Applications for the 2023 Winter Research Program are now open. 

General information on the program, including how to apply, is available from the UQ Student Employability Centre’s program website.

Explore the available winter research projects:

Brain aberrations associated with childhood adversity and complex trauma

Supervisor Dr Lena Oestreich

Duration 4 Weeks

Post-traumatic stress disorder (complex PTSD) is a severe mental illness that develops in response to prolonged or repeated traumatic life events (Maercker et al. 2022). It has recently been adopted as a new diagnosis in the ICD-11 (World Health Organisation, 2018). Complex PTSD is distinct from PTSD in that it recognises the differential effects of chronic as opposed to situational trauma. Survivors of childhood adversity are particularly vulnerable to develop complex PTSD (McLaughlin et al. 2017). To date, it is poorly understood whether aberrant brain development during early childhood and young adulthood in response to chronic trauma is an underlying factor in the susceptibility to complex PTSD and other mental illnesses later in life.

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Trajectory of depression in stroke patients 

Supervisor Dr Lena Oestreich

Duration 4 Weeks

Depression is a common sequalae of stroke, occurring in approximately 30% of survivors and adversely affecting recovery (Paolucci, 2008). The trajectory of depression within 1-year of stroke has been relatively well documented. While a subset of patients experience depression as an immediate consequence of stroke (Zhang et al. 2014), depressive symptoms typically peak at a prevalence of 33%, 3-6 months after infarct (Aström, Adolfsson & Asplund, 1993). Less is known about the course and impact of depression after this period, which is likely due to the reducing frequency of follow-up appointments.

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Finding what works: Systematic reviews to improve decision-making and health

Supervisor Dr Michael Noetel

Duration 4 Weeks

Systematic reviews are the top of the evidence hierarchy: they are some of the most robust ways of finding out what works. Our lab is running systematic reviews on

  • improving group decision-making,
  • using exercise to treat depression,
  • using online learning to improve healthcare, and
  • using education to reduce cognitive biases. 

You’ll learn how to complete many steps of these systematic reviews, including finding and critiquing research, and extracting and synthesising the conclusions.

Download further details (DOCX, 19 KB)

Social Frailty in Clinical Outcomes

Supervisors Dr Sarah Coundouris and Dr Sarah Grainger

Duration 4 Weeks

Frailty refers to a vulnerability state that becomes more common as we grow older and can present in physical, cognitive as well as social domains of functioning. All three types of frailty have been linked to important clinical outcomes that include poor mental health, an increased risk of physical disability, and even mortality. 

While traditionally physical and cognitive frailty have been the focus of greatest research, in more recent years there has been recognition of the importance of social frailty. Social frailty is characterised by profound loneliness, reduced social engagement, and a perceived and/or actual lack of social support. 

However, important questions remain about which aspects of social frailty are most important from both a clinical and a theoretical perspective. This is because while some studies have considered social frailty objectively (e.g., size of social network), others have considered it subjectively (e.g., perceived social support, loneliness), or have used measures that combine both objective and subjective indicators. 
The aim of this project is therefore to use meta-analytic techniques to examine for the first time:

  1. How social frailty has been operationalised across studies (objectively vs. subjectively vs. combined); and
  2. Which social frailty characterisation is more strongly correlated with important clinical outcomes

Answers to these questions will have important theoretical and practical implications.

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Supporting adolescents with brain injury transition to adult services 

Supervisor Dr Elizabeth Beadle

Duration 4 Weeks

The transition from paediatric to adult services (also called AYA services) for those with brain injuries is a complex and challenging process. Currently in QLD, no specific pathway or support services exist to help this specific population. 
We are interested in understanding:

  1. the literature around transitioning from a paediatric to adult service after brain injury/disability;
  2. the literature around interventions supporting this transitioning; 
  3. the current needs of this population at STARS hospital (a chart review, descriptions, and qualitative feedback will be sought)

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Family Life Skills Triple P trial: Supporting families’ mental health and wellbeing with a new parenting and life skills intervention 

Supervisor Dr Carys Chainey

Duration 4 Weeks

This project aims to provide families with targeted support to meaningfully reduce the intergenerational impacts of adversity on mental health and wellbeing. We propose to conduct the first randomised controlled trial (RCT) of a new intervention, Family Life Skills Triple P (FLSTP).  This innovative program has been designed to enhance a range of parenting and life skills using a trauma-informed perspective. It aims to support parents to develop knowledge and skills to enhance self-regulation, communication, self-compassion, habit formation, and dealing with the past, in addition to positive parenting.  By assisting parents in this integrated manner, FLSTP aims to strengthen parents’ mental health, parenting skills and social support; and concurrently improve children’s mental health and social, emotional, and behavioural wellbeing.

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Supporting the next generation of parenting and family science professionals

Supervisor Dr Carys Chainey 

Duration 4 Weeks

Early career researchers and practitioners working in parenting and family science are situated within a unique context, with challenges and opportunities specific to this field.  The support offered to this unique group should be informed by evidence, to ensure the next generation of professionals are adequately supported in ways that matter to them.

This project aims to understand the needs and perspectives of emerging parenting and family science professionals to inform the development of a support network and resources. Using a human centred design approach focused on usability principles, the project draws on quantitative and qualitative methods, and is focused on pragmatic actions that will make a meaningful difference to the field. 

Download further details (DOCX, 17.5 KB)