Making a difference in the lives of people with chronic sleep conditions

Posted 13 Jul 2022

As an inaugural recipient of the Nick Antic Sleep Research PhD Scholarship, Nicole Grivell is already making a real difference in the lives of people with chronic sleep conditions.

Nicole is drawing on her experience as a primary care nurse and knowledge of chronic disease management to improve access to healthcare for people with sleep disorders.

Nicole is using the scholarship to explore how primary care nurses can increase their involvement in the management of the common sleep disorders, obstructive sleep apnea and insomnia, outside the hospital setting.

“There are a lot of people with sleep disorders, but they don’t necessarily understand what treatments are available to them,” Nicole said.

“For people with obstructive sleep apnea, there is also a long wait to get into care. It can be many months before a patient receives any treatment, or even an assessment for treatment.”

“We’re hoping that a nurse-delivered model of sleep health care within general practice will enable patients to receive care quicker and in a location
that’s convenient for them. We’re hoping it will improve access to treatment.”

Nicole’s research started with a systematic review of other models of care delivered by nurses for chronic disease. Now, Nicole and the team at FHMRI Sleep Health are conducting a pilot study in which patients with insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea receive nurse-delivered sleep health management within their local general practice.

Nicole is interviewing patients about their experiences to identify barriers and facilitators to care, which will inform the next, larger study as well as the development of future models of care. The final stage of her PhD will involve observing nurses delivering the care within general practice and seeking their perspectives towards the model of care.

“Previously, the patients in this study wouldn’t really have been able to access this type of care. The treatment we are offering is all evidence based and proven to be effective. It’s been done

before, but not necessarily in this context, so a lot of people don’t even know this treatment exists,” Nicole said.

“It’s very early days, but all the participants I’ve interviewed so far have experienced some improvement. However, I’m also interested in what didn’t work because we want to use that information to make sure the next study is even more successful.”

The Nick Antic Sleep Research PhD Scholarship was established in memory of the dearly loved sleep expert, who passed away in 2016.

Nicole and Dr Lechat are proud to hold scholarships in Professor Antic’s name and are grateful to the community, including Nick’s family, friends, and colleagues whose generosity made the inaugural scholarships possible.

“As a clinician, I make a difference to individual patients, but being in research you can make a difference on a broader scale,” Nicole said.

I’m hoping to make change, but we couldn’t do that without the support of people who donate to Flinders Foundation. It’s nice to know there are people that value our work and want to support people like myself to develop a career
in research and make a difference.

Nicole Grivell


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