Meet The Researcher

Dr Diana Dorstyn

The University of Adelaide

Let's get started! Tell us an interesting fact about yourself.
Footy tipping brings out my strong competitive streak – go the mighty Crows!
What inspired you to get involved in MS research?
Before commencing my academic career at the University of Adelaide, I worked as a psychologist in medical rehabilitation for many years, helping people and families affected by neurological disorders - such as multiple sclerosis (MS). As a teacher and research supervisor, I now have an opportunity to share my clinical expertise and help the next generation of health professionals learn about best practices in MS care.
What do you think has been the most exciting development in MS research?
As a social applied researcher I am excited to see promising and diverse MS therapies and interventions being produced right here in Australia. This is largely due to grants and fellowships that now cover a range of medical and allied health disciplines.
Tell us about your current research project?
I am working with a team of health professionals and researchers from around Australia to find better ways to support job-seekers with MS. I am excited about our current project, which involves developing and testing a free discussion forum, called MS JobSeek. The forum will be led by a small group of employed peers with MS and will be overseen by a health psychologist. The peers will share their work experiences and help to motivate and encourage others to explore work and study options. To maximise reach, we will deliver this targeted support via the internet.
Why is your research important and how will it influence the understanding and treatment of MS?
Ultimately, our aim is to help those looking for a job make better-informed choices about their work options, use available community resources more efficiently, and build a network of employment contacts. Importantly, our findings will provide new evidence on how job-seekers engage with, and respond to, peer mentoring. There is also potential for our project to inform, even transform, how current employment support services for Australians with MS are delivered - including how peer support might be run and optimised.
What do you enjoy most about working in the lab and what are some of the challenges you face?
My research involves surveying and interviewing community agencies, professionals and consumers. This type of field research brings unique challenges - anything from designing a project to finding people to participate in our projects can become a roadblock. These challenges are far outweighed by the satisfaction of knowing that our work can positively contribute to the quality of life of people and families affected by MS.
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Dr Diana Dorstyn