Funded Research Projects

The following projects have been funded by Endeavour through the Endeavour Research Grant Program.

Funded Research Projects

The use of complexity science to investigate naturopathic philosophy and practice

Chief investigator: Ms Kim Graham
Affiliated institutions: Endeavour College of Natural Health; University of Technology Sydney
Grant value: $2,805.00
Expected completion: 2020

The naturopathic philosophies and principles, form the basis of how naturopathy is currently taught and practiced, and have historically been passed down through generations of practitioners in a mostly traditional manner, largely involving a tacit transfer of knowledge. However, there have been more recent efforts to codify and formalise naturopathy with a notable example being the work of the World Naturopathic Federation, and this project may offer a contribution to this process. The overarching aim of this project is to explore the practice and philosophy of naturopathy using the broad theoretical framework of systems theory, and more specifically complexity science and the concept of complex adaptive systems. A gap has been noted between complementary medicine efficacy studies and clinical reports from patients and practitioners, which has led to questions regarding the appropriateness of fit between standard research designs and the holistic and complex interventions commonly employed in complementary medicine case management. This research hopes to provide a more useful framework to explicitly understand and explore naturopathy, and provide a better ‘fit for purpose’ research paradigm.

Cancer Pain and Treatment Survey (CaPCAM)

Chief investigator: Professor David Sibbritt
Affiliated institutions: Endeavour College of Natural Health; University of Technology Sydney; Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine; Indiana University; University of Cape Town
Grant value: $4,207.50
Expected completion: 2020

Pain experienced when ongoing or completely oncology related treatments can be a common occurrence to individuals diagnosed with cancer and can have a significant impact on their quality of life. While there is some evidence to indicate the use of complementary medicine treatments in cancer related pain, there is limited investigation at the international level.

This project is the first of its kind to internationally explore the types of complementary medicine treatments being utilised in cancer-related pain, its perceived effectiveness, patient's decision making on using complementary medicine, disclosure of use and experiences of complementary medicine treatment in cancer-related pain. Additionally, this project seeks to employ patient reported outcomes embedded within with the survey instrument, to assess quality of life and pain in order to better understand the severity of these parameters in this population. This project will assess this topic within Australia, United States of America, Canada, and South Africa.

A randomised control trial assessing the effect of a Mediterranean diet on the symptoms of depression in young men (the “AMMEND” study)

Chief investigator: Ms Jessica Bayes
Affiliated institutions: Endeavour College of Natural Health; University of Technology Sydney
Grant value: $9,163.00
Expected completion: 2021

Depression is one of the most common mental health problems experienced by young people with an average of six men taking their lives every single day in Australia. Recently, several studies have shown that diet can have a positive impact on the symptoms of depression. In particular, the Mediterranean diet (MD) has shown some promising preliminary findings. There have been two randomised control trials in humans looking at the effect of a MD for depression with both studies finding that following a MD can positively affect mood and reduced symptoms of depression. However, despite evidence identifying associations between diet and depression in adults and the elderly, researchers have not addressed the effects of diet on depression in young adults. Therefore, this RCT aims to determine the effect of the Mediterranean diet on depressive symptoms in a cohort of young men in Australia. Through this research, it is hoped that the findings may provide an update to the evidence base and clinical recommendations suitable for implementation in this demographic.

The preconception health literacy, and beliefs and attitudes towards preconception care, of naturopaths and general practitioners in Australia and the United Kingdom

Chief investigator:  Dr Amie Steel
Affiliated institutions: Endeavour College of Natural Health; University of Technology Sydney; University of Dundee; University of Queensland
Grant value: $19,564.88
Expected completion: 2022

