Applications for the 2019 Summer 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 summer research projects:

School readiness in Australia: How are communication skills defined for a child who is “school-ready”?

Contact:     Dr Rebecca Armstrong
Duration:   10 weeks

School readiness is a concept that has received increased focus from researchers, clinicians and policy makers in the past decade. However, an agreed definition of school readiness does not currently exist. Further, the specific skills that constitute ‘school readiness’ are not well defined. This lack of agreement and knowledge creates a divide for understanding how school readiness should be assessed and also what the focus of ‘school ready’ intervention programs should be around the country. This project aims to take preliminary steps to improve the knowledge of school readiness in an Australian context, specifically related to communication. This project will focus on defining ‘school readiness’, and information pertaining to existing knowledge of school readiness and how it can be assessed will be sought through a systematic review.

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Exploring the micropolitics of professional ethics

Contact:     Tim Barlott
Duration:   10 weeks

This project aims to explore the complexity of professional ethics for occupational therapists working in mental health. While occupational therapists are obligated to abide by a code of ethics, the everyday reality of working with disadvantaged and marginalised people is not black and white. As a profession dedicated to social transformation, occupational therapists are regularly faced with problematic ethical dilemmas as they work to enable everyday occupations with people.

In this project we aim to explore the ethical tensions in mental health practice, better understand what constitutes ethical behaviour, and explore the interrelationship between ethics and socially transformative practice. The project will draw on qualitative research methods.

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Exploring Social Transformation in Mental Health Occupational Therapy

Contact:     Tim Barlott
Duration:   10 weeks

This project aims to explore social transformation in occupational therapy practice.  As a profession, occupational therapy considers people and context inseparable - the social world infuses everyday life and the activities people engage in. Yet, very little is known about how occupational therapists consider the ‘social’ in their practice, the degree to which they consider their practice ‘socially transformative’, and what they do to generate social transformation. 

In this project, we aim to explore how the ‘social’ is incorporated and enacted in occupational therapy practice in mental health. The project will draw on qualitative research methods.

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Healthy Ageing and Neurorehabilitation

Contact:     Dr Anna Hatton / Professor Sandy Brauer
Duration:   10 weeks

The scholars will join the UQ Centre for Neurorehabilitation, Ageing and Balance (NAB) Research, based within the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, and have opportunities to contribute to several projects. The scholars will be involved with two key projects led by Prof Sandy Brauer and Dr Anna Hatton, including clinical trials investigating novel footwear devices to improve walking in clinical groups (e.g. sensory-stimulating shoe insoles for adults with diabetic peripheral neuropathy) and physical activity monitoring in people with neurological disease (e.g. Parkinson’s disease). The scholars will be responsible for assisting with participant recruitment; leading clinical and laboratory-based assessments; collecting, processing, and managing data. The scholars will also have opportunities to contribute to ongoing projects led by other academics within the Centre, including vibrotactile neurofeedback training to improve postural stability in older adults with hearing impairment, and the use of accelerometers to measure activity intensity post-stroke. These projects represent exciting partnerships with local health services (e.g. Queensland Health), NGOs (Diabetes Australia, Parkinson’s Queensland), and European industry (e.g. Walk with Path, Denmark), and seek to explore cutting-edge solutions to safe living, active ageing and well-being.

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The effect of sleep on novel word learning in healthy adults

Contact:     Professor David Copland
Duration:   6 weeks

This research aims to provide information about how sleep can affect learning new words. Different factors can influence how new words are learned, with evidence emerging that sleep may have the potential to enhance novel word acquisition and consolidation. Knowledge from this project can help Speech Pathologists to better understand the optimal conditions for adults to learn new words and could potentially lead to better outcomes for adults with language difficulties after brain injury (e.g. aphasia).

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Assessment of cognitive performance and strategy use

Contact:    Dr Hannah Gullo / Professor Jennifer Fleming
Duration:   6 weeks

There is a need for a standardised, performance-based assessment of cognitive function in complex daily tasks (Hanberg et al., 2018; Poulin, Korner-Bitensky, & Dawson, 2013). The Multiple Errands Test (MET; Shallice & Burgess, 1991) demonstrates some of the strongest evidence in assessment of cognitive function by Australian occupational therapists (Chan, Shum, Toulopoulou, & Chen, 2008; Koh, Hoffmann, Bennett, & McKenna, 2009; Sansonetti & Hoffman, 2013). Functional assessments in practice are often informal, subjective, and don’t extend to complex instrumental activities of daily living. Formal pen and paper assessments lack ecological validity and may fail to highlight high-level cognitive processes such as executive function. This program of research aims to develop behavioural test norms, explore validity of the MET and the impact of cognitive strategies on real-world performance.

