Honours

Why choose Honours in Population and Global Health?

The Honours program in the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health (MSPGH) will provide students with skills and experience conducting research in an area of population and global health. Population Health researchers address questions designed to improve the health of populations in both Australia and globally, and use a range of approaches including for example; the analysis of population statistics; qualitative research with particular sub-groups in the population; analysis of legal and ethical issues in health, and; evaluation of health programs and policies.

Honours students will have the opportunity to join one of the many research groups within the School. The groups use the approaches described above to address diverse areas of health including; sexual health; indigenous health; mental health; men’s health; women’s health and disease prevention.

The opportunity to specialise provides a strong foundation for the future direction of Honours graduates, whether as a means of progressing to higher degree research at the Masters or PhD level, or improving the scope of employment options and professional advancement.

The course year starts in February and ends in November and is only available full time.

2020 MSPGH Honours Flyer

Structure

The Honours program consists of 100 credit points completed over 12 months full time (or part time equivalent) comprising of two (2) Advanced Coursework subjects and a Research Project.

To be awarded Honours with a specialisation in Population and Global Health, students must successfully complete the following:

BIOM40001 Introduction to Biomedical Research (12.5 points)

AND One of the following 12.5 point subjects  (as directed by Honours Supervisor & Coordinator):
POPH90200 Principles of Social Research Design
POPH90014 Epidemiology 1
POPH90058 Health Program Evaluation 1
POPH90206 Health Policy
POPH90270 Bioethics and Public Health
POPH90094 Health Economics 1

AND both of:
POPH40005 Population Health Research Project 1 (25 points)
POPH40006 - Population Health Research Project 2 (50 points)

What will you achieve?

  • Ability to formulate population health research questions;
  • Ability to apply ethical principles to the conduct of research with humans;
  • Expertise in all aspects of research design, including selection of populations, sampling approach, data collection methods and analysis;
  • Ability to apply critical and analytical skills to the identification and resolution of problems that arise in the conduct of population health research;
  • Proficiency in accessing, searching and summarising published research in population health;
  • Skills in communicating the findings of a research project in written and oral form.

Information session

Date:      Tuesday 1st October, 2019
Time:      4.00 pm – 5.30 pm
Venue:   Room 515, Level 5, 207 Bouverie St, Carlton

MSPGH Honours Coordinators

Associate Professor Louise Keogh
l.keogh@unimelb.edu.au

Dr Alison Barr
alison.barr@unimelb.edu.au

MSPGH Research Projects 2020

  • Young people's health and elimination of cervical cancer in Myanmar

    Supervisors:  Dr Christopher Morgan, Dr Elissa Kennedy

    Project Site:  International Development, Burnet Institute

    Project Description:

    Elimination of cervical cancer in low- and middle-income countries involves introduction of a new vaccine, against human papilloma virus, typically administered to girls through school-vaccination programs. With global development partner support, the Myanmar Ministry of Health and Sports is introducing this from 2019.  School-based vaccination programs also offer a platform for other health promotion on topics important to adolescent health.  Myanmar also has a separate program for screening women for early signs of cervical cancer. There are new tools emerging to enhance such screening, by focusing on early detection of human papilloma virus in such screening programs.  Our research aims to find ways to link these separate programs together, to find synergies that will maximise their engagement with communities in Myanmar, and their public health benefit. This honours project will enlist the student in surveying the current state of evidence on such linkages, and in analysis of data that will be collected by Burnet’s Myanmar field team. Aim: To review evidence, relevant to low- and middle-income settings in general, and Myanmar in particular, on active linkages between HPV vaccination and school health with cervical cancer screening services. Methods: This work applies health systems thinking and implementation research tools to the extraction of evidence on service delivery from published and grey literature. This also applies tools for policy-relevant evidence review. Research activities can include a) literature review of country-level data and peer-review publications; and b) analysis of qualitative data on feasibility and acceptability from focus group discussions and in-depth interviews. The latter will cover topics including HPV vaccination of girls, adolescent health promotion priorities, and use of new technologies for cervical cancer screening in women.  Students will gain a detailed insight into global health policy development, and the application of evidence to inform health policy, as it applies to the global vaccination program.  Students will also gain skills in systems thinking, health systems analysis, systematic literature reviews, and the collation and presentation of evidence to inform policy. Outputs: Evidence review publication, qualitative data analysis report, policy briefs.

