Clinical Translation - Potential Student Projects

Title Explanatory StatementSupervisor/sCourse
Does Laboratory Stress Reactivity Predict Health Behaviour ‎Reactivity to Stress in Daily Life?‎Good health behaviours (eg, sleep, activity, diet) can prevent or ‎delay many chronic diseases (eg, cancer, diabetes, heart disease), ‎the leading causes of morbidity and mortality. No two days are the ‎same and individuals vary day-to-day in their practice of health ‎behaviours (eg, sleeping 8 hours one night, staying up late the ‎next). Daily stress impacts health behaviours, but not all people ‎respond to stress the same way. This study involves a laboratory ‎and ecological momentary assessment component. It aims to ‎examine whether lab-based measures of psychological and ‎physiological stress reactivity predict health behaviour reactivity to ‎stress in daily life.‎Dr. Joshua Wiley 
An Exploratory Study of the Relations between Language and ‎Daily Emotions and BehaviourPsychological research often relies on self-report scales. Recently, ‎research is also analysing and quantifying natural language. The ‎current study will investigate the relations between measures ‎quantified from natural language with self-report stress and affect ‎and daily health behaviours (sleep, activity, diet) in a naturalistic, ‎‎7-day study.‎Dr. Joshua Wiley 
The prevalence of ‘phantom kicks’ in the post-partal periodAnecdotally, many women continue to feel ‘kick-like’ sensations for ‎many months after the delivery of a child. Women’s health forums ‎abound with descriptions and questions surrounding this experience, ‎but little to no scientific evidence exists about the prevalence of ‎these experiences and how they vary across individuals (frequency, ‎sensation, differences between first/second/subsequent children, ‎differences between vaginal/caesarean birth). ‎

In this study, the first of a number of planned studies into the ‎neuroscience of motherhood, we will conduct a large online survey ‎of mothers to examine the prevalence and qualitative variance of the ‎phantom kick experience in the post-partal period. ‎
Dr Sharna Jamadar, Dr Phillip Ward 
The link between ‘phantom kicks’ and postnatal depressionAnecdotally, many women continue to feel ‘kick-like’ sensations for ‎many months after the delivery of a child. This sensation may be ‎analogous to the phantom limb sensations experienced by people ‎who have amputated limbs or deafferentation syndrome. People ‎with phantom limb syndrome often experience depressive ‎symptoms, which have been linked to disrupted feedback loops ‎between the motor/somatosensory cortices and the anterior ‎cingulate.‎

In this study, we will examine if women who experience phantom ‎kick syndrome may be more likely to experience postnatal ‎depression. ‎
Dr Sharna Jamadar, Dr Phillip Ward 
Study of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) in women with borderline personality disorderBorderline personality disorder (BPD) is a common and severe psychiatric illness. Premenstrual ‎dysphoric disorder (PMDD) may be more severe in patients with BPD, and may also increase ‎psychiatric symptoms leading up to menstruation. The aim of this study is to characterise PMDD ‎symptoms and severity in patients with BPD, and also to examine BPD symptom severity across a ‎one-month interval. ‎PRIMARY SUPERVISOR(s): Prof Jayashri Kulkarni ‎

ASSOCIATE SUPERVISOR(s): Dr Natalie Thomas & Ms Emmy Gavrilidis
 
Assessing the reliability and validity of a new measure of functional independence for people with ‎severe mental illness and factors that predict level of independence and rehabilitation progress.‎Difficulty with independent living, illness self-management and social participation is often ‎experienced by people with severe mental illness. To provide intensive rehabilitation support, ‎residential rehabilitation units provide multidisciplinary treatment and support for a period of up to ‎‎1-2 years. To improve collaborative care planning and monitoring of recovery progress, senior ‎clinicians of Alfred Psychiatry developed the ARCC Rehabilitation Scale. Additional measures were ‎collected including clinician-rated psychiatric symptom severity, cognition and disability and ‎consumer-rated medication adherence and psychosocial difficulty. This project will use previously ‎collected data to assess the scale’s reliability and validity and predictors of level of functioning.‎PRIMARY SUPERVISOR(s): Dr Stuart Lee ‎

