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:
- Qualitatively explore how people with endometriosis engage their pets to support their wellbeing;
- 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.
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.
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.
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