  • Immunisation programs in resource-constrained settings, evidence collation for global policy

    Supervisors:  Dr Christopher Morgan

    Project Site:  International Development, Burnet Institute

    Project Description:

    Childhood immunisation is the most cost-effective public health measure available, yet approximately 1 in 5 children are still not reached with vaccination, worse in resource-constrained settings of low- and middle-income countries. Burnet Institute staff have been working with the World Health Organization (WHO) and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance on a global prioritisation exercise to assess the relative benefits of innovative vaccine delivery devices. Several such innovations aim to enable vaccinations to be provided by lesser-trained health workers, which is crucial to the achievement of better coverage in resource-constrained settings where medical and nursing staff are scarce. These, and other several service delivery challenges need up-to-date collation of evidence to support the prioritisation process and to build a case for why major global donor agencies should be investing in these innovations. Aims: a) To support the collation and analysis of evidence from resource-constrained settings to support global strategies for innovative immunization programs; b) To generate evidence from specific settings in Africa, Asia or the Pacific to guide local policy or procedures.  Methods: This work applies health systems thinking and implementation research tools to the extraction of evidence on service delivery from published and grey literature. This also applies tools for policy-relevant evidence review. Research activities can include: a) review of country-level data and publications to inform WHO technical advisory groups; and/or b) systematic literature review. Students will gain a detailed insight into global health policy development, and the application of evidence to inform health policy, as it applies to the global vaccination program.  Students will also gain skills in systems thinking, health systems analysis, systematic literature reviews, and the collation and presentation of evidence to inform policy. Outputs: Evidence review publication, research design, research report, policy briefs.

  • Trends in maternal and newborn health outcomes in Demographic Household Surveys in Papua New Guinea (2006 and 2018)

    Supervisors:  Dr Joshua Vogel, Prof Caroline Homer

    Project Site:  Maternal and Child Health Program, Burnet Institute

    Project Description:

    Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) are large, nationally-representative household surveys that provide data for a wide range of monitoring and impact evaluation indicators across population, health, and nutrition topics. In many low- and middle-income countries (such as Papua New Guinea), the lack of national civil administrative data means that governments, international agencies and funders rely on DHS data for many reproductive health indicators.
    In Papua New Guinea, a new DHS (data collected 2017-2018) will be released in late 2019, superseding the previous DHS 2006. The availability of these new data provide a unique opportunity to assess trends in key maternal and newborn health indicators in PNG over the past decade.
    In this project, a student will conduct a comparative analysis of the two Demographic Health Surveys (2006 and 2018) available for Papua New Guinea, to assess trends in socio-demographic characteristics, reproductive health service utilization and maternal and newborn health outcomes. The student will work with the Global Women’s and Newborn’s Health Group at the Burnet Institute in Melbourne (primarily desk-based research). This project will allow the student to gain experience in global maternal and perinatal health epidemiology with view to a scientific publication.

  • Optimizing the management of women in spontaneous preterm labour

    Supervisors:  Dr Joshua Vogel, Prof Caroline Homer

    Project Site:  Maternal and Child Health Program, Burnet Institute

    Project Description:

    Preterm birth affects nearly 15 million births annually, and is the leading cause of death in children younger than 5 years of age globally. Up to 75% of preterm births occur following spontaneous preterm labour or preterm premature rupture of membranes (PPROM). In Australia, preterm birth affects 8.5% of all births (an increase from 7.9% in 2010), equating to nearly 27,000 preterm babies in 2016.
    With strategies for preventing preterm birth proving largely unsuccessful, women presenting with signs and symptoms of threatened preterm labour remains a global clinical challenge. Tocolytic drugs are widely used in an attempt to delay or even prevent preterm birth. In Australia, the calcium channel blocker nifedipine is routinely used to treat threatened preterm labour. However, a Cochrane review found insufficient evidence to conclude whether tocolysis with nifedipine improves substantive perinatal outcomes.
    The Maternal and Child Health Program has a number of student projects available relating to research on improving understanding and use of nifedipine for the management of preterm labour, including:
    *Knowledge synthesis on the benefits and harms of nifedipine for preterm labour, including systematic reviews of efficacy trials
    *Reviews and quality assessments of relevant international clinical practice guidelines
    *Primary research on current clinical practice in managing spontaneous preterm labour, including tocolytic use
    *Primary research on women’s and provider’s willingness to participate in a clinical trial of nifedipine versus placebo

  • Are Australian guideline panels gender balanced?

    Supervisors:  Dr Joshua Vogel, Dr Meghan Bohren

    Project Site:  Maternal and Child Health Program, Burnet Institute

    Project Description:

    The development of clinical guidelines is an important leadership role in clinical medicine and public health. Guideline panels are typically composed of leading technical experts in a particular field, as well as representatives of key stakeholder groups such as professional associations, consumer representatives and guideline implementers. An analysis of the gender composition of 230 WHO guideline panels in the past eleven years showed that more panel members were male, and two-thirds of guideline panels had a male Chair.
    In this project, a student will conduct an analysis of the gender composition of Australian guideline panels over the past ten years. It will involve developing a database of guideline panel members using the NHMRC guideline clearinghouse website, and conducting a descriptive quantitative analysis.
    The student will work with the Global Women’s and Newborn’s Health Group at the Burnet Institute in Melbourne (primarily desk-based research). This project would allow a student to gain experience in gender theory and quantitative analysis methods, with a view to a scientific publication. The findings will be critical for Australian healthcare decision-makers.

