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School of Nursing and Midwifery

The following list provides information on projects currently open to new research students. For more information on each project please contact the nominated nominated supervisor within the project description.

This page will be updated as opportunities become available so please check back regularly.

Project Outline:

My field of research is the exploration of survivorship following an ICU experience. This also encompasses the exploration of interventions to aid psychological and emotional recovery.

Project Area: Improving outcomes of adults with chronic conditions

Supervisor(s): Dr Beverley Ewens, Dr Mandy Towell-Barnard

Project level: Masters, PhD

Funding: Applicant should apply for ECUHDR or RTP Scholarship

Start date: Ongoing

Project Outline:

My focus in this area includes the patient and family experience of acute delirium in the acute setting. I am also interested in the experiences of nurses in caring for patients experiencing an episode of acute delirium.

Project Area: Improving outcomes of adults with chronic conditions

Supervisor(s): Dr Beverley Ewens, Dr Mandy Towell-Barnard

Project level: Masters

Funding: Applicant should apply for ECUHDR or RTP Scholarship

Start date: Ongoing

Project Outline:

Weight stigma and bias is well recognised within the health care professions, including nursing. This study will explore the experiences of nurses caring for patients with class III obesity within Australia.

Project Area: Improving outcomes for adults with chronic conditions

Supervisor(s): Dr Beverley Ewens, Dr Mandy Towell-Barnard

Project level: Masters

Funding: Applicant should apply for ECUHDR or RTP Scholarship

Start date: Ongoing

Project Outline:

Low physical activity during and after hospitalization is common, especially in older adults.  Patients may experience barriers to engaging in physical activity, however little is known about these barriers.

Aim: 

  1. Determine barriers from the patient’s perspective, and target removal of barriers to patient engagement in physical mobility during and after hospitalization.
  2. Develop a reliable and valid scale to determine the barriers to engaging in physical activity in the hospital and at home  after discharge

Project Area: Psychometrics; physiotherapy; nursing, mobility, exercise

Supervisor(s): Dr. Gordana Dermody

Project level: Honours, Masters, PhD

Funding: Applicant should apply for ECUHDR or RTP Scholarship; Contact the School of Nursing & Midwifery

Start date: Ongoing

Project Outline:

Aim
Determine consumers-- including end-users and family member’s needs, wants and expectations of health-assistive Smart Homes specifically to facilitate living independently of aging adults with chronic disease.

  1. Explore the consumer expectations for health-assistive smart homes
  2. Determine consumer recommendations for health-assistive smart homes

Project Area: Gerontechnology; health adaptive technology

Supervisor(s): Dr. Gordana Dermody

Project level: Honours, Masters, PhD

Funding: Applicant should apply for ECUHDR or RTP Scholarship; Contact the School of Nursing & Midwifery

Start date: Ongoing

Project Outline:

To develop, implement, and evaluate a variety of technologies used in  and by older adults (and potentially their caregivers) to support independence and quality of life.

Project Area: Gerontechnology: Designing technology and environment for independent living and social participation of older persons in good health, comfort and safety.

Supervisor(s): Dr. Gordana Dermody

Project level: Honours, Masters, PhD

Funding: Applicant should apply for ECUHDR or RTP Scholarship; Contact the School of Nursing & Midwifery

Start date: Ongoing

Project Outline:

We have permission from the RC and ethics approval in place to re-analyze data from the Royal Commission. We are doing this by topic area e.g. falls, hospital care, elder abuse, technology, end of life care etc. The student project would take one area of interest and use the RC data to develop a descriptive or explanatory framework/theory which could contribute to policy and practice development.

Project Area: Living and Dying Well in Residential Aged Care

Supervisor(s): Professor Davina Porock

Project level: Masters, PhD

Start date: Ongoing

Project Outline:

I am conducting a series of studies on the issues related to understanding the transition from usual care to end of life care for residents in aged care facilities. This systematic review will form a foundational paper for the series and contribute to subsequent studies using existing data bases (qualitative and quantitative) to inform policy and practice.

Project Area: Living and Dying Well in Residential Aged Care

Supervisor(s): Professor Davina Porock

Project level: Honours, Masters

Start date: Ongoing

Project Outline:

I am conducting a series of studies on the issues related to the transfer of residents of residential aged care facilities to the emergency department for treatment. This systematic review will form a foundational paper for the series and contribute to subsequent studies using existing data bases (qualitative and quantitative) to inform policy and practice.

