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COLLEGE OF NURSING AND MIDWIFERY

Available Postgraduate Projects

We're looking for prospective students
Graduation 2022

We are seeking students to undertake exciting projects in our college!

The College of Nursing and Midwifery has formulated a strategic plan to grow its research engagement by strengthening the College’s major research foci, research impacts, and research support environment.

Our staff can provide support for PhD, Master by Research, and honours students in a range of specialisations, to grow the  College’s research foci:

We welcome prospective research students to undertake their research journey in those fields with Charles Darwin University.  

Essential Information

If you’re interested in a project, please contact the supervisor(s) listed.

If you've been unable to find a project that you are interested in, you can use the researchers portal  to find researchers from related fields.

  • Use one or two keywords to narrow down the list of researchers.
  • Each research profile will indicate if the researcher has the capacity to supervise.

Once you've found a suitable project, you can contact relevant researchers using the CDU directory.

Please see the CDU Research Scholarship page for further information regarding How to Apply for scholarships and key dates for application submissions.

Financial Assistance: Students will need to apply for a scholarship if they need financial support to undertake the research.

Stop Smoking in it's Tracks: A Smoking Cessation Sub-study within the Indigenous Birthing in an Urban Setting

Supervisor: Dr Sophie Hickey (contact: sophie.hickey@cdu.edu.au

Suitable for: Masters by Research

Project Location: TBA

Project Summary

Stop Smoking in it's Tracks: A Smoking Cessation Sub-study within the Indigenous Birthing in an Urban Setting
Antenatal smoking is associated with significant morbidity and mortality and is the most important modifiable cause of adverse pregnancy outcomes, including perinatal death, preterm birth, low birth weight, growth retardation and placental problems. Smoking among pregnant First Nations women remains more than three times as common as among non-Indigenous pregnant women, yet there is little evidence of the best way to address this problem. 

As part of the Birthing in Our Community program, we implemented a novel smoking cessation program - "Stop Smoking in its Tracks" program. This was a service-based research project investigating the impact of intensive follow up and support for women from early pregnancy through to 6 months following birth, along with reward payments to encourage sustained smoking cessation. Stop Smoking in its Tracks also offered support, including Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) to family members who smoke. 
We are looking for a Masters by Research student to assess the effectiveness, acceptability and feasibility of providing "Stop Smoking in its Tracks." We have data on how the care was provided, women's quitting behaviour and factors associated with quit attempts and successful quitting. Women also completed a short questionnaire about their experiences of the program. 

This would ideally suit someone with a background in First Nations health, health promotion, midwifery or child health nursing, public health, addiction studies or related fields.

Growth and development of infants: A sub-study within the Indigenous Birthing in an Urban Setting

Supervisor: Dr Sophie Hickey (contact: sophie.hickey@cdu.edu.au

Suitable for: Masters by Research

Project Location: TBA

Project Summary

The importance of optimal infant growth and development is well known. To date, it is not known to what extent commonly used infant developmental assessment tools are culturally appropriate for use with Indigenous infants raised in an urban setting. 
This sub-study will involve analysing the culturally considerations for infant child assessments tools such as the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development and the Ages and Stages Questionnaire with an urban Indigenous population. Our community researchers have collected over 200 face-to-face infant assessments as well has hundreds of ASQ to analyse! The successful candidate will work closely with the community researchers to make recommendation for future use. 

This Masters by Research project would ideally suit someone with a background in Aboriginal health, midwifery or child health nursing, developmental psychology or related fields.

Building on Our Strengths (BOOSt) is about developing and evaluating a Birthing On Country Service for First Nations Australians.

Supervisor: Dr Penny Haora (contact: penny.haora@cdu.edu.au

Suitable for: Masters by Research

Project Location: Brisbane, QLD or Nowra, NSW

Project Summary

"BOOSt is being conducted across two settings: urban (Brisbane, QLD) and rural (Nowra, NSW), involving a redesign of maternity care, with pre- and post-intervention data being analysed to determine the impact on our primary and secondary outcomes.  The new service models are phased, aiming for integrated Community hubs and birth centres.

BOOSt will determine the:

  1. feasibility of establishing the Birthing on Country Service, inclusive of a birth centre, at each site
  2. acceptability of services for women, their communities and health service providers (local and referral service)
  3. clinical and cultural safety, effectiveness and cost of services
  4. key processes in establishing the Birthing on Country Service and creating sustainability.

