Research

Clinical Implementation Study of the “Take a Breath” Parent Program

The ‘Take A Breath’ (TAB) group program was developed as an intervention for parents with persistent symptoms of distress. It was designed to provide parents with the skills to manage the psychological challenges presented by their child’s illness, with the aim of preventing more serious long-term mental health difficulties. A recent randomised controlled trial was conducted with parents at the RCH, including parents of children admitted to the oncology or cardiology departments or the paediatric intensive care unit (Muscara et al., 2020).

Research Team 
Frank Muscara, Maria McCarthy, Vicki Anderson, Jan Nicholson 

Project Contact
Evaluating a Psychological Intervention for Young People with Chronic Medical Conditions and Mental Health Difficulties.

Research Project 
Evaluating a Psychological Intervention for Children and Adolescents with Chronic Medical Conditions and Mental Health Difficulties

Research Question
Children and adolescents with chronic medical conditions (CMC) often seek treatment for mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. Comorbid mental health conditions are associated with poorer medication adherence, longer hospital stays, worse hospital outcomes, increased school absences, and increased risk of self-harm. The RCH Psychology Service commonly receives referrals for children and adolescents with these conditions.
The aim of this project is to evaluate the value for a manualised, modular, evidence-based transdiagnostic intervention to meet this population’s needs.  

  • Is an evidence-based transdiagnostic intervention effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression in children and adolescents with CMC? 

Status of Project Ongoing

Research Team 
Dr Louise Crowe, Dr Claire Burton, Dr Alice Morgan 

Project Contact
COVID Wellbeing Study

The COVID Wellbeing Study is a mixed methods longitudinal cohort study investigating the immediate and longer-term health and wellbeing impacts of COVID-19 on children and families.

This project will help us answer questions like, how can our health services provide the best care and ongoing support for families affected by COVID-19? And how we can improve communication, support and care for children tested and/or diagnosed with COVID-19 or another pandemic infectious disease in the future?

Research Team 
Principal Investigator: Margie Danchin, Vaccine Uptake Group 
Study Coordinator: Jess Kaufman, Vaccine Uptake Group

Status of Project 
Ongoing (Analysis phase)

Progress milestones 
Recruitment completed December 2020 
Data collection completed December 2021 

Project outputs

Presentations (completed and forthcoming) 

  • Williams T, Kaufman J, Danchin M, Jos C, Loschiavo K, Loughnan M, Tosif S, Olsson C, Watts J, Brusco T. Parent and child health-related quality of life assessed during testing for COVID-19. Short oral presentation, PHAA Australasian COVID-19 Virtual Conference. 8 - 10 December 2020. 
  • Williams T, Richards L (presenters). COVID Wellbeing – Exploring experiences of care and the psychosocial impacts of COVID-19 on a paediatric hospital cohort. Oral presentation. MCRI Vaccine Uptake Symposium. 10 November 2021. 
  • Kaufman J, Bagot KL, Williams T (presenter), Jos C, Danchin M. Exploring the lived experience for families with a COVID-19 positive child. Oral presentation. RCH 2022 Nursing Research and Clinical Innovations Symposium. 12 May 2022. 
  • Kaufman J (presenter), Bagot KL, Williams T, Jos C, Danchin M. Exploring the lived experience for families with a COVID-19 positive child. Oral presentation (submitted). PHAA Communicable Diseases and Immunisation Conference. June 2022. 

Non-peer reviewed publications 

Project Contact
Feasibility of single question mental health surveillance in chronic disease.

Can a single item screening question accurately identify mental health issues in a paediatric population with chronic illness? 

Status of Project 
Completed. Manuscript in preparation 

Research outcomes 

  • Carers and children in the Day Medical Unit responded to a single question regarding child mental health and wellbeing 
  • The use of a single question is feasible in a busy hospital unit 
  • A single question asked of parents can detect concerns about children’s mental health 
    Ongoing research will determine how to involve children’s views and understand resource implications of routine screening 

Research Team 
Mary White (HSRU), Rachel Pelly (HSRU), Jane Le (HSRU), Lucy Dove (DMU), Sarah Connolly (Pastoral Care and Social Work), Alice Morgan (Psychology), Dave Reid (Psychology), Ric Haslam (Mental Health Service), Harriet Hiscock (HSRU) 

Project Contact
Improving mental health among transgender, gender diverse, and non-binary adolescents

Transgender, gender diverse, and non-binary (TGDNB) people are those whose gender identity differs from their birth-assigned sex. TGDNB people have poor mental health outcomes, including higher than expected rates of psychopathology, distress, and suicidality (e.g. 48% of Australian TGDNB youth report having attempted suicide). While some relevant psychological interventions have recently been developed overseas, currently there is limited evidence to support their feasibility and efficacy, and they have not yet been tested in an Australian context. 

The aim of the study is to co-design a structured group cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) program for TGDNB adolescents attending The RCH Gender Service (RCHGS) and conduct a non-randomised trial of the program to improve mental health. 

The research will answer the following questions:  

  • Do TGDNB young people who receive the group CBT intervention show significant improvement in mental health outcomes that are sustained for 6 months? 
  • Do TGDNB young people who receive the group CBT intervention show significantly reduced minority stress (e.g. less internalised stigma, greater pride in identity) from pre- to post-intervention, sustained at six months? 

Status of Project 
Ongoing 

Progress milestones 
Ethics approval obtained April 2022 
Co-design workshops due for completion July 2022 
Evaluation of co-design process (expected August 2022) 

Research Team 
Tim Cronin, Alessandra Chinsen, Carmen Pace, Ken Pang, Michelle Tollit, Michelle Telfer, Zeffie Poulakis, Chris Pepping

Project Contact

Acknowledgement of Country

Australian Aboriginal Flag
Progress Pride Flag
Torres Strait Islander Flag

At Mental Health Central we acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we live, gather and work. We recognise their continuing connection to land, water and community. We pay respect to Elders past, present and emerging.

We acknowledge all people with a lived or living experience of mental ill-health and recovery. At the Campus, we particularly acknowledge children, young people, families, carers, and supporters. We recognise their vital contribution and value the courage of those who share this unique perspective for the purpose of learning and growing together to achieve better outcomes for the Campus, staff, sector, and all people of lived experience.

Proudly supported by the Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation