Medicine & Health

Publication Search Results

Now showing 1 - 9 of 9
  • (2021) Gupta, Medhavi
    Globally, drowning is the second largest cause of death by injury in children aged 1-14 years old. Risk factors for child drowning include poor supervision, lower socioeconomic status, poor swimming and rescue skills, and the proximity of open water near homes. These are more prevalent in low-and middle-income countries(LMICs). The WHO has developed recommended interventions for drowning prevention in rural LMIC contexts, such as the provision of supervised childcare to prevent access to nearby water bodies. This thesis explores the process of developing and evaluating drowning prevention programs in two high-risk LMIC regions: the Sundarbans in India and the Barishal Division in Bangladesh. As no previous research on drowning burden and prevention has been conducted in India, the main aims were to: (1) Identify the burden of child drowning in the Sundarbans, and (2) identify implementation strategies for drowning prevention programs. Conversely, drowning prevention programs have been implemented in Bangladesh, but evaluation of their implementation remains. The Anchal program provides supervised childcare to younger children, while SwimSafe provides swim training to older children. The main aims in Bangladesh were to: (1) Understand implementation implications and best practices, and (2) understand the impact of gender norms on implementation. The findings from the Sundarbans mortality survey showed a significant burden of drowning, with a rate of 243.8/100 000 for 1-4-year-old children, and 38.8/100 000 for 5-9-year-old children. Common circumstances were the lack of effective adult supervision, no physical barriers against water, and proximity of open water to homes. Findings from the analysis of relevant government policy and interviews with community-based stakeholders identified three existing government programs that could be leveraged for the implementation of drowning interventions. In Bangladesh, the mixed-methods process evaluation of the Anchal program showed that while the program was acceptable in the community, geographical barriers to access, cultural beliefs and inadequate resources reduced attendance, limiting effectiveness. The gender analyses of both Anchal and SwimSafe programs revealed opportunities to ensure equitability. Fewer older girls enrolled in SwimSafe classes compared to boys due to cultural concerns. Female community-based staff found that employment in the programs improved social status, physical mobility and access to resources.

  • (2022) Patterson, Kate
    3D computer generated biomedical animations can help audiences understand and contextualise scientific information that can be challenging to communicate due to resolution and complexity. Biomedical animators bring together multiple sources of authentic scientific data, to translate abstract information into a visual form through storytelling and visualisation. The field of biomedical animation has emerged from a long history of science visualisation and science-art endeavours, and despite there being rich discourse in the fields of data visualisation and science communication, the academic literature in the field of biomedical animation is limited, and focussed on the technical methods for visualisation, or the role these animations play in scientific research, rather than the processes through which they are created. However, as the field matures, there is a need for a deeper understanding of the creative process, and the field is now poised to expose and characterise these aspects, particularly from the perspective of the practitioner. This practice-based research project aims to expose and characterise both the visible and invisible factors that influence my personal process of creating a biomedical animation, and the tacit dimensions that influence orchestrated design choices. This research project employs a multi-method and reflective practice approach with disciplined capture and documentation of critical moments of self-reflection, that ultimately comprise the data for analysis. Thematic analysis was then used to analyse the data, and to identify themes that could contribute to frameworks that represent my personal process(es) in creating 3D biomedical animations. This has allowed me to identify and contextualise my creative process both in terms of my personal and professional position as well as within the field more broadly. I am now able to better advocate for the intangible and often undervalued aspects of my creative practice, and can articulate how a hierarchical decision matrix that considers multiple inputs contributes to my creative process. These insights will also be relevant to others in the field of biomedical animation and in the field of design more broadly, who may gain a deeper insight into their own processes of working and ways of exploring creative practice.

