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:      To Be Advised
Time:      
Venue:

MSPGH Honours Coordinators

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

Ms Kate Chalmers
kate.chalmers@unimelb.edu.au

MSPGH Research Projects 2020

  • Prospective association of diet quality with health state utilities over 5 years in multiple sclerosis

    Supervisors:  Dr Steve Simpson-Yap, Dr Julie Campbell,  Dr Nupur Nag

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

    Project Description:

    Multiple sclerosis is a progressive autoimmune condition of the central nervous system which manifests in sensory, motor and cognitive dysfunction, and is the most common cause of nontraumatic disabiltiy in young adults. Though the clinical manifestations of the disease have direct negative impacts on quality of life (QoL), there is increasing evidence that modifiable lifestyle factors have a role in QoL. In addition to the directly assesed QoL measure, a derived measure, the health state utility (HSU), can qualify QoL relative  to level of health, making it a superior measure of QoL. We propose here to examine the cross-sectional and prospective relationships of diet quality with HSU and change thereof in a sample of 952 patients with MS followed over 5 years.

  • Prospective association of smoking/alcohol with health state utilities over 5 years in multiple sclerosis

    Supervisors:  Dr Steve Simpson-Yap, Dr Julie Campbell,  Dr Nupur Nag

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

    Project Description:

    Multiple sclerosis is a progressive autoimmune condition of the central nervous system which manifests in sensory, motor and cognitive dysfunction, and is the most common cause of nontraumatic disabiltiy in young adults. Though the clinical manifestations of the disease have direct negative impacts on quality of life (QoL), there is increasing evidence that modifiable lifestyle factors have a role in QoL.
    In addition to the directly assesed QoL measure, a derived measure, the health state utility (HSU), can qualify QoL relative  to level of health, making it a superior measure of QoL.
    We propose here to examine the cross-sectional and prospective relationships of alcohol consumption and tobacco smoking with HSU and change thereof in a sample of 952 patients with MS followed over 5 years.

  • Prospective association of meditation with health state utilities over 5 years in multiple sclerosis

    Supervisors:  Dr Steve Simpson-Yap, Dr Julie Campbell,  Dr Nupur Nag

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

    Project Description:

    Multiple sclerosis is a progressive autoimmune condition of the central nervous system which manifests in sensory, motor and cognitive dysfunction, and is the most common cause of nontraumatic disabiltiy in young adults. Though the clinical manifestations of the disease have direct negative impacts on quality of life (QoL), there is increasing evidence that modifiable lifestyle factors have a role in QoL.
    In addition to the directly assesed QoL measure, a derived measure, the health state utility (HSU), can qualify QoL relative  to level of health, making it a superior measure of QoL. We propose here to examine the cross-sectional and prospective relationships of meditation and stress-reducing behaviours with HSU and change thereof in a sample of 952 patients with MS followed over 5 years.

  • G-Protein Coupled Receptors in Early Onset Breast Cancer

    Supervisors:  Dr Miroslav Kapuscinski, Dr Bronwyn Evans, Dr James Dowty

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

    Project Description:

    Complex diseases such as cancer pose significant challenges to public health in terms of both prevention and therapeutics. We have a broad understanding of mechanisms involved in carcinogenesis, but this can be complemented by examining the significant contribution of genetic factors to cancer susceptibility and prognosis, thereby providing an opportunity to enhance our ability to design effective screening, prevention and treatment strategies. Of the many genes that have been implicated in cancer, those belonging to a large family encoding membrane-spanning G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs, over 800 genes expressed in humans) are of special interest. GPCRs that mediate extracellular signals are crucial elements of regulatory networks and are also important therapeutic targets in their own right.
    This project will use genomic information obtained from breast cancer genome wide association studies (GWAS), DNA sequencing and public databases to examine whether GPCRs targeted therapeutically are also significant contributors to the risk of breast cancer. A range of standard and novel bioinformatic approaches together with statistical analyses will be used to probe the more aggressive, early onset breast cancer.

