A psychologist at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne has been awarded an incubator grant by MS Research Australia to identify ways to better detect and treat depression in people with multiple sclerosis (MS).
The grant given to Lisa Grech, PhD, with the School of Health Sciences at Swinburne, is worth almost AU$25,000 (about $17,000). It is one of 19 new projects supported through awards announced by the group in January, and worth a total of AU$2.4 million.
Studies have shown that depression is two to three times more prevalent among MS patients than the general population. A recent study also found that depression, along with fatigue, can be a more powerful influence on overall health-related quality of life for these people than is physical impairment.
Still, a large number of patients with this comorbidity go undetected and untreated.
“Up to 36 per cent of people with MS and depression are undiagnosed, only 46 per cent are referred for treatments when significant depressive symptoms are identified, and up to 65 per cent … receiving treatment still report moderate-to-severe depressive symptoms,”Grech said in a press release.
“There is a real need for better treatments and detection processes, and this grant will help fund the research to identify these processes.”
Grech, also a research fellow at the School of Health Sciences at Swinburne, will focus her work on two areas.
First, she will assess how depression is evaluated and managed at MS specialist clinics. Second, she will examine existing barriers to assessing and treating depression for both healthcare professionals and MS patients.
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