  • (2022) MacGibbon, James
    HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a recent, yet significant, development in HIV prevention. This mixed-methods research followed PrEP’s introduction in Australia, and examined how gay, bisexual and queer (GBQ) men in relationships have adapted to and incorporated PrEP in their sex practices, relationships, and everyday lives. As PrEP raises the prospect of having condomless sex both within and outside primary relationships without risking HIV infection, this research revisited the concept of negotiated safety (Kippax et al., 1997) to explore how HIV-negative GBQ men practice and negotiate safe sex in the era of biomedical HIV prevention. Quantitative data were collected in two national cross-sectional survey projects, The Gay Community Periodic Surveys (GCPS; 2013–2018) and the PrEPARE Project (2013–2021). The GCPS analysis showed a rapid shift away from relationship agreements in which condomless sex is only sanctioned between regular partners. The PrEPARE Project analysis found that men in relationships who used PrEP were more likely to have spoken and non-monogamous agreements, and to have partners that also used PrEP, compared to men in relationships who did not use PrEP. Qualitative data were generated using semi-structured, in-depth interviews conducted between January and August 2019 with 26 GBQ men in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. Thematic analysis of these data identified new shared meanings and social practices that were enabled or mediated by PrEP, with an analytic focus on complexity, situatedness, contingency and relationality. Participant accounts illustrated diverse sexual practices and views about risk, but most participants adopted PrEP due to perceived HIV risk from casual sex rather than sex with their primary partners. PrEP complicated views about what counted as ‘safe sex’ and revealed changing understandings and practices of intimacy, pleasure, trust and risk. There was, however, an enduring narrative of individual responsibility to practice effective HIV prevention. Participants diverged in how they discussed and disclosed sexual practices with their primary and casual partners, revealing tensions about what disclosures were believed to be necessary or expected. Together, these quantitative and qualitative data collected as PrEP use became more common refocus attention on the practicality and complexity of relationship agreements among GBQ men.

  • (2022) Aung, Htein Linn
    With widespread access to combination anti-retroviral therapy (cART) and HIV suppression, life expectancy among people living with HIV (PLHIV) is increasing more than ever. According to UNAIDS, there were 8.1 million older PLHIV (i.e., 50 years of age and over) in 2020 globally. Although HIV-associated dementia has become rare in the cART era, mild neurocognitive impairments remain prevalent among PLHIV (~30% in virally suppressed). With aging, there is an increasing concern that HIV may precipitate neurocognitive abnormal aging because HIV is associated with increased markers of aging (e.g., immunosenescence and hyper-coagulopathy) and multiple age and HIV-related comorbidities (e.g., cardiovascular diseases). Importantly, these comorbidities occur at an earlier age and at a higher rate among PLHIV compared to age-matched HIV-negative persons. Earlier, more severe and more rapidly progressing neurocognitive impairment would have major public health consequences for the millions of PLHIV and the healthcare system. The overarching aim of this PhD thesis is to determine whether having chronic stable HIV infection and suppressive ART is associated with abnormal cognitive aging including premature cognitive aging (HIV and age synergistically/addictively lead to much lower cognitive performance at a younger age compared to controls), accentuated cognitive aging (HIV and age synergistically/addictively lead to much greater prevalence and severity of neurocognitive impairment), and/or accelerated cognitive aging (HIV and age synergistically/ addictively lead to much more rapid progression of neurocognitive impairment). To address these questions, we used a range of scientific methodologies including a systematic review, and several types of advanced statistical analyses using national and international longitudinal cohort data. First, to contextualise the potential public health consequences of cognitive aging in PLHIV, we conducted a narrative review of the burden of established dementia risk factors among PLHIV. We identified that the burden of several major dementia risk factors is much greater among PLHIV than in the general population. Second, we conducted the first-ever systematic review evaluating the current evidence for premature, accentuated and accelerated cognitive aging among PLHIV. We determined moderate evidence for premature cognitive aging and strong evidence for accelerated cognitive aging, while accentuated cognitive aging had not been optimally assessed. Lastly, addressing the previous literature major limitations (low sample size, cross-sectional study design, low proportion of older PLHIV, and inadequate controls/norms), we quantified the profiles of cognitive aging in four longitudinal studies of PLHIV. We demonstrated robust trends for premature cognitive aging among PLHIV compared to age-matched HIV-negative persons. We also demonstrated that older PLHIV had a higher risk for both neurocognitive impairment and neurocognitive decline compared to younger PLHIV, while controlling for normative age effect. These results are indicative of both accentuated and accelerated aging, although our research identified the need for longer-term studies using very large sample size to assess these trends especially in PLHIV older than 70+. Based on these findings, we discussed implications for clinical practice and future research directions.

