EMCR Small Grant Scheme recipients 2022

Rebecca Krispin Uncategorised

CRE HiPP is thrilled to announce the successful recipients of the 2022 Early- and Mid- Career Researcher (EMCR) Small Grant Scheme.

Researchers Dr Bereket Duko Adema, Dr Briony Hill, Dr Jessica Grieger, Dr Michelle Kilpatrick, Dr Siew Lim and Dr Zohra Lassi have each been awarded grants of up to $10,000 for their projects in the CRE HIPP priority areas of preconception and/or pregnancy lifestyle health.

CRE HiPP Director Professor Helen Skouteris congratulated the researchers and their teams on their innovative projects and outstanding applications.

“I am always so impressed by the calibre of EMCRs working in the area of preconception and pregnancy lifestyle health research, and the awardees of these seeding grants are no exception,” said Professor Skouteris.

“CRE HiPP is proud to support the next generation of researchers through our grants program and can only do this because of the funding provided by the NHMRC, for which we are extremely grateful.

“Congratulations to all the recipients of these grants. From small things big things grow. I have no doubt at all the EMCRs funded will achieve great things as a result of this seed funding. I look forward to hearing about the outcomes and successes to come.”

The successful recipients and projects are as follows:

Examining the effect of maternal preconception and pregnancy obesity on offspring neuropsychiatric and behavioural outcomes: evidence synthesis

Chief Investigators: Dr Bereket Duko Adema (CIA), Curtin School of Population Health, Curtin University; Professor Gavin Pereira (CIB), Curtin School of Population Health, Curtin University; Dr Gizachew Tessema (CIC), Curtin School of Population Health, Curtin University; Dr Amanuel Gebremedhin (CID), Curtin School of Population Health, Curtin University; Associate Professor Lisa Moran (Mentor), School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University.

Project Description: The prevalence of overweight or obesity continues to trend upwards and it has been projected that one-fifth of the world’s adult population will be obese by the year 2030. The rise in the prevalence of obesity has been most prominent in women of the reproductive age group. Maternal preconception or pregnancy obesity may increase the risks of neuropsychiatric and behavioural problems in the next generation. However, existing studies on the topic have reported inconsistent results. Therefore, evidence synthesis of existing epidemiological studies is critically important to better understand the role of such preconception and pregnancy exposure and target appropriate prevention strategies. This project aims to examine the influence of maternal preconception and pregnancy overweight or obesity on next-generation neuropsychiatric and behavioural conditions later in life using a meta-analytic approach.

Dr Bereket Duko Adema
Dr Bereket Duko Adema

Body Positive Birth: A pilot study and feasibility evaluation of photovoice to explore larger bodied women’s experiences of maternity care

Chief Investigators: Dr Briony Hill (CIA), Health and Social Care Unit, Monash University; Dr Bec Jenkinson (CIB), Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences, The University of Queensland; Associate Professor Lauren Kearney (CIC), School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work, University of Queensland; Dr Rachael Nugent (CID), Faculty of Medicine, University of Queensland; Dr Jennifer Lee (CIE), School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work, University of Queensland; Professor Leonie Callaway (Mentor), Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.

Project Description: Weight stigma and discrimination are widespread in society, and all too common in maternity care, contributing to the poorer health outcomes of larger bodied pregnant women and their babies. Most research to date assumes that body size directly causes poorer pregnancy outcomes, overlooking social, cultural, psychological, and political factors and making little progress towards improving women’s outcomes or experiences. Our research takes a new approach: working with larger bodied women and weight-inclusive clinicians to find acceptable and feasible ways to capture their perspectives on living well during pregnancy, birth and postnatal care, through stories and photographs. Together we will create new knowledge on the maternity care experiences of larger bodied women, strengthen our relationships with consumers, build consumer capacity for research involvement, and identify the ingredients of successful consumer-led research with larger bodied women.

Dr Briony Hill
Dr Briony Hill

Motivators and barriers for preconception nutrition and lifestyle information

Chief Investigators: Dr Jessica Grieger (CIA), Adelaide Medical School, The University of Adelaide; Dr Briony Hill (CIB), Health and Social Care Unit, Monash University; Associate Professor Jacqueline Boyle (CIC/Mentor), Eastern Health Clinical School, Monash University.

