The Clinical Research program aims to address alcohol and other drug issues across the spectrum of harm, establishing effective methods for supporting client journeys from initial help-seeking through to specialist treatment and recovery. Our work also supports family members and health care professionals and informs a more efficient and effective treatment system by translating research findings directly into policy and practice.
We are a dynamic and interdisciplinary team of clinical and social researchers, psychologists, sociologists and public health academics drawing on multiple research methodologies and approaches including clinical trials, service evaluation, surveys, intervention studies and qualitative research. Key funders of our work include the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services, NHMRC, ARC, VicHealth, the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, the Movember Foundation, Beyond Blue, Monash University, Eastern Health Foundation and other philanthropic organisations.
Our three program themes include:
1. Enhancing help-seeking and early intervention
“It takes on average 27 years before people recover from alcohol problems and less than 10% of those who experiencing AOD or gambling issues ever seek professional treatment.” (Dennis et al 2005)
Our research within this program aims to understand and overcome barriers to help-seeking, reduce stigma towards individuals who use substances and to facilitate early intervention.
Key projects include:
- Ready 2 Change: A RCT of new telephone-delivered intervention to reduce problem alcohol use
- Understanding the experience of online counselling
- Beyond the Emergency: addressing men’s mental health
- Making the link – recognising mental health and alcohol and other drugs issues among peers and increasing help-seeking behaviours
- Understanding and changing drinking cultures.
2. Treatment and system innovations and outcomes
“Treatment for AOD problems can be effective but access, quality and engagement issues can limit the usefulness of treatment.”
Within this program theme, our research aims to understand and enhance established evidence-based treatments as well as develop and test innovative new approaches that address the biopsychosocial and neurocognitive factors contributing to addictive behaviours. Key projects include:
- Cognitive Bias Modification: We are currently running a multi-site randomised controlled trial (RCT) of approach bias modification (ABM) training during alcohol withdrawal to reduce early relapse. We have also run several pilot studies of approach bias modification in recent years, including a smaller pilot study of ABM for alcohol use, a study testing whether ABM for alcohol use could be combined with working memory training, and a study of ABM for methamphetamine use.
- ‘The QuitNic Trial’: A pilot RCT of E-cigarettes for smoking cessation following inpatient withdrawal
- ‘The N-ICE Trial’: A randomised controlled trial of the safety and efficacy of N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) as a pharmacotherapy for methamphetamine (“ice”) dependence.
- Gambling & mental illness: determining the prevalence of risky and problem gambling among people attending mental health services and current clinical responding.
- The Patient Pathways National Project: examining the complexities of AOD treatment and how these factors relate to treatment outcomes.
3. Recovery and aftercare
“Sustained recovery and wellbeing after treatment can be enhanced through aftercare and ongoing support, yet these are rarely provided.”
Our research on recovery and aftercare seeks to understand how people maintain recovery and wellbeing after treatment, including the role of social identify and networks and aims to develop the evidence-base around aftercare and peer support.
- SONAR – Social Networks and Recovery study
- Defence Health – understanding the role of social identity in veterans transitioning to civilian life.