  • How Baby Friendly are Australian health services? WHO/UNICEF Baby Friendly Health Initiative (BFHI) accreditation efforts in Australia

    Supervisors:  Dr Alyce Wilson, Dr Joshua Vogel

    Project Site:  Maternal and Child Health Program, Burnet Institute

    Project Description:

    The WHO/UNICEF Baby Friendly Health Initiative (BFHI) was launched in 1991 with the global goal of encouraging health services to protect, promote and support breastfeeding of singleton and multiple births. Since its inception, the BFHI has been implemented in more than 152 countries worldwide, including in Australia in 1993. Health services can apply for BFHI accreditation to demonstrate their commitment to providing a supportive environment and service for breastfeeding. In 2012, Australian Health Ministers encouraged both public and private hospitals to achieve and maintain BFHI accreditation, and affirmed that all state and territory health services should implement the WHO/UNICEF Baby Friendly Health Initiative (BFHI), particularly the ten steps to successful breastfeeding for all health services.
    This project will involve mapping BFHI accredited facilities in Australia and comparing efforts between states and territories and impact on breastfeeding rates. Surveys will be undertaken with health facilities that are yet to achieve accreditation to explore perceived enablers and barriers to BFHI accreditation.
    The student will work with the Global Women’s and Newborn’s Health Group at the Burnet Institute in Melbourne (primarily desk-based research). This project will allow the student to gain experience in global maternal and perinatal health epidemiology, systematic review and quantitative analysis methodologies, with a view to a scientific publication and pursuing a PhD.

  • How do we improve the knowledge and skills of midwives and doctors in assessment and classification of perineal tears?

    Supervisors:  Dr Alyce Wilson, Dr Joshua Vogel

    Project Site:  Maternal and Child Health Program, Burnet Institute

    Project Description:

    Severe perineal tears (third- and fourth-degree tears) are associated with significant immediate and long term implications for women and health systems. In Australia, rates of third- and fourth-degree tears are above rates for similar OECD countries and there is significant variation across states and territories. Many maternity services across Australia are driving their own initiatives to reduce the incidence of severe perineal tears and this is further supported by state and national efforts to establish best practice guidelines and clinical standards.  
    It has been recognised that improving the competency of midwives and doctors in assessing and accurately classifying perineal tears could be one avenue through which to achieve better prevention and management of severe perineal tears. This project will involve a systematic review to examine initiatives undertaken to educate and train midwives and doctors in perineal anatomy and classification of perineal tears.
    The student will work with the Global Women’s and Newborn’s Health Group at the Burnet Institute in Melbourne (primarily desk-based research). This project will allow the student to gain experience in global maternal and perinatal health epidemiology, systematic review and quantitative analysis methodologies, with a view to a scientific publication and pursuing a PhD.

  • Dual diagnosis and mental health service use after release from prison: a prospective cohort study

    Supervisors:  Dr Jesse Young, Ms Claire Keen

    Project Site:  Justice Health Unit, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health

    Project Description:

    People with a dual diagnosis of substance use disorder and mental illness often have complex health needs and high risk of poor health outcomes, including high risk of injury and overdose. A large proportion of people released from prison have been previously diagnosed with a substance use disorder, mental illness, or both. However, there is little research comparing mental health service use patterns of people recently released from prison with no previous mental illness, substance use disorder, mental illness, or dual diagnosis. This project will examine the association between dual diagnosis and mental health service use in people recently released from prison in Queensland, Australia. It will utilise self-report surveys and linked administrative hospital, emergency department and MBS-subsidised mental health service use records to explore differences in mental health service use following release according to pre-existing dual diagnosis.

  • Preventable hospitalisation among people release from prison: a prospective cohort study

    Supervisors:  Dr Jesse Young, Ms Claire Keen

    Project Site:  Justice Health Unit, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health

    Project Description:

    People released from prison often have complex health needs, including high rates of multimorbidity. People released from prison present to hospital and other health service at higher rates compared to the general population. However, there is little research on potentially preventable hospitalisations following release from prison and the potential for primary care contact to modify the rate of these hospitalisations. This project will use a unique combination of survey and linked health service data (eg. ambulance, emergency department, hospital admission, other federally-subsidised health services – i.e., Medicare services) to examine the incidence and predictors of preventable hospitalisation in people recently released from prison in Queensland, Australia. It will examine, among other factors, the potential association between the use of primary care services and potentially preventable hospitalisation following release from prison.

  • Sex differences in multimorbidities in people recently release from prison

    Supervisors:  Dr Jesse Young, Ms Claire Keen

    Project Site:  Justice Health Unit, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health

    Project Description:

    People released from prison often have complex comorbidities, including mental and physical health conditions. Women and men typically have different patterns of multimorbidities, however this has not been examined in a population of people recently release from prison. This project will use linked health data and survey data from a cohort of people recently released from prison in Queensland to describe the patterns of multimorbidities experienced by men and women.

  • Patterns of opioid and benzodiazepine dispensing among adults released from prison: a prospective cohort study

    Supervisors:    Dr Jesse Young, Ms Claire Keen

    Project Site:  Justice Health Unit, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health

    Project Description:

    People released from prison often have complex comorbidities and are at high risk of drug-related harm, including overdose. Prescription opioids and benzodiazepines have been implicated in rising rates of opioid overdose globally. However, there has been little research on the patterns of opioid and benzodiazepine dispensing among adults released from prison. This project will use medication supply data from the pharmaceutical benefits scheme (PBS) linked to a cohort of people recently released from prison in Queensland and Western Australia to examine the patterns of opioid and benzodiazepine dispensing following release from prison and the factors that predict different dispensing patterns.