  • Is the social housing sector maximising health for Australian families in need?

    Supervisors:  Professor Rebecca Bentley

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

    Project Description:

    This project offers financial support for publication and/or conference presentation. Socially rented housing has a social welfare role and has historically been used by governments as a safety net for individuals unable to access quality housing in the open (ownership or rental) market. For Australia’s lowest income and most vulnerable households, social housing has traditionally provided security of tenure to people who would find it hard to maintain traditional tenancies, maintenance, and income adjusted rental costs. By addressing affordability, security and quality, social housing is likely a key housing-related health intervention. Despite population growth, over the last decade there has been a 6% decrease in the number of social housing units, a reduction of approximately 20,200 dwellings (AIHW 2019b); leaving a smaller, residualised stock of often poor-quality dwellings in less advantaged places. This change has important implications for the health and wellbeing of Australians with often complex, health and welfare needs. In an era of sustained policy retreat from social housing, there is a need to know what components of social housing are most important in driving better health outcomes. This project will use a literature review and seconday data to quantitatively examine the health benefits of improving the condition (thermal comfort, quality of amenity) of social housing in Victoria.

  • Better housing and health: what is the relationship over time?

    Supervisors:  Professor Rebecca Bentley

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

    Project Description:

    This project offers financial support for publication and/or conference presentation. Housing has a central role in protecting  health across the lifecourse. While there has been research undertaken on the health benefits of people's housing over time, this has not been synthesized and  integrated into a public health prevention framework.  This project will synthesis current Australian evidence on housing and health across the life course, identify the gaps in knowledge and integrate evidence from systematic reviews alongside analyses of longitudinal datasets to generate an evidence-informed framework useful to policy-makers and practitioners.

  • Children's right to express their views in relation to programs and policies for domestic violence in Australia.

    Supervisors:  Ms Kati Marinkovic, A/Professor Eva Alisic, Dr Mira Vasileva

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

    Project Description:

    This project focuses on children's voice and perspectives in the context of domestic violence. It involves a literature review and primary or secondary analysis of interviews. It will be part of a larger project on young people affected by domestic homicide.

  • COVID-19 Unmasked: Prospective longitudinal study to determine the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health and wellbeing of infants and preschool aged children and their families

    Supervisors:  Dr Mira Vasileva, Ms Lauren Carpenter, A/Professor Eva Alisic

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

    Project Description:

    The physical, psychological and economic recovery following a pandemic can continue for many months to years after the event and have widespread impacts on children, family, social networks and communities. So far, little is known about the mental health consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak for young children (1 to 5 years old) and their families.
    In May 2020, we sarted the COVID-19 Unmasked project in collaboration with researchers from Queensland Health Hospital and the University of Queensland. We are collecting community data across Australia using an oline survey for parents at 4 time points until May 2021. The project will (1) determine the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the emotional and behavioural wellbeing of infants and preschoolers (i.e. anxiety, depression, disruptive behaviour, sleep disturbance, traumatic stress, resilience); (2) determine the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on parent’s mental health (i.e. depression, anxiety and stress); and (3) identify the risk and protective factors (i.e. worries and negative thoughts of preschoolers and parents, parenting style, exposure to psychosocial stressors) for child mental health outcomes. These results are important to provide public health advice to inform future preparedness and response efforts by identifying the typical responses and characteristics of young children and their caregivers most at-risk .

  • Standing Together Against Racism in Sport (STARS): A co-designed community-based participatory action research project to combat racism in junior sport.

