New research grant will innovate preconception and pregnancy digital health support

Michelle Putt Uncategorised

Congratulations to early-career researcher Dr Cheryce Harrison on her exciting Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) grant, to expand a digital antenatal healthy lifestyle support platform.

The $1.4 million grant, Optimising the delivery of antenatal interventions in public healthcare: Improving equity, access and engagement for better maternal and neonatal health outcomes, is Dr Harrison’s first as Primary Chief Investigator. The grant builds on a program of work in antenatal implementation research focused on optimising weight and health outcomes that Dr Harrison leads with a team at the Monash Centre for Health Research and Innovation (MCHRI) and CRE HiPP.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity to address remaining critical gaps to fast-track novel, equitable, accessible and engaging digital health solutions that are broad reaching for women at a critical life stage, where we know sub-optimal health behaviours and accelerated weight gain occurs,” Dr Harrison said.

“This MRFF grant builds on our novel web based application, OptimalMe, adopting a user orientated approach to co-design and integrate innovative, personalised digital health technology to enhance engagement and support women with evidence based information and resources. ”

Dr Harrison said providing a platform that was equitable and accessible for women in all parts of the country, from diverse backgrounds and with diverse needs was a priority of the grant.

“It is vital that we create credible, evidence-based healthy lifestyle programs that are acceptable, feasible, sustainable, cost-effective and implementable .”

Dr Harrison said the grant acknowledged the proven benefits of lifestyle health interventions during preconception and pregnancy.

“If we can support women to optimise weight gain during pregnancy, we can achieve better outcomes for mothers and their babies.”

Strong consumer and community involvement in all phases of the four-year project will also ensure the digital support platform is what women want and need, Dr Harrison added.

“We will be working closely with Dr Jenny McIntosh and others at Monash University’s HumaniSE Lab to ensure technology development reflects how the user lives and interacts with the platform.”