Additional to the maternity records data sets obtained for this study, we recruit women having First Nations babies to complete antenatal and postnatal surveys about their maternity care experiences and other relevant aspects of their lives. Qualitative interviews will be conducted with women and families accessing the services, and with healthcare providers and stakeholders, to inform changes and recommendations for service provision and planning.
 
Potential Project Topics:

  1. My Story: Birthing on Country for women in the Illawarra/Shoalhaven
  2. Birthing on Country: Stakeholder perspectives and experiences in rural NSW
  3. Birthing on Country: Stakeholder perspectives and experience in urban Qld site
  4. Birthing on Country for Dads
  5. Perinatal outcomes: baseline data analysis (2013-2020)
  6. Discrimination: exploring the impact of everyday discrimination and/or discrimination in the healthcare context
  7. Connecting to Culture & identity
  8. Decolonising in practice: exploration of intellectual and emotional work
  9. Decolonising the health system and healthcare institutions in regional NSW"
To Be Born Upon a Pandanus Mat-Yothuw gayatha dhäwal’ guyaŋa’ nharaw:

Supervisors: Dr Sarah Ireland (contact: sarah.ireland@cdu.edu.au

Suitable for: PhD & MRes

Project Location: Galiwin'ku, NT

Project Summary

Our project is about setting up and studying Australia’s first ‘Birthing on Country’ very remote, demonstration site in Galiwin’ku, Elcho Island, Arnhem Land. We will work with Yolŋu community and health service providers, to redesign (change) maternity health services to better meet the needs of Yolŋu women and families. Service redesign will focus on improving midwifery care and making it easier for services to connect and work well together. It includes Yolŋu djäkamirr (Indigenous doula) to support women during pregnancy, childbirth and until the baby turns 2 years old. We will increase
Yolŋu engagement, governance, and control, and develop community reproductive health reports to strengthen awareness of reproductive health. We will evaluate the redesign process, clinical outcomes, woman and family experiences, cost-effectiveness, and cost-benefit of the very remote ‘Birthing on Country’ service.

We are currently seeking passionate Master's and PhD students who are willing to undertake intellectual adventures and work on complex intercultural reproductive health topics. Our students become skilled in using decolonising, quantitative and qualitative methodologies; and gain firsthand experience working in genuine relationships with the community. We offer students a super supportive learning environment with expert Yolŋu mentorship and the chance to contribute towards making a more equitable World! 

Non-pharmacological self-management intervention for improving cardiovascular health and wellbeing in patients with lung cancer and cardiovascular diseases: intervention development and testing

Principal Supervisor: Dr Daniel Liu 

Contact Person: Dr Daniel Liu | Email: daniel.liu@cdu.edu.au

Associate Supervisors

  • Prof Benjamin Tan
  • Dr Alison Wang 
  • Prof Daniel Bressington

Project Summary

Previous studies have reported that cancer patients have a ten-fold greater risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality than the general population (Sturgeon et al., 2019). Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the most frequent concomitant diseases among lung cancer patients (30.9%) (Sun et al., 2020). Lung cancer patients with pre-existing CVD are at a higher risk of non-cancer-related deaths and are less likely to receive any modality of cancer treatment. However, limited evidence is available to achieve the optimal self-management of lung cancer patients with CVDs to improve cardiovascular health outcomes and wellbeing. Therefore, this study addresses the lack of evidence for providing non-pharmacological self-management to lung cancer survivors with CVDs. Following the Medical Research Council (MRC) Framework for Developing and Evaluating Complex Interventions, this project aims to develop and test a non-pharmacological self-management for improving cardiovascular health and reducing cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in lung cancer patients with CVDs. In Phase I of the study, a non-pharmacological self-management protocol will be developed. In Phase II, a randomised controlled trial (RCT) will be utilised to assess the feasibility and preliminary effects of the evidence-based non-pharmacological self-management protocol for improving cardiovascular health and reducing cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in lung cancer patients with CVDs.

Investing in quality simulated learning in nursing (or midwifery) pre-service undergraduate education for best outcomes: An Australian multiple case study design.

Principal Supervisor:  Professor Karen Francis

Contact Person: Dr Daniel Liu | Email: daniel.liu@cdu.edu.au

Associate Supervisors

  • Dr Karen Hazell Raine
  • Dr Jo Finn

Project Summary

NOTE: (the selection of discipline focus for the study will be determined by the HDR candidate) 

The proposed study will utilise a multiple case study design involving Australian Universities that agree to be involved and offer nursing (or midwifery) preservice programs leading to registration as a RN and/or RM to determine:
1. What constitutes quality simulated learning?
2. What are considered ‘best outcomes’?
3. How are the identified ‘best outcomes’ measured?
4. What is the value proposition for simulated learning?

