Background: Informal carers are a significantly disadvantaged group within the population. Carers are at increased risk of poor health, with the role associated with a higher mortality rate than non-caring counterparts. Caring can lead to multiple psychological changes, such as depression, which may manifest into physiological changes, for example, impaired immune function. A developing body of evidence suggests caring is a risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease. Suboptimal health status is described as a physical state between health and disease, characterised by general malaise and ambiguous health complaints in the absence of a diagnosable condition. The suboptimal health status questionnaire (SHSQ-25) is a measure of suboptimal health status, and past studies demonstrate that suboptimal health status is associated with cardiovascular risk factors. To date, measurement of suboptimal health status and cardiovascular risk factors in carers has not yet been explored. This study marks the first-time suboptimal health status has been measured in carers.
Aim: Evaluating suboptimal health status in carers is an effective risk stratification tool for the prevention of cardiovascular disease from a preventive, predictive, and personalized medicine perspective (PPPM).
Objectives: To better understand the association between carers of patients with rare and chronic diseases, suboptimal health, and cardiovascular disease.
Setting and study design: This study is a cross-sectional, case-control study. The study will be conducted in metro and rural Western Australia.
Participants: Cases are carers of family members with rare or chronic diseases. Controls will be matched for sex, age, and postcode. Participants must be between 18-65 years of age, male or female, able to speak English, and live in Western Australia.
Significance: Studies investigating the association between Australian carers, suboptimal health, and cardiovascular risk factors are lacking. Further, the prevalence of cardiovascular disease in Australian carers is currently unknown. Research to quantify these associations is urgently needed, especially considering the leading cause of death in Australians is cardiovascular disease. Detecting SHS in carers may offer a unique window of opportunity to prevent chronic diseases in the primary care setting
Desired Skills: Basic Human Biology and Genetics; Basic Public Health.
Project Area: Rare Disease; Chronic Disease; Suboptimal Health
School / Research Centre /Institute: Centre for Precision Health
Supervisor(s): Professor Wei Wang
Project level: Masters & PhD
Funding: Applicant should apply for ECUHDR or RTP Scholarship
Start date: Anytime
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