  • Trends in Health System Performance in six middle income countries

    Supervisors:    Dr John Tayu Lee, Prof Barbara McPake

    Project Site:  Justice Health Unit, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health

    Project Description:

    Assessment of health system performance is a key driver for health system strengthening to achieve universall health coverage in health systems. Using two waves of a large nationally-representative cohort dataset by the WHO, the study will assess trends and disparities in health system performance between urban and rural areas in six middle income countries (China, India, Ghana, Mexico, Russia, South Africa) from 2009-2015.

  • Geographical variation in health seeking journey in India

    Supervisors:    Dr John Tayu Lee, Prof Barbara McPake

    Project Site:  Justice Health Unit, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health

    Project Description:

    This study aims to understand the degree to which health-seeking behaviour varies across states in India. We will evaluate determinants (key drivers) of healthcare utilisation and OOPE and understand how much variations in health seeking behavioural in India can be explained by individual/household/district/state/region level using nationally representative sample.

  • The effect of physical multimorbidity, mental condition, and socioeconomic status on health service use and quality of life in Europe

    Supervisors:    Dr John Tayu Lee

    Project Site:  Justice Health Unit, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health

    Project Description:

    Multimorbidity, the presence of more than 1 long-term disorder, is associated with increased use of needs for health care. Furthermore, socioeconomic deprivation and mental health comorbidity may lead to additional health service use. We examined the impact of physical multimorbidity, mental health and socioeconomic deprivation on quality of life and health service use. The study will utillize the latest wave of Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) dataset, which include more than 15 European countries.

  • The socio-epidemiology of non-communicable disease diagnoses, treatment, and control in Australia

    Supervisors:    Dr John Tayu Lee

    Project Site:  Justice Health Unit, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health

    Project Description:

    The burden of non-communicable diseaes (NCD) is rising rapidly in Australia, where NCDs are often undiagnosed, untreatment, and uncontrolled. How socioeconomic and epidemiological risk factors. Including presence of comorbidity impacts diagnosis, treatment and controls of NCDs is an emerging area of reseasech inquiry and have significant clinical implications as highlighted in the recent National Institute for Care Excellece (NICE) guidelines for treating patietns suffering from multiplle NCDs. This study will utilize a large national representative survey in Australia to examine the socioepidemiological determinants of NCD outcomes in Australia.

  • Beating the odds': Early life experiences influencing the association between genetic prediction and language development in mid-childhood

    Supervisors:    Dr Anneke Grobler , Dr Katherine Lange

    Project Site:  Murdoch Children's Research Institute, The Royal Children's Hospital

    Project Description:

    Language skills are important determinants of daily functioning and health, and are closely linked to academic and employment outcomes. Recent evidence has identified a range of genetic factors that influence educational attainment, but genetics is clearly only one part of a complex interplay of factors. This project aims to investigate the interaction between genetic predisposition for educational attainment, and early life exposures, in determining childhood language development in a large cohort of Australian 11-12 year old children. The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC), is a national, population-derived cohort of Australian children, collecting data every two years since birth. We recently undertook the Child Health CheckPoint study, a cross sectional physical and biospecimens module of LSAC at 11-12 years of age. We are currently applying an adult-derived polygenic score for educational attainment to the CheckPoint cohort. This project will (1) investigate the association between this polygenic score and language development (vocabulary) at 11-12 years, and (2) investigate the mediation of this genetic-outcome correlation by a range of early-life exposures, including home environment, extra-curricular activities, parental involvement, social support and family demographics. The results may help to identify key lifestyle factors that contribute to resilience for language development in children with poorer genetic prediction. This in turn may inform future targeted policy development and intervention strategies. This project will suit a student with an interest in population-based health, developing statistical experience and Stata skills. Some prior experience in basic statistical techniques or analytical packages (such as Stata, R, MPlus or MATLAB) would be an advantage. The broader research team includes expertise in longitudinal and high-throughput genetic data analyses, statistical support, and access to Stata software and expertise to conduct the project. Given the large, high quality data available, findings are likely to be published in a quality journal

  • Metabolic profiles of mental health trajectories in childhood and early adulthood

    Supervisors:    Dr Sharon Lewis, Dr Katherine Lange

    Project Site:  Murdoch Children's Research Institute, The Royal Children's Hospital

    Project Description:

    Mental illness confers up to 60% higher risk of cardiovascular disease and premature death, with the majority of common mental illnesses predicted to begin prior to 14 years old. This highlights the need to identify mental health difficulties from early childhood, in order to most effectively apply preventative measures to the right people at the right time. We have preliminary evidence for an association between mental health and a number of blood metabolites in children, including unsaturated fatty acids, triglycerides and some amino acids. However, it is unclear if these metabolic profiles differ for short-term and long-term mental health difficulties. This project will investigate the association between mental health trajectories and blood metabolite profiles. This project utilises two large independent population-based cohorts of Australian children and adults - (1) the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) with the nested Child Health CheckPoint physical health and biospecimens module, and (2) the Clinical review of the Health in adults conceived with Assisted Reproductive Technologies (CHART) study. Potential students will classify participants according to mental health trajectories, and then use regression models to investigate the association between these trajectory groups and blood metabolite concentrations in mid-childhood and young adults. The results could provide novel insights into objective biomarkers classifying mental health trajectories. This project will suit a student with an interest in population-based health, developing statistical experience and Stata skills. Some prior experience in basic statistical techniques or analytical packages (such as Stata, R, MPlus or MATLAB) would be an advantage. The broader research team includes expertise in longitudinal and high-throughput metabolomic data analyses, statistical support, and access to Stata software and expertise to conduct the project. Given the large, high quality data available, findings are likely to be published in a quality journal.

  • The relationship between diet and mental health in children and young adults.

    Supervisors:    Dr Sharon Lewis, Dr Katherine Lange

    Project Site:  Murdoch Children's Research Institute, The Royal Children's Hospital

    Project Description:

    Mental illness confers up to 60% higher risk of cardiovascular disease and premature death, with the majority of common mental illnesses predicted to begin prior to 14 years of age. This highlights the need to understand what impacts mental health from early childhood, in order to most effectively apply preventative measures at the right time. Numerous studies have demonstrated a relationship between diet quality and mental health, although the specific factors driving this relationship are largely unclear. This project will investigate the association between specific components of dietary intake and mental health, and the potential blood metabolites mediating this relationship. This project utilises two large independent population-based cohorts of Australian children and adults - (1) the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) with the nested Child Health CheckPoint physical health and biospecimens module, and (2) the Clinical review of the Health in adults conceived with Assisted Reproductive Technologies (CHART) study. Potential students will use linear regression to investigate the association between dietary intake (such as fresh fruit, raw and cooked vegetables, fatty foods, dairy, meat and fish) and mental health in mid-childhood. Time permitting, key intermediate blood metabolites will be explored as potential mediators in the relationship in children and young adults. The results may inform potential areas for early intervention to improve long-term mental health. This project will suit a student with an interest in population-based health, developing statistical experience and Stata skills. Some prior experience in basic statistical techniques or analytical packages (such as Stata, R, MPlus or MATLAB) would be an advantage. The broader research team includes expertise in longitudinal and high-throughput metabolomic data analyses, statistical support, and access to Stata software and expertise to conduct the project. Given the large, high quality data available, findings are likely to be published in a quality journal.

  • Exploring the health and wellbeing of Australian Aboriginal Adolescents and Young People

    Supervisors:    Prof Sandra Eades, Dr Lina  Gubhaju

    Project Site:  Centre for Epidemiology and Biostatistics, The University of Melbourne

    Project Description:

    Despite the importance of transitions in adolescence to future health, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people have received little attention in recent efforts to close the gap in Aboriginal health and disadvantage. ‘Next Generation: Youth Wellbeing Study’ assesses the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adolescents and youth aged 10 to 24 years from Central Australia, New South Wales and Western Australia. The focus of the surveys at baseline are: 1) Social and Emotional Wellbeing; 2) Aboriginal cultural engagement 3) Social determinants of health 4) Adolescent physical health conditions & Injury; 5) Sexual/reproductive health and parenting; 6) Tobacco, alcohol and drug use. Clinical measures of cardio-metabolic risk markers have also been collected. We currently have data for over 700 young people at baseline. The potential projects will examine factors associated with physical and mental health and wellbeing.

  • Mapping and analysis of guidelines and recommendations governing Twins and Multiple Births: Implications for health education, promotion and support

    Supervisors:    Dr Sue Malta, Ms Lynette Walker

    Project Site:  Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, Twins Research Australia, University of Melbourne

    Project Description:

    Twin and multiple births are complex and subject to risk, and require different management approaches than singleton births – perinatally, postnatally and beyond. One of the ongoing issues around such births is the lack of tailored education provided to clinical and allied health professionals and, for the parents and families, the lack of health and social support programs available to them. A mapping and analysis of the current guidelines and recommendations is therefore needed to ascertain what the recommendations are across jurisdictions (eg, NICE guidelines UK; Australian Department of Health Pregnancy Guidelines etc); how much are health and allied health professionals aware of them/use them to guide their practice; and how do the recommendations/guidelines correlate with the findings of the recently released Multiple Perspectives Report (Twins Research Australia), which highlights issues of relevance for clinicians, staff, parents and families? This is a mixed-methods study involving:
    (1) a content analysis and review of currently available guidelines and recommendations governing twin and multiple pregnancies and births
    (2) consultations with clinical and allied health professionals to ascertain their awareness, use of, and views about the guidelines
    This research aims to provide an up to date, and comprehensive account of current guidelines, which can be used as the basis for developing and endorsing recommendations and educational resources for clinical and allied health professionals, with the ultimate aim of supporting parents and families of twins and multiples.