ASSOCIATE SUPERVISOR(s): Daniel Cartlidge, Justine Rowe
 
Exploring the neurobiology of depression with brain stimulationAntidepressants fail to achieve remission in at least 1 out of 3 patients with major depressive ‎disorder. Repetitive brain stimulation is an emerging non-invasive treatment for treatment ‎resistant depression. Brain stimulation can also be used as an investigative tool. The proposed ‎research aims to further explore the neurobiology of depression and enhance existing treatments ‎using transcranial magnetic brain stimulation (TMS). Electroencephalography (EEG) will be used to ‎record neural activity elicited by TMS. You will receive plenty of support in learning these ‎techniques. You will have an excellent and highly motivated supervisory team to draw on for ‎research support and clinical expertise.‎PRIMARY SUPERVISOR(s): Dr Robin Cash (Monash Alfred Psychiatry research centre)‎

ASSOCIATE SUPERVISOR(s): Prof Paul Fitzgerald
 
An investigation of Ultra-RunnersDo you ever wonder how some people are able to run hundreds of kilometres in extreme ‎conditions such as the high humidity of the Amazon jungle or the freezing temperatures of the ‎Himalayas? Would you be surprised to find out that many “ultra-runners” are just normal everyday ‎people who work full-time while juggling families? In this honours project, we are looking for a ‎high-performing student with a background in psychology and/or neuroscience to develop upon ‎our early work on what underlies the desire and ability of these people to accomplish such ‎extreme feats. ‎PRIMARY SUPERVISOR(s): Dr Bernadette Fitzgibbon

ASSOCIATE SUPERVISOR(s): Associate Professor Kate Hoy; Dr Donna Urquhart
 
Development and evaluation of a digital-health intervention to empower adolescents to reduce their risk of depression Researchers at Monash University and the University of Melbourne have developed a set of guidelines outlining specific strategies that adolescents can use to reduce their risk of depression, which are evidence-based and supported by clinical/research experts and consumer-advocates. These guidelines serve as the evidence base for developing a novel digital-health intervention that young people can engage with, to empower them with self-help strategies to reduce the risk and impact of depression in their lives. The short-term effects of the intervention will then be evaluated in a randomised controlled trial, which will also assess patterns of engagement and mechanisms of change. Dr Marie Yap & Dr Kathryn Cairns PhD
PhD(ClinPsych)
Honours
Therapist-assisted Online Parenting Strategies: Empowering parents of depressed/anxious adolescents with evidence-based strategies to support their adolescents and enhance their recovery Parenting Strategies is a research translation program that aims to empower parents with evidence-based strategies to protect their child's mental health. We have developed an international-first, tailored web-based parenting intervention for parents of adolescents, to reduce the risk of internalizing problems in adolescents. A recent RCT of the intervention found that parents whose adolescent reported clinical levels of depressive and/or anxiety symptoms at baseline experienced the greatest benefits from the intervention, both in the form of improvements in parental risk and protective factors, as well as adolescent symptoms post-intervention. We are now bringing a therapist-assisted version of Parenting Strategies to youth mental health services, to investigate whether the intervention will prove effective when delivered to parents whose adolescents are receiving treatment for their internalising disorders. Dr Marie Yap PhD
PhD(ClinPsych)
Honours
Resilience after Traumatic Brain Injury.This project will examine resilience after traumatic brain injury. Our centre has recently conducted over 200 assessments of outcomes in individuals following a traumatic brain injury. This Honours project will involve follow-up of this participant group to investigate correlates and predictors of resilience.Prof Jennie Ponsford Amelia HicksHonours
Development and evaluation of a digital-health intervention to empower adolescents to reduce their risk of depressionResearchers at Monash University and the University of Melbourne have developed a set of guidelines outlining specific strategies that adolescents can use to reduce their risk of depression, which are evidence-based and supported by clinical/research experts and consumer-advocates. These guidelines serve as the evidence base for developing a novel digital-health intervention that young people can engage with, to empower them with self-help strategies to reduce the risk and impact of depression in their lives. The short-term effects of the intervention will then be evaluated in a randomised controlled trial, which will also assess patterns of engagement and mechanisms of change.Dr Marie Yap Dr Kathryn CairnsPhD PhD(ClinPsych)Honours
Therapist-assisted Online Parenting Strategies: Empowering parents of depressed/anxious adolescents with evidence-based strategies to support their adolescents and enhance their recoveryParenting Strategies is a research translation program that aims to empower parents with evidence-based strategies to protect their child’s mental health. We have developed an international-first, tailored web-based parenting intervention for parents of adolescents, to reduce the risk of internalizing problems in adolescents. A recent RCT of the intervention found that parents whose adolescent reported clinical levels of depressive and/or anxiety symptoms at baseline experienced the greatest benefits from the intervention, both in the form of improvements in parental risk and protective factors, as well as adolescent symptoms post-intervention. We are now bringing a therapist-assisted version of Parenting Strategies to youth mental health services, to investigate whether the intervention will prove effective when delivered to parents whose adolescents are receiving treatment for their internalising disorders.Dr Marie Yap

