Research Supervisor Connect

Chronic and Complex Illness in Adolescents


This is a study on the in-patient management of adolescents with complex medico-psychosocial conditions.


Professor Katharine Steinbeck.

Research location

Westmead - Childrens Hospital at Westmead Clinical School

Program type



Functional somatic symptoms are common in adolescents. These symptoms may be triggered by a distressing event or physical illness, and are often accompanied by school refusal, abnormal sleep patterns and orthostatic hypotension. These young people present management challenges, particularly if the condition is long standing and if there is associated chronic physical illness. The Department of Adolescent Medicine at The Children's Hospital at Westmead, Sydney, Australia has a longstanding Complex and Chronic Clinic which treats adolescents and their families. The Clinic has demonstrated the importance of family management and of the use of a rehabilitation model to improve symptomatology. For severe and/or prolonged cases there is often a rehabilitation admission to the Adolescent Ward where the program includes normal sleep times, school attendance, adolescent group work, family work and graded physiotherapy and exercise programs. A detailed biopsychosocial assessment will be performed at the beginning and end of the admission. Assessment will also be in collaboration with the Children's Hospital Institute of Sports Medicine who see many of these patients. The indicators of interest include sleep patterns and melatonin, anxiety measures using questionnaire and cortisol levels, and physical fitness and muscle strength as well as the standard assessments of adolescent and family well-being.

Additional information

Additional supervisor is Associate Professor Sue Towns

This project will take time to complete adequate numbers and is best suited to an MPhil or PhD, but Honour's projects are possible. Experience with adolescents in a clinical setting would be useful. This project would suit those with medical, nursing or physiotherapy backgrounds. Each year, the Academic Department of Adolescent Medicine advertises the medical Marie Bashir Clinical Research Fellow in Adolescent Health, a provisional Fellow position which is open to medical graduates, preferably in their final year of advanced training or who have completed advanced training. This Fellowship could also potentially be the first year of a full-time MPhil or PhD for a suitably qualified applicant.

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Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is 1228

Other opportunities with Professor Katharine Steinbeck