Research Stream: Epidemiology and Clinical Trials

Epidemiology Research

Research Direction

The Epidemiology team is interested in the frequency measures related to serious mental disorders (e.g. incidence, prevalence, mortality, recovery/remission). We are also interested in the clinical and demographic correlates of adverse mental health outcomes – some of these may be modifiable risk factors and thus important from a public health perspective. We use large, community-based surveys, and birth cohorts. Our focus has been on psychotic disorders and psychotic-like experiences in the general population. In addition, we are examining the links between early life vitamin D status and risk of later mental illness, by directly measuring vitamin D (in collaboration with Darryl Eyles and many international collaborators).

Current Projects

The demographic and clinical correlates of psychotic-like experiences
Using two large surveys conducted in Australia in 1997 and 2007, our group have undertaken a suite of studies designed to understand the clinical relevance of isolated psychotic-like experiences. Over recent years we have published many papers on this topic, and have made important contributions with respect to how psychotic-like experiences are associated with (a) an increased risk of later psychotic disorders (based on the MUSP study), (b) psychological distress, (c) depression and anxiety (d) general physical health (e) substance use disorders, (f) a family history of mental illness, (g) exposure to trauma, (h) socio-economic disadvantage, (i) an increased risk of suicidal ideation and behaviour, and (j) help-seeking.

The Survey of High Impact Psychosis (SHIP)

Our group was one of seven sites involved in the design and administration of the second Australian Survey of psychotic disorders. In collaboration with a large national team, we continue to explore key issues related to the needs of people with psychosis in Australia. For example, in collaboration with Associate Professor Geoff Waghorn, we are studying correlates of employment status.

The association between vitamin D status and brain outcomes
In collaboration with Darryl Eyles, we are measuring early life vitamin D status and exploring if this changes the risk of later developing serious mental illness. These studies are in collaboration with colleagues in Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands.

Other collaborative works

Our team has been associated with the landmark Global Burden of Disease (GBD) 2010 Study in which our team members have contributed to three key areas of the study: (a) providing data and methods for diseases and injuries, (b) Non-fatal Health Outcomes study, and (c) Disability Weights Measurement Study.

In collaboration with our Finland colleagues we have recently completed a major systematic review and meta-analysis paper on recovery in schizophrenia.