PhD

PhD(ClinPsych)

Honours

Advancing the Science for the Practice of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)Growing evidence suggests that CBT can be enhanced by specific elements of the professional client-therapist relationship. While such elements have significant implications for practice (e.g.,therapists’ use of expressed empathy/working alliance/active collaboration, based on client attributes/strengths), the issue has not been comprehensively studied. Using data from a completed clinical trial, the project will examine in detail how the therapeutic relationship leads to meaningful changes for those with severe depression. Measurement of in-session processes (direct observation of recorded sessions) will be examined as predictors of outcome assessed at post-therapy and 6-,12-,18-,24-months follow-up. The research will be carried out within Monash’s CBTRU (http://www.med.monash.edu.au/psych/cbtru/).A/Prof Nikolaos    Kazantzis Dr Laura Jobson
Dr Katrina Simpson
PhD
PhD(ClinPsych)
Honours
What Works for Whom? Techniques with the Greatest Utility in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) for DepressionOver 400 studies have shown CBT to be effective. Yet, surprisingly little is known about its “interior”,and which of its interventions lead to rapid symptom reduction. Using data from a completed NIMH-funded trial contrasting behaviour therapy and CBT for severe depression, the research will enable to trainee to study different interventions and how they are focused by clinicians. The research will use a Monash-developed tool for reliably assessing interventions, and there is scope to direct the research in different ways, such as by focusing on different interventions, targets, or mechanisms of change. The projects will be conducted within Monash’s CBTRU (http://www.med.monash.edu.au/psych/cbtru/).A/Prof Nikolaos Kazantzis
Prof Sean Drummond
Dr Katrina Simpson
PhD(ClinPsych)
Honours
Influence of culture on emotion-processing in depressionDepression is characterized by disruptions in emotion-processing. Culture has been found to have a profound influence on the processing of emotion. Therefore, the aim of this project is to investigate the influence of culture on a variety of emotion-processing tasks and its relationship with depression.Dr Laura JobsonPhD
PhD(ClinPsych)
Honours
Influence of culture on the role of self in post-traumatic stress disorderFor individuals suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) the trauma experience has been found to have a significant influence on their self-concept. Recently there has been increasing use of social psychology paradigms by trauma researchers to further understand this relationship between PTSD symptoms and the self. Additionally, research has demonstrated marked cultural differences in how the self is conceptualised. Therefore, this research project will examine the influence of culture on the relationship between aspects of the self-concept and PTSD symptoms.Dr Laura JobsonPhD
PhD(ClinPsych)
Honours
Investigating the efficacy of memory specificity training in childrenDifficulties in retrieving specific memories has been found to be a cognitive marker for several psychological disorders. Difficulties in retrieving specific memories has been found to be related to problem-solving difficulties, rumination, social problems and imagining the future. Emerging research is indicating that memory specificity problems can be altered using a simple-standalone training. Furthermore, such training has been found to improve psychological symptoms. The aim of the proposed research is to investigate the influence of providing children with memory specificity training on cognitive, social and psychological outcomes.Dr Laura JobsonPhD
PhD(ClinPsych)
Honours
Relationship between trauma narratives and intrusions using the trauma film paradigmThe trauma film paradigm has been used as an experimental analogue of witnessing real trauma and of the subsequent intrusions suffered in posttraumatic stress disorder. Recently we conducted a series of studies investigating the relationship between how one provides a voluntary narrative about the film and the frequency of involuntary film-related intrusions experienced. This current project aims to extend this work by manipulating voluntary memory of the film (i.e. encouraging participants to remember the film material in a certain way) and measuring the influence of this on subsequent involuntary film-related intrusions.Dr Laura JobsonPhD
PhD(ClinPsych)
Honours
Sleep, Cognition, and Mental HealthProfessor Drummond is interested in working with motivated honours students wanting to learn about sleep research. Prof Drummond's research covers 2 main areas: 1) sleep and mental health, especially insomnia and/or PTSD; and 2) sleep deprivation and cognition. His studies involved healthy control and patient groups and include both experimental and clinical research. The exact honours project has not yet been determined, so students excited by these areas are encouraged to contact Prof Drummond to discuss their interests.Prof    Sean DrummondHonours
A sustainable program for better sleep during pregnancy and postpartum periodsPoor sleep and symptoms of insomnia are common during pregnancy and postpartum periods, and have been linked to postpartum depression, poor birth outcomes, and poor maternal-infant bonding. Cognitive behavioural interventions have lasting benefits on sleep and well being, but are not easily accessible to new parents in the community, and are not currently part of routine care. This unique doctoral research opportunity will allow a highly motivated student to work on a clinical translational research project that aims to incorporate a "healthy sleep" component in routine perinatal care.Prof Shantha Rajaratnam
