Dr UrskaSpeaker bio

Dr Urska Arnautovska is a registered psychologist and postdoctoral research fellow at the UQ Faculty of Medicine, Physical and Mental Health Stream. Following her professional training in Slovenia, she focused her research on suicide which led her to receiving an appointment at the Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention (AISRAP) at Griffith University in Brisbane in 2009. Her subsequent research remained focused on mental health, and in more recent years, become dedicated to improving health outcomes in people with severe mental illness through lifestyle interventions. Urska is a recipient of several awards and research grants, most recently, as a lead investigator of a study that aims to co-design and test the feasibility of a digital intervention for diabetes self-management in people with schizophrenia. 


How can we bypass the cognitive impairments associated with schizophrenia to increase physical activity engagement through theory-informed behaviour change techniques?


People with severe mental illness such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder, have 15-20 years of premature mortality than the general population. This mortality gap is largely due to higher rates of cardiovascular disease driven by a combination of genetic factors, poor diet, inadequate exercise, greater amount of time spent sedentary, smoking and the metabolic adverse effects of antipsychotic medications. Physical activity has been consistently shown to be effective in reducing cardiometabolic disease among people with schizophrenia. A growing body of empirical research shows that physical activity can both improve physical health as well as reduce psychiatric symptoms, including positive, negative and total symptoms, and improve quality of life and global functioning. However, the effectiveness of physical activity interventions in people with schizophrenia is hampered by poor uptake and high dropout rates. This presentation will provide an interdisciplinary perspective that integrates findings from behavioural neuroscience, psychiatry, clinical and health psychology, and neurology, to provide a schematic framework of the neurobiological pathways underlying the process of motivation, and the proposed compensatory strategies to increase motivation and long-term engagement in physical activity among people with schizophrenia. 

About Seminar Series

The School of Psychology Seminar Series involves regular formal presentations of high-quality scholarly work with broad appeal.

The wider School community is invited to attend, including academic and professional staff, special guests, visitors, as well as HDR, postgraduate and honours students.

Seminars are held fortnightly on Wednesdays 12:00-1:30 in room s402, Social Sciences Building.

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McElwain Building (24A), UQ St Lucia.