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From GP burnout to connecting with nature: Psychology Honours students present their findings

conference screen


Jason Purdie
26 September 2023

Psychology Honours students from Southern Cross University have been turning their bright minds to subjects as diverse as GP burnout, the restorative impact of connecting with nature, and women’s self-esteem and body satisfaction in Australian gyms.

More than 80 students are preparing to present their Honours thesis as part of the 19th annual University Psychology Honours conference on Thursday and Friday this week.

Faculty of Health Executive Dean Professor Julie Jomeen said the conference program was brimming with fresh ideas and thinking from the next crop of Honours graduates.

“The quality of the conference and the amount of work that goes into bringing it together is really tangible evidence of our University’s commitment to providing immersive, real-world experience for our students,” Professor Jomeen said. “It is a source of great pride and excitement for our staff, and a wonderful opportunity for our students as they grow their research skills.”

University Psychology Honours Co-ordinator Eric Brymer leads the effort to deliver the conference, which is held at the University’s Gold Coast and Coffs Harbour campuses. An online stream of the presentations is also available.

"From creating better workplaces to the motivation of thrill-seeking behaviour, our Psychology Honours students are tackling an incredible range of subjects,” he said. “Along the way they are learning the research skills they will need once they graduate, together with those all-important skills in communication, presentation and professional exchange."

‘Burnt out: An exploration of the job demands and resources effecting GP burn out and well-being post COVID-19’

Tyler Lloyd has surveyed more than 130 GPs using a method that assessed whether they were experiencing burnout across a range of factors. He found 86% of respondents were experiencing at least moderate burnout in one or more of the areas and 34% reported high level burnout on at least one of the scales. Importantly, Tyler’s work also showed people with higher levels of self-compassion are more resilient to burnout. Self-compassion is something that can be taught and supported through processes such as debriefing, mindfulness and journaling.

How does nature-based physical activity enhance psychological well-being? A phenomenological investigation.

Tina Prassos, who chose Coffs Harbour campus because of the region’s beauty, interviewed people about the impact of being in natural places. She coded and modelled the responses across three themes: perceptual richness; danger and discomfort; and unification, and considered the psychological well-being benefits of each of them. The benefits to those interviewed included reduced stress, progression and self-improvement, and improved relationships with others.

‘If I don’t lift no one will love me! Assessing perceptions of self-esteem and body satisfaction among women in Australian gyms.’

Sahar Moktarpour interviewed a series of long-term female gym members about their relationship with the gym, self-esteem and body satisfaction. Her research uncovered a series of themes and connections between women’s experiences of belonging to a gym, as well as changes in their attitudes to themselves and their bodies over the duration of their membership. Sahar found numerous things gyms could do to improve the experience of female members, including women-only areas and trainers, how the equipment is configured, and even the style of posters on display.


People who want to register for the event can do so through this link:

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