Contribute to health and wellbeing research today

One thing that hasn’t slowed down over the course of COVID-19 is research on the Bendigo Campus, and in fact the pandemic itself has spurred on many projects that will ultimately benefit the health and wellbeing of Australians.

Did you know anyone can contribute to academic research? Sometimes, in as little as 15 minutes.

Here we outline four fantastic Bendigo-based projects calling for volunteer participants; including people who work, people who want to get healthier, people with dementia and their carers and even simply people with teeth… can you help today?

Brushing up on dental habits

Photo by Diana Polekhina on Unsplash

Anybody over the age of 18 can contribute to some important dental health research, and it only takes 20 minutes and a net connection.

Dr Virginia Dickson-Swift from our Violet Vines Marshman Centre for Rural Health Research is looking into the impact of COVID-19 on the oral health of Australians.

“The impact of the pandemic on oral health services has been significant with recent Australian research documenting an increase in the prescribing of antibiotics and opioid analgesics,” Virginia says.

“An analysis of Medicare data on the use of the Child Dental Benefits Schedule in Australia from March to September 2020 showed there were 881,454 fewer dental services provided in 2020 than 2019.

“The greatest declines were seen in preventive and diagnostic services, with 198,609 fewer dental services provided from July to September 2020 than 2019. Since this time, we have continued to see significant lockdowns and restrictions across the country that could be potentially impacting on the oral health of many Australians.”

Virginia says tooth decay is one of the most prevalent health conditions and a leading cause of preventable hospital stays. “Poor oral health is also associated with a number of other chronic diseases including stroke and cardiovascular disease,” she says. “People’s ability to look after their oral health is impacted by a range of social, economic, environmental and political determinants and the impact of COVID-19 on oral health is hypothesized to be significant.”

Why not contribute to Virginia’s research?  Simply click this link today to access the survey. https://oralhealthcovid19.questionpro.com

No more excuses!

Photo by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash

Another easy study to take part in is Liam O’Donnell and Carina Chan’s research into ‘delay discounting’ and health behaviours.

“In other words, how we think about healthy habits and how much we value them presently will have an impact on our future health,” Liam says.

“More often than not we are aware of things we need to do for our health, and yet we still don’t do them all the time. We don’t get around to doing that exercise, or we don’t eat all our vegetables. This study is important because if we understand delay discounting better, we can help people change the way they process information and make better decisions about their health.”

The study has two parts. If people want to participate but can’t spare much time, there is a super easy, 15-minute survey that aims to understand the characteristics of delay discounting. The link is here https://www.questionpro.com/t/ASUUtZmHqA

If people would like to participate further, the second part aims at researching techniques that can possibly reduce delay discounting and increase physical activity. It involves attendance at a Zoom meeting to learn an imagery technique, which participants then practice for two weeks. More information is provided at the end of the survey.

Liam says volunteers for both sections need to be over 18, with a good grasp of English, and to have done less than 2.5 hours of moderate-to-vigorous exercise in the last week (such as jogging, running or cycling).

“We hope, through both parts, that participants give greater consideration to their present health behaviours and how they will impact their future health,” Liam says. “If this leads to positive behaviour change, that would be awesome!”

Stress less with a chatbot

PhD candidate Akihiro Yorita is working to alleviate workplace stress through a chatbot developed on the Bendigo Campus.

The IT and Computer Science researcher got the idea from an anime film which featured a robot in a workplace. Akihiro took the concept and developed his chatbot to ‘talk’ to users to determine their stress levels after a day’s work and recommend support at the end of a working week.

“The app was built before the pandemic, so it doesn’t deal directly with this situation,” Akihiro says. “But now people are working from home the stress has changed so I’d like to test the chatbot during lockdown and get people’s feedback on their experience.”

People working fulltime who’d like to help test the chatbot can register their interest here https://redcap.latrobe.edu.au/redcap/surveys/?s=L7PPNWHNJ9

Improving inclusion for people with dementia

Carmela Leone, from our John Richards Centre for Rural Ageing Research, is seeking people living with dementia and carers to be involved in a study about their experiences and expectations in public spaces such as parks, community spaces and shopping centres.  

“I chose the topic of rights to public space for people living with dementia and carers because my mother lived with dementia and my father was her carer,” Carmela says.

“As my mother’s dementia progressed, I saw that they both experienced exclusion from public, social spaces in their community.

“It’s important to recognise that people living with dementia and carers experience social exclusion and isolation. Also, that they have the same rights to participation, inclusion, and access to public, social spaces as everyone else.”

Carmela says taking part in this study is an important way for people living with dementia and their carers to be heard. “Because their voices, their lived experience and their expectations are important,” she says. “The study will contribute to raising awareness towards designing and planning more inclusive spaces.”

Participants need only take part in a 30-minute phone interview about their experiences and expectations about being in public spaces, and will be reimbursed for their time with a $50 gift voucher.

Email Carmela at c.leone@latrobe.edu.au or call her on 5444 7934.

Main image ‘The best gift is you’ by Dakota Corbin on Unsplash

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