Maternal health and health behaviours prior to conception have significant short and long term impacts on maternal and child health. The World Health Organisation acknowledges the importance of health care before conception–referred to as ‘preconception care’–to reduce maternal and childhood morbidity and mortality. Important preconception factors include nutrient insufficiency, maternal weight, untreated diabetes mellitus, immunisation, environmental exposures, infertility/subfertility, unplanned pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, interpersonal violence, mental health, psychoactive substance use and tobacco use. Despite the importance of preconception health, there are significant translation gaps between the available evidence and the knowledge and practice of health professionals. In the absence of formalised preconception care in many countries, policy makers require robust empirical data to inform the design of preconception services that meet the needs of the community. General practitioners (GPs) are the dominant primary care provider in contemporary health care, and have a critical role in preconception care. Emerging evidence suggests naturopaths may also play a role in the delivery of preconception care, however their contribution exists outside of the established health system. Given the role of these health practitioners, this project aims to explore naturopaths’ and GPs’ preconception health literacy, and their beliefs and attitudes towards preconception care.

A pilot, multi-site, cluster-randomised, placebo-controlled trial of essential oils for the treatment of agitation in dementia

Chief investigator:  Dr Erica McIntyre
Affiliated institutions: Australian Research Centre in Complementary and Integrative Medicine Faculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney
Grant value: $3,000.00
Expected completion: 2020

Many Australians consult complementary medicine (CM) practitioners for the treatment of various mental health problems; however, little is known about how these practitioners manage the mental health of their patients. CM practitioners are not currently part of the mental health system in Australia, and it is suggested that gaps in CM practitioner knowledge may be creating a barrier for their inclusion in this system; these knowledge gaps may also potentially compromise the health outcomes of patients. Using a the results of a national online survey, we will describe the practice behaviours and treatment decision making of Australian naturopaths, Western herbalists and nutritionists related to the clinical management of mental health. The results of this novel study will provide important insights into current CM practice, and be used to inform undergraduate and post-graduate CM training requirements, and assist in the development of practice guidelines to ensure that CM practitioners are providing optimum care for patients with mental health problems.

Effect of QueRcEtin Supplementation On pLatelet function and markers for OxidatiVe strEss and inflammation: RESOLVE study

Chief investigator:  Sophie Mosawy
Affiliated institutions: Griffith University
Grant value: $13,100.00
Expected completion: 2020

Platelets play an important role in the development of cardiovascular disease and the formation of arterial thrombosis (clot). Antithrombotic agents are regularly used for the prevention of cardiovascular events in high risk individuals. Furthermore, antiplatelet therapy is the standard treatment for patients undergoing cardiovascular procedures. Despite the clinical benefits achieved with antiplatelet therapy, some patients still develop thrombotic episodes, and there is growing data to suggest inadequate cardiovascular protection by these agents. Quercetin is one of the most abundant flavonols. It has been shown to exert antioxidant and cardiovascular beneficial properties as well as anti-inflammatory and antiplatelet. There have been limited clinical studies studying the effect of quercetin supplementation on healthy volunteers and in those people at risk of CVD. This study will examine the effect of quercetin supplement consumption for 28 days on platelet function and markers for oxidative stress and inflammation in healthy human volunteers.

Deciphering the gut microbial relationships and molecular pathways regulated by nutraceutical and food supplements

Chief investigator:  Jose Caparros-Martin
Affiliated institutions: Curtin University. School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences and Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute
Grant value: $20,993.00
Expected completion: 2021

The collection of different types of microorganisms that live in the intestines is known as the gut microbiota. In the last few years, several studies have demonstrated that having an unbalanced gut microbiota is associated with a negative impact on human health and wellbeing. Among the different diseases in which the gut microbiota could play a role, metabolic associated disorders such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease are of a great interest. These disorders now have high prevalence in the general population and have a significant economic burden associated with them. Understanding how the gut microbiota mediates the development of disease is necessary when developing new strategies to reduce the global burden of metabolic disorders. Among these strategies, those aimed at manipulating the gut microbiota have gained much attention in recent years. In a preliminary study, we have evidence that supplementation with different nutraceutical compounds induces changes in the gut microbiota of diet-induced obese mice. This observation provides a plausible mechanism through which these dietary supplements provide health benefits. This project aims to (1) characterize the effect of the different nutraceutical supplements on the gut microbiota and (2) to understand the molecular mechanism(s) involved in modulating the ensuing beneficial effects.