  • Assessing the global latitudinal gradient in the incidence of multiple sclerosis

    Supervisors:    Dr Steve Simpson, Jr., A/Prof Tracey Weiland

    Project Site:  Neuroepideimology Unit, Melbourne School of Population & Global Health, The University of Melbourne

    Project Description:

    The latitudinal variation in multiple sclerosis (MS) prevalence has been well described and substantiated by two prior meta-analyses, providing valuable evidence in support of the role of vitamin D and sun exposure in MS aetiology. This project will search the literature to include all MS incidence studies and use meta-regression methods to establish and quantify the relationship between latitude and MS incidence.

  • Assessing the global latitudinal gradient in the prevalence and incidence of Parkinson's disease & Alzheimer's disease

    Supervisors:  Dr Steve Simpson, Jr., Dr Nupur Nag

    Project Site:  Neuroepideimology Unit, Melbourne School of Population & Global Health, The University of Melbourne

    Project Description:

    There is some evidence to suggest that vitamin D and sun exposure may be aetiologic risk factors for the onset of Parkinson's disease (PD) and Alzheimer's disease (AD). Indirect evidence in support of this may be found in the latitudinal variation in the prevalence and incidence of PD & AD. This project will search the literature to include all studies of PD & AD prevalence and incidence and apply meta-regression methods to establish and quantify the latitudinal variations in their prevalence and incidence, as well as examine differences by PD subtypes.

  • Prospective relationship of stress reducing behaviours and quality of life in multiple sclerosis

    Supervisors:  Dr Steve Simpson, Jr., Dr Sandra Neate

    Project Site:  Neuroepideimology Unit, Melbourne School of Population & Global Health, The University of Melbourne

    Project Description:

    Of the various lifestyle factors implicated in the aetiology of multiple sclerosis (MS), stress is among those most cited by patients but the most enigmatic for researchers. Nonetheless, stress reduction behaviours have been suggested as beneficial in improving MS clinical course but also quality of life. This project will utilise data from the HOLISM international cohort study (n=839 over 5 years follow-up) to examine the prospective relationship of stress reducing behaviours with quality of life and health state utilities, and change thereof, in MS.

  • Prospective relationship of stress reducing behaviours and clinical progression in multiple sclerosis

    Supervisor:  Dr Steve Simpson, Jr., A/Prof Tracey Weiland

    Project Site:  Sexual Health Unit, Centre for Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Family Planning Victoria and Melbourne School of Population and Global Health

    Project Description:

    Of the various lifestyle factors implicated in the aetiology of multiple sclerosis (MS), stress is among those most cited by patients but the most enigmatic for researchers. Nonetheless, stress reduction behaviours have been suggested as beneficial in improving MS clinical course, including relapse rate, disabiltiy progression, and fatigue. This project will utilise data from the HOLISM international cohort study (n=839 over 5 years follow-up) to examine the prospective relationship of stress reducing behaviours with these clinical outcomes and change thereof in MS.

  • Women's experience of IUD (intrauterine device) provision from a trainee clinician

    Supervisor:  Prof Jane Hocking, Dr Cameryn Garrett

    Project Site:  Sexual Health Unit, Centre for Epidemiology and Biostatistics, The University of Melbourne

    Project Description:

    Despite the high efficacy of long acting reversible contraception, uptake in Australia remains low.  Increased training in IUD (intrauterine device) insertion has been suggested as a strategy to increase uptake. Little is known about patients’ experiences with trainees for IUD provision. This qualitative research project aims to interview women about their experience of IUD provision at sexual and reproductive health clinics and explore women's contraceptive decision making processes.

  • Mothers' understanding about long acting reversible contraception

    Supervisor:  Dr Hennie Williams, Dr Jacqueline Coombe

    Project Site:  Sexual Health Unit, Centre for Epidemiology and Biostatistics, The University of Melbourne

    Project Description:

    Australia has very low rates of use of long acting reversible contraception such as implanon in young women and yet, we have some of the highest rates of unplanned pregnancy observed in high income countries. We hypothesise that mothers often advise their daughters on what contraception to use and may lack knowledge about the long acting options available. This qualitative research project aims to interview mothers about their understanding of long acting contraception and barriers to them advising their daughters about these options.

  • Impact of online dating apps on sexual risk behaviour

    Supervisor:  Dr Jacqueline Coombe, Prof Jane  Hocking

    Project Site:  Sexual Health Unit, Centre for Epidemiology and Biostatistics, The University of Melbourne

    Project Description:

    The use of online dating apps has increased considerably among young adults at the same time as sexually transmitted infections have increased. While it is unclear whether the two are related, it has been suggested that dating apps are making it easier for people to hook up. This qualitative research will explore young people's use of online dating apps and their sexual behaviours

  • Rural young person's preferences for a virtual STI and sexual health clinic

    Supervisor:  Dr Jane Goller, Prof Jane  Hocking

    Project Site:  Sexual Health Unit, Centre for Epidemiology and Biostatistics, The University of Melbourne

    Project Description:

    There are barriers to accessing sexual health care in regional and rural areas.  Online resources have been developed for supporting testing and partner notification for sexually transmitted infections, but their use is variable and there is no one stop shop for young people to access sexual health and relationship advice and care.  This qualitative research will explore the preferences of rural young people for online support for sexual health and relationship care.

  • Understanding the experience of pregnant women from refugee backgrounds that are living with chronic hepatitis B in Melbourne

    Supervisors:  Dr Caroline van Gemert, Dr Elisha Riggs

    Project Site:  Sexual Health Unit, Centre for Epidemiology and Biostatistics, The University of Melbourne

    Project Description:

    The majority of people living with chronic hepatitis B in Australia are from Asia and Africa, with many from refugee backgrounds. Prevention of mother-to-child transmission of hepatitis B is important. The aim of this project is to understand the clinical experience of pregnant women from refugee backgrounds living with chronic hepatitis B in Melbourne in terms of navigating specialist care and treatment for chronic hepatitis B to prevent mother-to-child transmission. The project will  primarily use qualitative methods including indepth interviews, and will focus on the experience of women from Karen backgrounds (from Myanmar) who are pregnant or who have been pregnant recently.

  • Exploring opportunities and challenges to providing HIV, STI and sexual health care in the Pacific region

    Supervisors:    Dr Caroline van Gemert, Dr Michelle O'Connor

    Project Site:  Murdoch Children's Research Institute, The Royal Children's Hospital

    Project Description:

    Geographic isolation and small and dispersed populations challenge the provision of specialist clinical services across the Pacific region, which is comprised of 22 islands and territories. The Oceania Society for Sexual Health and HIV Medicine is a peak professional body representing the interests of health care workers working in the area of HIV, sexually transmitted infections and sexual health care in the smaller Pacific island countries and territories. This project will use qualitative and quantitative methods to explore opportunities and challenges to providing  HIV, STI and sexual health care in the Pacific.

  • Understanding moral distress in relation to neurodevelopmental outcomes of extremely preterm babies

    Supervisors:    Dr Trisha Prentice, Prof Lynne Gillam

    Project Site:  Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre

    Project Description:

    With the advancement of life-sustaining technologies, physicians must consider which interventions are in the interests of extremely preterm babies with predicted poor neurodevelopmental outcomes. The provision of care perceived not to be in a patient’s best interests is a common source of moral distress – that is, the distress resulting from being unable to act in accordance with one’s moral judgement due to limitations beyond one’ control. This empirical project will examine the accuracy of predictions of two-year neurodevelopmental outcomes for a cohort of 99 extremely preterm babies born at the Royal Women’s Hospital. These results will then be analysed with respect to an established database that includes the moral distress reported by healthcare clinicians in response to specific babies within the preterm cohort during their initial admission to the neonatal intensive care unit. This project will involve data collection and analysis. Implications for current conceptualisations of moral distress will be considered.

  • How to we define and measure optimal care for cancer survivors?

    Supervisors:    Dr Karolina Lisy, Prof Michael  Jefford

    Project Site:  Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre

    Project Description:

    Over 35,000 Victorians are diagnosed with cancer annually, and most will become long-term survivors. Over 290,000 Victorians have a personal history of cancer. Survivors may experience a range of consequences as a result of cancer and its treatments. Current models of survivorship care are suboptimal, though there are substantial efforts to improve care delivery. The aims of this project are to define standards of quality survivorship care and develop a set of measurable quality indicators which may be used to benchmark current practice and facilitate service improvement across Victoria. To address these aims, the student will undertake: 1) a systematic review to identify possible quality domains; 2) a Delphi process with a range of stakeholders (consumer, health professional, government and policymaker) to reach consensus on a final set of quality standards and indicators for survivorship care in Victoria; 3) a dissemination and evaluation plan.  The student is anticipated to publish a first-author journal article and present results at relevant conferences/meetings.

  • The impact of the death of a close person on mental health and personal growth in university students

    Supervisors:    Dr Karl Andriessen

    Project Site:  Melbourne School of Population and Global Health

    Project Description:

    Most young people have lost a relative or friend before adulthood. Experiencing a death potentially affects the bereaved person's short- and long-term quality of life. Due to biopsychosocial changes in the transition from childhood to adulthood, emerging adults in particular have increased risks of problems related to physical, and mental health and social functioning. Conversely, the bereaved individuals may experience long-term positive reactions, such as increased appreciation of life, maturity, empathy and compassion for others. However, little is known of how bereavement affects the mental well-being and/or personal growth specifically in emerging adults. This study aims to examine the grief of emerging adults (i.e. university students), as well as their mental health, social support, and personal growth. The study will involve an online survey for students who have been bereaved at least 6 months before participating in the study. The survey will comprise standardised measures and questions developed for the study. As a result, the study will describe how various aspects of the grief impact on their mental health and personal growth. Hence, the study findings will provide crucial information for clinicians and service providers.