Project Area: Living and Dying Well in Residential Aged Care

Supervisor(s): Professor Davina Porock

Project level: Honours, Masters

Start date: Ongoing

Project Outline:

Intervention studies evaluating health care/ aged care in the older person cohort. Proposal to be discussed and developed.

Specifically focusing on interventions that optimize the quality of life or satisfaction of patients/residents diagnosed with dementia living in the community or residential aged care or admitted to acute hospital settings.

Staff education/support interventions that assist staff to reduce the use of physical and chemical restraint in residential aged care.

Evaluate interventions that purport to increase person centered care in acute care and residential aged care settings.

Desired skills: Masters by research qualification. Interest in the care of the older person

Project Area: Quality and Safety and Healthy Ageing

Supervisor(s): Professor Beverly O'Connell

Project level: PhD

Funding: School scholarship available

Start date: April 2020

Project Outline:

The increasing frail population presents a growing challenge for health services. Frailty is known to result in adverse outcomes such as falls, fractures, functional dependence, post-operative complications, increased length of stay, readmission to hospital and death during hospitalisation. Poor pain assessment and management are linked to frailty and delirium. Uncontrolled pain can impair mobility and participation in therapeutic activity, which may lead to deconditioning and frailty progression. Evidence suggests that frail patients’ outcomes can be improved, however, effective interventions to address inpatient frailty and pain are urgently needed to address a gap in evidence. A cluster randomised control trial will determine the effectiveness of using volunteer support interventions (adapted Hospital Elder Life Program - AHELP) and a technology driven pain assessment (PainChek®) with standard care on changes in frailty and specific clinical outcomes during hospitalisation, at discharge and at 30 days after discharge. A point prevalence study, stakeholder evaluation and economic analysis will also be conducted as part of the study. There are opportunities within this project to explore nurses and other health professionals’ role in working with volunteers. There are also other potential projects linked to nurses and other health professionals use of technology for pain assessment.

Supervisor(s): Dr Rosemary Saunders, Dr Olivia Gallagher, Professor Beverly O’Connell, Dr Beverley Ewens

Project level: Masters, PhD

Funding: Applicant should apply for ECUHDR or RTP Scholarship

Start date: March 2020

Project Outline:

My portfolio of research is concerned with investigating the role sleep has in maintaining physical health and psychological wellbeing in a variety of populations. This includes subjective self-reported measures of sleep, objective actigraphy measured sleep and a variety of measures of physical health (BMI, pre-diabetes, blood markers of inflammation, co-morbidities) and psychological health (depression, anxiety, stress and burden).

Project Area: Improving outcomes adults with chronic conditions

Supervisor(s): Dr Aisling Smyth

Project level: Masters, PhD

Funding: Applicant should apply for ECUHDR or RTP Scholarship

Start date: Ongoing

Project Outline:

This research pilot project is under development and seeks to investigate various aspects of mothers using the supportive app in regional areas.

Project Area: Infant nutrition

Supervisor(s): Dr Deb Ireson, Dr Diana Arabiat

Project level: Masters, PhD

Funding: Applicant should apply for ECUHDR or RTP Scholarship, School scholarship available

Start date: Ongoing

Project Outline:

The project will be situated within a program of research on the prevention of hospital acquired complications and will align with the Australian National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards and Western Australian Sustainable Health Review that aim to protect the public from harm and improve the quality of acute health service provision.
Patients who are admitted to hospitals are extremely sick, have high acuity levels, are frail, often older, with multiple comorbidities and are extremely vulnerable to acquiring a hospital acquired complication. Recent Australian data shows that one if every nine patients will develop a hospital acquired complication costing the Australia’s health system at least $5 billion per year (Grattan Institute, 2018). This vulnerable group of patients will be exposed to highly invasive procedures and despite the frequency of these procedures there is a paucity of research guiding the best evidence-based research practice.
Depending on the student’s background and preference, the PhD project will be in one of the following areas:

  1. Vascular access
    1. Peripheral vascular access
    2. Haemodialysis vascular access
  2. Indwelling urinary catheter management
  3. Prevention of pressure injury

Other topics related to improving patient outcomes in an acute care setting may be considered.

