Health and wellbeing are complex phenomena shaped by a wide range of factors including institutions, health systems, socio-economic resources, cultural attitudes, gender, and age. There is an urgent need for interdisciplinary research across behavioural, health, biomedical, social sciences and the humanities that can engage community, policy makers, clinicians, not-for-profit organisations and private enterprise in generating solutions that can support health and wellbeing across the lifecycle.
The Health and Wellbeing White Papers bring together interdisciplinary and collaborative teams to showcase the distinctive expertise and capacities of health and wellbeing research at Western Sydney University. The teams undertake agile, interdisciplinary, collaborative research with a broad range of partners across the health and wellbeing sector and aim to build a robust community of practice committed to person-centred care, evidence-based practice, and systemic change, locally, nationally and internationally. These teams are well-positioned to intervene in contemporary health challenges, in Western Sydney and beyond.
For many mothers in Australia, worries about pregnancy, birth and parenthood have become a source of considerable anxiety. Maternal anxiety can have significant consequences for mothers and their children, families and communities. Our aim is to ameliorate maternal anxiety through effective interventions and services in the Greater Western Sydney area and beyond, and to develop strategies and scholarship that promote and celebrate diverse parenting. These strategies rest on building resilience in women, families and communities as they negotiate a world of constant information; developing, testing and implementing novel approaches to identify, prevent, and treat maternal anxiety; and co-designing systems that promote and sustain maternal and child health.
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Australia has a rapidly ageing population, which presents a number of interrelated challenges: current age-related health complications are coupled with rising rates of lifestyle-related chronic diseases; changes in the social dynamics of the people moving into the 65 years and over age group; and the health system facing increased costs and demands, due to the changes in the health needs of the ageing population. At Western Sydney University, we believe that with challenge comes significant potential for opportunity and innovation. Our vision is a world where seniors are valued, empowered, and engaged to live healthy lifestyles that are physically, mentally, and socially active. Our mission is to improve the health and wellbeing of seniors in Western Sydney and beyond through interdisciplinary collaboration, education and training, and innovation in healthcare and policy.
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Eating Disorders and Obesity
Eating Disorders have traditionally been considered entirely separate to the growing problem of obesity. However, recent research suggests this polarisation is flawed and that eating disorders and obesity are related in many significant ways. It is our contention that only an integrated approach can reduce the burden of illness for all people, whatever their position on the weight spectrum. Our collaborative model aims to bring together fields of research and have significant implications for those suffering from an eating disorder or obesity and, importantly, the increasing number who struggle with both.
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Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolic Health
Diabetes is one of the most prevalent, costly, life-threatening, and growing diseases in Australia. Affecting 1.7 million Australians, diabetes costs $12–18 billion each year, and a new patient is diagnosed every five minutes. Our vision at Western Sydney University is a world without diabetes or its complications. Our mission is to create new knowledge, skills and technology, easily accessible to the relevant people, to work towards our vision of preventing diabetes and improving its management. To achieve our mission, we will harness research across several diverse and interrelated disciplines to develop, trial and, where appropriate, implement new scalable and sustainable health interventions.
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Music and Health
In an era of increasing health need, applications of music to health and well-being have the capacity to address both preventative goals and active treatment. These range from anxiety reduction to technologically assisted music making; from increasing awareness of evidence-based practice to educating volunteers, health professionals and trained music therapists. However, despite a growing evidence base, questions remain about how best to harness the health benefits of music. An interdisciplinary focus on music research across multiple schools and research institutes, offering one of only two accredited music therapy courses in Australia and with a strong focus on inter-professional care, WSU is in a unique position to offer expertise and research capacity. We seek to bring our broad ranging interdisciplinary expertise in music psychology, music therapy, medicine, nursing, and health promotion to establish ongoing links with industry to develop innovative music based therapeutic solutions to address key health concerns.
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Women’s health is an issue with multiple priorities and challenges. In addition to biological differences between women and men, the World Health Organization (WHO) acknowledges the impact of profound sociocultural and economic disadvantage on women’s health internationally. This includes unequal power relationships between men and women, women’s decreased educational and employment opportunities, an exclusive focus on women’s reproductive roles, and the experience of sexual, physical and emotional violence.
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