UNE Researchers Focus on the Health and Wellbeing of Carers

Published 06 September 2013


Are you one of over two million people in Australia who provide care to others suffering from any type of disease or disability that requires extra support? If you are, you can provide vital information to researchers from the University of New England as part of a study into the health and wellbeing of caregivers in rural and regional Australia.

Despite the immensely important role caregivers play in our society, relatively little is known about the health impacts of sustained caregiving, especially in regional areas. It is estimated that up to a third of caregivers suffer health-related issues directly associated with their caregiving responsibilities.

A team of public health experts from UNE, led by Professor Rafat Hussain, is seeking the assistance of 200 informal caregivers for the first stage of the study.  Professor Hussain says “a better understanding of the dynamics of chronic disease, disability and health issues for care-recipients and caregivers is important. These issues represent an emerging research priority”.

The initial pilot study is being funded by a UNE 2013 Research Seed Grant and will focus on the rural Northern New South Wales area. The research team anticipates that this will lead the way for a wider-reaching study in the future. In the longer term, the study will involve many more participants and take into account the differences that may exist between rural and metropolitan areas, as well as the differences between states.

Dr Stuart Wark, a researcher involved in the study, said that “one of the ultimate aims is to ensure that caregivers in rural areas get the support they need. Giving appropriate support requires a deep understanding of the issues that exist. It is not possible to make policy without research. The only way to address problems is to know exactly what problems we’re facing. This is why we need caregivers in the community to participate.” Once the research is completed, the findings of the study will be disseminated to relevant government agencies.

The study is calling for caregivers from different age groups, genders and locations, and who care for all types of conditions. Participants are asked to complete a confidential and completely voluntary short survey which can be completed either online or on paper. All participants are offered a complimentary $5 voucher for completing the survey.

If you are a caregiver and over eighteen, or know of someone who is, you can get more information by calling 1800 770 182.