Desired skills: Experience with statistical analysis and related software (e.g., Stata, SAS, R, SPSS)

Project Area: Safety and Quality in Healthcare

Supervisor(s): Dr Linda Coventry, Professor Lisa Whitehead

Project level: PhD

Funding: School scholarship available

Start date: Semester 1 2020

Project Outline:

Overall aim

To develop and preliminarily evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of an evidence-based laser acupuncture protocol for managing one of the following health conditions:

  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Depression

Specific objectives

  • To develop an evidence-based laser acupuncture protocol for managing a specific chosen health condition
  • To examine the feasibility of the intervention protocol and to pilot the methodological procedure of using laser acupuncture for a specific chosen health condition management
  • To preliminarily evaluate the effects of laser acupuncture on a specific chosen health condition
  • To explore patients’ experiences of taking part in the pilot study and receiving the laser acupuncture intervention
  • To refine the study protocol

Project Area: Complementary and alternative therapy / Holistic Health

Supervisor(s): Dr Carol Wang

Project level: Masters, PhD

Funding: Applicant should apply for ECUHDR or RTP Scholarship; School scholarship available. There may be an opportunity to have an Industry Engagement PhD Scholarship attached to this project

Start date: June 2020

Project Outline:

Overall aim

To develop and preliminarily evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of an evidence-based laser acupuncture protocol for facial rejuvenation.

Specific objectives

  • To develop an evidence-based laser acupuncture protocol for managing a specific chosen health condition
  • To examine the feasibility of the intervention protocol and to pilot the methodological procedure of using laser acupuncture for a specific chosen health condition management
  • To preliminarily evaluate the effects of laser acupuncture on a specific chosen health condition
  • To explore patients’ experiences of taking part in the pilot study and receiving the laser acupuncture intervention
  • To refine the study protocol

Project Area: Complementary and alternative therapy / Holistic Health

Supervisor(s): Dr Carol Wang

Project level: Masters, PhD

Funding: Applicant should apply for ECUHDR or RTP Scholarship; School scholarship available. There may be an opportunity to have an Industry Engagement PhD Scholarship attached to this project

Start date: June 2020

Project Outline:

Overall aim

To develop and preliminarily evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of an evidence-based laser acupuncture protocol for managing one of the following health conditions:

  • Neck and shoulder pain
  • Headache
  • Low back pain
  • Osteoarthritis

Specific objectives

  • To develop an evidence-based laser acupuncture protocol for managing a specific chosen health condition
  • To examine the feasibility of the intervention protocol and to pilot the methodological procedure of using laser acupuncture for a specific chosen health condition management
  • To preliminarily evaluate the effects of laser acupuncture on a specific chosen health condition
  • To explore patients’ experiences of taking part in the pilot study and receiving the laser acupuncture intervention
  • To refine the study protocol

Project Area: Complementary and alternative therapy / Holistic Health

Supervisor(s): Dr Carol Wang

Project level: Masters, PhD

Funding: Applicant should apply for ECUHDR or RTP Scholarship; School scholarship available. There may be an opportunity to have an Industry Engagement PhD Scholarship attached to this project

Start date: June 2020

Project Outline:

Patient outcomes and safety are directly linked to nurses’ ability to detect changes in patients’ conditions and effectively manage changing circumstances. As increasing numbers of complex patients are admitted to hospitals, the importance of nurses recognising changes in health status and picking up on deterioration is more important. Graduate Registered Nurses are expected to commence their careers with the ability to ensure safe nursing practice. The preparedness of nursing graduates to undertake safe independent practice is debated within the nursing profession. Health services require that graduate nurses are able to perform clinically and bridge the theory-practice gap on entering the workforce. There are many methods used by health educators to assist the transition from student to practitioner and yet there has been no consensus reached between education faculty and industry on what it means to be ‘safe to practice’ or how to prepare staff for safe practice. The aim of this project is to develop a common understanding of what ‘work readiness’ means to both educators and health care employers and determine the best methods of preparing staff. Aim: Examine practices used to prepare and assess graduate nurses’ readiness for safe work practice.

