Supporting maternal and child health in first 1000 days

Recently, the Child and Families Research team in the Caring Futures Institute at Flinders University hosted visiting International Researcher, Dr Karen Matvienko-Sikar from the School of Public Health (Scoil na Sláinte Poiblí), University College Cork (Ireland). This visit was funded by a Flinders Visiting International Research Fellowship.

Dr Matvienko-Sikar is an internationally recognised health psychologist whose research focuses on childhood obesity prevention, maternal health and wellbeing during the perinatal period, as well as health behaviours and psychophysiological indicators of well-being.  Methodologically, Karen has expertise in intervention development, outcomes research, evidence syntheses and trial methodology.

During Karen’s visit, she presented a keynote seminar to staff at the Caring Futures Institute, Flinders University, on ‘Supporting maternal and child health in first 1000 days”. This seminar was well attended and sparked a lot of conversation, interest in and healthy debate regarding Core Outcome Sets and Core Outcome Measurement Sets. She also presented this seminar to Wellbeing SA which was also very well attended, igniting discussions regarding potential collaboration on future projects and funding applications between Wellbeing SA, Caring Futures Institute and University College Cork.

The Children and Families Research team at Flinders University were also lucky to hear from Karen on ‘Implementation Science and Core Outcome Sets’, as well as on her plans for her Health Research Board fellowship project, SCOPE COMS – A Standardised Approach to Measuring Infant Feeding Outcomes to Prevent Obesity. Flinders University’s Professor Rebecca Golley is a co-investigator on the SCOPE COMS project which aligns with her and Dr Lucinda Bell’s work as part of EPOCH-Translate in developing a Core Outcome Measures Set for early obesity prevention interventions. Karen will be working closely with Lucinda on EPOCH-COMS over the next few years. Karen has strong connections and ongoing collaborations with both the COMET and COSMIN initiatives which provide guidance and support for development Core Outcome Sets and Core Outcome Measurement Sets.

Karen’s visit to Australia, in particular to Flinders University, was extremely productive and fruitful. It facilitated knowledge exchange, enhanced collaboration and fostered capacity building and professional development for researchers and health professionals across multiple institutions. These fundamental building blocks will further be strengthened through future collaborative opportunities to maximize the benefits of this visit.

Karen reflected on the visit to the Caring Futures institute, saying it was “incredibly fruitful and enjoyable. It enabled development of new collaborative links across the institute, as well as strengthening and building on existing links. Throughout the visit I was impressed by all the excellent ongoing research, and knowledge translation activities, and came away motivated, inspired and excited to continue working with such wonderful colleagues.

In addition, I felt so warmly welcomed by everyone I met during my trip and was provided so many opportunities and experiences- an AFL Gather Round match being a particular highlight for someone who had never seen an AFL game before! I hope to be back in the Caring Futures Institute at Flinders University sooner rather than later”.

We look forward to having Karen visit again (hopefully) soon or catching up with her next time in Ireland!

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Healthy Start to Life