Would you like to participate in research?

Would you like to participate in research?

We are always looking for individuals and schools to participate in our research studies. Take a look at some of the projects we are currently working on and if you're interested please make contact.

Studies suitable for individuals

Want to know if your child is emotionally and socially healthy?

Children in year 6 are invited to participate in a study which will follow their emotional and social development over several years in a bid to further understand factors which promote emotional resilience and wellbeing. Participation requires completion of online questionnaires, phone interviews to screen your child's emotional wellbeing, and lab activities each year at Macquarie University. Parents will be informed if their child's wellbeing is cause for concern.

Participating families will receive $100 and a “thank you pack” each year they take part in the project. And there are opportunities to be involved in competitions and receive prizes throughout the year. If you’re interested or would like more details, please

Contact: (02) 9850 4080 or email: rawproject@mq.edu.au

Researchers: Professor Ron Rapee, Dr Carly Worrell, Dr Ella Oar, Dr Jasmine Fardouly, and Dr Natasha Magson

Recruitment end date: July 2017

Gifts! Why do we love them?

We are trying to understand why people like to receive gifts. If you love owning possessions--then please consider participating in this study. The study involves completing a mental visualization task and answering a number of questions about your thoughts on potential gifts.

Complete the survey to find out if you're eligible to participate

Researchers: Associate Professor Melissa Norberg, Associate Professor, Jessica Grisham and Cathy Kwok

Recruitment end date: September 2017

Treating anxiety and depression in patients with Parkinson’s disease

We are trialling a new psychological treatment program to manage anxiety and depression in people suffering from Parkinson’s disease. Interested participants who are over the age of 50 years who suffer from moderate to severe levels of anxiety or depression can find out more information by calling (02) 9850 8034.This project is supported by a Seeding Grant from NSW Parkinson’s Association

Contact: Kate on (02) 9850 8034

Researchers: Associate Professor Viviana Wuthrich and Distinguished Professor Ron Rapee

Recruitment end date: June 2017

Clutter and happiness in the workplace

We are conducting a study looking at the way people evaluate their possessions and how this may change how they work. The survey will take approximately 20 minutes. After completion of the survey, you will have the opportunity to enter a prize draw to win $100. You must be at least 18 years old and currently employed to participate.

Complete the survey (approx 20 mins)

Contact: alastair.henry@students.mq.edu.au

Researchers: Melissa Norberg & Alastair Henry

Recruitment end date: 30 October 2016

Hearing loss and anxiety

We're conducting a study into the emotional health of children with hearing loss aged between 3 and 12 years old. The study involves an online survey for parents and children and will take approximately 30 minutes to complete. The collection of this information will contribute to a greater understanding of the factors leading to emotional health problems in youth with hearing loss.

Participating in this study gives you the opportunity to enter a draw to win an iPad mini valued at approximately $369.

Complete the survey (approx 30 minutes)

Contact: johanna.long@students.mq.edu.au

Researchers: Jennie Hudson & Johanna Long

Recruitment end date: 30 October 2016

Parent culture and anxiety

We are looking into anxiety and how culture may influence a parent's response to their child's anxiety, particularly in Asian cultures. The information gathered may help us to provide more appropriate, culturally sensitive services. If you care for a child aged 7 to 12 years old, we'd appreciate your insight in this short 20 minute online survey.

Complete the survey: http://tinyurl.com/anxietyandculturesurvey 

Contact: beth.underwood@mq.edu.au

Researchers: Beth Underwood and Carol Newall

Recruitment end date: 1 January 2017

Measuring anxiety in children and adolescents

You're invited to take part in a study that will assist in developing a measure for children and adolescents with anxiety, including anxiety in children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). If you decide to take part you will be asked to complete online questionnaires involving some demographic questions and a series of questions about child anxiety. Completing the study will make you eligible for the chance to win one of five $100 Coles Myer Gift Vouchers.

Participants required: parents of children and adolescents aged 6-18 years. You must be an Australian resident and understand and speak English fluently.

Complete the survey (approx 20-30 mins) Your answers will be entirely anonymous and confidential.

Contact: ramona.toscano@students.mq.edu.au

Researchers: Jennie Hudson & Ramona Toscano

Recruitment end date: 30 October 2016

What is the best way to measure anxiety in adults, 60 years and over?

We’re trying to find out which questions are best to assess anxiety in people over 60.  If you’re over 60 and have experienced symptoms of anxiety such as feeling nervous or on edge, you can help us by filling out some brief questionnaires online.

Participants required: 60 years or older

Complete the survey: http://tinyurl.com/anxietyover60 

Contact:  miri.forbes@mq.edu.au

Researchers: Miri Forbes, Viviana Wuthrich

Recruitment End date: 30 January 2017

Social Anxiety Disorder: oxytocin and social functioning 

Oxytocin is a hormone thought to be involved in the regulation of complex social cognition and behaviours. This project aims to use the latest methods from molecular biology, brain-imaging, and clinical psychology to examine the role of oxytocin in several disorders that involve difficulties in the social cognitive and behavioural domains. One of the disorders that we are interested in is social anxiety disorder (SAD).