Project Area: Safety and Quality of the Nursing Workforce

Funding: Applicant should apply for ECUHDR or RTP Scholarship

Supervisor(s): A/Prof Elisabeth Jacob, Dr Hugh Davies

Project level: Masters, PhD

Start date: Ongoing

Project Outline:

Peripheral intravenous cannula (PIVC) are a universally known intervention for patients in acute health services to assist with management of conditions, and are the most commonly inserted vascular access device. Most PIVCs are inserted to administer intravenous fluids, medications or to obtain pathology blood tests.  There is a great degree of variance in practice regarding dwell time, insertion techniques, obtaining blood samples and management of intravenous cannulas between health services, states in Australia, and individual nurses. Aim: To explore the evidence for best practice in peripheral intravenous care in Australian health services.

Project Area: Nursing Safety and Quality

Funding: Applicant should apply for ECUHDR or RTP Scholarship

Supervisor(s): A/Prof Elisabeth Jacob, Dr Linda Coventry, Dr Hugh Davies

Project level: Masters, PhD

Start date: Ongoing

Sleep  is  a  restorative  process  which  has  a  fundamental  role  in  the  regulation  of  the endocrine system and glucose metabolism. Sleep is comprised of five stages, with the last Rapid Eye Movement  (REM)  stage  associated  with  the  restorative  processes  as  per  increased  growth  hormone secretion and decreased pituitary-adrenal axis activity. Numerous studies have concluded sleep reduction resulted in increased insulin resistance and increased risk in developing type 2 diabetes.

Caregivers sleep is shorter, of lower quality and more fragmented compared to the normal population. Caregivers are also twice as likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Given the emerging importance of sleep and circadian rhythm in regulating practically all physiological processes, including endocrine and glucose regulation, is it possible that the increased incidence of DM in the carers population is as a direct result of disrupted and decreased sleep?

Project Area: Sleep and Health; Pre-diabetes; Type 2 diabetes

Funding: Applicant should apply for ECUHDR or RTP Scholarship; Contact the School of Nursing & Midwifery

Supervisor(s): Dr Aisling Smyth

Project level: Masters, PhD

Start date: April 2019

Investment in improved breastfeeding rates is a primary link to lessen the burden of associated childhood disease. The longer a woman can breastfeed the greater the accumulated health benefits to the child, both short and long term. Breastfeeding can be challenging for some women in the months after childbirth, and without effective support women can easily interrupt or cease breastfeeding entirely. Families in remote or regional areas of Australia have less available professional support than urban families and much load is placed on partners/fathers and family members to provide support. Even so, many women in the South West do successfully breastfeed for extended periods, including times when returning to work.


Examining the supportive partner behaviours towards women who extend breastfeeding, may highlight specific areas of strategy and proactive behaviours which may be identified, developed and promoted more widely to aid new families and in particular, other partners/fathers, in similar circumstances.


This initial community health based project will focus interviews with the partners of women who are currently breastfeeding and who have breastfed successfully for a minimum of six months following birth. Participants will be recruited via child health nurses at a supportive six to nine month child wellbeing check and also through community group advertisement on social media (WA Gov site) parenting groups based in the South West.


A short separate interview will be undertaken with the breastfeeding woman to verify information.


Demographic information and semi-structured interviews will form the basis of data collection, qualitative thematic analysis will provide insights to guide future intervention based projects to improve practice development strategies to sustain healthy regional families.

Project Area: Child health, family wellness, child nutrition, midwifery & mens health

Funding: Contact the School of Nursing & Midwifery

Supervisor(s): Dr Deborah Ireson

Project level: Masters, PhD

Start date: March 2019

Low physical activity during and after hospitalization is common, especially in older adults.  Patients may experience barriers to engaging in physical activity, however little is known about these barriers.

Aim:

  1. Determine barriers from the patient’s perspective, and target removal of barriers to patient engagement in physical mobility during and after hospitalization.
  2. Develop a reliable and valid scale to determine the barriers to engaging in physical activity in the hospital and at home  after discharge

Project Area: Psychometrics; physiotherapy; nursing

Funding: Applicant should apply for ECUHDR or RTP scholarship

Supervisor(s): Dr Gordana Dermody

Project level: PhD

Start date: Ongoing

Aim:

Determine consumers-- including end-users and family member’s needs, wants and expectations of health-assistive Smart Homes specifically to facilitate living independently of aging adults with chronic disease.

