Shifra Waks

Shifra has comprehensive research experience at various universities across Australia, experience in co-producing and co-facilitating mental health education and training, and experience in mental health community peer work. Shifra has developed a personal foundation in lived experience/consumer academia, having held lived experience/consumer lead researcher roles at the University of Canberra, the University of Newcastle, and the University of Melbourne, and currently with UNSW, Sydney, and the University of Sydney. Shifra has had a significant role influencing the growing recognition of lived experience/consumer academia in Australia.





 Abstract title: Co-designing a Physical Health Conversation Guide: Working together for hope and health

Presentation type: General Presentation

Author(s): Kathryn Thorburn1, Shifra Waks1, Bani Aadam1, Professor Mark F Harris1, Dr Catherine Spooner1, Professor Karen R Fisher2 

1Centre for Primary Health Care and Equity, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, 2Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW Sydney, Australia


Introduction: Primary care is the main setting in which the physical health needs of people who experience mental health issues are addressed. However, mental health service users and primary care providers report significant barriers to accessing and providing physical healthcare, with obstacles occurring at the individual, practice, and systems levels. Co-design, a process for developing solutions to complex problems that privileges lived expertise, provides a forum where service users and providers can collaborate to improve healthcare services and relationships.

Method: This research involved co-designing a practical approach to improving mental health service users’ physical health care in primary care settings and the research design for testing it.  It also explored the co-design process, how outcomes were achieved and the co-designers’ experiences. People with lived experience collaborated as co-designers, co-researchers, co-facilitators, and members of the lived experience advisory group.

Records and documents from co-design activities were collected. Co-designers’ experiences of the process were obtained via group and individual interviews. Transcribed audio-recordings of individual and group interviews, project documentation and images were coded and analysed thematically.

Results and findings: Six people with lived experience and five service providers (including GPs) participated in the online co-design. Thirty barriers to physical healthcare and 12 potential solutions were identified. The Physical Health Conversation Guide (PHCG) was selected (based on feasibility and impact), developed and prototyped. The research findings emphasise the influence of concurrent dual processes in creating the conditions for new understandings, relationships, and action, with time as a key mediating element.

Discussion: Co-design recognises the value of lived and other expertise in co-creating new knowledge. For its generative potential to be realised, the co-design process needs to create and hold space for emergence, uncertainty and shifts in power. This research has implications for the translation of co-design principles in a range of healthcare settings. 



Shifra Waks-image