Australians living with diabetes and cardiovascular disease will benefit from improved mental health support, thanks to a new Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF)’s $5.2 million Target Translation Research Accelerator (TTRA) initiative.

Deakin University’s Australian Centre for Behavioural Research in Diabetes, within the Institute for Health Transformation (IHT) and the School of Psychology, was awarded one of seven TTRA Project grants announced by the Minister for Health, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, on 23 September.

Around half of all people with diabetes and cardiovascular disease experience mental health problems. This has devastating consequences for clinical outcomes, quality of life, as well as for the healthcare system.

Dr Christel Hendrieckx and Dr Edith Holloway will lead a two-year research program, “Low Intensity mental health Support via Telehealth Enabled Network (LISTEN) for adults with diabetes and cardiovascular disease” ($748, 384).

This new hybrid effectiveness-implementation trial will be conducted to evaluate the clinical and cost effectiveness, implementation and scalability of a novel low-intensity mental health support program delivered via telehealth, LISTEN.

“LISTEN is an evidence-based psychological invention that promotes self-help and skills development. The program will be delivered via telehealth by allied health professionals servicing the National Diabetes Services Scheme Helpline. Our research will enable adults with diabetes and cardiovascular disease to access up to four sessions over 45-60 minutes,” Drs Christel Hendrieckx and Edith Holloway said.

This innovative research will generate robust evidence to inform clinical and commercial translation of LISTEN into a sustainable service, designed to have immediate and lasting positive impact on the mental health of people with diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The TTRA, a Medical Research Future Fund initiative delivered by MTPConnect, is supporting new research approaches to improve the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and management of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and their related complications.

“These seven highly promising research projects selected in Victoria, NSW and Queensland have the potential to transform diabetes and cardiovascular disease outcomes and reduce the burden of disease on individuals, families and the community,” MTPConnect Managing Director and CEO, Dr Dan Grant said.

In addition to Drs Hendrieckx and Holloway, principal investigators are Professors Jane Speight, Tim Skinner, Cathy Mihalopoulos; Associate Professors Vincent Versace and Adrienne O’Neil; Dr Virginia Hagger; and partner investigators Professors Greg Johnson, Craig Bennett and Ms Susan Davidson.

Collaborative partners on this project are Diabetes Australia/National Diabetes Services Scheme , Diabetes Victoria, the Australian Diabetes Educators Association and La Trobe University.

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