Mental Health Research

Colin Dodds Postdoctoral Fellowship

‘Examining the comorbidity of mental health problems and alcohol and other drug use within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People: A neglected area’

University of Newcastle, NSW
Awarded 2019

“I believe comorbidity research has much to contribute to reducing the burden of mental health problems.”

Researcher Profile

Dr Hobden’s PhD research included some of the first comprehensive Australian based studies to examine comorbid alcohol misuse and depression within general practice and alcohol or other drug services. Dr Hobden has demonstrated high productivity in her research field.

She has published 16 papers (7 as lead author), 1 commissioned report and 3 academic conference abstracts. In addition her work has been presented 13 times at academic conferences. Dr Hobden has established both national and international collaborations during her academic career, including the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre and the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in America.

Project Summary

This project will examine multiple aspects of comorbid mental health and alcohol or drug misuse among those attending Aboriginal Health Services. Specifically, it will investigate: the rate and burden of comorbidity; whether clinicians in this health setting are able to accurately identify comorbidity; and community perceptions about how to best target our future research efforts to address comorbidity.

Individuals attending Aboriginal Health Services will be asked to complete a survey via a computer tablet. This survey will include screening instruments to identify possible and diagnosed mental illness and alcohol or drug misuse. Quality of life and healthcare service use data will also be collected to allow estimation of the burden associated with mental illness and alcohol or drug misuse.

To examine clinician awareness of mental illness and alcohol or drug misuse, health care providers at the health services will be asked to complete a checklist after each patient consultation, which will include mental health and alcohol or drug conditions. The patient collected information and health care provider information will then be compared.

Yarning circles are an important process within Indigenous cultures. It is a process that has been used for centuries to learn from a collective group, build respectful relationships, and to preserve and pass on cultural knowledge. To gain the views of community members and health care providers, yarning circles will be conducted. This will provide significant information on what strategies the Aboriginal community believe may be helpful for prevention of comorbid mental health and alcohol or drug misuse.

Co-Investigators: Rob Sanson-Fisher