Data Collection and anlaysis:
Every University in Australia that offers preservice undergraduate nursing or midwifery programs will be invited to participate in the study. It is expected that either an integrative review or a systematic review of the literature on simulated learning will be undertaken to establish baseline benchmarks of quality simulated learning and ‘best outcomes’.  Stakes Multiple Case study methodology (2006) will underpin the study that will commence with defining each case (a case will be bounded by the University academic unit that will be described in terms of location State/Territory (urban, rural), student numbers in the course, frequency of the course offering staffing profile, simulation model, Professional Experience Practice (PEP) model. These data will be generated using techniques including a desk top review of published data on University web sites and semi-structured Interviews with course coordinators and academic staffing teaching simulation. Data may also be collected using techniques including observation and survey. Each case individually will be interrogated separately to answer the research questions and then cases will be compared for commonalities and differences.  The study will realise a value proposition for simulated learning that consolidates the conditions for quality simulated learning experiences, best outcomes, a method/s for measuring ‘best outcomes’.  

Stake, R.E. (2006). Multiple Case Study Analysis. Guildford Press, New York. 

Is it time to reconsider and reconceptualise the education of Australia’s nursing workforce?: An action research study.

Principal Supervisor: Dr Bróna Nic Giolla Easpaig

Contact Person: Dr Daniel Liu | Email: daniel.liu@cdu.edu.au

Associate Supervisors

  • Professor Karen Francis
  • Dr Margaret Yen

Project Summary

This study seeks to address the following research questions:
1.    Are the roles of ENs and RNs aligned to current and future health workforce needs?
2.    Is there scope to enhance the roles of ENs and RNs? If yes what is required if no, what are the barriers?  

Data Collection and analysis.
This study will utilise an action research framework that will bring together nursing (EN and RN) curriculum experts, diverse employer stakeholders ( eg. acute care, aged care, general practice, community health nurse locum services, indigenous health service), registered nurses, representatives from the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Council  and the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia) to examine in detail the current role and function of the enrolled nursing and registered nurse workforces. Participants who agree to be involved in the second stage of this research will contribute to a Delphi process that realises a detailed overview of current practice, workplace expectations and future role possibilities.  Recommendations arising from the study will inform policy, curriculum development and nursing education delivery. It is anticipated that recommendations to NMBA regarding changes to scope of practice and minimum course requirements for ENs and RNs will also result. 

Preparing undergraduate nursing/midwifery students for Professional Experience Placements: Models of student preparation utilised by Australian Universities.

Principal Supervisor: Dr Bróna Nic Giolla Easpaig 

Contact Person: Dr Daniel Liu | Email: daniel.liu@cdu.edu.au

Associate Supervisors

  • Professor Karen Francis 
  • Dr Lolita Wikander

Project Summary

This study will utilise a mixed methods research design. Australian Universities that offer preservice nursing and/or midwifery programs will be invited to participate in the study.  The study will employ a mixed methods design that will include:

1.    Review of University’s offering preservice nursing or midwifery courses leading to registration, published information on PEP.
2.    Comparison of the data generated through the review
3.    Interviews with course coordinators to confirm and clarify data collected
4.    Survey of students regarding preparation for PEP
5.    Focus groups with a selection of stakeholders regarding students’ preparedness for PEP.

Evaluation of the clinical effects and cost-effectiveness of an evidence-based Taichi intervention for fatigue-sleep disturbance-depression symptom cluster management in breast cancer patients: A phase III Randomized Controlled Trial