Dr Bei Bei
PhD
PhD(ClinPsych)
PhD(ClinNeuro)
Circadian-enhanced cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia in the treatment of comorbid insomnia/depressionFor a long time it has been thought that insomnia was a symptom of depression. Several lines of evidence now clearly demonstrate that the insomnia can play a causal role in the development and maintenance of depression, and that circadian rhythm misalignment may be an independent contributor to both insomnia and depression. This project aims to test whether a novel cognitive behavioural therapy intervention for insomnia (CBT-I) that includes characterisation of the phase of the circadian system and strategies to promote circadian stability, improves both insomnia and depression outcomes.Prof    Shantha Rajaratnam
Dr Sean Cain
Dr Bei Bei
PhD
PhD(ClinPsych)
PhD(ClinNeuro)
Sleep health and alertness management in occupational settingsRapid advances have been made in our understanding of the control of alertness and in the evidence base for successful methods of implementing organisational and community-based interventions. We now have an unprecedented opportunity to begin a new era in alertness management to reduce the avoidable costs to safety and productivity. The CRC for Alertness, Safety and Productivity will develop new products to improve alertness for individuals and across organisations, resulting in higher productivity and enhanced safety. Three available projects will examine sleep health programs, the management of sleep disorders, neuropsychological testing and interventions for alertness management in occupational settings.Prof Shantha Rajaratnam
Dr Tracey Sletten
PhD
Factors predicting prolonged recovery and return to work (RTW) following musculoskeletal injuryThe extent of physical incapacitation, pain and general disability post-motor vehicle or work-related injury varies tremendously. The unpredictable duration and nature of recovery from physical (e.g. musculoskeletal) injury challenges compensation system goals around facilitating functional recovery and return to work for these individuals. If we are to develop more individualised, targeted rehabilitation programs and interventions that have a greater chance of facilitating recovery, we first need to identify the factors associated with prolonged recovery and work absence, and then work with those that are amenable to change. This project will retrospectively contrast baseline and follow-up data elicited from a purpose designed assessment tool for a group of individuals who RTW within 6 months of injury, and a group who take longer than 12 months to RTW. A standardised assessment tool measuring individual attitudes, beliefs and perceptions around work, health and their employer, recovery expectations, pain severity and pain management, resilience / coping, and self-efficacy will allow the examination of a range of individual factors that may be associated with protracted recovery and prolonged work absence. Within the scope of a PhD level project, there is also an opportunity to evaluate a health coaching program undertaken by a sample of individuals with musculoskeletal injury.Dr Dianne Sheppard
Dr Ross Iles
Dr Melita Giummarra
PhD
Honours
The experience of a 12-month intervention for behaviour problems following acquired brain injury: A qualitative study.Our centre is currently conducting a randomised-controlled trial of a Positive Behaviour Support program for behavior problems following an acquired brain injury. Participants in the study are provided with 12 months of interdisciplinary support from a neurospcyhologist, occupational therapist, speech therapist and psychiatrist. Many of our initial participants have now completed this intervention. We are interested in exploring how participants and their family members experienced this intervention, and their perceptions of the benefits and possible issues involved with this form of therapy program. This Honours project will involve conducting qualitative interviews with the individuals with an ABI and their family members.Prof Jennie Ponsford
Dr Kate Gould
Amelia Hicks
Honours
Return to work after Traumatic Brain InjuryThis project will explore from a qualitative and quantitative perspective the factors associated with success and failure to return to employment following traumatic brain injury.Prof Jennie PonsfordPhD(ClinNeuro)
Mental health after transport injury: how many patients suffer, and do they receive psychological treatment?This project will characterize mental health outcomes in persons who have sustained an orthopaedic injury in a motor vehicle crash who were registered to the Victorian Orthopaedic Trauma Outcomes Registry, with a sample of approximately 2500 patients. The project will identify which patients are more likely to report problems with anxiety and depression at 6-, 12-, and 24-months following injury. The study will also examine whether patients receive treatment for those conditions through data linkage with the compensation research database. The study ultimately aims to identify whether some patients may require additional care during discharge from hospital, or from their compensation claim manager, in order to ensure that appropriate support is available once they return home.

