Zirnsak, TessaMay 2023 03 29

Tessa-May Zirnsak

Tessa-May Zirnsak is a PhD candidate at La Trobe University and the project officer on the Equally Well Consumer Resource project.

Abstract 1

Title: Research with – not for – consumers: Reflections on co-designing a qualitative study on physical health for people with mental illness

Author(s): Tessa-May Zirnsak, Lyn English, Chris Maylea, Rosie Elwyn, Melanie Sherrin, Hazel Dalton, Russell Roberts, Judith Drake

Introduction: Research has shown that people diagnosed with mental illness are likely to die at an earlier age than people without a psychiatric diagnosis, highlighting serious health inequity. To address this inequality, Equally Well received funding from the federal government to create a resource to facilitate communication between clinicians and consumers of physical and mental health services.

Method: We used a co-design methodology to conduct the research. The authorship team understand co-design to be partnership with a group of people in the population that is being studied in the design and execution of research. A co-design group was recruited and met online regularly to collaborate on all components of the project. They were also engaged in conducting a literature review to inform the research.

Results & Findings: Results will be determined at the conclusion of the project.

Discussion: Co-design was tricky to establish and fragile to maintain, but the project was overall stronger as a result of researcher attempts to establish co-design. For co-design to work, researchers must be reflective and committed to changing their practice to enable co-design members to make real contributions to research. These contributions are valuable and help to promote efficacy of the research, while also upskilling co-design group members and researchers.

Abstract 2

Title: ‘Holding on to hope’: Follow up qualitative findings of a study supporting consumers to quit smoking  

Author(s): Tessa-May Zirnsak, Kristen McCarter, Ashleigh Guillaumier, Catherine Brasier, Laura Hayes, David Castle, Billie Bonevski, Amanda Baker, Lisa Brophy

Introduction: There is evidence to suggest that people with lived experience of mental illness are more likely to smoke and further, that there is a benefit from assistance to quit smoking (Baker et al., 2022). Rather than lacking the desire to quit, continued smoking is related to factors such as the alleviation of feelings of isolation and despair associated with social exclusion and trauma. 

Method: The Quitlink study was a randomised controlled trial of a peer researcher facilitated referral to a tailored Quitline plus nicotine replacement therapy for people receiving mental health services. In this presentation, we report on the medium- and longer-term qualitative data from semi-structured interviews conducted at 5- and 8- months after recruitment with the aim of increasing understanding of the barriers and enablers to smoking cessation. An indictive approach was used to analyse the data.  

Results & Findings: Six themes were identified from the information participants shared: internal/external attributions for smoking; social relationships and relapse; hopefulness in quitting; the role of clinicians in initiating and maintaining a quit attempt; increasing cessation literacy; and perceived effectiveness of Quitlink.  

Discussion: "Overall, findings suggested that while participants’ quit attempts were often fragile, direct support and social connection contribute to the capacity to hope for a better future - a future without cigarettes.

Baker, A. L., McCarter, K., Brophy, L., Castle, D., Kelly, P. J., Cocks, N., McKinlay, M., Brasier, C., Borland, R., Bonevski, B., Segan, C., Baird, D., Turner, A., Williams, J. M., Hayes, L., Attia, J., Lambkin, D., Barker, D., & Sweeney, R. (2022). Adapting peer researcher facilitated recruitment strategies during COVID-19 in a tobacco treatment trial among "