Exploring Indigenous Australian cancer patients’ use of Traditional and Complementary Medicines

Chief investigator: Ms Alana Gall
Affiliated institutions: Menzies School of Health Research
Grant value: $3,000
Expected completion: 12 September 2018

To date, very little research has been undertaken in the context of Indigenous Australian cancer patients use of Traditional & Complementary Medicine (T&CM) alongside conventional cancer treatments. This study aims to fill this evidence gap using a qualitative case-study approach that aims to explore the lived experiences of purposively sampled Indigenous Australian cancer patients who have chosen to use T&CM. Furthermore, the study will aim to explore whether the participants’ cultural adherence to a holistic health paradigm influences their decision to use T&CM. Considering the importance of connection to culture to the health outcomes of Indigenous Australians, understanding the current usage and value of T&CM for Indigenous Australians with cancer is important to fill the current gap in evidence. This finding also benefits the knowledge base of Complementary Medicine (CM) by highlighting the role CM has to play in order for this to happen, as emerging research indicates that access to Traditional Medicine is an issue for many urban dwelling Indigenous Australians, where CM is readily available in these areas.

Evaluating the role of the intestinal bacterial community in mediating the health and physiological benefits of nutraceutical supplementation

Chief investigator: Professor Fergal O’Gara
Affiliated institutions: Curtin University
Grant value: $3,000
Expected completion: 12 September 2018

Trillions of microorganisms live in the human intestinal tract. Communities of these microorganisms play important roles in human health. Recent studies have demonstrated that several disorders, components of metabolic syndrome, including type-2-diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease, are associated with an abnormal composition of intestinal bacteria. Understanding how to manipulate the composition of the intestinal bacterial community is important to develop new therapeutic approaches aimed at reversing the symptoms associated with these diseases, which is both a major cause and symptom of metabolic syndrome conditions. Nutraceuticals are a group of natural compounds, which have a positive effect on health. However, despite the progressive increase in their use in the last few years, the mechanisms through which they regulate metabolism are not well understood. Therefore, this project aims to extend the range of nutraceutical compounds known to improve metabolic health, with particular emphasis on those with unknown mechanisms. This project will seek to understand how to manipulate gut microorganism composition with nutritional supplements for improved health outcomes.

Understanding chronic pelvic pain: Acupuncture practitioners knowledge and treatment strategies

Chief investigator: Dr Susan Arentz
Affiliated institutions: National Institution of Complementary Medicine & Endeavour College of Natural Health
Grant value: $2,900
Expected completion: 12 September 2018

Chronic pelvic pain (CPP) in women, defined as intermittent and continuous, cyclical and non-cyclical pain lasting for more than 6 months, can lead to lower quality of life and physical performance. CPP affects between 5.7 and 26.6% of women of all ages and the lack of effective biomedical treatment options mean many women with CPP rely on complementary medicine to manage their symptoms, with around 51% of women with CPP seeking treatment from a complementary medicine practitioner or using complementary medicines. This research project will examine how Chinese Medicine (CM) practitioners understand and treat CPP. A mixed methods framework will be used; a survey of practitioners and follow up focus groups will provide data for in depth analyses. Information sought will include practitioner’s understandings and definitions of CPP, practitioner’s assessment of client’s expectations, sources of information, types of interventions used, frequency of treatment and referrals and methods used to evaluate treatment efficacy and adverse effects. Results from this study will contribute to our understanding of CM practitioners’ management of women with CPP, guide clinical practice and clinical trial design, and articulate of areas of need in education programs.

Natural Exportin 1 (XPO1) inhibitors as antiviral agents against Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)

Chief investigator: Professor Reena Ghildyal
Affiliated institutions: University of Canberra
Grant value: $21,000
Expected completion: 20 August 2019

Human Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is the major cause of respiratory tract infections in infants, young children, elderly and the immune compromised. RSV infection in early childhood accounts for substantial morbidity and mortality and is associated with chronic asthma and recurrent wheezing later in life. Antiviral activities have been reported for numerous medicinal plants that have been used extensively as part of traditional medicine for centuries. Herbal products with confirmed clinical safety features are attractive starting material for the identification of new antiviral applications. This study aims to screen natural compounds with in order to identify suitable drug candidates for development against RSV disease.

