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Discipline of General Practice
The University of Adelaide
SA 5005

Ph: (08) 8303 3460
Fax: (08) 8303 3511

Postgraduate Research Students

Postgraduate students in the Department of General Practice conduct research into a wide variety of primary health care topics, reflecting the department’s multidisciplinary orientation, and examples of their doctoral work in progress or have completed are provided below.

Current Postgraduate Students
Past Postgraduate Students

Current Postgraduate Students

Cate Howell

Dr Cate Howell
One of the discipline’s Ph.D. students, Dr Cate Howell, is undertaking a research project entitled "Study of a primary care treatment program aiming to reduce the relapse of depression", which aims to implement a primary care depression relapse prevention program and evaluate its effectiveness via a cluster randomisation trial. Her research will trial a depression relapse prevention program, which is based on a bio-psycho-social treatment approach, and incorporates education about depression, lifestyle advice, psychosocial treatment and regular monitoring of progress.

Oliver Frank

Dr Oliver Frank
Another Ph.D. student in the discipline, is undertaking a study entitled "GPs' responses to opportunistic reminders for preventive care activities, and the association of performance of preventive care activities with characteristics of patients, GPs and consultations." His study is based on a randomised controlled trial of automated targeted opportunistic reminders for eleven preventive activities in a general practice. It examines the effect of the reminders, and explores the characteristics of patients, GPs and consultations which are associated with performance of preventive activities.

Peter Mansfield

Dr Peter Mansfield
Is undertaking a doctoral research study entitled "Developing Healthy Skepticism". His study involves developing the capacity of an organisation, Healthy Skepticism (, to provide education to help doctors develop healthy skepticism about drug promotion. The study involves the application of mixed research methods, including action research and randomised controlled trials.


Dr Susan Selby
Is undertaking a doctoral study entitled, “The development of a repatriation program to deal with issues of grief and loss in adult Australian cross-cultural workers”. Cross-cultural workers are repatriated to Australia regularly after more than two years service and experience repatriation adjustment or reverse culture shock. Martin and Harrell (1996) noted the assumption in the research that re-entry transition is similar to other adult transitions which all involve loss and change for the individual. This project asks whether this is a correct assumption and, if so, what are the issues of grief and loss in this group? Fifteen cross-cultural workers will be interviewed and will complete a questionnaire designed to measure grief and loss in a general practice setting. After analysis of this data, the issues of how best to prevent and facilitate resolution of grief and loss in cross-cultural workers returning to Australia will be addressed, and the program developed could be used in the general practice setting.

Joanne Dollard

Joanne Dollard
Started her PhD in March 2005 in the Discipline of General Practice and Psychology. Previously she was employed as a Research Associate at the Spencer Gulf Rural Health School based in Whyalla. Major projects she worked on were about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce issues, rural general practitioner’s use of evidenced based practice, falls prevention in older people and developing a primary health care research and evaluation workforce in rural health. Her PhD topic is around Aboriginal cultural awareness and cultural safety. More specifically, if non-Aboriginal health professional’s participate in Aboriginal cultural awareness training, do their attitudes and behaviour toward Aboriginal clients/patients change, and does this result in culturally competent care. This research will generate information to add to the evidence base about effective ways of providing culturally safe health care for Aboriginal people.

 Fiona May

Fiona May
Has completed a Bachelor of Nursing degree and a Bachelor of Health Science Honours Degree and is currently a first year Faculty of Health Science scholarship PhD student with the Discipline of General Practice. Fiona’s research centres on the secondary prevention of coronary heart disease with a particular focus upon the implementation of secondary prevention strategies in the acute cardiac care setting.

