Associate Professor Andrew Page, from the UWA School of Psychology, aims to improve mental health treatments through collaborations between researchers and clinical staff.
The co-director of the UWA Robin Winkler Clinic is a research consultant at private psychiatric hospital Perth Clinic and has involved the clinic in research projects. "Hospital management have seen the benefits for patient care of fostering links between clinic staff and researchers," he said. "Clinic staff have insights into factors that may hinder or improve outcomes and researchers can formulate those insights into measurable and answerable questions."
Associate Professor Page has been studying whether patients respond better to treatment as in-patients or day-patients. "Perth Clinic staff believed patients had better outcomes if they completed the Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) program as a day-patient rather than as an in-patient," he said. "They attributed that to several factors - including opportunities for day-patients to practise their new skills in a home environment."
UWA researchers examined archival data of psychiatric patients to understand the issue better and recommend what form of treatment to promote. Studies found day-patients demonstrated greater improvements in the three months after treatment than those treated as in-patients.
Associate Professor Page said another collaboration involved identifying characteristics of patients likely to withdraw from psychological treatment. "We then developed a program to reduce the drop-out rates so more patients remained engaged in treatment, which increases the probability of a favourable outcome."
Associate Professor Page has been at UWA since 1993 and teaches primarily in clinical psychology. His research interests include anxiety disorders, especially in blood-injury phobia and thought suppression, as well as the best ways to deliver effective psychological treatments. He is currently writing a training text for clinical psychologists with Dr Werner Stritzke.