HDR Scholarship - Companion animals and endometriosis

Applications now open. A PhD scholarship is available to initiate and conduct research on the topic Companion animals and endometriosis'.

Project Supervisor

Additional Supervision Team

Dr Subhadra Evans

Prof Anna Chur-Hansen



Melbourne Burwood Campus

Research topic

Endometriosis is a chronic inflammatory condition involving endometrial-like tissue migrating outside the uterus. The condition is common, affecting one in nine Australian women, and highly burdensome to the individual as well as the community. Symptoms such as pain, infertility and fatigue substantially compromise patient quality of life and productivity. Patients are often not diagnosed for 7 years or more, meaning that many experience debilitating symptoms that may worsen and lead to other comorbidities such as mental illness. In terms of costs to the Australian public, recent estimates suggest a burden of $9.7 billion annually in lost productivity and direct healthcare costs. Even after receiving medical treatment, typically involving a combination of pain medications, hormones and laparoscopic surgery, many patients continue to experience pain and compromised quality of life, with lifestyle approaches recommended to improve functioning. One possible source of support are companion animals. Dog ownership has been associated with health benefits in some members of the general community. However, there is a dearth of research understanding whether companion animals may help people cope with chronic health conditions, including endometriosis. As yet, no qualitative studies have explored the meaning that pets have in the lives of people with endometriosis. Further, there is limited understanding about the perceived acceptability of the human-animal bond in supporting patients with endometriosis. Therefore, the present study will address this significant gap in knowledge by using mixed methods research to:

  1. Qualitatively explore how people with endometriosis engage their pets to support their wellbeing;
  2. Conduct a quantitative comparison of people with endometriosis who do and do not have pets on biopsychosocial variables, including psychological distress, quality of life, coping and actigraph data (sleep, physical activity, blood pressure, heart rate); and conduct participatory research with patients and clinicians to understand the perceived acceptability of companion animals and the human-animal bond to support quality of life and coping in endometriosis, and what the role of companion animals might look like considering needs of patients and pets.

Project aim

The present study will address a significant gap in knowledge about the role of companion animals in supporting people with endometriosis. The project will involve qualitative and quantitative research methods.

Important dates

Applications close 5pm, Friday 3 December 2021


This scholarship is available over 3 years.

  • Stipend of $28,600 per annum tax exempt (2021 rate)
  • Relocation allowance of $500 - $1500 (for single to family) for students moving from interstate
  • International students only:  Tuition fees offset for the duration of 4 years. Single Overseas Student Health Cover policy for the duration of the student visa.

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible you must:

  • be either a domestic or international candidate currently residing in Australia. Domestic includes candidates with Australian Citizenship, Australian Permanent Residency or New Zealand Citizenship.
  • meet Deakin's PhD entry requirements
  • be enrolling full time and hold an honours degree (first class) or an equivalent standard master's degree with a substantial research component.

Please refer to the research degree entry pathways page for further information.

Additional desirable criteria include:

  • 4th Year degree in Psychology

How to apply

Learn more about submitting a successful application on the How to apply page


Contact us

For more information about this scholarship, please contact A/Prof  Antonina Mikocka-Walus or Dr Subhadra Evans

A/Prof Antonina Mikocka-Walus
Associate Professor
Email A/Prof Antonina Mikocka-Walus
+61 3 924 68575

Dr Subhadra Evans
Senior Lecturer in Psychology
Email Dr Subhadra Evans
+61 3 924 46270