Prevention and Population Health Branch

Melbourne, Australia

Prevention and Population Health Branch

Melbourne, Australia
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Gibbs L.,University of Melbourne | Waters E.,University of Melbourne | Bryant R.A.,University of New South Wales | Pattison P.,University of Melbourne | And 10 more authors.
BMC Public Health | Year: 2013

Background: Natural disasters represent an increasing threat both in terms of incidence and severity as a result of climate change. Although much is known about individual responses to disasters, much less is known about the social and contextual response and how this interacts with individual trajectories in terms of mental health, wellbeing and social connectedness. The 2009 bushfires in Victoria, Australia caused much loss of life, property destruction, and community disturbance. In order to progress future preparedness, response and recovery, it is crucial to measure and understand the impact of disasters at both individual and community levels. Methods/design. This study aims to profile the range of mental health, wellbeing and social impacts of the Victorian 2009 bushfires over time using multiple methodologies and involving multiple community partners. A diversity of communities including bushfire affected and unaffected will be involved in the study and will include current and former residents (at the time of the Feb 2009 fires). Participants will be surveyed in 2012, 2014 and, funding permitting, in 2016 to map the predictors and outcomes of mental health, wellbeing and social functioning. Ongoing community visits, as well as interviews and focus group discussions in 2013 and 2014, will provide both contextual information and evidence of changing individual and community experiences in the medium to long term post disaster. The study will include adults, adolescents and children over the age of 5. Discussion. Conducting the study over five years and focussing on the role of social networks will provide new insights into the interplay between individual and community factors and their influence on recovery from natural disaster over time. The study findings will thereby expand understanding of long term disaster recovery needs for individuals and communities. © 2013 Gibbs et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.


Forbes D.,University of Melbourne | Alkemade N.,University of Melbourne | Waters E.,University of Melbourne | Gibbs L.,University of Melbourne | And 12 more authors.
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry | Year: 2015

Objective: Research has established the mental health sequelae following disaster, with studies now focused on understanding factors that mediate these outcomes. This study focused on anger, alcohol, subsequent life stressors and traumatic events as mediators in the development of mental health disorders following the 2009 Black Saturday Bushfires, Australiaâ(tm)s worst natural disaster in over 100 years. Method: This study examined data from 1017 (M = 404, F = 613) adult residents across 25 communities differentially affected by the fires and participating in the Beyond Bushfires research study. Data included measures of fire exposure, posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, alcohol abuse, anger and subsequent major life stressors and traumatic events. Structural equation modeling assessed the influence of factors mediating the effects of fire exposure on mental health outcomes. Results: Three mediation models were tested. The final model recorded excellent fit and observed a direct relationship between disaster exposure and mental health outcomes (b =.192, p <.001) and mediating relationships via Anger (b =.102, p <.001) and Major Life Stressors (b =.128, p <.001). Each gender was compared with multiple group analyses and while the mediation relationships were still significant for both genders, the direct relationship between exposure and outcome was no longer significant for men (p =.069), but remained significant (b =.234, p <.001) for women. Conclusions: Importantly, anger and major life stressors mediate the relationship between disaster exposure and development of mental health problems. The findings have significant implications for the assessment of anger post disaster, the provision of targeted anger-focused interventions and delivery of government and community assistance and support in addressing ongoing stressors in the post-disaster context to minimize subsequent mental health consequences. © 2015 The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists.


Lewis S.,Monash University | Thomas S.L.,Monash University | Hyde J.,Prevention and Population Health Branch | Castle D.J.,University of Melbourne | Komesaroff P.A.,Monash University
American Journal of Health Behavior | Year: 2011

Objectives: To investigate obese men's health behaviors and strategies for change. Methods: Qualitative interviews with 36 men (BMI 30 and over). Results: All men felt personally responsible for their weight gain. Sedentary lifestyles, stress, lack of worklife balance and weight-based stigma were all significant causes of weight gain and barriers to weight loss. These factors also contributed to men's unwillingness to seek help for their overweight. Conclusion: Addressing the self-blame and stigma associated with obesity is important in developing strategies to improve the health and well-being of obese men. Copyright © PNG Publications. All rights reserved.


Lewis S.,Monash University | Thomas S.L.,Monash University | Blood R.W.,University of Canberra | Castle D.,University of Melbourne | And 2 more authors.
Health Expectations | Year: 2011

Introduction This study explores what types of information obese individuals search for on the Internet, their motivations for seeking information and how they apply it in their daily lives. Method In-depth telephone interviews with an Australian community sample of 142 individuals with a BMI≥30 were conducted. Theoretical, purposive and strategic samplings were employed. Data were analysed using a constant comparative method. Results Of the 142 individuals who participated in the study, 111 (78%) searched for information about weight loss or obesity. Of these, about three quarters searched for weight loss solutions. The higher the individual's weight, the more they appeared to search for weight loss solutions. Participants also searched for information about health risks associated with obesity (n=28), how to prevent poor health outcomes (n=30) and for peer support forums with other obese individuals (n=25). Whilst participants visited a range of websites, including government-sponsored sites, community groups and weight loss companies, they overwhelmingly acted upon the advice given on commercial diet websites. However, safe, non-judgemental spaces such as the Fatosphere (online fat acceptance community) provided much needed solidarity and support. Conclusions The Internet provides a convenient source of support and information for obese individuals. However, many turn to the same unsuccessful solutions online (e.g. fad dieting) they turn to in the community. Government and community organisations could draw upon some lessons learned in other consumer-driven online spaces (e.g. the Fatosphere) to provide supportive environments for obese individuals that resonate with their health and social experiences, and address their needs. © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


