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Living Well with Chronic Disease Research Group

Living a full life with chronic disease
Enabling people with chronic respiratory, cardiac or metabolic disease to stay active, healthy and engaged with family and the community.

About us

The Living Well with Chronic Disease Research Group conducts multi-disciplinary research into physical interventions and therapies for chronic diseases that influence healthy aging. Our focus is on chronic conditions that affect the lungs, heart, nervous system, muscles and joints, as well as the impact of obesity.

Our research

The research aims to evaluate how the lives of people with these chronic conditions can be improved to enable healthy active ageing. Our Group has 4 major research themes focused on improving outcomes for people with chronic diseases:

Rehabilitation/exercise training

Our team has expertise in large randomised-controlled clinical trials of exercise training for people with chronic lung disease including alternatives to gym-based exercises (e.g. Tai Chi, water-based training, walking training), telerehabilitation, maintenance of long term exercise behaviours, adjuncts to exercise training (e.g. oxygen supplementation and non-invasive ventilation), high intensity interval training and implementation of pulmonary rehabilitation within Aboriginal Medical Services.

Reducing sedentary behaviour through incidental physical activity

This theme examines sedentary behaviour and physical activity in people with chronic diseases and will determine appropriate interventions to increase engagement with incidental physical activity. Research will include: epidemiological studies of people with chronic disease to determine associations between physical activity and health outcomes; clinical trials of interventions to examine ways to improve incidental physical activity, thus reducing sedentary behaviour in people with a variety of chronic diseases. 

The team currently consists of experts in several chronic diseases (e.g. respiratory, cardiac, neurological, metabolic and musculoskeletal) with backgrounds in allied health, public health, medicine, nursing and IT. 

Acute interventions and therapies

This theme incorporates research of interventions to improve management of people with chronic lung and heart diseases. In particular, research of interventions to: improve secretion clearance in people with excessive secretions (e.g bronchiectasis, cystic fibrosis); non-invasive ventilation for people with severe lung disease; physiotherapy management of post-operative cardiac patients and those with heart failure.

Future research will encompass the respiratory and rehabilitation management of patients in intensive care.

Primary care management of chronic conditions

This theme examines how allied health can be better integrated with other primary care providers and local hospital service to enable increased access to effective evidence based allied health interventions. 

The team currently consists of allied health experts in chronic diseases and has strong links with academic departments of general practice, nursing and pharmacy at the University of Sydney and other universities.

Current projects

  • Recent findings from the BEACH (Bettering the Evaluation and Care of Health) study highlighted that the most frequently referred problems by GPs to physiotherapists were for musculoskeletal problems which made up 80% of all referrals - but only 6.8% of all musculoskeletal problems managed by GPs were referred to physiotherapists. People were less likely to be referred if they did not have the ability to pay for treatment. The types of conditions referred varied if they were new problems or existing problems presenting to the GP.
  • Recent findings from a study using the 2003 Scottish Health Survey to examine both physical activity levels and the sedentary behaviour of participants with COPD (?) determined that people who were active and had low leisure-based sitting time (‘busy bees’) had a reduced risk of mortality and reduced odds of diabetes compared with a group who were inactive and had high leisure-based sitting time (‘couch potatoes’).

Our team