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Archive for the ‘Research Wrap Up’ Category:

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Psychological treatment of anxiety and depression in patients with Parkinson’s disease: A pilot study

Macquarie University are looking for participants for a pilot study.
If you are interested please call (02) 9850 8034 or email further information below.

RECRUITMENT for Macquarie Univeristy:

We seek patients with Parkinson’s disease, over the age of 50 years, who are experiencing symptoms of low mood and anxiety (or worry) to participate. If you are interested in participating, please call (02) 9850 8034 or email for more information on the study. 

Depression and anxiety are very common conditions in Parkinson’s disease. We are seeking individuals aged over 50 years with Parkinson’s disease who suffer from anxiety and/or depression to participate in a treatment trial. We are comparing the benefits of a psychological program conducted over the telephone to treatment as usual. This project is supported by a seeding grant from Parkinson’s NSW to Associate Professor Viviana Wuthrich and Distinguished Professor Ron Rapee, in the Centre for Emotional Health, Department of Psychology, Macquarie University. If you are interested in participating, or want to find out more information please call (02) 9850 8034 or email


Investigators: Associate Professor Viviana Wuthrich & Distinguished Professor Ron Rapee

Affiliation: Centre for Emotional Health, Department of Psychology, Macquarie University.

Depression and anxiety is experienced in up to 50% of patients with Parkinson’s disease and is associated with poorer quality of life, poorer functioning and greater physical and cognitive decline. Depression in the patient is also strongly associated with caregiver or spouse distress. Therefore effectively treating anxiety and depression in people with Parkinson’s disease will have a major impact on burden of the disease for both the patient and their carer. Despite this, very few studies have examined the effectiveness of psychological interventions for treating anxiety and depression in patients with Parkinson’s disease, and when they have they have focused on either treating anxiety or depression, but not both together. Depression and anxiety frequently co-occur and when they do are associated with worse outcomes. So therefore there is a great need to develop psychological programs that treat both depression and anxiety. In addition, the value of including carers in treatment programs has not been well evaluated. Given that carers can play a critical role in assisting the patient to manage their symptoms and to manage cognitive difficulties that can be associated with the disease, and given the high rates of burden on carers, it is critical to develop a program to treat anxiety and depression in patients with Parkinson’s disease that also includes carer participation.

We have previously developed and demonstrated in two large randomised controlled trials the efficacy of a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) intervention for treating co-occurring anxiety and depressive symptoms in older adults without Parkinson’s disease. In two trials, this program led to significant reductions in both anxiety and depressive symptoms with large effects that were maintained for 6 months post-treatment. In a novel approach we plan to modify our successful program to target anxiety and depression in patients with Parkinson’s disease. The program will be modified to address the specific needs of patients with Parkinson’s disease. It will also be adapted to create a role for the carer in the program so that they will participate and learn the skills taught to the patient and can assist the patient with the skills if needed. Improvements in both patient and carer distress will be compared between the two interventions.

Can ultrasound detect early stage Parkinson’s disease?


Assoc. Prof. Kay Double leads the Neurodegeneration Research Group at the Brain & Mind Centre at the University of Sydney, with a key interest in Parkinson’s disease. Currently, diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease is based on observation of movement problems in the patient and there are no objective diagnostic tests available, such as a brain scan or blood test, to assist clinicians make a diagnosis. As a result, diagnosis can be delayed and incorrect diagnoses are not uncommon.

A major area of interest of Assoc. Prof. Kay Double’s research group is the use of ultrasound to visualize the brain to detect Parkinson’s disease. Ultrasound imaging has advantages over other available forms of brain imaging, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), in that it is fast, safe, inexpensive and widely available. Assoc Prof Double’s team believe it might be able to detect Parkinson’s disease in the very early stages of the disease, even before movement problems develop. Early diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease will ensure patients receive the best treatment as early as possible, with the hope that future treatments will be able to slow the progression of the disease.

Assoc Prof’s team are currently looking for individuals aged between 50 and 70 years old to assist them with this research.  They are recruiting Parkinson’s disease patients within this age range, but also individuals without Parkinson’s disease in the same age range as a comparison group.  The study involves brain scans using ultrasound and MRI and assessments of movement, thinking and memory.

If you are a healthy older person aged between 50 and 70 years of age, or have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and are aged from 50 to 70 years old, and would like to assist with this research, please contact Assoc Prof Double (Email: or Karl Aoun (Email:; Mob: 04 522 666 72) for further details.

Can support-group based exercise reduce risk factors for falling in people with Parkinson’s Disease?

Dr Colleen Canning Clinical and Rehabilitation Sciences Research Group, Discipline of Physiotherapy.

Keeping Well In Chronic Illness: Parkinson’s Disease

Professors Lynn Chenoweth and Robyn Gallagher, and Dr June Sheriff

Parkinson’s NSW has awarded a research seed grant of $20,000 to staff of the Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery and Health, UTS, to conduct a pilot study promoting self-efficacy for self-management in persons with Parkinson’s disease.

Dopamine cell death in Parkinson’s disease: Why do specific cells in the substantia nigra die first?

Dr Kay Double (Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute) Dr Phillip Dickson and Professor Peter Dunkley (University of Newcastle)

In this research project we are mapping the distribution of the different types of TH in each of the four tiers of the substantia nigra to investigate whether particular forms of TH are associated with cell death in Parkinson’s disease.

Stem Cells and Parkinson’s Disease: The Facts

Ms Francine Carew-Jones, Prof Glenda Halliday, Prof Cynthia Shannon Weickert, and Assoc Prof Kay Double Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute

Stem cells and their potential for the treatment of a wide variety of medical conditions, including Parkinson’s disease (PD), are often in the news. Yet many people are unsure what the term “stem cell” refers to, nor whether stem cells might offer new treatment methods for PD. In this brief article we will describe in simple terms what constitutes a stem cell and the potential of stem cells for new PD treatments.

Ask a Researcher: Cancer and Parkinson’s Disease

Are Parkinson disease patients protected from some but not all cancers? Read answers from Australian and overseas research teams here.