    Supervisors:  Dr Karen Block,  Ms Lauren Carpenter, Ms Dana Young

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

    Project Description:

    Racism in sport mediates and limits participation by culturally diverse sections of our society but there is a lack of evidence for effective anti-racism strategies in junior sport. STARS is a community-based participatory-action research project that will co-design, pilot and evaluate an intervention to tackle racism and Islamophobia in junior sports clubs in Victoria. The broader research project will use mixed methods and a pre and post design. For this honours project, the student assist with survey design, data collection and entry and conduct a cross-sectional analysis of pre-intervention survey data undertaken with participating club members including officials, coaches, parents and players (approx. n=400). The quantitative evaluation will aim to assess attitudes and connections; identity and belonging and the pre-intervention willingness of participants to respond to racism at the club. Proposed analyses to be conducted with the support of supervisors includes simple descriptive statistics using paired sample t-tests to be produced for all variables included in the survey. Linear and logistic regression and/or bivariate correlations will be used to examine outcome variables in relation to demographic variables.

  • Examining the integration of Mental Health First Aid Training in Workplaces

    Supervisors:  A/Professor Nicola Reavley, Dr Amy Morgan, Dr Kathy Bond

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

    Project Description:

    Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Australia workplace training teaches course participants to recognise when a colleague may be experiencing a mental health problem or mental health crisis and provide appropriate support. It is often an important part of a workplace mental health and wellbeing strategy. Research indicates that the MHFA course increases mental health literacy and confidence to provide help, and decreases stigmatising attitudes. This qualitative project is interested in understanding how workplaces integrate MHFA training into broader workplace mental health strategies and activities. It will involve interviewing a cross section of workplaces, synthesising the data and developing case studies. These case studies can be used by workplaces to assist them to implement early intervention programs.

  • Examining the quality of news media reporting of complex mental illness in Australia

    Supervisors:   Ms Anna Ross, Dr Amy Morgan, A/Professor Nicola Reavley

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

    Project Description:

    News media is a key source of information about mental illness, and has been found to influence attitudes towards mental illness. News reports on complex mental illnesses, such as psychosis, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, are often framed negatively and are often linked to violence and crime. Such portrayals have been found to negatively influence public attitudes, increasing fear and beliefs in dangerousness which can then leading to discriminatory actions against people with mental illness. To help mitigate this influence, guidelines on best-practice media reporting of mental illness in the context of violence and crime have been developed this year. This presents an exciting opportunity to examine how consistent news media reporting is with the best-practice guidelines. A systematic search for Australian news articles that report on severe mental illness in the context of violence or crime will be conducted. A content analysis of these news reports will then examine the elements that are consistent or inconsistent with best-practice reporting, giving an overall snapshot of the quality of Australian media reporting in this context. This is a unique opportunity to improve media reporting and make a difference to societal attitudes towards people with a mental illness.

  • The impact of prison design on the well-being and mental health of incarcerated people and prison staff: A systematic literature review

    Supervisors:    Dr Sanne Oostermeijer, Dr Suzanne Mavoa, Dr Andrew Martel

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

    Project Description:

    We know more than ever about how built environments influence wellbeing in general, but the question of what prison facilities should be like remains a very challenging one. These facilities operate with a tension between rehabilitative and security needs, and often a focus on security tends to outweigh an emphasis on care. The physical environment of a facility greatly impacts wellbeing, the relationships between staff and incarcerated people, and ultimately a person’s prospects of rehabilitation and community safety. Having a better understanding of the impacts of prison design will inform future policymakers, designers and researcher in this area. This project will aim to address the question of what are the impacts of prison design on the well-being and mental health of incarcerated people and prison staff? This will be done by a conducting a systematic literature review on the existing evidence including academic and grey literature on this topic. A comprehensive search strategy for academic literature will be developed with support and input from the research team. Academic databases will include Cochrane Library, Medline, PsycINFO, Scopus and Avery. Other grey literature will be included using a targeted google search and with input from research team members. The quality of the evidence in the studies found will be assessed using a critical appraisal tool.