Principal Supervisor: Dr Alison Wang

Contact Person: Dr Alison Wang | Email: alison.wang@cdu.edu.au

Associate Supervisors

  • Professor Daniel Bressington
  • Professor Benjamin Tan
  • Dr Daniel Liu 

Project Summary

Fatigue-sleep disturbance-depression symptom cluster (FSDSC) is one of the most common and distressing symptom clusters affecting breast cancer (BC) patients. Due to the lack of tailored medications for FSDSC management, non-pharmacological interventions have drawn researchers’ attention recently. Taichi is a frequently utilized and internationally recognized non-pharmacological intervention for health promotion. The potential role of using Taichi to manage FSDSC in BC patients has been explored by our research team through a series of studies by following the Medical Research Council (MRC) framework for developing and evaluating complex interventions. In the previous studies, an evidence-based Taichi intervention program has been developed and validated based on the best available research evidence, Traditional Chinese Medicine theories, guidelines and practice standards, as well as the expert’s consensus. Also, the developed Taichi Intervention protocol has been tested through a phase II randomized controled trial (RCT), which demonstrated that the developed Taichi intervention was a safe, feasible, acceptable, and promising non-pharmacological approach for FSDSC management in BC patients. This current research project is therefore proposed based on the completed phase II RCT to further examine the definite effects of Taichi on FSDSC and its cost-effectiveness through a multicentre large-scale phase III RCT, with the following specific objectives: (1) to examine the effects of Taichi on FSDSC in BC patients; (2) to examine the effects of Taichi on quality of life of the BC patients; and (3) to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of Taichi intervention. The applicant can su gest the study site(s) for this project, which could be overseas, so overseas travel may be required for this project.

Clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of auricular acupressure on Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting in breast cancer patients: A phase III Randomized Controlled Trial

Principal Supervisor: Professor Benjamin Tan

Contact Person: Dr Alison Wang | Email: alison.wang@cdu.edu.au

Associate Supervisors

  • Dr Alison Wang
  • Dr Daniel Liu
  • Dr Brona Nic Giolla Easpaig 

Project Summary

Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV) have been regarded as one of the most upsetting and frequently seen adverse reactions of chemotherapy. Given that using antiemetic medications alone cannot completely manage CINV, different non-pharmacological treatments have therefore been utilized in research and practice in combination with conventional antiemetics to deal with nausea and vomiting during cancer chemotherapy. Auricular therapy has been viewed as a promising approach for CINV management. Our research team has therefore conducted a research program to develop and evaluate an evidence-based non-invasive auricular acupressure (AA) approach to managing CINV in breast cancer patients. Through the previous studies, an evidence-based AA intervention protocol has been comprehensively developed based on evidence and recommendations concluded from systematic reviews, clinical trials and practice standards, AA-related theories, and expert panel consensus. The feasibility of the developed AA intervention protocol and antiemetic effects of AA also have been preliminarily evaluated through a preliminary randomized controlled trial (RCT) and semi-structured interviews, which showed that AA is a safe, convenient, and promising nonpharmacological intervention for alleviating CINV in breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. To further examine the definite effects of AA on CINV and its cost-effectiveness, a three-arm, sham controlled phase III RCT is therefore proposed based on the completed phase II RCT to achieve the following research objectives: (1) to examine the specific therapeutic effects of AA on CINV including acute and delayed CINV; (2) to examine the specific effects of AA on quality of life of the breast cancer patients; and (3) to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of the AA intervention. The applicant can suggest the study site(s) for this project, which could be overseas, so overseas travel may be required for this project.

Antenatal detection of vulnerable mother-infant relationship quality

Principal Supervisor: Associate Professor Karen Hazell Raine

Contact Person: Associate Professor Karen Hazell Raine | Email: karen.hazellraine@cdu.edu.au

Associate Supervisors

  • Professor Daniel Bressington
  • Dr Bróna Nic Giolla Easpaig

Project Summary

Mental health problems and disorders during the perinatal period (pregnancy and the first postpartum year) can have enduring adverse effects on women, their children, parenting, and families, incurring substantial economic and personal costs. The greater proportion of the cost of perinatal mental health problems relates to adverse impacts on the child. A key mediating factor between perinatal mental health problems and child outcomes is mother-infant relationship quality. Sensitive and consistent caregiving in the first year of life optimises health, mental health and a resilient life-course. Interpersonal sensitivity, a personality trait, is related to parenting style, attachment strategy, proneness to depression and other mental disorders. Antenatal interpersonal sensitivity is a stronger predictor of subsequent mother-infant relationship quality than depressive symptom scores. Distress and symptoms of anxiety and depression are typically transient during the perinatal period whereas personality characteristics, like attachment strategies are stable. Applying mixed methods, the prospective cohort study will explore antenatal detection of vulnerable mother-infant relationship quality in the context of maternal personality characteristics (interpersonal sensitivity) and mental health indices. Mother-infant relationship quality will be assessed through a standard observation protocol of videotaped mother-infant play. 
Longer-term or secondary aims of the project may be to i) reduce rates of mother-infant separation while improving both maternal and infant mental health outcomes; and ii) explore presentation and assessment of perinatal mental health status among diverse populations (including but not limited to culturally and linguistically diverse) and scoping of parenting support needs within the identified population.
 

General Enquiries

Please send all general enquiries about Higher Degree by Research (HDR) enrolment and scholarship application to the College Research and HDR team: CONM-Research-HDR-Admin@cdu.edu.au