Individuals with SAD or individuals who experience significant anxiety in social situations are invited to participate in our study. You will need to be 15 years or older to be able to participate. You can participate in up to 6 hours of research, and will receive $15 per hour (up to $90 total). Participation can be spread over two sessions.

Participation can involve:

  • Looking at pictures of faces and learning to associate them with short stories.
  • Having eye movements recorded whilst looking at pictures on a computer.
  • Giving saliva samples.
  • Completing computer tasks.
  • Participating in an MRI and having pictures taken of your brain.
  • Filling out questionnaires.
  • Answering some general questions and solving some puzzles.
  • You can participate in as much or as little of the above research as you like.

By participating in this study, you will help to illuminate the biological mechanisms that underlie social functioning. This in turn has the potential to lead to new intervention strategies for neurodevelopmental and anxiety disorders.

If you are interested in participating, or have any questions, please contact Dr Quincy Wong or Kelsie Boulton at mq.psychresearch@mq.edu.au

Studies suitable for schools

Preventing Anxiety and Victimisation through education (PAVe)

About PAVe?

What outcomes should schools expect by participating in PAVe?

Who to contact to register interest

About PAVe?

PAVe is an exciting new research intervention project being conducted in NSW and Western Australian primary schools. It is supported by funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council, Australian Government Department of Education, and Macquarie University.

PAVe will evaluate two evidence-based programs in schools:

  • Friendly Schools Plus: a strengths-based, whole-of-school program designed to enhance students’ social and emotional learning and foster the prevention of bullying behaviours;
  • Cool Kids: Taking Control: a strengths-based, targeted program designed to build resilience in those children who have been targeted by bullying behaviours

These programs will help schools reduce all forms of bullying by developing student’s social and emotional learning, building positive peer relationships, and empowering students to cope successfully with difficult situations.

The program that each school will receive is decided randomly. Schools will have an equal chance of receiving the Friendly Schools Plus and/or Cool Kids: Taking Control programs.

Friendly Schools Plus Program

Friendly Schools Plus is an Australian whole-of-school program developed and empirically tested over a 13-year period with over 20,000 Australian children by Winthrop Professor Donna Cross and her colleagues. It aims to build students’ social skills and enhance their relationships while also reducing bullying and its associated consequences.

The program targets four main levels:

  • the school level where pastoral care staff are provided with resources and trained in ways to assess their school’s strengths and needs and implement the parts of the program they need
  • the family level where resources are provided to help raise parents’ awareness of their children’s social development and to enhance their ability to communicate with children about pro-social behaviours and ways to avoid or deal effectively with anti-social behaviours, especially bullying
  • the classroom level where students in grades 4 and 5 will be provided with 8-10 hours of classroom learning to formally develop and practice positive social behaviour and skills to build reciprocated friendships and deal with bullying, including as a bystander, and showing empathy for students who are targets of bullying. 
  • the student level where selected activities are used to support victimized students and to help modify the behaviour of students who bully others.

The whole-of-school program is supported by training for classroom teachers and school personnel and many quality resources for students, parents, and teachers.

Cool Kids Taking Control Program

The targeted program is designed to help those students who have been frequent targets of bullying. The program is a modification of the well-established Cool Kids program developed at Macquarie University in Sydney. Cool Kids: Taking Control is a self-help program that involves 10 x 40 minute lessons covering education about bullying and anxiety, activities to help parents teach their child to manage his or her anxiety, child management and interaction skills for parents, and general social skills for children. Parents of students in each of these schools will receive detailed information materials and extensive practice exercises delivered via the Internet, with specific components also directed to their children.

The students and their parents who will be actively involved in this component will be identified through their response to the research survey. Children will be invited to participate in Cool Kids: Taking Control if they have a high survey score for both anxiety and victimization after they complete the first survey. The program will be conducted by parents outside school so that only the school executive, counsellor and the investigators will be aware of which children are in the targeted program.

The program will be supported by school counsellors and a member of the pastoral care executive who attend a one-day training workshop conducted by the researchers. Each parent will receive 2-3 scheduled phone calls with their school counsellor / trained staff member at key points in the program to discuss goals and problem-solve difficulties. Parents will also be encouraged to contact the school counsellor for additional advice as needed.

What outcomes should schools expect by participating in PAVe?

  • development of students’ social and emotional competencies
  • improved student recognition and regulation of emotions
  • positive peer relationships in the playground
  • increased resilience and self-concept for students
  • a reduction in bullying behaviours at your school

The Friendly Schools Plus and/or the Cool Kids: Taking Control resources and training will be provided free of charge to all participating schools.

What do I do now?