Project Description: Preconception lifestyle health is poor, explicated by the high number of women living with overweight and obesity. Many women in the preconception period do not have a sufficient intake of core foods, nor participate in adequate physical activity. Furthermore, there is a lack of preconception nutrition guidelines to optimise reproductive success. Motivators and challenges for how and why women might choose, or not, to optimise health behaviours in the preconception period has been insufficiently explored. There is even less knowledge and understanding in women who are actively planning a pregnancy, and in women living with overweight or obesity. This project will address the knowledge gaps by exploring preconception lifestyle facilitators and barriers towards preconception care, in women actively planning a pregnancy and in those with overweight or obesity.

Dr Jessica Grieger
Dr Jessica Grieger

Supporting behaviour change: Building local capacity to train maternal health professionals in the ‘art’ of Healthy Conversation Skills (HCS)

Chief Investigators: Dr Michelle Kilpatrick (CIA), Menzies Institute for Medical Research, University of Tasmania; Dr Jenna Hollis (CIB), Hunter New England Local Health District, Population Health and the University of Newcastle; Yvette Story (CIC), Royal Hobart Hospital, Professor Andrew Hills (Mentor), School of Health Sciences, University of Tasmania.

Project Description: Opportunistic, brief, tailored support during routine antenatal care can help change health behaviours that benefit mothers and their babies. Yet recent research shows Tasmanian antenatal care providers lack behaviour change communication skills training to best support pregnant women. Healthy Conversation Skills (HCS) training is an evidence-based program to support health practitioners to initiate effective behaviour change discussions. A HCS Train-the-Trainer (TtT) model can build healthcare workforce capacity to access and use this individually tailored approach to behaviour change. This project is a feasibility study of the implementation of a Tasmanian HCS trainer network, to deliver professional development to the maternity and allied health workforce and via university health-related courses. Formative implementation and evaluation data from this project will help to guide further scale-up of the TtT model and HCS across Tasmania.

Dr Michelle Kilpatrick
Dr Michelle Kilpatrick

Equitable preconception care to optimise pregnancy outcomes

Chief Investigators: Dr Siew Lim (CIA), Eastern Health Clinical School, Monash University; Associate Professor Jacqueline Boyle (CIB), Eastern Health Clinical School, Monash University; Professor Andrea Whittaker (CIC), School of Social Sciences, Monash University; Dr Heather Morris (CID), Health and Social Care Unit, Monash University; Professor Helen Skouteris (Mentor), Health and Social Care Unit, Monash University.

Project Description: Preconception or interconception health interventions for those at risk of cardiometabolic pregnancy conditions are recommended by clinical guidelines internationally. Women from ethnicities other than a Caucasian background are at higher risk of developing certain cardiometabolic pregnancy complications, associated with a greater risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes. While bearing the disproportionate burden of high-risk pregnancy conditions, women from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds are particularly difficult to engage in current interconception or preventive health care, resulting in low reach and higher attrition among these groups. In 2020, Chinese-born people are the third largest group of migrants in Australia, after England and India. This project aims to gather the experiences of women from Chinese backgrounds on health, lifestyle and preconception care in Australia using the photovoice method. This formative work will subsequently be used to develop a preconception model of care through co-design with health professionals.

Dr Siew Lim
Dr Siew Lim

Preconception care interventions for adolescents and young women – an evidence gap map

Chief Investigators: Dr Zohra Lassi (CIA), Robinson Research Institute, The University of Adelaide; Dr Zahra Ali Padhani (CIB), Robinson Research Institute, The University of Adelaide; Dr Salima Meherali (CIC), Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta; Associate Professor Jacqueline Boyle (Mentor), Eastern Health Clinical School, Monash University.

Project Description: Preconception is a period before a girl/woman conceives, which emphasises understanding how her health condition and certain risk factors could affect her and her baby’s health once she becomes pregnant. Adolescence and youth are a natural extension of the pre-pregnancy phase of the life-course continuum in which research gaps exist. Our research project aims to identify, map, and describe existing empirical evidence on interventions implemented to improve the health and wellbeing of adolescents and young women before pregnancy. We will conduct an evidence gap map (EGM) on EPPI Mapper to address this objective, including reviewing relevant literature and landscape analysis of the outcomes of interest. The EGM will be populated through systematic searching of online databases followed by screening, data extraction, and quality assessment of all relevant completed and ongoing systematic reviews and empirical studies on interventions with no systematic reviews.

Dr Zohra Lassi
Dr Zohra Lassi