Campus News

PhD student’s award for innovative diabetes management project

An award for innovation presented by the South Australian government has been won by UOW Faculty of Education PhD student, Richard Sprod.

Richard received the 2012 Health Minister’s Innovation Award for his Learning Together project, which is the basis of his PhD thesis supervised by the Faculty of Education’s Emeritus Professor Barry Harper and Dr Shirley Agostinho.

The Learning Together project created a new way for children and families living with diabetes to be linked with specialist hospital-based services using an internet-based tool.

“Despite effective treatment and education being available for Type 1 diabetes for more than 40 years, many children and adolescents continue to struggle managing the disease. This is costly to the health system and disruptive for the families concerned,” Richard said.

The Learning Together online tool provides a secure environment in which children and their parents can meet others living with diabetes, where they are provided with appropriate and timely psychosocial support, and where children are engaged in real-world problem solving and self-management education under the support and supervision of their parents and a diabetes educator.

Importantly, clinicians could view the lived experiences of these young people so diabetes management issues could be identified and treated early.

“The special aspects of this innovation included the fact that the online tool allowed child-centred and child-directed support and learning that was supported and supervised in appropriate ways by parents and by the diabetes educator,” Richard said.

“Parents were also involved in the learning activities, thus strengthening their own knowledge and the educator was able facilitate problem solving of concerns as they were raised, avoiding the need for outpatient visits.”

UOW Education Dean, Professor Paul Chandler, congratulated Richard saying it was “another fantastic achievement by one of our outstanding higher degree students”.

“My congratulations go to Richard and the faculty staff who have supported him throughout his studies,” Professor Chandler said.

Richard was presented with his award at a ceremony in Adelaide. He will be awarded his doctorate at the Faculty of Education graduation ceremonies in December.

Last reviewed: 30 November, 2012

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