Examining complementary medicine practitioners’ approaches to weight loss

Chief investigator: Dr Romy Lauche
Affiliated institutions: University of Technology (Sydney), University of Sydney
Grant value: $10,256
Expected completion: 20 August 2018

Most people with overweight and obesity have a desire to lose weight, and might consult health care providers including complementary medicine (CM) practitioners for advice or assistance. This study will combine an online survey and qualitative interviews to examine CM practitioners’ weight loss approaches used by CM practitioners to provide a better understanding of the role of CM for weight loss in contemporary health care, and lay a foundation for future research evaluating efficacy and safety of those interventions that can benefit patients with overweight and obesity.

Integration of 3D models into biosciences curriculum delivered at Endeavour College of Natural Health to enhance student learning outcomes

Chief Investigators: Associate Professor Goran Strkalj
Affiliated institutions: Macquarie University
Grant value: $2,700
Expected completion: 20 August 2017

Education in the biosciences has in recent years been characterized by the efficient application of modern technologies. One of the most prominent of these has been the use of three dimensional (3D) printing. The overall objective of this project is integration of specific 3D models into bioscience curriculum and investigation of its impact on student learning outcomes. This study will deliver 3D models of both macroscopic and microscopic structures, integrate 3D models into the one biosciences subject delivered at Endeavour College of Natural Health (BIOH111) as a targeted educational intervention and assess learning outcomes that resulted from integration of the intervention.

Effect of milk thistle extract (Silibinin) on circulating unconjugated bilirubin levels and markers for oxidative stress and inflammation: MOJO Study

Chief investigator: Dr Michael Watson
Affiliated institutions: Griffith University
Grant value: $14,000
Expected completion: 20 August 2018

Milk Thistle has been used in medical remedies for 2000 years as a therapeutic herbal medicine in the treatment of acute and chronic liver diseases. Some of its effects have been shown to be due to an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action. Currently, there are no clinical studies on the effect of milk thistle extract on health volunteers and in those at risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). This pilot study will examine the effect of short term (21 day) administration of the Milk Thistle extract, Legalon® on bilirubin levels and markers of CVD in healthy volunteers.

A naturalistic observational study of Western herbal medicine practice

Chief investigator: Dr Jonathon Wardle
Affiliated institutions: University of Technology (Sydney)
Grant value: $13,400
Expected completion: 31 August 2016

The project is a naturalistic observational study of individualised Western herbal medicine in a naturopathic practice setting. This project will explore the effectiveness of individualised herbal medicines in multiple conditions, using a whole practice framework. This approach will not only help to evaluate total herbal medicine practice rather than individual herbal medicines in specific conditions, but will also help to develop research capacity on the practitioners community.

Completed Grant Projects

Chief investigator: Dr Matthew Leach
Affiliated institutions: Department of Rural Health, University of South Australia
Grant value: $6,992.00
Completed: October 2019

Dementia affects over 343,000 Australians, and 24 million people worldwide. A distressing feature of this condition is the behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD), which typically affect around 82% of nursing home residents with the disorder. These symptoms are a cause of concern for the person with dementia, and for family, friends and carers. BPSD also adds significantly to the burden and cost of dementia care. Antipsychotic medications are often the primary mode of treatment for BPSD. However, the high-cost of these medications, and concerns regarding their safety and efficacy, have led to recommendations for antipsychotic medication to be used as a ‘last resort’ treatment for BPSD. Non-pharmacological treatments are instead recommended for first-line management of BPSD, with essential oils showing promise in this area. While emerging evidence suggests the administration of essential oils may be beneficial for agitation and BPSD, the evidence of effectiveness for these oils is inconclusive, with calls for higher quality trials to be conducted. This pilot trial responds to this call for action by providing preliminary evidence of the effectiveness of individualised, topically-administered essential oil preparations in alleviating agitation in persons with dementia.