  • Psychosocial intervention and support for adolescents affected by familial cancer

    Supervisors:   Dr Ash Hosseini, A/Professor Brigid Lynch

    Project Site:  Child & Community Wellbeing Unit, Centre for Health Equity, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health

    Project Description:

    A cancer diagnosis is often a life-changing event that presents unique challenges to all involved. A substantial body of research documents that this experience can have a ripple effect not only on the individual but also on family members. This can have an adverse impact on the adolescence, who have unique psychosocial and emotional needs during this often challenging developmental stage of life. The purpose of this study is to conduct a systematic review or scoping review of all available interventions for adolescence affected by familial cancer. This will include universal interventions (e.g., media campaigns), physical interventions and psychosocial interventions.

  • Evaluation of psychology service - cancer care

    Supervisors:    Dr Ash Hosseini, A/Professor Brigid Lynch

    Project Site:  Child & Community Wellbeing Unit, Centre for Health Equity, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health

    Project Description:

    The psychology service at Peter Mac receives about 1000 referrals a year and provides primarily individual therapy.
    The purpose of this study will be
    1) To conduct a retrospective study that examines the types of referral received, number of sessions, attended, who are the referrers
    2) To conduct a qualitative study examining barriers and enablers to referrer to the services as well as to to conduct interviews with a small portion of patients about the services received.

  • Pain and fear of cancer

    Supervisors:    Dr Ash Hosseini, Dr Maria Ftanou

    Project Site:  Child & Community Wellbeing Unit, Centre for Health Equity, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health

    Project Description:

    In cancer survivors, moderate to severe pain is reported by over 38% of patients and 97% of will experience some degree of fear of cancer recurrence (FCR). While research suggests that new or ongoing physical symptoms (e.g., pain) are associated with greater FCR, there is limited research explicitly investigating this relationship.
    The purpose of this study will be
    1) To conduct a scoping review of the available literature assessing pain and fear of recurrence
    2) To conduct a quantitative study investigating the relationship between ongoing physical symptoms (e.g., pain) with fear of cancer recurrence (FCR) in a population of cancer patients receiving treatment for pain.

  • Psychosocial interventions for older cancer patients

    Supervisors:    Dr Ash Hosseini, Dr Maria Ftanou

    Project Site:  Child & Community Wellbeing Unit, Centre for Health Equity, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health

    Project Description:

    Cancer survivors aged 70 plus experience significant depression, anxiety, suicidal thinking, sleep disturbance and reduced quality of life. Men with advanced cancer are at a high risk of suicide.  Due to barriers including stigma and transportation, these individuals are less likely to seek interventions.  
    The purpose of this study will be
    1)  To conduct a systematic review of psychosocial intervention used with older patients across the cancer trajectory (from diagnosis to end-stage disease)
    2)  To conduct a qualitative study interviewing with patients and caregivers regarding needs and modes of therapy delivery.

  • Psychosocial interventions for obesity in cancer patients

    Supervisors:    Dr Ash Hosseini, Dr Maria Ftanou

    Project Site:  Child & Community Wellbeing Unit, Centre for Health Equity, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health

    Project Description:

    Patients who are obese are at increased risk of developing, colon, rectum, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, pancreas, and gallbladder and are also more like experience relapse. Interventions such as motivational counselling, mindfulness are gaining traction. The study will inform the development of a treatment protocol. The purpose of this study is to conduct a systematic review of all interventions used for obesity in cancer patients. This will include universal interventions (e.g., media campaigns), physical interventions and psychological interventions.

  • Psychosocial intervention and support for refugees affected by cancer

    Supervisors:    Dr Ash Hosseini, A/Professor  Brigid Lynch

    Project Site:  Child & Community Wellbeing Unit, Centre for Health Equity, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health

    Project Description:

    A cancer diagnosis is often a life-changing event that presents unique challenges to all involved. This is tougher for refugees with a history of trauma and displacement as well as settlement challenges.  The purpose of this study is to conduct a scoping review of all available interventions for refugees affected by cancer. This will include universal interventions (e.g., media campaigns), physical interventions and psychosocial interventions.

