Ivana Kihas
Ivana Kihas

Ivana Kihas

‘The relationship between traumatic stress, problematic substance use and disordered eating behaviours among Australian adolescents.’

University of New South Wales, NSW
Awarded 2017
Co-funded by Rotary District 9685

“Having previously worked with adolescents made me aware that it is often trauma at an early age that causes many of these problems in adulthood.”

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder PhD Scholarship

Researcher Profile

Ivana Kihas began working as a Research Assistant at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) in May 2013. She has worked across three research projects: a post-marketing surveillance study of Suboxone-film, an opioid substitution treatment; a prospective cohort study examining non-medical use of pharmaceutical opioids and related harms; and on a randomised control trial investigating the efficacy of a Behavioural Activation Treatment for co-occurring depression and substance use disorder.

Ivana completed a B.Sc. Psychology (Honours) in 2012 at Macquarie University. Her thesis explored the effects of letter confusability on visual word recognition. Between 2012 and 2014, Ivana also worked at the Emotional Health Clinic (Macquarie University) as a Research Assistant on the Cool Kids Stepped Care Program study, working with children, adolescents and their parents to help them overcome anxiety.

Project Summary

The aim of this project is to explore and investigate the co-occurrence of traumatic stress, problematic substance use and disordered eating behaviours among Australian adolescents. Research has shown that these disorders frequently co-occur and suggests that trauma exposure may be one shared risk factor that increases the vulnerability of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance use disorders (SUD) and eating disorders (ED). Individuals with these disorders and comorbidities typically do not come to the attention of services until adulthood, by which time the disorders have become well entrenched. There is limited research that looks at PTSD, SUD and ED together. Further research is needed to explore these complex relationships and their associated harms, in particular those related to post-traumatic stress disorder, problematic substance use and unhealthy eating patterns.

This project will examine the relationship between PTSD symptom severity, substance use severity and disordered eating behaviours in a sample of adolescents. This research will explore the patterns and risk factors of these disorders co-occurring through three parts, comprising of analysing data from a household survey and from a study looking at the efficacy of a school-based program. In addition, this research will be conducted within adolescents seeking treatment for traumatic stress and substance misuse, where relevant data will include measures of demographics, quantity and frequency of substance use, SUD symptoms, PTSD symptoms and diagnosis, trauma exposure, PTSD-related cognitions, eating patterns, and quality of life.

Supervisors: A/Professor Katherine Mills, Dr Emma Barrett and Professor Maree Teesson

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