We are honoured to present the PhD Student of the Month December 2021, Sinisa Stefanac. An occupational therapist by training, he is enrolled in the N790 programme „Public Health“ and is working under the supervision of Tanja Stamm at the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Arthritis and Rehabilitation and at the Institute of Outcomes Research, Center for Medical Statistics, Informatics and Intelligent Systems.

In his doctoral research project, Sinisa has two major parts with the overall goal of gaining evidence on occupational therapy services and practice. On the one hand, he focuses on occupational therapy in people with dementia in Austria, for which he conducted an analysis of all people taking dementia-specific medication in Austria using the national data from the Austrian social insurance institutions. On the other hand, he aims to bridge the gap between individually reported functional goals in people with osteoarthritis and the International Classification for Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) of the WHO. Possibly, the results of this study might contribute to a wider implementation of ICF in clinical practice. For this part of his doctoral project, Sinisa was awarded with the „Ernst-Wagner-Preis für Rehabilitations-Forschung in der Rheumatologie“ by the Institut für Rheumatologie der Kurstadt Baden in 2020. Furthermore, Sinisa’s research activities have already led to various publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals, amongst these a first-author publication in the „International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry“.

Sinisa is also passionate about teaching and is a lecturer in the Human Medicine programme at the Medical University of Vienna, where he teaches in the „Functionality in everyday life“ (Block 22/23) seminar. This course focuses on the significance of activities of daily living in patients with various comorbidities and highlights the importance of interdisciplinary work in medicine, particularly occupational therapy. Since 2020, he has also been part of the team that is updating and re-developing this seminar.

(photo copyright: MedUni Wien/Matern)