Intervention Sciences

Our research within this theme supports clinical and community randomised, controlled trials. The trials are aimed at identifying and preventing problems early in development with a focus on neurodevelopmental disorders.

The SEED intervention sciences theme focuses on trials that support the following aspects of development:

  • Parenting
  • Emotion regulation
  • Sleep
  • Anxiety
  • Organisational/planning skills

Our research supports positive early childhood development at the community level and also has a specific focus on helping to improve outcomes for children with common neurodevelopmental disorders. Our research is often conducted with partner institutions including the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.

We aim to:

  1. Conduct high-quality, randomised controlled trials of interventions targeting risk and protective factors identified as seminal by our research in Lifecourse Sciences.
  2. Develop and maintain a ‘menu of services’ that lists clinical and public health interventions that have been repeatedly shown in randomised controlled trials to be efficacious in prevention of mental disorders and promotion of emotional health across from infancy to young adulthood.

Researchers

PhD/DPsych Candidates

Caitlin Bishop
Matthew Bisset
Sophie Leitch
George Loram
Anna Jackson
Claire Joseph
Christina Martin
Dinisha Parmar
Nicola Read
Kate Stephens
George Karambelas
Sasha Davies
Serena Thorpe

Our aims

Many of the trials within this theme focus on helping to improve outcomes for children with common neurodevelopmental disorders, while others are focussed more broadly on supporting positive early childhood development at a community level

Our research is often conducted with partner institutions including the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and La Trobe University.

We aim to:

  1. Conduct high-quality, randomised controlled trials of interventions targeting risk and protective factors identified as seminal by our research in Lifecourse Sciences.

  2. Develop and maintain a ‘menu of services’ that lists clinical and public health interventions that have been repeatedly shown in randomised controlled trials to be efficacious in prevention of mental disorders and promotion of emotional health across from infancy to young adulthood.

Major studies

Calm Kids

A large NHMRC funded randomised controlled trial testing the efficacy of an existing cognitive behavioural intervention adapted for children aged 8–12 years with ADHD and anxiety. Pilot data shows that at 5-months post-randomisation, 50% of intervention children were free of an anxiety diagnosis (assessed by blinded diagnostic assessment) compared with controls. The large trial is ongoing and will be completed in 2019.

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Children’s Attention Project

The Children’s Attention Project is an NHMRC funded study following children with and without ADHD from primary school to adolescence. The project aims to identify the factors that help children with ADHD to have improved outcomes and to develop new interventions targeting these factors.

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Homework, Organisational and Planning Skills (HOPS)

The transition to high school can be a challenging time for adolescents, with risk particularly high for students with a history of executive functioning difficulties including ADHD and ASD. International studies have shown that explicitly teaching organisation, planning, time management and homework skills to students with ADHD can lead to improved school outcomes. However, such evidence-based programs are unavailable in Australia and have yet to be tested in a whole of class intervention delivery approach. This projects involves a pilot randomised controlled trial to assess the acceptability and feasibility and preliminary efficacy of an adapted organisational skills program for Year 7 secondary school students.

Parents That Mind

Co-design of a mindful parenting intervention with parents of children aged 5-12 years of age with ADHD. The study uses a mixed methods design to establish: the needs of parents, and preferences for intervention design. The first stage of the co-design revealed a number of substantial challenges for parents, including distressing child behaviors, a sense of unrelenting parenting stress, disruption to the family unit and a lack of support services for parents. Parents also revealed the desire for a blended mindful parenting intervention involving some face-to-face and online support that provides practical tips to cope with stress, but does not involve substantial time commitments. Currently, the online component of the intervention is in development, with testing of the product to begin in 2018 with a group of 30 parents.

Sleeping Sound in Adolescence

This study aims to develop a sleep intervention suitable for adolescents with ADHD. The project aims to examine whether treating sleep problems in adolescents with ADHD improves not only sleep but broader child and family outcomes. Our pilot work demonstrates that sleep problems are very common in adolescents with ADHD and contribute to poorer outcomes. We will be piloting an intervention suitable for adolescents with ADHD and sleep problems in 2018.

Sleeping Sound with Autism

This NHMRC funded project is testing a brief, targeted sleep intervention in a large randomised controlled trial of children with autism. This trial is ongoing and will be completed in 2019.

School-age follow-up of the Early Home Learning Study

The Early Home Learning Study (EHLS) involved a cluster randomized controlled trial of a brief parenting intervention, smalltalk, aimed at supporting parents to strengthen the early childhood home learning environment of infants (6-12 months) or toddlers (12-36 months). Results showed sustained improvements in parent-child interactions and the home environment at the 32 week follow-up for toddlers. The EHLS at School study is funded by an NHMRC partnership grant with the Victorian Department of Education and Training, and will follow up the EHLS toddler cohort to primary school age to assess long-term school readiness and later developmental outcomes.

The Child and Parent Emotion Study (CAPES)

Children’s ability to understand, express and regulate their emotions is foundational. Emotion regulation skills are a critical determinant of lifelong mental health, and parents play a central role in shaping these skills in their children. This project involves two studies:

  • CAPES Longitudinal Study: We will recruit and follow prospective and current mothers and fathers of children aged 0-9 years to investigate familial and environmental predictors of emotion-focussed parenting; and test associations across different stages of child development. Findings will inform targeting and tailoring of future parenting interventions. This study is funded by SEED and a Deakin University HAtCH grant.
  • CAPES Smart-Phone Parenting Intervention: This study will develop and test a new smartphone app-based approach in providing a personalised and evidence-based emotion-focussed parenting intervention.