Women's reasons, perceptions, and expectations of consultation with acupuncturists and use of acupuncture for menopausal symptoms

Chief investigator: Dr Wenbo Peng
Affiliated institutions: University of Technology (Sydney)
Grant value: $2,800
Completed: 3 February 2016

Most mid-age women need to seek medical advice for relieving menopausal symptoms. Acupuncture constitutes a popular treatment option amongst these women. Despite the positive findings regarding the efficacy of acupuncture for menopausal symptoms, there has been no in-depth study on menopausal women's reasons, perceptions and expectations of both acupuncture use and acupuncturists’ consultation. The proposed project will address this important research gap by identifying the role of acupuncturists in the overall support from the patient perspective, and exploring the underlying decision-making process of acupuncture use for specific menopausal symptoms in Australia.

The utilisation of complementary and alternative medicine for children: A mixed methods study to examine parental attitudes and information sources

Chief investigator: Dr Jane Frawley
Affiliated institutions: University of Technology (Sydney)
Grant value: $3,000
Completed: 10 October 2016

The objective of this project is to explore parental decision-making in relation to health care options and services for their children, including complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) services and products. This project will address significant information gaps in relation to parent’s decision-making process by examining key information sources utilised as well as parental attitudes to CAM use for their children.

The Integrative health care Model development and Evaluation [TIME] project – Phase 1 needs analysis and Phase 2 model development

Chief investigator: Dr Matthew Leach
Affiliated institutions: University of South Australia, Flinders University
Grant value: $9,000
Completed: 8 November 2016

Integrative health care (IHC) is a comprehensive and holistic approach to health care in which all health providers work collaboratively, including biomedical and complementary medicine professionals, in an equal and respectful manner, to safely and effectively meet the needs of the consumer and broader community. Interest in this model of care has escalated over the past few decades, leading to a global growth in the number of IHC centres, practitioners, associations, publications and training programs. However, despite the growth in IHC, few have questioned whether this approach is appropriate or acceptable; even fewer have explored how IHC should be administered, especially from a consumer or provider viewpoint. To address this gap, and in turn, develop a more suitable and theoretically grounded framework for IHC, the project will: explore consumer and health stakeholder perspectives of IHC through focus groups (stage 1), a systematic review (stage 2) and a national survey (stage 3), and; utilise findings from stages 1-3 to develop an IHC service delivery model (stage 4). Findings from the project will be leveraged into a larger competitive research grant to implement (stage 5) and evaluate (stage 6) the effectiveness of the IHC model in primary care.

Student happiness and intrinsic academic motivation: Informing future policy for retention and engagement of tertiary students

Chief investigator: Mr Mark Payne
Affiliated institutions: Endeavour College of Natural Health
Grant value: $1,010
Completed: 2 March 2017

It is hypothesized that students who demonstrate a higher level of perceived happiness will demonstrate a higher level of intrinsic motivation to engage in their studies, and will sustain or increase their perceived level of happiness over time. By comparison students with a low level of perceived happiness will demonstrate a low level of engagement in their studies and a decreasing level of happiness over time. Therefore the aim of this study is to measure subjective happiness in tertiary students over time and correlate this with a measurement of positive intrinsic motivation to remain engaged with their studies. A secondary aim will be to determine whether happiness over time increases, decreases or remains stable whilst undertaking tertiary level studies. The result of this study will be used to inform future policy development on the importance and role of happiness in sustaining student's intrinsic motivation to engage with their studies.

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) and nurses: Improving patient safety through communication and collaboration

Chief investigator: Dr Helen Hall
Affiliated institutions: Monash University, University of South Australia, University of Newcastle
Grant value: $13,991
Completed: 4 October 2017

This project is the first national study in Australia to investigate the barriers and enablers to nurses’ communication and referral patterns regarding CAM. The aims of this project is to identify the barriers and enablers to open CAM communication between nurses and patients and to identify the barriers and enablers to nurses referring patients to CAM practitioners. The results of this study will be used to inform nursing education and practice, regarding CAM communication and referral to CAM providers and to support the development of a communication / referral tool for nurses working in Australia.