What are your research interests?
Through my research, I am hoping to provide a better understanding of how men’s physical and mental health influence each other. I am also really interested in how men’s ways of thinking influence their health behaviours and how ‘gender-tailored’ program (that are designed specifically for men) can be used to increase the participation of men in health research.
Why did you get into research?
Growing up, I was so lucky to have parents who gave me the skills needed for a successful research career: persistence, creativity, critical thinking, optimism, and good social skills. My (recently retired) mum was also an inspirational researcher. She was one of the first PhD students on the Women’s Health Australia project, which is now called the Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health. I have strong early memories of taking cups of tea down to the study for her at home when she was writing up her PhD. She had four children in primary school at the time – amazing!
After school, I had originally planned on becoming a psychologist. But when I had actually completed the four year degree, I realised that it wasn’t the right career path for me anymore (great timing I know). Luckily, I had gained a host of important research skills and I knew I still wanted to make a difference in people’s lives, so I applied for a research assistant job working with Professor Phil Morgan on the Healthy Dads Healthy Kids and SHED-IT men’s weight loss projects. Phil is another truly inspirational leader and these projects were so much fun to work on with him and his research team. From that moment I knew that I could find meaning and purpose from a career in research and I’ve never looked back.
What would be the ultimate goal for your research?
My ultimate goal is to increase the number of men who benefit from participating in research studies. At the moment there is a large discrepancy suggesting that the current offerings just aren’t capturing men’s interests. For example, seven women participate in weight loss studies for every three men. When it comes to projects targeting parents to improve children’s health behaviours, there are 94 mothers for every 6 fathers! Actually achieving this will require an international effort to design more male-targeted interventions and make general interventions more appealing for men. If I can provide some inspiration or share some successful strategies with other researchers in the meantime, I think that would be a great start.
Myles is a National Heart Foundation post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Newcastle's Priority Research Centre in Physical Activity and Nutrition and School of Education. He was awarded his PhD from the University of Newcastle in May 2015. He also completed a Bachelor of Psychology (Hons 1A) at the University of Newcastle in 2009. To date, Myles has published 36 peer-reviewed research papers, been awarded $3.41 million in external research grants and won 16 individual academic awards.
At the moment I am designing an online program to improve the physical and mental health of men with overweight/obesity and depression. These conditions are currently affecting large numbers of men in Australia, often in combination, but men are much less likely than women to seek help for either. The online component is really important as it will allow us to provide support in a non-threatening and confidential manner, which could be easily accessed by men from all over Australia.
- Systematic reviews and meta-analyses
- Behaviour change interventions
- Randomised controlled trials
- Theories of behaviour change
- Weight loss interventions
ABC Newcastle interview with Kia Handley - 30 July 2019