Jenna Bradwell

UOW ‘Healthy Recovery Program’ to assist substance abuse group

On average, people with a history of substance abuse problems live between 20 to 27 years less than the general population. Cancer is a leading cause of mortality for this group and it requires prevention strategies that address primary risk factors such as smoking, poor diet and physical inactivity.

To improve cancer prevention strategies for this very vulnerable population, the Cancer Institute (NSW) has awarded funding to Dr Peter Kelly from the School of Psychology of more than $594,000 over three years to trial The Healthy Recovery Program. Peter was also the ‘First Ranked Fellow’ for this round of the funding scheme, and will be presented with a commemorative certificate.

“Cancer is extremely prevalent for people with a history of alcohol or other substance dependence. It represents the third leading cause of mortality for this clinical group and results in enormous social and financial costs to the Australian population. It is important that we develop more comprehensive prevention strategies for these high risk population groups,” Dr Kelly said.

The Healthy Recovery Program is an eight-session group based intervention that aims to prevent cancer for people who are attending substance abuse treatment. As part of the intervention, participants are encouraged to quit smoking, improve their diet and increase their level of physical activity. Dr Kelly has already conducted a successful pilot study of The Healthy Recovery Program that was funded by the Cancer Council, NSW.

Dr Kelly will lead the evaluation of The Healthy Recovery Program, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Newcastle and the University of New South Wales. The research will be conducted across The Salvation Army Recovery Service Centres, commencing early next year.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to extend our work with The Salvation Army, particularly on a clinical trial that is likely to offer substantial real world benefits to people attending their treatment programs,” Dr Kelly said.

Dr Kelly and his colleagues at the Illawarra Institute for Mental Health, Professor Frank Deane and Dr Trevor Crowe, were recently awarded the Excellence in Research Award at the National Drug and Alcohol Awards for their ongoing research programs with The Salvation Army.

Read more about Dr Peter Kelly’s research on the UOW and ResearchGate or follow Dr Kelly on Twitter.


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  • Dr Peter Kelly has been awarded funding from the Cancer Institute (NSW) to trial The Healthy Recovery Program.