If you would like more information, contact the project manager, Dr Sally Fitzpatrick, on (02) 9850 8097 or email: sally.fitzpatrick@mq.edu.au. This PDF will provide further detailed information.

The Emotional Health Project: reducing anxiety and depression in female youth

Why this project is important

About the Emotional Health Project

What the project offers your school

The roles and responsibilities of your school in the project

Who to contact to register interest

Print a fact sheet about this project PDF, 246.76 KB

Why this project is important

Anxiety and depression are two of the most common mental health problems in children and adolescents. Although anxiety tends to appear earlier in life than depression, these disorders often co-occur and are more common in girls than boys. Both disorders have a negative impact on the lives of young women, affecting their academic performance and peer relations, and increasing later risk of mental health problems. Significant progress towards understanding the causes of emotional disorders has been made in recent years and it is clear that genetic, cognitive and environmental factors play an important role, but the interrelationships of these mechanisms remain unclear. To address these urgent mental health issues, Macquarie University, in collaboration with two NSW girls’ schools, have formed a novel partnership. We are now looking for a third school to join.

Macquarie University is seeking expressions of interest from girls' high schools in Sydney to join the Emotional Health Project.

About the Emotional Health Project

The Emotional Health Project is funded by the Australian Research Council. It aims to understand how genes and cognitive factors interact with the environment to affect girls’ anxiety and depression over time. Students at schools that participate in the Emotional Health Project in 2016 will receive an efficacious cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) program (Chilled@School) that promotes resilience and healthy responses to stress. Students will also gain hands-on experience with world-class clinical research.

Serving as a future model for other Australian schools, this project aims to improve the mental health of students —a key issue for the partner schools— and to answer critical research questions regarding the causes and prevention of mental health problems in children and adolescents. The research aim of the Emotional Health Project is to examine, in novel ways, how genetic risk and cognitive factors interact with children’s and adolescents’ environments to affect anxiety and depressive disorders over time.

What the project offers your school

Students at schools that participate in the Emotional Health Project in 2016 will receive:

  • an efficacious cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) program that promotes resilience and healthy responses to stress. 
  • hands-on experience with world-class clinical research.

About the Chilled@School Program

In 2016, students in years 7-11 at your school will take part in the Chilled@School program. Chilled@School is an eight-session program run in the classroom by a clinical psychologist who is experienced in the treatment of childhood and adolescent anxiety. The aim of the program is to promote resilience and healthy responses to stress. It is a classroom adaptation of the internationally recognised Cool Kids program, which effects positive change that is maintained for up to six years. Chilled@School uses a cognitive behavioural approach, which means that it focuses on how to identify upsetting thoughts, and to understand the effect of these thoughts on emotional and behavioural responses. The program aims to build confidence by teaching techniques to help face anxiety-provoking situations and by teaching problem solving, assertiveness and breathing techniques to develop resilience. The sessions use discussion, activities and video-based examples to help teach these skills.

About the research sessions

Students will be asked to complete an initial research session, which takes place in a classroom setting, and takes 1-2 hours. In the research sessions, students answer self-report measures on anxiety, depression, perceived parenting behaviour, positive and negative life events, threat interpretation bias (e.g., does the student interpret ambiguous situations in a negative way?), puberty, substance use, and eating disorder symptoms. The students also complete a computer reaction time task to assess attention bias (i.e., is the student more likely to focus on negative things in their environment). Within a few weeks of completing the Chilled@School sessions, students will be asked to repeat these measures to examine the changes in their emotional health from the program. Twelve months later, students will be asked to complete the measures a third and final time to determine how students’ emotional health has changed or stabilised over this longer time frame. As part of the research component of the Emotional Health Project, parents are also invited to complete a brief online questionnaire about their daughter’s emotional health.

On one occasion (usually the first research session) students are invited to provide a saliva sample for genetic analysis to examine whether specific genes are related to anxiety, depression, and the outcome of the Chilled@School program. These genetic samples are sent in batches to the UK, stored at the Social Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre in London until the analysis is complete, and the samples are then destroyed.

The roles and responsibilities of your school in the project

We ask that the participating schools make a financial contribution towards the costs of running the program, but the level of this contribution is flexible, and the financial resources of the school will be taken into account.
An important role of the school is to engage the school community with the Emotional Health Project.
The most demanding aspect of running the project is scheduling the Chilled@School program into the school timetable. Our team will be there to assist wherever possible, and there is some flexibility in the scheduling of the program to fit around the existing timetable.
Any financial contribution by the school towards the costs of running the project would enable more flexible delivery of the Chilled@School program.
We also appreciate staff support in running the research and Chilled@School sessions. In our experience, a successful strategy has been to ask the teachers of the classes attending a session to assist.

Register your interest

Contact Anna McKinnon on (02) 9850 9163 or anna.mckinnon@mq.edu.au

NOTE: This research has ethics approval from the Macquarie University Ethics Committee, and from the NSW State Education Research Applications Process. All data collected is confidential and is de-identified before storage or analysis.

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