2023 RM Gibson Program recipients

AAG and the AAG Research Trust congratulates the following individuals on their successful applications for the 2023 RM Gibson Program.


Louise Bourchier

The University of Melbourne

Louise Bourchier is a PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne researching the sexual health of people aged 60 and over. Older age groups are under-served for sexual health care and it can be difficult for older adults to find sexual health information that is relevant, relatable, and accessible. This is why Louise is particularly interested in finding ways we can improve sexual health services and deliver better sexual health promotion for older adults. Her work to date has involved documenting increases in STIs among older women and conducting a large survey of Australians 60+ to understand their behaviours and preferences around seeking sexual health information.

Exploring rural older adults' preferences for addressing sexual health and wellbeing in primary care

Despite erroneous assumptions of asexuality, sexual expression is important to many older adults. Primary care is the main place older adults seek sexual health support; however, such conversations are rarely initiated by either patient or GP due to stigma, ageism, time pressures and awkwardness. Rural older adults face additional barriers of privacy concerns in small communities, fewer choices of healthcare provider, and disruptions to continuity of care. This project will explore rural older Victorians preferences for sexual health and wellbeing support in general practice settings. This project involves participatory methods with older Australians to collaboratively design this module. This research is significant as there are no studies to date exploring the distinct sexual health needs of rural older Australians. It will inform best practice to address this emerging need of our ageing population.

Award: $10,000

Dr Aruska D'Souza

Royal Melbourne Hospital

Aruska D'Souza is an early-career physiotherapist with over 12 years of clinical experience in acute care. She was awarded her PhD in 2023 (Predicting Discharge Destination in Acute General Medicine). In her role as the Allied Health Knowledge and Research Translation lead at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, she leads multi-disciplinary projects across allied health that investigate a broad range of important clinical areas. Her professional interests include best care for older people, outcome measures and their psychometric properties, hospital access and flow, prediction of discharge and health economics. To date, she has had 35 successful conference abstracts accepted at both national and international conferences.

Mobility matters! A head-to-head comparison of two mobility outcome measures in hospitalised older people

Despite comprising just 15% of Australia's population, older people account for 41% of hospital admissions and almost half of all patient days. While in hospital, up to 65% of older people experience functional decline, which may require more time in hospital and may lead to pressure areas, falls or discharge to residential care. Early detection of changes in mobility and function may assist with prevention of these adverse health outcomes. The aim of this project is to measure the psychometric properties of the modified Iowa Level of Assistance compared to the de Morton Mobility Index, to determine which is most appropriate. Evidence-based recommendations for mobility outcome measure selection will be provided. This contributes to an overarching study aiming to develop a core outcome measure set in general medicine. The ultimate aim is to standardise care and improve health outcomes in older people, reduce inequality between hospitals, improve patient flow and reduce costs.

Award: $9,225.76

Dr Aili Langford

Monash University

Dr Aili Langford is a pharmacist and postdoctoral research fellow at the Centre for Medicine Use and Safety (CMUS), Monash University. Aili's research focuses on reducing medication-related harm through deprescribing (medication dose reduction or cessation). During her PhD at the University of Sydney, Aili led the development of the Australian Evidence-Based Clinical Practice Guideline for Deprescribing Opioid Analgesics, with recommendations approved by the National Health and Medical Research Council. Aili is passionate about exploring ways to translate evidence into practice to improve medication management and patient care.

Developing evidence-based resources for older adults to support person-centred opioid deprescribing

One in five Australian adults have chronic pain. Opioids are medicines commonly prescribed to manage pain. When taken long-term, opioids do not significantly improve pain or function and can cause many side effects (e.g. constipation, falls, confusion, overdose). Older Australians are more likely to take opioids and experience opioid-related harms. Deprescribing is the process of reducing or discontinuing a medicine when the risk of harm outweighs the benefits. This project aims to develop resources for consumers to educate and empower them to engage in opioid deprescribing. Focus groups and interviews will be conducted to design and refine the content, format, design and language of the resources. By co-designing resources with consumers and healthcare professionals, we will make sure that they are clear and easy to use. They will support conversations between older adults and their healthcare professionals to help older adults take the right pain medicines at the right doses for them, while reducing the chance of harm.

Award: $9,921

Awarded in partnership with Dementia Australia Research Foundation (DARF)

Dr Diana Matovic

Macquarie University

Dr Diana Matovic is a postdoctoral researcher and a member of the Macquarie University Lifespan Health and Wellbeing Research Centre. She manages the Wellbeing Check Tool designed to screen for risk factors for dementia and poor wellbeing (e.g., depression, social isolation) in older adults in primary care settings and provide evidence-based recommendations for risk reduction. She also works on related projects such as looking at social participation, mental health, and wellbeing in older adults with healthy cognition and older adults with mild cognitive impairment/early dementia and their older adult supporters, and the mechanisms underlying positive mood in older adults.

From isolation to inclusion: Increasing access to social participation for older Australians with mild cognitive impairment/early dementia and their supporters

Older adults with mild cognitive impairment and early dementia often experience social isolation. Their supporters commonly experience social isolation too. Social isolation often leads to feelings of depression, anxiety, loneliness, poor wellbeing, and the development of dementia. As noted by a Dementia Advocate: "I believe the longevity we all strive for after diagnosis is so dependent on the social participation we have". In contrast, research shows that frequent and varied social activities both reduce the risk of developing dementia and slow the rate of cognitive decline in people with mild cognitive impairment. Yet there is limited understanding of ways to address isolation in these populations. We want to adapt an evidence-based intervention to address this gap. We have already started a survey and focus group study to identify the barriers and facilitators of social participation in these populations. We plan to (1) use this information to adapt an intervention in focus groups with people with cognitive impairment and supporters and (2) pilot test the intervention over 3 months to evaluate whether it increases social participation and wellbeing. Increasing social participation in this population is likely to lead to immediate benefits of reduced distress and increased wellbeing. Social participation is also likely to lead to reduced risk for the development or progression of dementia. The pilot testing will inform a future randomised controlled trial of the intervention. We will distribute the resources developed during this project through university centres, dementia and ageing organisations, and through community groups.

Award: $9,987.56