20 June 2019

On Monday 17th June, Gallipoli Medical Research Foundation had the honour of hosting a morning Breakfast seminar with a panel of medical and health specialists to discuss the importance of helping veterans improve their sleep.

The foundation recently launched the Veteran Sleep Therapy Study, funded by the Department of Veteran Affairs, which offers group psychological treatment to improve sleep for veterans with PTSD, Insomnia and nightmares.

Principal Investigator of the Study, Dr Justine Evans, believes the study has the real potential to provide significant benefit to veterans struggling with PTSD.

“We know the rate of sleep difficulties in veterans with PTSD is high so it is an important area in which to focus research. The impact of persistent disturbed sleep can be devastating. It can prevent people from engaging in physical activity, from finding employment, engaging in family activities, and carrying out routine tasks that people take for granted like shopping and cooking,” Justine says.

The seminar was held to let local health specialists know the best way to refer clients to the study. The panelists included Dr Robyn O’Sullivan (pictured above second on left) a specialist in respiratory and sleep medicine who is the Clinical Director of Sleep Care sleep laboratory (based at Greenslopes Private Hospital) and has run a weekly veteran sleep clinic for the past twenty years. Dr O’Sullivan was able to provide valuable insight into the importance of providing psychological treatment to patients with Insomnia and discussed the importance of using behavioural strategies when treating sleep problems.

Dr Phil Parker (pictured above center), a General Practitioner, who previously served in the ADF, discussed the importance of holistic care for veterans experiencing long term sleep problems.

Dr John Gibson (pictured above second on right), a psychiatrist and Clinical Director of the Keith Payne Unit (based at Greenslopes Private Hospital), discussed how important it is not to rely on medication to treat sleep difficulties in the long term. He also offered an interesting perspective on the role that hypervigilance plays in maintaining Insomnia for people with PTSD.

The panel was honoured to have Mr Dave Morgan (pictured above on far right) discuss his lived experience of PTSD, Insomnia and nightmares. He was able to powerfully discuss the impact of these conditions on his life. Dave previously served in Vietnam and has authored two books on his life experiences.

We are currently seeking participants for the Veteran Sleep Therapy Study. CLICK HERE for more information and the eligibility criteria.