  • (2022) Smith, Anthony
    HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a highly effective strategy for preventing new HIV infections. Since 2015, PrEP has been rapidly implemented with gay and bisexual men in Australia. While there is recognition of the importance of optimising the clinical delivery of PrEP, there has been scarce empirical research in Australia documenting how clinicians engage with prescribing PrEP, and minimal international social science research considering how PrEP has (re)shaped clinical practice. In this thesis I explore the role of clinicians in delivering PrEP in Australia. Drawing on the sociology of prescribing, I approach PrEP prescribing as a social practice, and attend to how clinicians anticipate and imagine patients, and how they think and feel about PrEP. This study draws on qualitative methodologies, including findings from semi-structured interviews conducted with clinicians who provide PrEP in New South Wales and Western Australia between 2019 and 2020, and with HIV expert stakeholders across Australia in 2017. Through empirical findings, I consider debates about which types of clinicians are best suited to prescribing PrEP and workforce challenges for providing PrEP in different clinical settings. I analyse clinician imaginaries of PrEP users and broader patient collectives, as well as clinicians’ views on providing PrEP to alleviate different types of ‘HIV anxiety’. I also examine prescribing as an affective clinical practice. I identify recommendations for supporting clinical workforces to improve the implementation of PrEP across Australian communities. This thesis demonstrates how PrEP has transformed HIV prevention for clinicians, requiring them to adapt to new ways of approaching HIV and sexual health. Clinicians develop expertise through routine opportunities to prescribe, and they develop imaginaries about patients and communities through consultations that shape their future interactions with patients. Conversely, a lack of patient demand makes it challenging for general practitioners to develop confidence and competence with PrEP prescribing. Providing PrEP involves the complexity of discussing sex and managing ideas about risk and responsibility, which are persistent challenges for both HIV-experienced and inexperienced clinicians. I argue for the value of sociological perspectives on clinical workforces to support and sustain effective HIV prevention.

  • (2022) Ahmed-Cox, Aria
    Cancer persists as a major public health concern with poor survival rates for aggressive tumours. Nanotechnology offers opportunities to develop delivery vehicles (nanoparticles) which can improve drug efficacy in cancer cells while reducing collateral toxicity caused by many current therapies. A key challenge in the clinical translation of therapeutic nanoparticles stems from the complexities of drug delivery; namely a need for greater understanding of how the biophysical characteristics of nanoparticles affects their tumour penetration and cell uptake. This thesis sought to address this challenge, developing advanced imaging and analysis methodologies to evaluate nanoparticle uptake and efficacy in quantitative cell models. We initially investigated the capability of rapid fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy to measure nanoparticle cellular uptake. Results showcased the ability of this emerging quantitative imaging approach to track and quantify changes in nanoparticle dynamics on a second time scale, localising significant changes in nanoparticle lifetime with uptake across extracellular and nuclear boundaries in live cells. Broadening our study into tumour models which recapitulate key elements of the tumour microenvironment, glioblastoma, neuroblastoma and non-small cell lung cancer cells were grown as 3D spheroids and used to study the penetration kinetics of nanoparticles with confocal microscopy. The development of rigorous analysis methods enabled direct evaluation of nanoparticle kinetics. Subsequent study by lightsheet microscopy and real-time force imaging cytometry identified that nanoparticle uptake was influenced not only by nanoparticle size but also the stiffness and density of the cell model. Applying these analyses to functionalised nanoparticles for brain cancer delivery, we identified that lactoferrin coated nanoparticles (Lf-NP) had enhanced penetration kinetics. Low-density lipoprotein receptor (LRP1), for which lactoferrin is a key ligand, was shown to be highly expressed on the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and in glioblastoma. Following, in vitro models identified that Lf-NP could cross the BBB, and drug-loaded iterations of these nanoparticles were revealed to have elevated efficacy against glioblastoma cells. Collectively, these findings showcase methods to systematically visualise and quantify nanoparticle tumour cell uptake and highlight functionalised drug-loaded nanoparticles for further investigation in brain cancer.