  • The changing spatial demography of Australia's oldest old population

    Supervisors:    Dr Tom Wilson, Dr Jeromey Temple

    Project Site:  Demography & Ageing Unit, Centre for Health Policy, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health

    Project Description:

    Australia's population is undergoing population ageing, with particularly rapid growth at the highest ages. This changing demographic landscape has implications across many areas of health and aged care policy, service delivery and budgeting for State and local governments. This project will focus on describing and understanding the changing geography and demography of Australia's nonagenarians (aged 90-99) and centenarians (aged 100+).

  • Lessons from past projections of Australia's older populations

    Supervisors:    Dr Tom Wilson, Dr Jeromey Temple

    Project Site:  Demography & Ageing Unit, Centre for Health Policy, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health

    Project Description:

    Accurate projections of Australia's older population are vital for effective planning and budgeting for a range of services required at the older ages. But how accurate are these projections and what mangitude of error can be expected? This project will evaluate past projections of Australia's older population at several spatial scales to provide some guidance to users of today's projections.

  • Mortality among indigenous people with contact with the youth justice system

    Supervisors:    Ms Claire Keen,  Dr James Rose, Ms Melissa Willoughby, Ms Lindsay Pearce

    Project Site:  Justice Health Unit & Indigenous Studies Unit, Centre for Health Equity, Melbourne School of Population & Global Health

    Project Description:

    Young Indigenous people are disproportionately impacted by the youth criminal justice system. This has long-term health and social impacts. Using data from JY-Mort, a linked data study including all young people in Queensland exposed to the youth justice system between 1993 and 2017, this project would examine a) the causes of death among indigenous youths exposed to the criminal justice system and b) what factors may prevent early mortality among Indigenous youths exposed to the youth justice system.
    This may include exploring the association between factors such as sex, age at youth justice contact, community based orders versus detention, and later adult incarceration and death among the Indigenous youth in this cohort. The student will be supported to convert their thesis into a peer-reviewed journal article.

  • The impact of housing on health service use after release from prison: a prospective cohort study

    Supervisors:  Dr Rohan Borschmann, Ms Melissa Willoughby, Ms Claire Keen,  Professor Stuart Kinner

    Project Site:  Justice Health Unit, Centre for Health Equity, Melbourne School of Population & Global Health

    Project Description:

    People released from prison use health services at rates that far exceed that in the general population. This population also disproportionately experiences homelessness and unstable housing.
    The Health After Release from Prison (HARP) study follows people (aged ≥18 years) who were released from prison in Queensland and Western Australia. Housing status, and health and socio-demographic characteristics were collected in a baseline survey prior to release from prison. Baseline data were linked to Medicare, ambulance, emergency department and hospital records. The HARP study offers a unique opportunity to examine the impact of housing on health service use after release from prison. A prospective cohort study will be conducted that compares the rate and predictors of health service use among people released from prison who have, and have not, experienced unstable housing.

  • Psychological distress during incarceration: An examination of correlates and policy implications for Indigenous adults in Australia

    Supervisors:  Ms Lindsay Pearce, Ms Claire Keen

    Project Site:  Justice Health Unit & Indigenous Studies Unit, Centre for Health Equity, Melbourne School of Population & Global Health

    Project Description:

    The HARP study is the world’s largest prospective cohort study of adults released from prison. A total of 2,701 people were interviewed within 6 weeks of expected release from prison in Queensland and Western Australia. Survey data were combined with data from prison medical records, a range of state and Commonwealth health data and correctional records, using retrospective and prospective data linkage. Given the disproportionate impact of the justice system on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the cohort includes >1000 people who self-identify as Indigenous. Using these data, the Honours student will conduct an examination of the experiences, correlates, and policy/practice implications of psychological distress during incarceration, as measured by the K10 (Kessler Psychological Distress Scale). Analyses will be stratified by Indigenous self-identification to identify culturally-specific correlates and modifiable risk factors for psychological distress (e.g. feelings of anxiety and depression), and allow for discussion on culturally appropriate policy and practice implications. This opportunity will be co-supervised by the Justice Health Unit and the Indigenous Studies Unit at the Centre for Health Equity, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health. The student will be supported to convert their thesis into a peer-reviewed journal article.

  • Changes in physical and mental health status during incarceration: A cross-sectional study

    Supervisor:  Professor Stuart Kinner, Dr James Rose, Ms Lindsay Pearce, Dr Lucas Ferreira

    Project Site:  Justice Health Unit, Centre for Health Equity, Melbourne School of Population & Global Health

    Project Description:

    People who experience incarceration are distinguished by poor health profiles including elevated rates of chronic and communicable disease, and mental disorder. But does incarceration make their health worse? Or do prison health services confer some time-limited health benefits? This project will explore these questions using cross-sectional data from the Health After Release from Prison (HARP) study, the world’s largest prospective cohort study of adults released from prison. A total of 2,701 people were interviewed within 6 weeks of expected release from prisons in Queensland and Western Australia.
    The Honours student will use these data to examine (a) changes in self-reported physical and mental health status during incarceration, (b) the relationship between self-reported health and health-related quality of life (HRQoL), measured using the SF-36, and (c) health and social correlates of HRQoL and changes in health status. Analyses may be stratified by age, sex, and/or Indigenous status, to examine subgroup differences in health trajectories during incarceration. The findings will have policy implications for prison health services nationally and internationally, and will be informed by the World Health Organization’s ‘prison health is public health’ policy framework.
    The student will be supervised by staff from the Justice Health Unit and the Indigenous Studies Unit, and will be supported to convert their thesis into a peer-reviewed journal article.

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

    Supervisor:  Dr Jesse Young, Ms Claire Keen, Ms Melissa Willoughby

    Project Site:  Justice Health Unit, Centre for Health Equity, Melbourne School of Population & 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.

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

    Supervisor:  Dr Jesse Young, Ms Claire Keen, Ms Melissa Willoughby

    Project Site:  Justice Health Unit, Centre for Health Equity, Melbourne School of Population & 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.

  • Cancer-related mortality following release from prison: a systematic review and meta-analysisCancer-related mortality following release from prison: a systematic review and meta-analysis

    Supervisor:  Dr Rohan Borschmann, Ms Emilia Janca

    Project Site:  Justice Health Unit, Centre for Health Equity, Melbourne School of Population & Global Health

    Project Description:

    People who experience incarceration bear a substantial burden of poor health, with higher rates of many non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including cancer, relative to their general population peers of similar age, sex and ethnicity. These factors contribute to a risk of preventable mortality that is orders of magnitude greater than in the general population. However, the global literature documenting the increased risk of preventable mortality from cancer has never been synthesised.
    This student will conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis examining the risk factors for and incidence of cancer-related mortality following release from prison. These findings will have implications for policy and planning to address the high rates of poor health and mortality among this group. The student will also be encouraged and supported to convert their thesis into a peer-reviewed journal article for publication.

  • Impact of publicly funded Health Insurance on schooling outcomes for children in India

    Supervisor:  Professor Ajay Mahal, Professor Anup Karan,

    Project Site:  Nossal Institute for Global Health, Melbourne School of Population & Global Health

    Project Description:

    The Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) was a publicly funded government health insurance for the poor launched in India in 2008, and expanded over time to cover 150 million Indians by 2014. Out of pocket health expenditures incurred by households have been known to influence household expenditures on non-medical expenses. One area of particular concern is expenses incurred for child schooling and ultimately their progress at school. The proposed research will use cross-sectional and longitudinal survey data for children living in poor households in India to assess whether publicly funded insurance (which potentially reduces spending on health) improves long run schooling outcomes for children.