Grills N.J.,Prevention and Population Health Branch
Communicable diseases intelligence | Year: 2010

Campylobacter infection is a notifiable infectious disease in Victoria and with more than 6,000 cases notified annually, it is the second most commonly notified disease after chlamydia. The objectives of Campylobacter infection surveillance in Victoria are to monitor the epidemiology of Campylobacter infection, identify outbreaks, initiate control and prevention actions, educate the public in disease prevention, evaluate control and prevention measures, and plan services and priority setting. An evaluation of the system was undertaken to assess performance against its objectives, identify areas requiring improvement and inform a decision of whether Campylobacter infection should remain a notifiable infectious disease. The surveillance system was assessed on the attributes of data quality, timeliness, simplicity and acceptability using notifiable infectious diseases data and interviews with doctors who had failed to notify, and laboratory and public health staff. The evaluation found that the system collects core demographic data with high completeness that are appropriately reviewed, analysed and reported. In 2007, 12% of Campylobacter isolates were subtyped and only one to 3 outbreaks were identified annually from 2002 to 2007. Fifty-four per cent of cases were notified by doctors and 96% by laboratories, although nearly half of laboratory notifications were not received within the prescribed timeframe. Half of the surveyed non-notifying doctors thought that Campylobacter infection was not serious enough to warrant notification. The Campylobacter surveillance system is not fully satisfying its objectives. Investment in the further development of analytical methods, electronic notification and Campylobacter subtyping is required to improve simplicity, acceptability, timeliness and sensitivity.


Haby M.M.,Prevention and Population Health Branch | Haby M.M.,University of Melbourne | Doherty R.,Prevention and Population Health Branch | Welch N.,Prevention and Population Health Branch | And 2 more authors.
BMC Research Notes | Year: 2012

Background: Interest in community-based interventions (CBIs) for health promotion is increasing, with a lot of recent activity in the field. This paper aims, from a state government perspective, to examine the experience of funding and managing six obesity prevention CBIs, to identify lessons learned and to consider the implications for future investment. Specifically, we focus on the planning, government support, evaluation, research and workforce development required. Methods. The lessons presented in this paper come from analysis of key project documents, the experience of the authors in managing the projects and from feedback obtained from key program stakeholders. Results: CBIs require careful management, including sufficient planning time and clear governance structures. Selection of interventions should be based on evidence and tailored to local needs to ensure adequate penetration in the community. Workforce and community capacity must be assessed and addressed when selecting communities. Supporting the health promotion workforce to become adequately skilled and experienced in evaluation and research is also necessary before implementation. Comprehensive evaluation of future projects is challenging on both technical and affordability grounds. Greater emphasis may be needed on process evaluation complemented by organisation-level measures of impact and monitoring of nutrition and physical activity behaviours. Conclusions: CBIs offer potential as one of a mix of approaches to obesity prevention. If successful approaches are to be expanded, care must be taken to incorporate lessons from existing and past projects. To do this, government must show strong leadership and work in partnership with the research community and local practitioners. © 2011 Haby et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.


PubMed | Prevention and Population Health Branch
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Communicable diseases intelligence quarterly report | Year: 2010

Campylobacter infection is a notifiable infectious disease in Victoria and with more than 6,000 cases notified annually, it is the second most commonly notified disease after chlamydia. The objectives of Campylobacter infection surveillance in Victoria are to monitor the epidemiology of Campylobacter infection, identify outbreaks, initiate control and prevention actions, educate the public in disease prevention, evaluate control and prevention measures, and plan services and priority setting. An evaluation of the system was undertaken to assess performance against its objectives, identify areas requiring improvement and inform a decision of whether Campylobacter infection should remain a notifiable infectious disease. The surveillance system was assessed on the attributes of data quality, timeliness, simplicity and acceptability using notifiable infectious diseases data and interviews with doctors who had failed to notify, and laboratory and public health staff. The evaluation found that the system collects core demographic data with high completeness that are appropriately reviewed, analysed and reported. In 2007, 12% of Campylobacter isolates were subtyped and only one to 3 outbreaks were identified annually from 2002 to 2007. Fifty-four per cent of cases were notified by doctors and 96% by laboratories, although nearly half of laboratory notifications were not received within the prescribed timeframe. Half of the surveyed non-notifying doctors thought that Campylobacter infection was not serious enough to warrant notification. The Campylobacter surveillance system is not fully satisfying its objectives. Investment in the further development of analytical methods, electronic notification and Campylobacter subtyping is required to improve simplicity, acceptability, timeliness and sensitivity.

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