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Evaluating students’ interprofessional skills in clinical contexts

Contact:    Dr Anne Hill / Associate Professor Jodie Copley
Duration:   6 weeks

The Video Observation Tool for Interprofessional Skills (VOTIS), a video-based assessment of interprofessional (IP) behaviours and competencies, was developed by an IP team of researchers from the Schools of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (SHRS) and Dentistry to rate students’ demonstration of seven critical competencies for interprofessional practice. In Phase 1 of this project (2016-18), the VOTIS was piloted with students from SHRS and Dentistry. The current phase aims to increase uptake of the VOTIS including expansion to external IP clinics at UQ industry partner sites (e.g. Institute for Urban Indigenous Health); building capacity of clinical educators to utilise the assessment model; and adapting and piloting the model in Pharmacy and Dentistry simulation clinics. Outcomes of this project will assist in overcoming barriers to authentic assessment of IP skills in the University environment, and further pave the way for building IP learning experiences. Project outcomes specifically include broader use of the VOTIS assessment tool and resources validated for a range of clinical placement activities (simulation, clinical placement) for dissemination and uptake across all health disciplines. Outcomes go beyond student and educator perceptions of IP competencies to inspire behaviour change through evidence of skill development and provide a tangible artefact for ePortfolios.

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The meaning of music: Using musical instrument rehearsal as a therapy intervention post Acquired Brain Injury

Contact:    Melanie Hoyle / Dr Tammy Aplin
Duration:   8 weeks

Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) can result in a variety of different impairments that subsequently influence people’s potential to participate in tasks of everyday life. Previous research examining music interventions post ABI have determined that music interventions may be beneficial in improving particular functional outcomes (Magee, Clark, Tamplin, &  Bradt, 2017). However, while results to date have been promising further research is necessary to expand the evidence base for music interventions prior to implementation into clinical practice (Magee, Clark, Tamplin, & Bradt, 2017).

The aim of this study is to examine the potential of musical instrument rehearsal as a therapeutic intervention to assist in rehabilitation after Acquired Brain Injury.

It is suggested that the use of musical instrument rehearsal as a therapeutic intervention will:

  1. result in the improvement of upper limb function for people who experience difficulties with upper limb function post Acquired Brain Injury,
  2. increase self-reported motivation, satisfaction with and willingness to participate in therapeutic intervention and associated repetitive practice.
  3. demonstrate increased gains in brain function as measured on functional MRI when compared with interventions currently used as part of standard clinical practice.

The study will represent a case study design. Cases will be represented by people who have experienced an Acquired Brain Injury and who are keen to return to playing a musical instrument they played prior to their injury. Mixed methods will be employed to collect and examine both quantitative and qualitative data to explore the outcomes of utilising music instrument rehearsal as a therapeutic intervention and compare these with the outcomes of interventions currently used as a part of standard clinical practice. 

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Psychosocial Interventions in Speech Pathology

Contact:    Dr Rebecca Nund / Dr Brooke Ryan
Duration:   6 weeks

Speech pathologists work with a diverse group of people with communication and swallowing disorders. Given the importance of communication and eating and drinking in everyday life, many people experience impacts on their social and emotional life. Whilst a number of interventions exist in speech pathology to treatment the “impairment”, the psychosocial impacts of communication and swallowing disorders are untreated by speech pathologists. The purpose of this project is to determine what evidence-based psychosocial interventions exist in speech pathology across the range of practice areas.

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Factors influencing the aetiology, diagnosis and identification of risk factors in cervical spine conditions

Contact:    Dr Julia Treleaven / Dr Lucy Thomas  
Duration:   10 weeks

Headache, neck pain and dizziness are common features of cervical spine musculoskeletal conditions but they can also be early indicators of other non-musculoskeletal conditions such as vestibular pathology eg benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), vestibular migraine or more serious pathologies such as arterial dissection. The purpose of the project is to improve the differential diagnosis of headache, neck pain and dizziness. The specific aims are:

  1. To identify factors which may help predict cervical arterial dissection
  2. To identify factors which may help in the differential diagnosis of cervicogenic dizziness and headache. 

The project will involve the collection and analysis of specific variables from 3 existing data sources; clinical data from patients with cervical arterial dissection, data from patients with headache or neck pain and dizziness. It may also involve some anatomy laboratory work and may also include some clinical testing. Some data entry and analysis may be required.

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Paediatric Research Engagement Theme

Contact:     Associate Professor Leanne Johnston  
Duration:   8-10 weeks

The aim of this project is to engage with and support paediatric researchers in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences - Paediatric Research Engagement Theme (RET)

Primary Project

  • The main project will centre around the topic of ‘School Readiness’ which is a topic of inter-professional interest and practice.
  • This will involve assistance with an inter-disciplinary systematic review regarding interdisciplinary assessment for school readiness 
  • Involvement in school readiness and early school function assessment research in various disciplines with children over the school holidays 
  • Involvement in school readiness intervention sessions and groups with children over the school holidays

 Additional experience will be gained by:

  • Assisting RET staff and PhD students on other projects taking place over the Christmas period related to paediatrics and/or parenting.

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