  • Assessing patients and healthcare provider values of genetic test results

    Supervisors:  A/Professor Alison Trainer, A/Professor Louise Keogh, 

    Project Site:  Parkville familial cancer centre, Peter MacCallum Centre

    Project Description:

    When first introduced into clinical practice, germline genetic testing was used as means to understand the basis of disease in high-risk families, by identifying a variant which clearly disrupted the function of a high-risk predisposition gene (a mutation). If a causative mutation is identified in a person with the disease (index case), testing is offered to relatives and if a relative has the mutation, they offer appropriate management and if a relative does not have the mutation, they are reassured and removed from screening. If no mutation is identified in the index case, then all relatives receive management guidelines based on their family history. In this model of care, the index case is provided with clear binary outcome information of how the genetic test will impact their family, and any uncertainty regarding variant-classification or level of risk is seldom discussed with the patient.The clinical use of germline genetic testing has grown exponentially in the last 5 years, both in   the clinical context in which it is applied, and breadth of testing available. This has led to the realisation that many of the variants identified through genetic testing do significantly impact disease risk but do not themselves contribute all the risk of the condition. Such variants are not communicated back to patients as they do not fit into the current binary high risk variant/ family history- based risk model, and therefore there is currently no means to use this information to benefit the family.There is a need to develop a new model of variant risk communication with patients which incorporates both patient and healthcare provider preferences and tolerance for risk uncertainty, and will allow clinically important moderate –risk variants to be used to calibrate effective clinical care.This project will use a multicriteria decision analysis approach to identify and quantify the patients’ and healthcare provider’s preferences for variant risk communication as the first step in fostering a more open, transparent and person-centred approach to genomic-based risk management.The intention is not be rebuild the current model but to capture more of the clinical utility associated with germline genomic testing.  The student will gain experience in qualitative and quantitative methodology with direct experience of developing a multicriteria decision survey based on swing weighting to elicit and quantify individual preferences

  • Exploring the use of menstrual cycle tracking apps

    Supervisors:    Dr Jacqueline Coombe, Dr Hennie Williams,  Professor Jane Hocking

    Project Site:  Sexual Health Unit, Melbourne School of Population & Global Health

    Project Description:

    Menstrual cycle tracking apps have proliferated in the past few years, and there are now many options available for people who menstruate to use. Few have explored the motivators for using these apps, or whether people who menstruate are also use them to assist with pregnancy prevention or conception. This project will examine the experiences of using menstrual cycle tracking apps, including deciding which app to use, frequency of use, contraceptive use, and whether or not these apps are also use to prevent or achieve pregnancy. This project will be a qualitative study and data will be collected via telephone interviews.

  • Using telehealth for sexual and reproductive health consultations: exploring the experiences of patients using these services

    Supervisors:    Dr Jacqueline Coombe, Dr Hennie Williams,  Professor Jane Hocking

    Project Site:  Sexual Health Unit, Melbourne School of Population & Global Health

    Project Description:

    COVID-19 had a significant impact on the delivery of healthcare in Australia. In an effort to reduce the spread of the virus, telehealth, where healthcare  is provided via telephone or video, rapidly became widely available to the general Australian population and represented a significant shift in the provision of healthcare. While initial research suggests that many healthcare providers were using telehealth, few have explored the experiences of patients using these services. This project will examine the experiences of people who used telehealth for a sexual and reproductive health consult (for example, to seek contraception). Utilising a mixed methods approach, this project will use a short online survey to collect both quantitative and qualitative data about these experiences.

  • Exploring gay men's views about reducing the screening frequency for bacterial STIs

    Supervisors:    Professor Jane Hocking,  Dr Hennie Williams,  Dr Jacqueline Coombe

    Project Site:  Sexual Health Unit, Melbourne School of Population & Global Health

    Project Description:

    Men who have sex with men who are taking PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) for HIV are required to have a full STI screen every three months.  The incidence of STIs is very high requiring antibiotic treatment.  This contributes to incresaing problems with antimicrobial resistance. There is some debate about whether the screening frequency should be as often and whether it could be reduced to every 6 months or even annually.  This qualitative project will explore gay men's views about the screening frequency.

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.