The Macquarie University Lifespan Health and Wellbeing Research Centre is hosted by the Faculty of Medicine, Health and Human Sciences. This Consilience Centre aims to develop evidence-based approaches to understanding and maximising psychological and social health and wellbeing from infancy to older adulthood.
The Lifespan Health and Wellbeing Research Centre brings together expertise from the Centre for Emotional Health, Centre for Ageing Cognition and Wellbeing, eCentreClinic, Centre for Research into Early Childhood Education, Health and Wellbeing Research Unit, the Multilingualism Research Centre, Centre for the Health Economy and Macquarie Law School as well as other individuals from across the University. The Centre provides research, legal support and policy and strategic advice on the prevention and management of emotional, cognitive and social health challenges across the lifespan.
The Centre will apply a wholistic approach to psychosocial health and wellbeing and build on members’ existing strengths across all stages of life in the following domains:
- emotional health and wellbeing
- cognitive health and dementia
- social health and wellbeing
- systems, frameworks and institutional wellbeing.
The Centre is led by Director Professor Viviana Wuthrich, School of Psychological Sciences; two co-Deputy Directors Associate Professor Carly Johnco, School of Psychological Sciences and Dr Lauren McLellan, School of Psychological Sciences; and a multidisciplinary executive team including Distinguished Professor Ron Rapee, School of Psychological Sciences; Professor Lise Barry, Macquarie Law School; Professor Rebecca Mitchell, Macquarie Business School; Professor Henry Cutler, Macquarie Business School; Professor Sandie Wong, Macquarie School of Education; Associate Professor Alice Chik, Macquarie School of Education; Dr Milena Gandy, School of Psychological Sciences; Professor Melissa Norberg, School of Psychological Sciences.
The Centre works in collaboration with a wide range of government and non-government partners in education, health, aged care, business, law and mental health, as well as foundations, NGOs and consumer groups across the lifespan.
Current projects include
The Australian multidomain approach to reduce dementia risk by protecting brain health with lifestyle intervention (AU-ARROW) study
Funded by the Medical Research Future Fund under the International Clinical Trial Collaborations Scheme, a research team led by Professor Ralph Martins, Macquarie Medical School, is aiming to add to the evidence that lifestyle modifications can positively impact cognitive decline and dementia risk, across different countries and cultures. The research will help develop a framework of preventative steps that can help preserve brain function and possibly also reduce the incidence or severity of other preventable health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. The AU-ARROW study is the Australian adaptation of a two-year international, randomised, single-blind clinical trial of this multimodal treatment, and will be strongly aligned with the US-POINTER study. The research team will work in collaboration with the US Alzheimer’s Association, Lions Alzheimer’s Foundation and WA Alzheimer’s Association.
Read more in The Lighthouse: $3 million funding awarded to trial lifestyle interventions against Alzheimer’s Disease
The Early Childhood Educators’ Wellbeing Project (ECEWP)
Together with colleagues at the University of Melbourne and Griffith University, researchers in the School of Education are conducting research that investigates educators’ work-related wellbeing holistically. The research aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of educators’ wellbeing to inform interventions that better support and sustain the workforce, bringing benefits for educators, early childhood services and organisations and, importantly, children and their families. The project team includes Dr Tamara Cumming, Primary Chief Investigator, Professor Sandi Wong, Primary Chief Investigator and Professor Rebecca Bull, Chief Investigator.
Read more in The Lighthouse: Why early child educators are going on strike
Resilience and mental health in mining
Funded by the Australian Coal Industry’s Research Program (ACARP), researchers from Macquarie Business School, led by Professor Rebecca Mitchell, have teamed up with project partners to examine the occupational environment of miners – the first study of its kind. Australian coal mining employees experience significantly greater psychological distress levels than non-mining employees, with research identifying unique stressors in their occupational environment that are detrimental to mental health. However, a range of organisational and workplace factors can help build resilience in coal mining employees. Engagement with large mining firms has enabled mining firms to direct resources to employee collaboration in resilience and mental health support and accept recommendations to develop tailored mental health interventions focusing on unique mining-related stressors and resilience supports.
A randomised CONtrolled trial of Tailored Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for older people with treatment resistant Generalised Anxiety Disorder (CONTACT-GAD)
Professor Viviana Wuthrich is the Australian lead on an international multi-site clinical trial, funded through the NHMRC-NIHR Collaborative Research Grant Scheme, which is investigating the clinical and cost-effectiveness of a new intervention for older adult anxiety. Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) is a common anxiety disorder in older people. It is a condition that may persist for decades and is associated with numerous negative outcomes in older people, including poorer quality of life, increased disability and greater healthcare utilisation compared to non-anxious older people. First-line treatments for GAD include pharmacotherapy (eg selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors) and psychological therapy (eg cognitive behavioural therapy and applied relaxation). However, many older people with GAD find these treatments ineffective or are unable to tolerate them, leaving clinicians uncertain as to how best to manage this condition. At present, there is a lack of evidence to guide the management of treatment-resistant GAD (TR-GAD) in older people.
This project builds on a pilot study funded by NIHR in which a tailored Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) program was developed for older people with TR-GAD and was demonstrated to be feasible and acceptable for delivery by the United Kingdom National Health Service. This international multi-site clinical trial will provide the first clinical and cost-effectiveness evaluation of ACT for TR-GAD in older adults for reducing anxiety when routinely applied in older adult mental health services in the UK and Australia, against treatment as usual. The results from this trial will inform clinical guidelines and the routine management of GAD in older adults in both the United Kingdom and Australia
How to engage with the Lifespan Health and Wellbeing Research Centre
Staff interested in contributing to the works of the Centre are encouraged to contact Viviana Wuthrich.