  1. Explore the consumer expectations for health-assistive smart homes
  2. Determine consumer recommendations for health-assistive smart homes

Project Area: Gerontechnology; health adaptive technology

Funding: Applicant should apply for ECUHDR or RTP scholarship

Supervisor(s): Dr Gordana Dermody

Project level: PhD

Start date: July 2019

Purpose:

To facilitate ageing-in-place, the development and adoption of health-assistive smart home technology is critical. Accordingly, we will:

  1. Explore the readiness for adoption of health-assistive smart home technology into the homes of older people from CaLD and non-CaLD backgrounds.
  2. Identify potential differences in the factors that influence readiness for adoption of Smart Homes between older people from CaLD and non-CaLD backgrounds.
    Explore the factors that may influence whether or not a family member from CaLD and non-CaLD backgrounds may support the adoption of health-assistive smart home technology into their loved one’s home.

Project Area: Gerontechnology: Designing technology and environment for independent living and social participation of older persons in good health, comfort and safety.

Funding: Applicant should apply for ECUHDR or RTP scholarship

Supervisor(s): Dr Gordana Dermody

Project level: PhD

Start date: March 2019

Purpose:

To implement SMART home technologies to support aging in place of independently living older adults with chronic diseases. We will use motion sensors and artificially intelligent algorithms to monitor older adults’ in-home activities to:

  1. Identify changes in health behavior associated with daily living; (not in real-time)
  2. Identify changes in health behavior patterns associated with changes in normal routines and potential changes in health status; (not in real-time)
  3. Contextualizing expert clinician’s knowledge of the identified changes in health behavior (sleeping, grooming, bed-to-toilet transitions, sleep, and exit) to forecast future behavior.
  4. Examine the relationship of community mobility—Life-Space (how far and how often the person leaves his or her place of residence and the degree of independence the person has outside of the home) and the health behavior patterns associated with daily living inside the home.

Hypothesis 1: Ambient sensor data can be analyzed using machine learning techniques to provide insights on health status and to automate behavioral interventions.

Hypothesis 2: Activity change detection algorithm can find behavior changes associated with health events

Project Area: Gerontechnology: Designing technology and environment for independent living and social participation of older persons in good health, comfort and safety.

Funding: Applicant should apply for ECUHDR or RTP scholarship

Supervisor(s): Dr Gordana Dermody

Project level: PhD

Start date: January 2019

Project Outline:

The move away from an open intensive care unit towards a single room environment has been prominent since the late 1990s within paediatric environments, and a parallel trend has been noted in the adult ICU setting.

The driver for this trend to move away from the open bay ICU in the adult setting is mostly unknown, and is the focus of this proposed PhD study. Outcomes of interest include working within a single room adult ICU, the perception of team work, work-related stress and job satisfaction

Project Area: Workforce Issues

Supervisor(s): Dr Kim Oliver

Project level: PhD

Start date: February 2019

Project Outline:

A potential research study investigating how patients with diabetes who are hospitalised for foot surgery sustained their foot ulcers. This is an interesting research idea because patients might not seek medical advice because they have no insight into their disease process. Financial implications of seeing a medical professional and the geographical location are determinants of the accessibility of care. This investigation will enable findings risks in the community, and then prevention efforts will target these risks.

Project Area: Adult health/ prevention/ self-care

Supervisor(s): Dr. Ma’en Zaid Abu-Qamar

Project level: Masters, PhD

Start date: February 2019

Project Outline:

Overall aim

To develop and preliminarily evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of an evidence-based acupuncture/acupressure protocol for one of the following:

  • managing symptom cluster of pain, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and anxiety in post-operative patients
  • managing symptoms cluster of fatigue, insomnia and depression in cancer patients
  • managing chronic pain i.e. headache, low back pain, osteoarthritis

Specific objectives

  • To develop an evidence-based acupuncture/acupressure protocol for managing a specific symptom cluster
  • To examine the feasibility of the intervention protocol and to pilot the methodological procedure of using acupuncture/acupressure for a specific symptom/s management
  • To preliminarily evaluate the effects of acupuncture/acupressure on a specific symptom/s
  • To explore patients’ experiences of taking part in the pilot study and receiving the acupuncture/acupressure intervention
  • To refine the study protocol

Project Area: Holistic health; alternative therapy

Supervisor(s): Dr Carol Wang

Project level: Masters, PhD

Start date: February 2019

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