Dr Rebecca Wyse

Rebecca Wyse

What are your research interests?

Digital health intervention for the prevention and treatment of chronic disease: My work involves designing, implementing and evaluating digital interventions to improve people’s health. I have worked on projects aimed at preventing chronic disease, as well supporting people to prepare for and recover from chronic disease treatment.

Online systems research: The emergence of online systems, used by millions of people everyday, worldwide, provides an incredible opportunity for public health. My research investigates how we can use these existing systems and embed health promotion strategies and principles within them, to improve population health. 

Implementation and Dissemination research: Once we have determined that an intervention is effective in improving health behaviours, how do we ensure that it is rolled-out so that as many people as possible can benefit from it? I am interested in how we can systematically scale-up interventions for a population-wide impact. 

Settings-based research: One focus of my research is settings where children spend a lot of their time. Interventions delivered through these settings have the potential to impact on a huge number of children and have the potential to be adopted sustainably to benefit child health in the long term. I have developed and implemented interventions in childcare services, schools, school canteens and the home.  

Healthy eating in children: The eating patterns that develop in childhood affects our adult eating patterns and risk of disease and illness. As such, childhood is a critical period to help support young children and their families to develop healthy eating habits. My research investigates novel ways of delivering this support across the population. 

Why did you get into research?

I love being able to scientifically and rigorously answer some of the burning questions regarding our health. How do we support healthy behaviours? How do the systems we engage with influence our health behaviours? How do the settings we live, work and play in affect our health behaviours? I want to test new ideas and strategies to help make healthy choices the easy choices. 

What would be the ultimate goal for your research?

I would love for my research to make a real difference to the health and wellbeing of the community. My work tries to make healthy options the easy options by seamlessly embedding health promotion strategies and principles in systems and settings that we access everyday.  

Biography

Dr Rebecca Wyse is a current Cancer Institute NSW Early Career Research Fellow, current Heart Foundation Future Leader Fellow (Honarary) and Research Associate with the Health Behaviour Research Collaborative. Her behavioural research is helping to support the primary and secondary prevention of chronic disease and support preparation for and recovery for surgeries. She designs, delivers and evaluates digital interventions with wide reach. Her current work is focused on supporting patients prepare for and recover from surgery, and she has led the development of the ‘RecoverEsupport’ intervention series, which will be trialled in two randomised controlled trial with patients from the John Hunter Hospital and Calvary Mater Hospital.

Rebecca began to explore behaviours change interventions to reduce chronic disease risk during her PhD candidateship. This saw her modify the home food environment to increase fruit and vegetable consumption. With a distinct focus on family food habits, Rebecca’s PhD research intervention successfully increased fruit and vegetable consumption in parents and children. Results were sustained for up to 5 years in children (the longest successful intervention of its kind). These impressive results were incorporated into the NSW Health Draft Obesity Prevention Strategy 2012. In 2018, Rebecca received funding to trial the intervention further.

Another of Rebecca’s tech-based trials recently received NHMRC funding to be expanded into government, Catholic and independent schools across NSW. Building on established stoplight colour coding in primary school canteens, the trial uses online ordering systems to deliver a range of choice architecture strategies providing automated nutritional feedback to parents. The initial Online Canteen trial was successfully piloted in 2016 and the magnitude of the change was large: children at participating schools had lunch orders with approximately 500 fewer kilojoules than the lunch orders of children at control schools. In 2018, she was awarded a Heart Foundation fellowship to investigate the long-term impact and cost-effectiveness of using online canteens to deliver healthy eating interventions to children. 

Rebecca is committed to effective implementation. Her interventions strive to be scalable, fundable, and influential. By informing policy and practice, Rebecca’s work is contributing to improved health outcomes at a population level. Over her research career, Rebecca has gained vast experience implementing interventions that target health risk factors (poor nutrition, physical inactivity, excessive weight gain and tobacco use) across a range of key community settings (including health services, schools and childcare services). She has led trials of intervention strategies directly targeting health behaviours (efficacy and effectiveness trials) as well as strategies to facilitate intervention adoption across community settings (translational trials).

Rebecca’s work has delivered settings-based, digitally driven interventions within schools and childcare services to help change organisational policies and practices and encourage healthy behaviours among families. Among her many achievements was her contribution to the development, implementation and evaluation of Australia’s largest ever ($7 million) childhood obesity prevention project—Good for Kids, Good for Life—across 400 primary schools and 300 childcare centres. 

Future Focus

Rebeca is focused on community members to develop healthy habits, which will improve their health, reduce their risk of chronic disease and help them recover faster from surgery.

Specialised/Technical Skills 

  • Digital health interventions
  • Online systems research
  • Prevention and treatment of chronic disease
  • Choice Architecture Interventions
  • Randomised controlled trials
  • Implementation and Dissemination research

Affiliations