At the CBeRI, our three core objectives include:
1. The development of innovative technologically-based biopsychosocial health care interventions through various applications and platforms that improve ill health and increase wellbeing
The time is ripe to develop innovative health technologies that will improve health and wellbeing as web, mobile, virtual/gaming, ubiquitous sensor-based health tools/platforms are now at that stage where, in a carefully designed combination, they can efficiently teach core healthy 'life skills' to hundreds of millions of people simultaneously, and potentially, even more effectively than a 'professional' (given it can be available 24/7 and incorporates high levels of interactivity). In addition, smart human machine learning applications, IT data collection, storage and mining techniques, are now far more accessible and cost affordable, enabling such technologies to be developed at a fraction of the cost. However, before we can evaluate ehealth technologies, we first need to develop them.
To that aim, were are currently involved in the development of multiple ehealth innovations including
- Federation eHealth Platform: An e-mental health information site for consumers, healthcare professionals and researchers.
- LIFE FLEX: A biopsychosocial web and mobile intervention program for depression and anxiety.
- iChooseWell: A comprehensive strategies based web and mobile wellbeing program.
- BDZ eHealth: A web and mobile based benzodiazepine gradual reduction program.
- THRIVE eHealth: A brief web and mobile wellness 'refresher' program.
- Physical activity eHealth
- Mindfulness eHealth
- eMental health symptom screeners
- Suicide prevention eResources
- Cognitive modification bias and brain training games
- GLBT cultural and sensitivity e-Program for health care professionals
- 'Affective' mobile app
- 3D Oculus Rift – Stress reduction technology
- Online time dilation testing
- Measuring mental health among deaf adults
- iSeeBehaviour: A decision support and deep analytics system for better dementia care.
2. Health care ehealth intervention research (mental, physical and disabilities) spanning the health care activity spectrum (health promotion, education, prevention, early intervention, treatment and chronic disease, rehabilitation and crisis management) and practice models to improve ill health and increase wellbeing
Public Health e-Models
In more recent years, ehealth technologies have been transforming the landscape of health care. eHealthrefers to the incorporation of electronic communication and information technology systems, to improve both health care delivery and human health and wellbeing. We will evaluate the ehealth innovations developed rigorously and then release them to the public – for public good (principally using fully automated systems that can deliver an ehealth technology to the masses, in a more cost-effective and sustainable manner). We are also very focused on developing and disseminating ehealth technologies that support the most vulnerable populations (e.g., GLBTI, the elderly, rural).
This involves the trialling of numerous IT-enabled (typically fully automated) interventions (web and mobile) designed to improve ill health and increase wellbeing (across the spectrum). For example, some of the ehealth programs mentioned above focus on teaching people how to reduce stress, increase physical activity levels, mindfulness or personal strengths, reduce panic, anxiety and depression or the reduce the use of benzodiazepines.
Many mental health community / psychology clinics are not research active, despite many clinic-based staff wanting to embrace the 'Scientist Practitioner' model. Logistical and pragmatic constraints (e.g., time, varying skill sets, expertise and interests, competing demands between 'research' and 'professional practice' activities) makes it difficult to undertake clinic-based research. Consequently individual clinics are not well positioned to drive major research activities or investigate key clinic-based research questions given their small size (e.g., limited or absent critical mass in terms of staff numbers and client throughput). As many rural and regional mental health / psychology clinics share common goals (e.g., the training of future healthcare professionals, the desire to work in an evidence-based practice environment to promote continuous improvement of their current practices, as well as to investigate key applied research questions that will improve client outcomes and advance the field of psychology and human health and its practice more broadly), we aim to create a critical mass or 'consortium' that brings together multiple regional and rural mental health sites and incorporates ehealth technologies (as a service delivery mechanism).
We are engaging and working with community organisations, as well as with the own FedUni Psychology Clinic helping to support e-practice development. This collaborative work should increase, strengthen and consolidate collaborative research efforts, as well as data sharing across multiple sites. Conducting clinic-based ehealth research in multiple, 'real world' settings (universities and professional practices) will also enhance the generalisability of the outcomes in a timelier manner.
3. Investigating the causal and disease maintenance mechanisms (biological, physiological, neural, psychological, social and environmental factors) associated with and contributing to ill health and wellbeing
There are large gaps in our understanding of health and disease (aetiology and maintenance) and we typically have inefficient ways of managing it effectively. The biopsychosocial (BPS) model of health proposes that health is best understood as a combination of bio-physiological, psychological and social determinants, and thus, advocates for a far more comprehensive investigation of the relationships between 'mind-body' health. In order for us to truly improve human health, there is a need to engage in new knowledge building discoveries and then, using these insights to develop innovative health promotion, prevention, early intervention and treatment solutions that are reliable, valid, scalable and sustainable. Given the recent availability of affordable and powerful biological marker testing technologies, as well as the advance of biometric wearable sensor devices, we are now able to more affordably and ubiquitously monitor human BPS indices in the natural environment. Such information will revolutionise our understanding and knowledge regarding how these health determining components interact and resulting in better targeted prevention and treatment applications.
We are conducting studies that holistically evaluate the biological, factors that are associated with and contribute to health and wellbeing. We are also collecting and mining other biometric data (i.e., physiological functioning indices) to derive algorithms that predict gradual declines in mood also be looking at the genetic and epigenetic/environmental factors (changes in genes over time) that contribute to health and wellbeing. Identifying these biological markers and predictive algorithms should also enable us to apply them within eHealth devices/applications for health promotion, prevention, early intervention and treatment purposes