Following the completion of her Honours degree in psychology, Bianca worked as a Mental Health Program Worker. She then gained a full-time Research Assistant position at IMPACT Strategic Research Centre at Deakin University, where she worked on an internationally-funded multi-site randomised controlled trial looking at the efficacy of a novel therapy for schizophrenia.
Through her research and practical mental health work experience, Bianca became interested in individual differences that might affect clinical outcomes and commenced her PhD in June 2017. Her project is investigating personality disorder as a moderator of psychiatric clinical outcomes.
Personality disorders are a poorly recognised, yet global health problem and impose significant disease burden on the individual and wider community. Personality disorders are complex and often debilitating disorders and people display enduring and inflexible patterns of maladaptive behaviours, cognitions, and experiences that may lead to significant distress or impairment in functioning. Individuals with personality disorders often have comorbid psychiatric disorders (prevalence rates of 45.5% in clinical populations). This comorbidity is associated with a greater level of disability and poorer outcomes, such as frequent and ineffective health service utilization, suboptimal treatment, increased mortality, unemployment, and problematic relationships. Personality disorders, however, are often neglected in clinical and research settings, and not included in policy informing initiatives. As such, little is known about the influence of personality disorders on the clinical outcomes in psychiatric disorders.
The aim of this project is to investigate whether and how personality disorder moderates clinical and epidemiological outcomes in psychiatric disorders. Firstly, personality disorder will be examined in relation to clinical outcomes (i.e., treatment response, withdrawal rates, adverse events, functioning, and quality of life) in the context of double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trials (RCTs) assessing efficacy of novel therapies for depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorders. Parallel to this, the influence of personality disorder will be investigated in the community utilising personality and mental health data from the ongoing Geelong Osteoporosis Study. Taken together these results will be translatable to clinical and epidemiological research and to broader clinical treatment.
Supervisors: Associate Professor Lana Williams, Professor Michael Berk, Dr Olivia Dean & Dr Alyna Turner