Research

Three’s company for thesis competition

Dr Brett Gordon with PhD researchers Kylie Carra and Stephen Barrett.

What can you do in three minutes? Boil a kettle, endure an ad break, sing a pop song. How about explain years of research in an engaging, award-winning summary?

That’s what Bendigo’s Stephen Barrett and Kylie Carra have done at the La Trobe Rural Health School Three Minute Thesis heat.

Stephen Barrett presents his research.

Winner Stephen told the story of Mary, who against the odds made big health changes while waiting for elective surgery. Stephen said she’s one of 2.2 million Australians who could be doing the same.

His research with surgeons at Bendigo Health, under the supervision of La Trobe’s Dr Michael Kingsley, is looking at the potential for patients to take up exercise, eat healthier and quit smoking while on hospital waiting lists, and the benefits of doing so on themselves and the health system.

“The increased prevalence of chronic diseases over the past number of decades has influenced the demands that are placed on the hospital system,” Stephen writes. “As hospital clinicians, surgeons have an important role in advocating for behaviour change for patients with, or at risk of, chronic disease.”

Kylie asked the room to imagine they’d just jumped off the back of a vehicle in a war zone. “You are aware of everything around you, knowing that your life is on the line.”

She said the differences between military and civilian life are vast, and almost 50 per cent of ex-service people experience a difficult transition back due to physical and mental health challenges while serving. Her world-first research is exploring how activities like volunteer work, art and exercise can help.

“I will explore what participation in these activities means to former service members, to develop strategies that improve health outcomes during the transition process.”

Kylie’s supervisor Dr Brett Gordon said the three-minute “elevator pitches” help researchers unpick the impact of their work, which assists them to obtain funding plus explain the benefits to the community in a non-academic way.

“It’s about boiling the research down so it can be understood by everyone and anyone, rather than using academic terms.”

Brodie Thomas, of the Mildura Campus, came runner-up with Kylie for his video link presentation on workplace violence in emergency healthcare. Carmela Leone won the ‘people’s choice’ for her presentation titled From shrinking worlds to inclusive communities, about her research into dementia-friendly communities, with a view to developing a dementia-friendly Bendigo.

Stephen, Kylie and Brodie now progress to our upcoming College of Science, Health and Engineering heat.

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