Research Projects

Menstrual health literacy and the management of period pain in young Australian women: a nation-wide online survey

Many young women suffer from problems with their menstrual cycle,1 often having pain during or just before their period. Research at NICM and Western Sydney University are interested to find out how these kinds of symptoms affect young women's social, school or work life, how young women decide what a 'normal' period is, and how they deal with any period related symptoms.

Participants will be asked to fill in a 15-30 minute online survey, which can be found here (opens in a new window).

Read more about this study by downloading the Participant Information Sheet (PDF, 57.68 KB) (opens in a new window).

This research will help identify areas where education on menstrual health can be improved, and will help shape future educational materials to improve young women's ability to manage their menstrual symptoms and identify any problematic symptoms that require further investigation.

For more information, please contact Dr Mike Armour, chief investigator, on mobile 0415 363 201 or email

Researchers: Dr Mike Armour, Professor Kath Holmes, Professor Caroline Smith, Associate Professor Tania Ferfolja, Dr Christina Curry, Dr Freya Macmillan

Partner/Funding Body: NICM, Western Sydney University and U by Kotex.

Human Research Ethics Committee Approval Number: H12411.

1 Parker MA, Sneddon AE, Arbon P. The menstrual disorder of teenagers (MDOT) study: determining typical menstrual patterns and menstrual disturbance in a large population-based study of Australian teenagers. 2010. BJOG; 117(2); 185-192. DOI: 10.1111/j.1471-0528.2009.02407.x

The effectiveness and cost of endometriosis self-care in Australian women: a nationwide survey

NICM researchers are inviting women with endometriosis to participate in a study to help identify self-care techniques used in the management of endometriosis. Self-care can include breathing exercises, meditation, exercise, yoga, herbal therapies, cannabis or alcohol usage.

Participants of the study will need to complete a 15 - 30 minute online survey, answering questions about their self-care practices in the management of their endometriosis. The survey should be completed in one sitting.

The survey will help identify the self-care techniques currently used by women with endometriosis and may direct future research to help improve outcomes for women with endometriosis.

Women who are interested in the study can contact Dr Mike Armour, chief investigator, on mobile 0415 363 201 or email

Download the Participant Information Sheet (PDF, 119.49 KB)(opens in a new window)

Researchers: Dr Mike Armour, Mr Justin Sinclair, Professor Caroline Smith, Ms Jane Chalmers

Partner/Funding Body: Western Sydney University

The cost and impact of chronic pelvic pain in Australia: Focus groups.

Researchers from NICM and UNSW are inviting women with chronic pelvic pain to participate in research focus groups to explore their personal experiences of living with chronic pelvic pain.

Participants of the study may benefit from the chance to interact and share common experiences with other women living with chronic pelvic pain. More broadly, participant's experiences and views will contribute a better understanding of the experience of chronic pelvic pain for women living in Australia. This increased understanding will identify any areas of unmet need that women with pelvic pain are experiencing in their healthcare.

This study will require participants to attend a 90-100 minutes focus group in Sydney. The topics discussed will be guided by the group on the day, but will cover the experience participants have had in the following areas: the diagnosis of pelvic pain, the symptoms experienced, the impact pelvic pain may have had on their social life, sports/leisure activities and romantic/sexual relationships, the impact pelvic pain may have had on their education or work life, and what treatments (conventional or complementary) or lifestyle changes participants have found worked, or did not work, for their pelvic pain.

People who are interested in the study can contact Dr Mike Armour, Chief Investigator, on mobile 0415363201 or email

Download the Participant Information Sheet (PDF, 706.07 KB) (opens in a new window)

Researchers: Dr Mike Armour, Professor Caroline Smith, Mrs Jane Chalmers, Dr Sowbhagya Micheal, and Associate Professor Jason Abbott.

Partner/Funding Body: Western Sydney University

An educational intervention to improve health literacy and decision making about supporting self-care and decision making among older Australians: a randomised controlled trial.

NICM researchers have developed education resources comprising of a booklet, DVD and web version to support informed decision making about self-care among older Australians and are currently seeking participants.

To take part in the study, participants need to be aged 65 years or older and based in NSW. Researchers will randomly allocate study participants to one of two groups.

  • Study group one will be invited to complete six education modules in web or DVD format, plus printed booklet in their home over three weeks.
  • Study group two will be invited to complete the same six modules in a printed booklet only.