Catherine Leahy

Catherine Leahy
The Detection of Distress and Helping Behaviours Amongst Medical Student

Distress in medical students and the medical profession has long been an issue. Over the decades changes in medical curricula, work patterns, health systems, and knowledge have been dramatic, yet despite this, distress amongst members of the medical profession continues to remain a problem. Therefore, it is important to focus on the detection and management of distress and mental health problems amongst the profession so that it can function at optimum levels regardless of the changing conditions and causes of distress. Healthy peer support may be a way of managing the issue and establishing a culture of care within the profession. My project aims to establish what peer support behaviours occur within the medical profession in relation to 1) detecting distress amongst colleagues, 2) what determines consideration to intervene and help colleagues, and 3) the range of helping behaviours provided. Participants will be recruited from the medical student population. Acculturation into the medical profession begins early during medical student training and patterns of behaviour formulated during this time can be long lasting. Exploring awareness of collegial distress and helping behaviours amongst medical students, and how it changes during the course of training, may give us some insight into how distress is currently detected and what resources the students’ employ to manage distress. This in turn can guide the development of behavioural and cultural change within the profession.

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Past Postgraduate Students

Postgraduate students of the Discipline of General Practice have gone on to interesting and fulfilling careers in the health area.

Dr Ruth Walker completed her doctoral studies as a cross-disciplinary student with the Discipline of General Practice and the Discipline of Public Health in 2002. Her research study was entitled “Development and evaluation of a health promotion program for pregnant women aimed at addressing rates of caesarean section”. Ruth has published her work in international journals, and is now working in the Discipline of Public Health at the University of Adelaide as a postdoctoral research fellow and lecturer.

Dr Kaysorn Sumpowthong also completed her doctoral studies in 2002 as a cross-disciplinary student with the Discipline of General Practice and the Discipline of Public Health. Her study was entitled “Physical activity assessment and determinants of active living: the development of a model for promoting physical activity among older Thais”. Kaysorn is now working as an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Nursing at Thammasat University in Thailand.

Caroline Laurence

Caroline Laurence
Has worked for the last 10 years in general practice at academic and program implementation levels.  She has extensive experience in workforce issues facing rural and remote general practice, particularly the recruitment and retention of GPs through work with the General Practice Rural Incentives Program (1994-1999) and Rural Doctors Workforce Agency in South Australia (1999-2000).  She is currently working as a Senior Research Fellow in the Discipline of General Practice at the University of Adelaide, managing the evaluation for the PoCT trial.  She is also working part-time as Manager Special Projects with the Adelaide to Outback GP Training Program. Her study which is entitled "International Medical Graduates in rural and remote Australia: do they practice differently from Australian graduates?" is an  analysis of the practice patterns of IMGs in rural and remote Australia using Medicare Australia data and a comparison of their patterns of practice with a group of Australian trained graduates in similar locations.  The results of this study will provide organisations involved in workforce planning with a better understanding of why differences may occur between IMGs and Australian trained doctors and help them to design appropriate strategies to support IMGs recruited to work in rural and remote Australia.

Antonina Mikocka-Walus
Is a cross-disciplinary PhD student with the Discipline of General Practice and the School of Psychology. Her research study is entitled: “The role of antidepressants in maintaining remission in inflammatory bowel disease patients additionally suffering from psychological disorders”. The aim of this study is to discover whether antidepressants may have a positive impact on the course of inflammatory bowel disease. Antonina has just arrived from Poland, where she gained her MSc in Psychology at the University of Warsaw and her MA in International Relations in Warsaw School of Economics and Sciences Politiques de Paris.

Dr BastianSeidel
Qualified as a General Practitioner in the United Kingdom in 2006 and has been a PhD student at the University of Adelaide, Discipline of General Practice (supervisor Prof. N. Stocks) since February 2007. The focus of his PhD is to explore levels of knowledge, awareness and perception of cardiovascular disease risk among residents of South Australia. 
Dr Seidel graduated from the University of Leipzig, Germany in 2001. He was admitted to the Plymouth General Practice Vocational Training Scheme in the United Kingdom in 2003. In 2004 he was awarded the Doctor of Medicine summa cum laude from the University of Leipzig for his research in Paediatric Immunology.
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