(02) 9399 1134
Ms Abigail Hansen obtained her honours in Psychology from Flinders University. After working as a Research Assistant for a number of years, she moved into a Clinical Trial Coordinator role at the Westmead Institute for Medical Research. Ms Hansen coordinated a randomised controlled trial investigating the effectiveness of a supplement on the negative symptoms of schizophrenia. Ms Hansen continues her collaboration with the institute, investigating the efficacy of screening tools in schizophrenia.
Ms Hansen joined NeuRA in September 2019 where she coordinates a large randomised controlled trial investigating the effectiveness of interventions at improving driver safety in older adults, led by Scientia Professor Kaarin Anstey.
In October 2020, Ms Hansen began her PhD at the University of New South Wales and NeuRA. Her research seeks to explore the impact of age related changes on trust and psychological predictive factors that lead to use of Advanced-Driver Assistance Systems. Ms Hansen works across a number of Prof Kaarin Anstey’s research projects with a focus on improving outcomes for older drivers.
Older drivers have relatively high crash rates and are increasing in number. We aim to evaluate the relative effectiveness and cost-efficiency of interventions for older drivers. A randomized controlled trial comparing driving lessons, personalized feedback on driving skill, and a groupbased road-rules refresher course will be conducted. If effective, interventions will improve driving safety, reduce costs associated with crashes,
and maintain social participation.
For many older adults, driving is essential for independence and participation in life. However, ageing is associated with a range of physical, sensory, and cognitive changes, some of which can influence driving safety. Neurodegenerative conditions such as dementia can progress very gradually, and regular monitoring is required to identify the point at which driving becomes unsafe. Current methods of monitoring road safety for older drivers relies on regular reviews with doctors or expensive and stressful driving tests. These methods are resource intensive and inefficient. Thus, there is a need for more cost-effective and less invasive ways of monitoring road safety for older drivers. The Changing Memory, Technology and Driving study (MemTech) will investigate whether a dashboard camera and a GPS data logger can be used to accurately measure changes in safety during an older driver’s everyday driving trips. The study will involve older drivers who are experiencing changes in their thinking and memory or early stages of dementia, as well as older drivers without any cognitive difficulties. This will allow data to be compared across the two groups to determine whether the in-vehicle GPS devices can detect changes in driver safety associated with cognitive change. If it can, this will provide valuable research data for the future development of accurate in-vehicle monitoring systems for older driver safety.
This research is being funded by the Office of Road Safety.
If you would like to take part in this research study, please contact
Ms Abirami Raveendran
Phone: (02) 9399 1058
Driving is critical for enabling mobility and community participation in older Australians, with over 90% of those aged in their 70s being licensed drivers. There is an urgent need for evidence-based methods for enhancing and maintaining older drivers’ skills – methods that are ready for translation into cost-effective and practical interventions.
The Better Drive Trial is a three-arm randomised controlled trial that assesses the effectiveness of different driver education types on safety outcomes for older adults. The relative effectiveness of tailored lessons, road-rule workshops and feedback on older drivers on road safety will be assessed in over 384 participants over 2 years. If effective, interventions will improve driving safety, reduce costs associated with crashes, and maintain social participation.
Our multidisciplinary team has expertise in cognitive ageing, psychology, occupational therapy, behaviour change and injury prevention, and proven records of designing and implementing RCTs of behavioural interventions for improving safety in older adults. The outcomes of the project will lead to the development of community programs for older drivers that seek to maintain mobility and community participation.
The Better Drive Trial is funded by the NHMRC and is expected to run for 5 years.
DR NIKKI-ANNE WILSON
Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Cognitive Health and Knowledge Translation
: 02 9399 1126