Dr Kim Kiely

TEAM LEADER PROFILE

Research Fellow

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Dr Kim Kiely is a Research Fellow at NeuRA supported by an Australian NHMRC Early Career Fellowship. He completed his PhD in 2013 at the Australian National University, and was previously supported by an Alzheimer’s Australia Dementia Research Foundation Fellowship.

Dr Kiely’s research adopts a contextualised perspective to human development across the life-course and spans the fields of life-course epidemiology, social psychiatry, and gero-psychology. His primary research interests cover aspects of healthy and productive ageing, focusing on three main themes:

  1. the social, functional and cognitive impacts of sensory loss in late life,
  2. inequalities in healthy life expectancy, and
  3. social determinants of healthy ageing.
Projects Dr Kim Kiely is currently involved with

CURRENT PROJECTS

The Personality and Total Health (PATH) Through Life Project 

The Personality and Total Health (PATH) Through Life Project has been led by Professor Anstey since 2006 and has been based at ANU since 1999. It is a large on-going population-based longitudinal cohort study comprising approximately 7500 participants. The study includes three cohorts including a younger (aged 20–24 at baseline), midlife (aged 40–44 at baseline) and older (aged 60–64 at baseline) adults randomly sampled from the electoral roll of the ACT and the nearby city of Queanbeyan. Additional waves of data collection have occurred in 4-year increments, with wave 5 of data collection being completed for the younger cohort and soon to commence for the midlife cohort. The study involves many national and international collaborations.

The broad aims of the PATH study relate to clinical outcomes that constitute the major burden of disease within the Australian community.

Primary PATH Objectives:

  • To delineate the course of depression, anxiety, substance use and cognitive ability with increasing age across the adult life span
  • To identify environmental risk, genetic risk and protective factors influencing individual differences in the course of these characteristics
  • To investigate interrelationships over time between the three domains of: depression and anxiety, substance use, and cognitive ability and dementia
  • To examine the mental health related impact of various personal, social and lifestyle transitions and events experienced by the different age cohorts, including infertility, fertility and pregnancy, changes in family structure, relationship formation and separation, menopause, and retirement.

Several design features of the PATH project contribute to its unique standing among population-based longitudinal cohort studies.

  • Obtaining measures of genetic, biological (including MRI), psychosocial and lifestyle risk and protective factors for mental health and wellbeing
  • Use of a narrow age cohort design with longitudinal follow ups as an optimal means of separating age and cohort effects
  • Assessment of participants across the full adult lifespan, permitting investigation of developmentally significant, though under-studied periods such as midlife
  • Recruitment and follow up of a young-old population, providing important pre-clinical data for studying the development of age-related changes in memory and cognition.

This project has been funded primarily by the National Health and Medical Research Council. Wave 5 40s and 60s follow-ups are funded by the ARC Centre of Research Excellence in Population Ageing.

PATH participants can contact the research team by phone on 1300 917 295.

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The Personality and Total Health (PATH) Through Life Project 

Better Drive Program

Current road safety policy for at-risk older drivers involves ‘fitness to drive’ assessment and either license restriction or revocation. However, research indicates that there is no clear evidence that mandatory testing lowers crash rates amongst older drivers, and that driving cessation in older adults is associated with increased rates of depression, social isolation, and general health decline.

The Better Drive program includes a series of studies evaluating interventions to improve driver skill. Two trials have been completed to date.

Trial 1 used a two-arm randomised controlled trial (RCT) approach to investigate the efficacy of individually tailored driving refresher lessons against a group-based refresher course on on-road driving performance, safety and crash risk in older adults. Findings indicate that although classroom based road rules workshops for seniors can lead to improvements in on-road driving skill, the inclusion of tailored driving instruction can significantly enhance safety and reduce crash-causing on-road errors relative to classroom based workshops alone.

Trial 2 used a two group (training, no-contact control) non-randomised design to examine the transfer of computerised speed of processing (SOP) training gains to cognitive measures that are known predictors of driving safety in older adults. Findings indicate that SOP training effects can be achieved with self-administered, online training at home, with some transfer to other known cognitive predictors of driving safety. However, differential effects of training may be observed for tasks requiring goal-directed search strategies rather than diffuse attention.

A third trial is currently underway. This trial uses a three-arm randomised controlled trial approach to assess the effectiveness of computerised cognitive training and tailored on-road skills training on driver safety in older adults. Data collection for this trial will be completed in 2019.

The Better Drive program has been funded by the NRMA Road Safety Trust.

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Better Drive Program

RESEARCH TEAM

PUBLICATIONS

Personality and Total Health Through Life Project Eye Substudy: Methodology and Baseline Retinal Features.

Wijngaarden PV, Keel S, Hodgson LAB, Kumar DK, Aliahmad B, Paim CC, Kiely KM, Cherbuin N, Anstey KJ, Dirani M

This well-defined sample of older australians provides a unique opportunity to interrogate associations between retinal findings, including retinal vascular geometric parameters, and indices of neurocognitive function.

Using Longitudinal Survey Data to Estimate Mental Health Related Transitions to a Disability Pension: Analysis of an Australian Household Panel Study.

Schofield TP, Kiely KM, Mykletun A, Harvey SB, Butterworth P

This study examined the association between mental ill-health and subsequent receipt of a disability pension in Australia, and assessed how the strength of the association varied in relation to the duration between mental health measurement and reported disability pension receipt. Mental ill-health is an independent risk factor for disability pension receipt, and proximal circumstances better capture this association than mental health measured earlier.

Older drivers in Australia: trends in driving status and cognitive and visual impairment.

Ross LA, Anstey KJ, Kiely KM, Windsor TD, Byles JE, Luszcz MA, Mitchell P

To investigate self-reported driving status within three Australian states; associations between demographic, health, and functional factors and driving status; and the extent to which remaining a driver in spite of cognitive and visual impairments varies as a function of sex. The rate of men with probable dementia or visual impairments who reported driving is of particular concern. Research and policy need to focus on evidence-based assessment of older drivers and development of appropriate interventions and programs to maintain the mobility and independence of older adults.

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