  • Does a fruit based lozenge work to enhance dietary intake in people receiving chemotherapy? Testing A Sweet Taste Enhancing Agent (TASTE)

    Supervisors:    A/Prof Anna Boltong, Ms Angela  Mellerick

    Project Site:  Ambulatory Cancer Services Nursing, Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness and Research Centre

    Project Description:

    Up to 80% of people receiving cancer treatment experience taste changes. This can negatively influence food enjoyment, dietary intake and nutritional status. This study will analyse dietary data collected from participants on a cancer clinical trial to determine if a fruit-based intervention makes a difference compared to those not receiving the intervention. The study aims to determine whether a lozenge containing the protein Miraculin improves food enjoyment, dietary intake and nutritional status in patients experiencing taste changes associated with chemotherapy.

  • A meta-analysis to estimate the prevalence of chlamydia among the general and key populations in the Pacific region

    Supervisors:    Dr Caroline van Gemert, Prof Jane  Hocking

    Project Site:  Sexual Health Unit, Centre for Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health

    Project Description:

    The Pacific region, which is comprised of 22 islands and territories, has some of the highest documented rates of chlamydia globally. For example, chlamydia prevalence has been reported to be as high as 29% among pregnant women and 35% among female sex workers. Additional key populations at increased risk of sexually transmitted infections include transgender populations and other men who have sex with men, and sea farers. A regional estimate for chlamydia prevalence has not been calculated however it is important planning interventions and advocating for resources. This project will use meta-analysis methods to combine data from published studies to calculate a pooled regional estimate for chlamydia prevalence in general and key populations.

  • Child participation in traumatic stress research

    Supervisors:    A/Prof Eva Alisic, Ms Katitza Marinkovic

    Project Site:  Jack Brockhoff Child Health and Wellbeing Program , Melbourne School of Population and Global Health

    Project Description:

    This systematic review project looks at how children are involved in the design and conduct of studies on child traumatic stress. Originally, child traumatic stress was mostly studied via adult informants. In recent decades, children have been included as research participants more and more. But to what extent have they been involved in the design, conduct, or interpretation of the research? The aim of this systematic literature review will be to show where & how child trauma research can be more participatory. Interviews with key stakeholders can also be carried out as part of the study.

  • Child trauma and recovery in the public domain

    Supervisors:    A/Prof Eva Alisic, Ms Katitza Marinkovic

    Project Site:  Jack Brockhoff Child Health and Wellbeing Program , Melbourne School of Population and Global Health

    Project Description:

    This study will enquire how youth express experiences related to traumatic events in the public domain. This project will challenge the researcher to explore one or more public 'sites' where young people might share their views (verbally, visually, or in other forms) and collect & interpret these data. Qualitative analyses will involve a thematic categorization and interpretation. Quantitative analyses may be part of the project if the data allow/require.

  • Understanding the role of changes in climate on notifications of infectious diseases

    Supervisors:    Dr Sheena Sullivan

    Project Site:  WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza, Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity

    Project Description:

    Many infectious diseases are seasonal in nature and associated with warmer or cooler temperatures. This project will examine the role of temperature on selected notificable conditions, including food-borne diseases, legionella, and water-borne diseases to predict increases in notifications that are associated with weather patterns. This information will later be used to inform mathematical models to predict the increases in notifications, and concomitant healthcare costs, expected with rising temperatures.

  • Exploring the role of social connectedness in promoting child resilience

    Supervisors:    Prof Lisa Gibbs, Dr Lauren Carpenter

    Project Site:  Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, Greater Shepparton Lighthouse program

    Project Description:

    Greater Shepparton Lighthouse was created in response to community concern about poor outcomes and persistent disadvantage and in 2014 was established to activate the whole community to wrap around and support our young people to realise their full potential and thrive. This project will develop a research base to support and guide the work of the Lighthouse program.

  • Evaluating attitudes towards Voluntary Assisted Dying.

    Supervisors:    Dr Camille La Brooy, Prof Jennifer  Philip

    Project Site:  Centre for Cancer Research, Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre

    Project Description:

    This project will comprehensively and systematically assess the effects of the VAD Act in Victoria and develop recommendations for legislative and policy reform. It will achieve this by documenting the experiences of health care professionals and experts including regulators, policy makers and consumer groups. It also looks to compare policy implementation in other jurisdictions where Voluntary Assisted Dying has become legal.

  • The person-first versus identity-first debate: Understanding key stakeholder preferences.

    Supervisors:    Dr Claudia Marck, Dr Lisa  Grech

    Project Site:  Centre for Health Equity, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health

    Project Description:

    Use of person-first language (person with disability) is advocated broadly over identity-first language (disabled person) and often used in scientific literature. However, it has been recently suggested that  some advocacy groups prefer identity-first language and disability researchers have concerns about person-first language being awkward and cumbersome. Limited research has been undertaken to assess the views of people across a range of chronic illnesses and disabilities about the most acceptable way to refer to them in association with the disability/chronic illness. This study will survey views from stakeholders including people with disability.

How To Apply

  1. More information about the program and available research projects can be obtained:
    • At the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences Honours Expo and individual information sessions held by Departments and Institutes;
    • From the list of departmental research projects;
    • From individual supervisors.
  2. You need to identify a potential project and supervisor from the research project list. Read the project description and any recommended publications to ensure that it is the correct choice for you, and then contact the Supervisor.
  3. Apply online.