Dr Melita Giummarra
Prof Jennie Ponsford

Honours
Family violence in Victoria: An examination of forensic medical casework?The aim of this Honours project is to:
1. Identify all family violence cases assessed by Clinical Forensic Physicians at the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, between 1 July 2015 and 30 June 2016, and;
2. Examine this cohort of cases in order to describe the key characteristics and potential risk factors, as well as trends and patterns in their presentation for assessment.

Dr Jennifer Pilgrim  Dr Angela Williams

Honours
Children bereaved by domestic homicideLittle is known about the needs of, and support for, young people who have lost a parent due to fatal family violence. Although domestic homicides are relatively rare, probably over 1000 Autralian children have been affected in the past 20 years. This research project ultimately aims to improve care and support for children and young people bereaved by family violence. It consists of qualitative and quantitative subprojects among young people, caregivers and professionals, with both a local and an international focus (in collaboration with an international research network). Dr Eva AlisicPhD(ClinPsych)
Young refugeesThis PhD project aims to help improve the wellbeing of children and young people exposed to war and conflict. Building on the strengths and interests of the student it will focus on one or more of the following questions: a) How do children and young people, across a range of cultures, experience and describe trauma and recovery?; b) What needs do children and young people affected to conflict express, and how do they access mental health care and related services?; c) What does children’s social support across cultures look like in real-life and how does it relate to wellbeing?

Dr Eva Alisic

Dr Laura Jobson

PhD(ClinPsych)

PhD

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