Holsworth Research Initiative

Our research focusses on exercise, physical activity and rehabilitation.

Where are they now blog series

Dr Emma Macdonald

Where are they now? Blog series

The HRI Director and Stream Leaders have had the privilege of supervising a number of higher degree by research students since the Holsworth Research Initiative began in 2019. These students now work across a broad range of industries including academia, applied sports science and clinical practice.

In this new series, we will update our subscribers on where our past HDR students are now and how their research degree with the La Trobe Health School and the Holsworth Research Initiative helped shape their career.

Part 3: Dr Emma Macdonald, Allied Health Education & Research Manager, Goulburn Valley Health

Part Three of our Where Are They Now blog series features Dr Emma Macdonald, a former PhD student of the HRI and the current Allied Health Education & Research Manager at Goulburn Valley Health in Shepparton.

Dr Macdonald is one of our most recent graduates, with her PhD conferred in 2022. Supervised by HRI Director, Professor Michael Kingsley and La Trobe University Senior Lecturer, Dr Byron Perrin, Dr Macdonald completed her PhD part time while working full time across a number of roles and raising a young family. To add to what would have been an already challenging task, Dr Macdonald also completed her studies remotely, engaging with her supervisory team predominantly via video conferencing. Dr Macdonald credits her supervisory team with providing the support and structure that enabled her to meet her obligations to her employers and family while also being successful in her research journey.

Mobile health foot monitoring technology

Dr Macdonald and her team investigated the adoption of mobile health foot monitoring technology in people with diabetes-related foot disease. The submitted thesis consisted of a series of four studies.

Enablers and barriers to using two-way information technology to manage diabetes in adults: a descriptive systematic review.

Factors influencing behavioural intention to use a smart shoe insole in regionally based adults with diabetes: a mixed methods study.

Factors influencing Australian podiatrists’ behavioural intentions to adopt a smart insole into clinical practice: a mixed methods study

Podiatrist-delivered health coaching to facilitate the use of a smart insole to support foot health monitoring in people with diabetes-related peripheral neuropathy: a feasibility study

An initial systematic review helped Dr Macdonald and her team to identify the barriers that people face in using technology to support the management of diabetes-related foot disease. Numerous barriers were identified leading Dr Macdonald to conclude that any technology presented as a management option should be automated, streamlined, mobile and low cost. Prior to designing a follow-up intervention study, Dr Macdonald investigated the behavioural intention of both adults with diabetes-related foot disease and podiatrists in the Goulburn Valley area to adopting smart insole technology as an option to support the management of diabetes. Using a mixed-methods design, Dr Macdonald found that several psychosocial factors influenced the behaviour intention of adults with diabetes including attitude, self-efficacy, performance expectancy and effort expectancy. In terms of adopting the smart insole into clinical practice, the most important psychosocial factor that predicted behavioural intention of regional podiatrists was device efficacy. Using this knowledge, Dr Macdonald designed a podiatrist-led intervention study to support the adoption of smart insole technology for regionally based adults living with diabetes-related foot disease.

In what demonstrates the impact and reach of Dr Macdonald’s research, the systematic review that identified barriers to using technology in diabetes-related foot disease management has been cited in the 2022 National Standards for Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support. These standards are revised every five years by an expert panel and provide guidance and an evidence base for all diabetes self-management education and support services.

Maintaining a rural focus

Dr Macdonald completed her PhD in the Goulburn Valley, recruiting participants for her research from this same region. She has opted to remain here, retaining the rural focus of her studies, and allowing the Goulburn Valley to benefit from her research knowledge and expertise.

Upon completion of her PhD, Dr Macdonald worked in clinical practice as a senior podiatrist before moving across to Goulburn Valley Health where she took on the task of Allied Health Research Knowledge Translation Lead. Dr Macdonald now manages this department as the Allied Health Education & Research Manager where she is the intermediary between clinical practice and research. In addition to this, Dr Macdonald is also undertaking further study with a Graduate Diploma in Health Management. When asked about her future career aspirations, Dr Macdonald stated that she plans on continuing to engage in research that leads to the prevention of lower limb ulceration and amputation in people living with diabetes as well as continuing to use her research skills to support allied health staff to engage in research.

Keep an eye on your inbox next Monday for Part four of our 8-part blog series. We will be following up with Dr Stephen Barrett, Allied Health Research & Knowledge Translation Lead at Bendigo Health.

Missed our previous posts in this series? Read them at the HRI blog using the links below and while you’re there, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter so you can stay informed of all the latest HRI news.

Bendigo local GP Dr Stephen Bovalino

Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at Mid-Sweden University Dr Craig Staunton

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