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School of Health Sciences

Improving psychological health in survivors of critical illness


1st supervisor: Professor Leanne Aitken

2nd supervisor: Professor Alan Simpson

Research centre

Centre for Health Services Research

Centre for Mental Health Research

Project description

There is widespread recognition of the extended and challenging recovery pathway that survivors of critical illness experience. Impaired health status during this recovery affects physical, cognitive and psychological health and is broadly referred to as post-intensive care syndrome (PICS). In relation to psychological health, critical illness survivors frequently report high levels of anxiety, depression and symptoms of post-traumatic stress.

Some potentially modifiable factors that are associated with PICS have been identified, including characteristics such as illness perception and self-efficacy. Despite understanding the extent of impairment and some of the associated factors, cost-effective interventions that are amenable to widespread implementation have not been identified, particularly in relation to improving psychological health.

The purpose of this PhD is to develop and pilot test an intervention directed towards improving elements of psychological health such as anxiety and depression in survivors of critical illness. The intervention will target individual characteristics and beliefs such as illness perception and self-efficacy and may be delivered in the acute care or community setting.

Recommended Skills / Prior Learning

  1. Critical care clinical experience
  2. Research training at the Masters level