A biopsychosocial approach to treating benzodiazepine dependence

   Faculty of Health, School of Psychology

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  Assoc Prof Petra Staiger  Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Deakin University and Reconnexion are co-funding a PhD scholarship to support an increased focus on identification and treatment of benzodiazepine dependence in primary care. This scholarship is an exciting opportunity for a PhD candidate to be involved in a multidisciplinary team with extensive research and clinical experience working with clients that have complex psychosocial presentations.

Background: Benzodiazepine prescribing guidelines call for short-term use, but this is often not the case in practice, and can quickly lead to iatrogenic dependence. Reconnexion, the Victorian state-wide benzodiazepine specialist service, has been providing education and withdrawal support for benzodiazepine clients for more than 35 years, but has yet to see the problem of benzodiazepine dependence systematically addressed.

The introduction of prescription monitoring in Victoria may have created a necessary impetus for change, but emerging data shows that monitoring alone is not enough to resolve benzodiazepine-related harms, and in fact is giving rise to unintended consequences.

The issue: To prevent the abrupt cessation of a benzodiazepine prescription following a notification in the prescription monitoring system, a deprescribing process should be instigated that is informed by both the evidence-base and principles of patient-centred care. A biopsychosocial approach to treating benzodiazepine dependence ensures that multiple and interrelated factors are considered. 

The PhD project: This PhD program will consist of multi-disciplinary team led by Associate Professor Petra Staiger from the School of Psychology, Deputy Director of the Deakin University Centre for Drug Use, Addictive and Anti-social behaviour (CEDAAR) along with Dr Mark Johnson a General Practitioner/Academic from School of Medicine, Deakin University and Dr Liz Sturgiss an Academic/General Practitioner from Monash University and Dr Jane Anderson-Wurf Senior Research Manager from Reconnexion. The primary aim of this program of work is to improve wellbeing and outcomes for individuals experiencing dependence on benzodiazepines in primary care.

Applicant Criteria

·      Applicants must 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.

Desirable Criteria

  • A working knowledge of qualitative and quantitative research methods
  • Demonstrated ability to work as part of a multi-disciplinary research team
  • Academic achievement or background in the fields of psychology, medicine, public health, health promotion, implementation science, or the social sciences is preferable.
  • Strong communication and leadership skills, clinical experience and a working knowledge of evidence-based practice in the fields of primary care, AOD and/or mental health will be advantageous

To apply, please email A/Prof Petra Staiger and attach an up-to-date CV.

Alternatively, follow this link for more details.

Nursing & Health (27) Psychology (31)


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