This study will require participants to access information for only one hour per week over a period of three weeks followed by a 5-10 minutes feedback evaluation via the internet or postal mail on three occasions, firstly when the participant joins the study, then at three weeks and lastly at a two month follow up.

People who are interested in the study can contact Afshan Khan on (02) 46203810 or email

Researcher: Professor Caroline Smith

Partner/Funding Body: IRT Foundation

Electrophysiological biomarkers for the early detection of Alzheimer's disease

Are you over 60, and still as sharp as a tack?  Or do you know somebody with memory problems?  If so, then please keep reading!

Purpose of the study:
This project aims to increase our knowledge of the brain activity that relates to the problems with memory and thinking that occur in the pre-dementia phase of Alzheimer's disease, Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). This is important for understanding the disease and how it works (basic science), as well as for the development of effective, targeted treatments (translational research). This project will compare the brain activity and cognitive abilities of 20 people with MCI and 20 age-matched healthy people. 
What does participation in this research involve?
If you decide to participate in the project, you will be contacted via telephone for a brief screening interview. If you meet the criteria for the trial, you will be invited to attend a testing session which involves completing a consent form, an interview and some forms about your general health, and a computerised cognitive task. You will then be fitted with an electrode cap and will be asked to complete another series of cognitive tasks whilst the electrical activity of your brain is recorded. The entire procedure is expected to take around 3 hours. If you are experiencing memory problems or have been told that you have MCI, you will also need a close family member of friend (e.g., spouse, sibling, child over 18 years old) to confirm that you have been experiencing problems with cognition either during the screening session or beforehand on the telephone or via email.

We are looking for participants who are:
* Over 60 years old
* Able to think and reason clearly and effectively OR
* Experiencing problems with memory and/or thinking
* Not diagnosed with dementia
* Non-smokers
* Right-handed
* Not suffering from any serious health conditions

Further information and who to contact:

View the MCI Group (PDF, 228.34 KB) (opens in a new window) or the Healthy Group (PDF, 224.79 KB) (opens in a new window) information posters

Download the Participant Information Sheet (PDF, 150.95 KB) (opens in a new window)

If you would like any further information or you have any queries about the study, please contact Dr Genevieve Steiner or by phone: (02) 4620 3708

Human Research Ethics Committee Approval Number: H11152

Researchers: Dr Genevieve SteinerAssociate Professor Dennis Chang

Herbal Medicine to Treat Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality and imposes a huge financial burden on the Australian health care system. Herbal medicine has been widely used in cardiovascular care in many countries for centuries. Despite a growing body of scientific evidence in support of the use of herbal medicine for the management of CVD, significant gaps exist in knowledge base surrounding mechanisms of action of these interventions. This project will focus on the evaluation of mechanisms of action of herbal formulations for coronary heart disease/stroke and vascular dementia, using both in vitro and in vivo models.

Researchers: Associate Professor Dennis Chang, Dr Sai Seto

A multicentre, randomised, double-blind, placebo controlled trial to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of Sailuotong (SLT), a standardised Chinese herbal medicine formula in patients with Vascular Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease

Researchers: Associate Professor Dennis Chang, Professor Alan Bensoussan

Partner/Funding Body: Australia Shineway Technology Pty Ltd

Acupuncture to improve live birth rates for women undergoing IVF: A randomised controlled trial

Researchers: Professor Caroline Smith, Associate Professor Sheryl de Lacey, Professor Michael Chapman, Professor Julie Ratcliffe

Funding Body: National Health and Medical Research Council (Commonwealth)

A pilot randomised, double-blind, placebo controlled trial to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of Nao Xin Qing Pian (NXQ), in patients with ischemic stroke

Researchers: Associate Professor Dennis Chang, Professor Alan Bensoussan

Partner/Funding Body: Hutchison Whampoa Guangzhou Baiyunshan Chinese Medicine Co. Ltd

Validation of Chinese Quality of Life instrument

Researchers: Professor Kelvin Chan, Dr Valentina Naumovski

Synthesis and testing of novel tanshinone analogues

Researcher: Associate Professor Chun Guang Li

Novel insecticides and synergists from endemic and exotic flora

Researchers: Associate Professor Robert Spooner-Hart, Dr Myrna Deseo (SCU), Owen Hellyer, (ex CSIRO), Dr Robert Mensah (govt)

NICM TCM acupuncture methodology 

Researcher: Professor Caroline Smith

CAM researcher audit

Researchers: Dr Jo Packer, Professor Alan Bensoussan, Janice Besch, COSA