Optimal Pain Assessment in Joint Replacement Patients

Research Opportunity
PhD, Masters by Research
Group Leader Email Number Webpage
Adjunct A/Prof Maria Inacio Personal web page
Primary Supervisor Email Number Webpage
A/Prof Michelle Dowsey mmdowsey@unimelb.edu.au Personal web page

Project Details

The lifetime risk of an Australian undergoing a knee or hip replacement is 10-12% and annually almost 100,000 joints are replaced in Australia, making it one of the most common elective surgical procedures in this country. Patients have joint replacement surgery because of severe arthritis that causes them debilitating pain and limited function. While this surgery should provide patients with substantial, if not complete, pain relief from their disease, post-surgical pain is common.

Thirty eight percent of patients present to their general practitioners within 30 days post-surgery for assistance with pain management. Up to one third of patients report chronic post-operative pain and 19-42% still take opioids one year after surgery. Opioids are strong pain relief medications associated with significant side effects, including intoxication, dependency, and abuse, with limited evidence of their long term efficacy. Because of the accumulating evidence of the detrimental effects of opioid use and ineffectiveness for long term pain relief, understanding post-surgical use of opioids for pain relief and rehabilitation in joint replacement patients is needed. To determine the effect of opioids in the post-operative pain relief of joint replacement patients, this study will compare patient reported pain, function, and other patient assessments with their analgesic medication use, with great focus on opioid medication use. We will determine how opioid use is associated with patient reported pain, whether changes in pain are associated with changes in opioid use, and identify patient groups at a high risk for suboptimal opioid use.

Our study’s findings will be useful to patients who have joint replacements and their providers, who struggle in balancing the risks and benefits of opioid therapy when recommending pain management treatment. The study will use a unique dataset, which is a dedicated clinical registry that includes high quality patient reported pain assessments for a group of nationally representative joint replacement patients. Characterising the progression of pain after joint replacement and patients at risk of sub-optimal opioid use will assist and aid clinicians in the identification of patients that will benefit from additional education and support for pain management as well as inform the development of opioid use protocols post-surgery. Preferred prerequisite studies: epidemiology, phamacology or pharmacoepidemiology, orthopaedics/musculoskeletal disease.

Faculty Research Themes

Infection and Immunology

School Research Themes


Research Opportunities

PhD, Masters by Research
Students who are interested in joining this project will need to consider their elegibility as well as other requirements before contacting the supervisor of this research

Graduate Research application

Honours application

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact a supervisor.



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