  • (2022) Overton, Kristen
    Addressing antimicrobial resistance (AMR) as a purely medical problem fails to recognise the sociological factors that drive the misuse of antimicrobials. Antimicrobial use is shaped by the local social, cultural, political and economic context. There is now widespread recognition that addressing AMR requires an understanding of the social factors that underpin our use and prescription of antimicrobials. Sociological and anthropological explorations of the global antimicrobial crisis have thus far disproportionately focused on economically wealthier nations. This is despite the recognition of economically poorer nations as sites of considerable, escalating, and often unregulated, antimicrobial use. This thesis examines the social dynamics of antimicrobial use in the Indian context through ethnographic observations and 100 qualitative interviews with doctors, community health practitioners, pharmacists, pharmacy employees and community members in Hyderabad, India. Using a constructivist grounded theory approach to data collection and analysis, the focus is on gaining an understanding of how enduring and emerging inequalities, infective risk and uncertainty, labour risks and precarious work, improvisation and self-medication, and informal and formal pharmaceutical economies shape antimicrobial use in India. Using a critical sociological lens, I explore: the dynamics of biopolitics and risk; the pharmaceuticalisation of everyday life and the vested interests therein; the economies of healthcare and antimicrobial use, including commodification and privatisation; and the vulnerability and structural violence associated with the use of antimicrobials. Knowledge of the social dynamics driving antimicrobial use can then in the future be used to inform policies and programs aimed at optimising antimicrobial use in India, appropriately tailoring them to context, rather than continuing with pan-national approaches that do little to accommodate considerations of the Global South.

  • (2022) Macdonald, Diane
    The agency of women with disability is undermined by long-held ideas of what women with disability can or should be. These narrow, reductive views of their identity are limiting and harmful, and lead to exclusionary practices. My research used a feminist framework to challenge these views. My research addressed the social inclusion of women with physical disability in two stages. First, it investigated identity and inclusion through photographic self-portraits by women with physical disability. Second, my research examined the role of arts-based research in shifting negative community attitudes about disability. In the first stage, six women with physical disability photographed aspects of themselves using the photovoice method to focus on their strengths and issues affecting them. Photos, stories, interviews and discussions were analysed thematically. Findings from the first stage indicate that these six women engage in the ‘work of disability’. They articulated identity through their depictions of gender and disability. They challenged expectations through portraits of strength, sexuality and connection. They illustrated the gendered realities of daily life with disability that explain disability to non-disabled others. This research emphasised the personal capacity of the women to critically challenge how women with disability are portrayed. In the second stage, I explored the extent to which a public exhibition of disability self-portraits could be an effective platform to provoke social change. Audiences responded to open-ended questions about their thoughts and feelings after viewing the exhibition. I employed interpretive thematic analysis through a generic social processes framework to analyse responses. My findings indicate that audiences acknowledged underlying conscious or unconscious biases that contribute to their negative attitudes about disability. Audiences connected with the exhibition in ways that not only explored the women’s stories, but also led to better understandings of their own value sets. Audiences reassessed their assumptions about disability as a direct result of viewing the exhibition. My research findings demonstrate the valuable role of arts-based research. The agency expressed through self-portraits and stories helped shift negative attitudes and perceptions of disability to counter prejudice and promote equality. My research reveals a new pathway for the public to see women as they see themselves through art.

  • (2022) Sudewo, Anindita
    In recent years, major changes have affected the national response to HIV with people who inject drugs in Indonesia. These include changes in international HIV funding, the dissolution of the National AIDS commission, and a “war on drugs” declared by the Indonesian president in 2015. Set in this national context, this thesis examines the production of HIV risk for men and women who inject drugs in Indonesia; the factors that influence their engagement in harm reduction and HIV testing, treatment and care services; and the everyday strategies and actions instigated by people who inject drugs to enhance health and wellbeing. This study adopted a qualitative study design, and involved in-depth interviews with 36 men and women who inject drugs, and 10 key informants in community-based organisations (CBOs) and government health services. Key findings pertain to the production of HIV risk for people who inject drugs within micro-level social and physical spaces, influenced by macro-level stigmatising community values and criminalising policies; socio-ecological influences that inhibit their engagement in harm reduction and HIV services, including insular lifestyles associated with drug use and stigmatisation within interpersonal relationships with families and friends; the loss of critical community-based support services; and the shift of HIV care to formal government health services perceived as unsafe, with operations constrained by national policies. Yet, people who inject drugs also demonstrate a range of strategies – with support of people in injecting networks, families, CBOs and health services – that enable them to navigate and negotiate restrictive social, physical and policy environments to seek health and wellbeing. This thesis contributes to an emerging scholarship in social science approaches to public health in Indonesia. It draws on an analytic framework that recognises the interpersonal, institutional and contextual influences on people’s health and wellbeing, as well as the important action that HIV affected communities take to enhance their own lives in challenging contexts. The conclusions argue for the adoption of HIV and harm reduction practices and policies that cater to the complex lives of people who use drugs, and help overcome their everyday experiences of criminalisation and stigmatisation that produce risk and inhibit engagement in appropriate support services.