All of our research projects align with La Trobes research focus areas. Specifically that of building healthy communities through the pursuit of equity, wellbeing and social inclusion in our communities.

Completed projects

The relationship between rural living and wellness

Full title: The relationship between rural living and wellness; what services and supports do older people need?

Although the Australian population is ageing faster in rural areas than elsewhere, little is known of the systems that best support their health and wellbeing. By recognising the diversity of older people and rural places, this research will provide essential evidence to address our government partners' challenge of delivering sustainable and appropriate services across rural Australia.

The research will also result in international comparative data and outcomes through our collaboration with the University of Alberta, Canada; and provide excellent research training and experience for three early career researchers.

Partners: Victorian Department of Health; UnitingCare Queensland, Roma Health and Hospital Services; University of Alberta.

Funding body: ARC Linkage project

Duration: 2013 - 2016

Chief Investigators:

  • Martin Bell
  • Suzanne Hodgkin
  • Norah Keating
  • Maree Petersen
  • Jeni Warburton
  • Jill Wilson
  • Rachel Winterton

Birdwatching intervention in rural residential aged care

Full title: On a wing and a prayer: A birdwatching intervention in rural residential aged care.

The project aims to develop and evaluate a native bird-watching activity that is being implemented in rural residential aged care settings. The project involves pre and post evaluation of residents' wellbeing using a wellbeing / quality of life screening prior and after participating in the activity, a conversational interview and resident observation. The project also involves exploring the views of staff and family/carers around the impact of the activity.

Partner: Hume Department of Health Social Connectedness program

Funding body: Hume Department of Health

Duration: 2014 - 2015

Chief Investigators:

  • Sharon Hanna
  • Jenny Indian
  • Anne-Marie Mahoney
  • Jeni Warburton

Influences on service and support decisions

Full title: Influences on service and support decisions among ageing rural CALD populations.

The ageing of CALD residents in rural and regional locations poses some issues in relation to the provision of appropriate services and supports. Stakeholders experience difficulties in providing appropriate care for CALD populations, which reflects differences in terms of belief systems, attitudes and expectations related to ageing and caregiving, and language proficiency, which can restrict access to information and services, communication and participation within the community.

In the rural context, issues relating to geographical isolation, poor access to culturally competent health services, and reduced use of Home and Community Care (HACC), exacerbate this. Thus, work is required to better understand how ageing CALD populations in rural areas make decisions about services and supports, both within and external to HACC, that will enable them to age in place.

Thus, this research will identify the factors that influence service and support decisions for ageing rural CALD populations in north-east Victoria.

Partner/funder: North East Multicultural Association (NEMA)

Duration: 2014 - 2015

Chief Investigator:

  • Rachel Winterton

Social Connections for Healthy Ageing

Full title: Social Connections for Healthy Ageing: Hume Region.

Based on her prior work, Prof Warburton is providing input into the rollout of this program, and particularly around the development of the toolkit to be used by projects funded under this initiative, and assistance with the evaluation phase in 2015.

Funding body: Hume Department of Health

Duration: 2013 -2015

Chief Investigator:

  • Jeni Warburton

Online evaluation tool for peer support groups

Full title: Development of an online evaluation tool for peer support groups for people with chronic diseases.

The project aims to develop an evidence-based online evaluation tool for peer support groups. The use of quality indicators and frameworks in the online evaluation tool will enhance health professionals' confidence to refer their patients to peer support groups. A literature review will be undertaken to identify quality indicators of best practice and good outcomes and framework to evaluate peer support groups.

We will also consult with peer support leaders, local health professionals, Medicare Locals and Primary Care Partnerships about essential quality indicators and framework that give them confidence to refer their patients to a support group and an evaluation tool for peer support groups to evaluate and to show evidence of their practice. Using Moodle, an online course management system, the IT consultant will design an online tool that is easy and simple to use.

The online tool will enable storage of de-identified data in an online database that provides reports to support groups and their members as well as enables benchmarking of the quality of their support groups delivery. The online tool will be piloted and evaluated in 5 peer support groups in metropolitan, regional and rural Victoria.

Partner: Chronic Illness Alliance and the University of Melbourne Department of General Practice.

Funding body: Victorian Department of Health

Duration: 2014 - 2015

Chief Investigator:

  • Irene Blackberry

Telehealth to support structured monitoring

Full title: Telehealth to support structured monitoring to achieve targets for glycaemia in insulin-treated type 2 diabetes in rural primary care.

People with type 2 diabetes (T2D) have the vast majority of their clinical care in general practice and primary care. Clinical care can help people achieve glycaemic targets, yet most patients continue to have out-of-target glycaemic levels without appropriate treatment intensification.

One reason GPs are reluctant to intensify treatment, initiate and up-titrate insulin is that GPs and patients lack a simple and reliable method for structured self-monitoring of blood glucose (S-SMBG), to guide decisions. These problems are exacerbated in rural and remote areas with limited access to Endocrinologist and Credentialed Diabetes Educator-Registered Nurse (CDE-RN) support.

Addressing this issue through the use of new technology is the focus of our proposal. Our proposal is to pilot the feasibility and acceptability of a telehealth intervention to enhance care in rural general practice for people with out-of-target T2D.

Partner: Chronic Illness Alliance and the University of Melbourne Department of General Practice.

Funding body: Australian Primary Health Care Institute Foundation

Duration: 2014 - 2015

Chief Investigator:

  • Irene Blackberry

Spiritual wellbeing as a platform

Full title: Research into spiritual wellbeing as a platform to establishing an Indigenous Research Hub at LTU A-W.

This research is aimed at exploring the meaning of spiritual wellbeing amongst both Indigenous and non-Indigenous older people.  This is the first stage of the development of a program of research based on the Albury-Wodonga campus aimed at building local Indigenous research capacity. The project is highly innovative drawing as it does on different forms of knowledge. ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­

Funding body: SHE College and Indigenous Strategy Unit

Duration: 2014 - 2015

Chief Investigators:

  • Pettina Love
  • Jeni Warburton

Placemaking and rural retirement migration

Full title: Placemaking and rural retirement migration: motivations, practices and processes.

This project critically investigates placemaking practices undertaken by retirement migrants within rural communities. Semi-structured interviews will be conducted with retirement migrants residing in six diverse rural communities, located in peri-urban, agricultural and amenity settings.

Findings will explore the motivations of rural retirement migrants to undertake placemaking activities within their communities, and the types of activities that they subsequently undertake. Significantly, it will also identify which community and external systems and structures that they engage with to undertake these placemaking activities, and their expectations from these systems and structures.

This research is significant in that it will allow a critical exploration of how retirement migrants create and recreate rural places, while providing insight into how retirement migrants can be better supported and utilised.

Funding body: La Trobe University, under RFA Reforming Human Societies

Duration: 2014 -2015

Chief Investigators:

  • Edgar Burns
  • John Martin
  • Jeni Warburton
  • Rachel Winterton

Health benefits of volunteering by seniors

Full title: Investigating the health benefits of volunteering by seniors.

For humanitarian and economic reasons, it is important to promote health-enhancing behaviours among older people to optimise their well-being. Volunteering constitutes one such behaviour. While there is some evidence that older people benefit from volunteering, there is inadequate data for policy development purposes.

This project will quantify the physical and mental outcomes of seniors' engagement in volunteering activities to assess the potential to enhance their health while providing much-needed labour inputs to the Australian economy. The results will also suggest ways to encourage older people to engage in volunteering by identifying effective ways to communicate the benefits to this audience.

Funding body: ARC Discovery

Duration: 2014 - 2016

Chief investigators: