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16 November 2009
A new program is being trialed to help heart disease patients deal with both the physical and emotional side-effects of their illness.
Researchers from Deakin, Monash and Swinburne universities have developed Heart Health Online, a computerised program for use by GPs and patients. The researchers are calling on local residents to take part in trialing the effectiveness of the program in improving wellbeing.
Deakin lecturer and psychologist, Dr Ciaran Pier, said heart disease remains one of the leading causes of death and disability in Australia, with rates of depression in cardiac patients up to four times higher than in the general population.
“Depression leads to reduced wellbeing and can increase risk of further cardiac events and even death in patients with heart disease,” Dr Pier said.
“Research indicates that depression in cardiac patients often goes undiagnosed and only about half of those diagnosed receive treatment.
“By having the necessary information to actively manage their own health, including symptoms of depression, patients may significantly improve their quality of life.”
Research suggests that education and information about health management can improve wellbeing. However, providing this information and ensuring it is tailored to each patient’s needs is very time consuming for GPs.
Heart Health Online has been developed to make it quicker and easier to tailor health information for individual patients.
“Heart Health Online consists of health resources relating to heart disease and provides education resources and strategies for dealing with the psychological symptoms, such as depression, anxiety and stress, often associated with heart diseases,” explained Lucy Jackson, Deakin Research Fellow and psychologist for the project.
“GPs and patients can retrieve information tailored to the patient’s individual needs to help with patient self management.”
The researchers are currently evaluating the effectiveness of Heart Health Online in improving patient’s wellbeing and are looking for people to be involved in the study.
People with chronic heart disease (such as those who have experienced myocardial infarction, coronary artery bypass, angioplasty or recurrent angina) and depression symptoms (such as feeling down, loss of motivation, change in appetite, poor sleep) are invited to contact Ms Jackson on 9244 6259 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
School of Psychology
03 9244 6259; 0438 184 215