Research in progress

Grants awarded 2020

  • Smart phone tele-assessment and monitoring of total knee replacements

    $79,107 – Dr Oren Tirosh – Senior Lecturer, Swinburne University of Technology

    Knee injury is responsible for 10% of all ADF hospital admissions. And total knee replacement (TKR) is increasing in Australia – largely due to the ageing population and higher incidence of degenerative knee arthritis. The clinical pathway to recovery after a TKR typically involving dozens of face-to-face consultations over three months. This project will test a pervasive clinical tele-assessment solution to assess postural and functional control as an alternative form of orthopaedic rehabilitation. The researchers will evaluate the tele-assessment tool they have designed and developed (known as ARIADNE) for its desirability and usability; assess its clinical reliability (including early detection of deviation in rehab trajectory); and determine if the tool is fit for the needs of both clinicians and patients.

  • e-health program for cardiac patients from the Defence community

    $63,810 – Dr Shelley Keating – NHMRC Early Career Fellow, The University of Queensland

    Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the most prevalent chronic disease in the ADF and is one of the top three causes of death. Exercise is an integral component of cardiac rehabilitation, as well as boosting cardiorespiratory fitness and mental health. However, adherence by cardiac patients to self-directed exercise declines significantly over time compared with initial supervised exercise. The researchers have developed a self-management Physical Activity Intelligence program to help patients maintain a level of exercise that will reduce their risk of cardiometabolic disease. The program collects data from a wrist-worn heartrate monitoring device and calculates a weekly PAI score. The e-health program also includes brief supervised exercise experiences and behavioural counselling. The research project aims to determine the feasibility, acceptance and effectiveness of the PAI e-health program in 30 participants post cardiac rehabilitation.

  • Transformative cardiac rehabilitation

    $73,482 – Professor William Parsonage – Professor and Clinical Director, Queensland University of Technology

    Research shows patients who undertake cardiac rehabilitation (CR) after a heart attack (or other cardiac event) are approximately 25% less likely to die from a further cardiovascular event – and are significantly less likely to be re-hospitalised. However, the evidence also shows patient participation rates (referral, enrolment and completion of rehabilitation programs) in Australia is low.

    This research aims to better understand what barriers influence engagement with CR in the Australian setting. It will examine the quantity, quality and characteristics of the evidence base and assess which strategies will be most effective at increasing CR engagement. The findings will be synthesised into an accessible form to guide clinicians and health policy makers.  

Grants awarded 2019

  • Profiling injuries suffered by female soldiers of the Australian Defence Force

    $39,467 – Dr Ben Schram – Faculty of Health Sciences and Medicine, Bond University

    Due to anatomical, biomechanical, physiological or anthropometric differences, female Defence members may suffer different – or more severe – injuries than their male counterparts. If these differences can be identified, evidence-based strategies can be put into place to help mitigate injuries. Using ADF injury surveillance data, a detailed investigation of injuries affecting female Defence members will further inform selection and implementation of interventions to minimise the incidence and severity of female injury in the ADF.

  • Evaluate the relationship between anger, aggression and suicidality in serving and ex-serving ADF members

    $50,000 – Senior Research Fellow Dr Tracey Varker – Phoenix Australia, Centre for Post-traumatic Mental Health

    Research has already shown the transition from military to civilian life is one of the most significant and stressful stages in the career trajectory of military members. Transition results in significant changes to identity, community, social ties, status, finances, routines, occupational and family roles. Emerging research indicates that difficulties with anger and aggression are common problems reported by contemporary veterans. This study will examine the frequency of problematic anger, aggression and suicidality, as well as their interconnections, among serving and transitioned ADF personnel. Distinctions will be drawn between male and female currently-serving and transitioned members.

  • Understanding and enhancing responses to suicide crises involving current serving and ex-serving ADF members

    $143,750 – Associate Professor Ed Heffernan – Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research

    While there has been growth in research on suicide among ADF and ex-ADF members, there has been comparably little focus on suicide crisis events. Understanding suicide crisis events is critical to enhancing crisis responses that reduce suffering and save lives. This research will examine linked health records of Defence-related personnel who have experienced a suicide crisis, with the view to translating findings into meaningful service responses. The aim is to improve mental health and psychosocial outcomes for serving and ex-serving ADF members and their families.

  • Birth outcomes for women in the ADF: the impact of models of care

    $96,622 – Associate Professor Emily Callander – Centre for Applied Health Economics, Griffith University

    Research has identified that women serving in the ADF may be experiencing higher rates of intervention in the birth of their babies, with 56% delivering via caesarean section (compared with 35% of civilian women). Until 2018, pregnant women in the ADF only had access to private obstetrician-led care. A change to Health Directive No 235 means it is now possible for pregnant ADF women to access other models of care (which may have lower rates of intervention). This research will examine the differences in outcomes and out-of-pocket costs between civilian and ADF mothers; and identify whether the policy change allowing alternative models of care has resulted in any change in outcomes and cost.

Grants awarded 2018

  • Improving responses to Intimate Partner Violence in the veteran community

    $49,990 – Dr Sean Cowlishaw, Senior Research Fellow, Phoenix Australia Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health

    High levels of IPV are expected among military personnel suffering post-traumatic mental health problems. While there is growing evidence from the US regarding IPV prevalence and interventions in military populations, there is no comparable research from Australia. This project will examine the frequency of IPV among Australian veterans and their families as reported by mental health service providers, and evaluate the readiness of services to respond. This project will provide preliminary evidence of the need for systematic responses to IPV in veteran and family support services in Australia.

  • Women serving in the ADF: an exploration of genitourinary health issues

    $34,905 – Dr Simone O’Shea, Lecturer in Physiotherapy, School of Community Health, Charles Sturt University

    Serving women are increasingly performing more physically-demanding and diverse roles in the ADF. And a larger female workforce requires broader consideration of female health care. The unique physical work requirements of many military roles mean service women may be placed at higher risk of genitourinary health issues (such as incontinence, urinary tract infections and pelvic organ prolapse). A better understanding of these issues will guide interventions for better female genitourinary health, occupational health, safety and performance.

  • A clinical trial to measure the success of integrative approaches for musculoskeletal health, chronic pain and associated conditions in military personnel and veterans

    $49,500 – Dr Jon Wardle, Associate Professor of Public Health, NHRMC Translating Research into Practice Fellow, Australian Research Centre in Complementary and Integrative Medicine, Faculty of Health, University of technology Sydney

    Despite significant military integration of complementary medicine (CM) in other countries, there appears to have been little integration of CM in the treatment of Australian military personnel, despite high use by that population. Most use of CM by serving personnel and veterans in Australia is self-administered rather than practitioner-assisted. This project will examine the clinical and societal impact of incorporating evidence-based CM into the care of serving and ex-serving personnel, and assess clinical improvements, resource or costs savings, or other benefits for patients.

Grants awarded 2017

  • A trial of N-acetylcysteine for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder that hasn’t improved with normal treatment.

    $192,816 -  Professor Richard Kanaan, Chair of Psychiatry, Austin Health University of Melbourne

    This study aims to investigate the efficacy of NAC as an adjunct to first line treatment in treatment-resistant PTSD in a definitive randomised, placebo-controlled trial. The primary outcome measures will be the core PTSD symptoms, measured by the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS). Secondary outcomes will include depressive symptoms, substance use, functioning, and quality of life.