Funding awarded to stimulant use disorder research

17 Dec 2020

A digital tool to improve health outcomes of patients with stimulant use disorder has been recognised with prestigious research funding.

Associate Professor Matthew Gullo
Associate Professor Matthew Gullo

Led by Associate Professor Matthew Gullo, the research project received $25,000 in financial support from the 2021 Metro South Health Research Support Scheme (MSH RSS).

The MSH RSS is administered by Metro South Research and aims to award excellence in research that translates research discoveries into health and medical outcomes.

The project is entitled ‘iAx: Enhancing assessment and progress monitoring in stimulant use disorder’, and includes team members Professor Jason Connor, Associate Professor Gerald Feeney, Dr Paul Clark and Dr Jason Coates.

Dr Gullo outlined the research project:

“The use of amphetamine-type stimulants (meth/amphetamine, cocaine, and MDMA/ecstasy) imposes a significant public health burden. Australia has seen a rapid increase in stimulant-related hospital admissions. It is now the second most commonly treated addiction, behind alcohol.

“Treatment is effective, but relapse is common. Most practitioners rely solely on unstructured clinical interviews to assess patient functioning and it is easy for to miss the warning signs that a patient is not responding to treatment as expected. Standardised instruments significantly improve the quality of assessment and the ongoing monitoring of patient progress. The challenge is that they are not routinely used in practice because of the time it takes to administer and score them.

“Our MSH-funded project will close this evidence-practice gap through the implementation and evaluation of a new computerised instant assessment and personalised feedback system (iAx) for stimulant use disorder.

“The novelty of the iAx is that it is a widely applicable, inexpensive tool that is easily modified to suit ongoing needs, and requires no technical expertise. It can be setup and modified by clinical staff familiar with basic office software. Assessment results are presented in a way that facilitates practitioner treatment planning and enhances communication with patients.

“We expect that this new project will produce significant improvements in health outcomes for patients with stimulant use disorder, just like as our team has found with versions of the iAx developed for cannabis and alcohol use disorder (funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Medical Research Future Fund).”

See the full list of MSH RSS grant recipients.