for a PhD scholarship in the Research and Innovation Division at the University of Newcastle. This PhD research will use innovative qualitative methods to answer questions regarding barriers and enablers of implementing task specific training post-stroke, and to explore appropriate knowledge translation strategies to ensure that qualitative findings are communicated in a meaningful way.

Psychological and Social Functioning in Dementia

Project Background: Stroke represents a leading cause of disability in Australia, which can impede people’s ability to carry out daily living activities unassisted. An RCT is being conducted to compare effectiveness of task-specific training for arm and hand function compared to usual care. To gain a fuller understanding, within the trial, there is a need to explore and identify themes and mechanisms which are essential to people’s recovery of arm and hand function post-stroke, especially how they manage therapeutic exercise training. Both patients and therapists have their own first-hand knowledge about how they experience therapy aimed at recovery of arm and hand function. Qualitative methods will be used to investigate the roles each plays in recovery, and to learn more about resources/assets used to help regain arm and hand ability. This study will also answer questions regarding barriers and enablers of implementing task specific training post-stroke, and explore appropriate knowledge translation strategies to ensure that qualitative findings are communicated in a meaningful way.

Research Group: The successful candidate will be based at the Research and Innovation Division at the University of Newcastle, and supervised by Dr Meredith Tavener and Professor Paulette van Vliet. Dr Tavener is a Research Fellow and Trial Manager of the randomised controlled trial, and Professor van Vliet is the Chief Investigator of the trial. This study will be highly collaborative, between RCT stakeholders, disciplines and research centres.

Purpose of the study: The qualitative research aims to: * examine experiences of recovery post-stroke from both the patient and therapist viewpoints, to identify common and contrasting themes (points 1 and 2 above); * to explore the implementation of task specific training from an asset based framework (point 3 above); and * to stimulate thinking about knowledge translation of the qualitative findings to key audiences (point 4 above) Methods: Therapists and the patients they visit will take part in personal interviews, and their data analysed using applied thematic analysis. Barriers and enablers of task specific training implementation will be reported.

Study design: [1]Qualitative interviews with study participants, using the retrospective-pretest method, to explore the experiences and reflections of the specific training, and the contexts, facilitators and barriers to participants completing the training, and [2] Qualitative interviews with therapists to explore their experiences and reflections concerning the delivery of the task specific training and what they feel are important facilitators, barriers and risks for implementing such training in clinical practice. [3] To assist in the organisation of interviews and collected data, an asset-based framework will be adopted. Salutogenesis is a theoretical framework which focuses on the resources/assets which people make use of that can contribute to capacity, while also recognising areas where support is still needed. In terms of recovery from stroke, intrinsic salutogenic factors can include self-efficacy, purpose in life and goal-setting – all of which will be explored during in-depth interviews. All interview data will be analysed using applied thematic analysis. [4] Synthesis of qualitative findings towards knowledge translation will be guided by evidence-based practice as a decision making framework, in terms of how effective interventions can be introduced as routine practice.

PhD Scholarship details

Funding: $27,596 per annum (2019 rate) indexed annually. For a PhD candidate, the living allowance scholarship is for 3.5 years and the tuition fee scholarship is for four years.

Supervisor: Dr Meredith Tavener

Available to: Domestic students

PhD

Eligibility Criteria

Have completed a Bachelor Degree with First Class Honours or other equivalent qualifications. Hold their degree in health professions such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy, psychology, movement science, public health, sociology or medicine. Have experience with qualitative methodologies and interviewing. Please also refer to the admission eligibility criteria. The successful candidate may commence on or after 1 September 2019.

Application Procedure

Interested applicants should send an email expressing their interest along with scanned copies of their academic transcripts, CV, a brief statement of their research interests and a proposal that specifically links them to the research project.

Please send the email expressing interest to meredith.tavener@newcastle.edu.au by 5pm on 31 May 2019.

Applications Close 31 May 2019


Contact Dr Meredith Tavener
Phone 02 40420684
Email meredith.tavener@newcastle.edu.au

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