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Research
The Department of Behavioral Medicine has an active research profile that dates back to the formation of the Department. In this respect the Department is quite unique because, unlike other national departments also responsible for providing Clinical Psychology services at state health care facilities, research and academic publications are significant outputs in the Department. As a result, the Department’s research output stands tall relative to similar departments across the country.

The Department has an open approach to research programmes and directions, allowing its academic staff the opportunity to develop and conduct research in areas of their interest. This has resulted in the Departmental research tracks mirroring the rich diversity of our country.

The following are some of the research tracks:
• Neuropsychology
• Trauma
• Stress
• Clinical Psychology Training
• Suicidology
• Forensic Psychology
• Clinical Health Psychology
• Medically Applied Psychology
• Women & Children’s Mental Health
• Men’s Mental Health
• Community Psychology

• Mental Health Service Provision


The Department welcomes research collaboration with academic institutions around the world, and currently partners with numerous institutions in conducting and publishing scientific research that is relevant and benefits the national and global community. The Department of Behavioral Medicine also has visiting academics and researchers spending sabbaticals in the Department and undertaking collaborative research with staff. In addition to established research partnerships with many South African institutions, collaborations exist with the following international partners:


• Wake Forest University, USA: http://college.wfu.edu/psychology/

• University of Oslo, Norway: http://www.sv.uio.no/psi/english/
• University of Bergen, Norway: http://www.uib.no/psyfa/en
• Alliant University, USA: http://www.alliant.edu/cspp/programs-degrees/psychopharmacology
• Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), USA: http://www.psychology.vcu.edu/
• University of Mauritius, Mauritius: http://www.uom.ac.mu/faculties/fssh/socialstudies/psychology.htm

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Current Research

SURNAME

NAME

SUPERVISOR

TOPIC

 

Pillay

Lingum Gopaul

Professor BJ Pillay

The neuropsychology of risk and resilience in Durban Youth. A longitudinal study

 

Ramkisson

Samantha

Professor BJ Pillay

The effectiveness of a mental health program in type 2 diabetes mellitus patients

 

Swain

Karl

Professor BJ Pillay

An analysis of the neuropsychological and neurophysiological effects of trauma in an adolescent community sample in SA

 

Rawatlal

Nishola

Professor BJ Pillay

Trauma, stress, behaviour and substance abuse in youth

 

De Kock

Hannes

Professor BJ Pillay

Alleviating the Mental Health Crisis in South Africa's rural primary care areas through task shifting : Non-medical prescribers and the case of clinical psychology

 

Shikwambana

Bob Thomas

Prof BJ Pillay / Anneke Meyer

Comorbidity of attention deficit disorders [ADHD] and aggressive behaviour disorders

 

Botes

Dawid Hermanus

Prof BJ Pillay / Anneke Meyer

The effect of altered dopamine levels on competitive shooting

 

Mokobane

Maria

Prof BJ Pillay / Anneke Meyer

Neuropsychological deficits in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, comparing the Inattention, Hyperactivity/Impulsivity and Combined Presentations

 

Mphahlele

Ramatladi Meriam

Prof BJ Pillay / Anneke Meyer

Gender and age differences in ADHD symptoms among primary school children

 

Boshamane

Tshikani Theodore

Prof BJ Pillay / Anneke Meyer

Testing Deficits in Behavioural Planning and Working Memory of children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

 

Thobejane

Nicho Motladire

Prof BJ Pillay / Anneke Meyer

Reinforcement mechanisms and delay. A version in children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder ADHD

 

Pila-Nemutandani

Refilwe Gloria

Prof BJ Pillay / Anneke Meyer

Laterality and motor functions in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder [ADHD]

 

Kriel

Anita

Professor AL Pillay

Mandatory reporting of child abuse and neglect: An investigation into the competence and compliance of primary school educators in KwaZulu-Natal

 

Geils

Catherine Barbara

Dr T Naidu and Professor SD Edwards 

An evaluation of the therapeutic benefits of an integrated model of psychotherapy in a South African public hospital setting

 

Johnston

Emma

Professor AL Pillay

Multiculturalism, globalisation and developing relevant clinical psychology service in South Africa

 

Siyothula

Evy-Terressah Busisiwe

Professor AL Pillay

Challenges in developing and integrating community psychology services in non-urban communities of KwaZulu Natal

 

Govender

Thiroshni

Professor BJ Pillay

An analysis into the stress and allostatic load in a community sample of South African adolescents

 


Previous  Research 

Researcher: Dr Thirusha Naidu

Designation: Senior Clinical Psychologist/ Lecturer and Unit Head

Study: Reflection, Dialogue, and the Possibilities of Space

Summary: To educate physicians who are capable of delivering ethical, socially responsible, patient-centered care, there have been calls for identifying curricular space for reflection on the human and societal dimensions of medicine. These appeals, however, beg the question: What does it mean to devote space in an otherwise busy curriculum for these types of reflection? This Perspective is an attempt to understand the nature of this educational space in terms of its purpose, uses, dynamics, and limitations, and the underlying components that allow reflection and transformation to occur.Reflections on psychosocial themes often take the form of dialogues, which differ from the discussions commonly encountered in clinical settings because they require the engagement of the participants' whole selves-life experiences, backgrounds, personal values, beliefs, and perspectives-in the exchanges. Dialogues allow for the inclusion of affective and experiential dimensions in addition to intellectual/cognitive domains in learning, and for an emphasis on discovering new perspectives, insights, and questions instead of limiting participants solely to an instrumental search for solutions.Although these reflections may vary greatly in their form and settings, the reflective space requires three qualities: safety and confidentiality, an intentional designation of a time apart from the distractions of daily life for reflection and dialogue, and an awareness of the transitional nature-the liminality-of a critically important period of professional identity development. In this open space of reflection and dialogue, one's identity as a humanistic physician takes form.


Researcher: Dr Thirusha Naidu

Designation: Senior Clinical Psychologist/ Lecturer and Unit Head

Study: Poetry and narrative therapy for anxiety about spinal surgery

Summary: This case study presents the use of poetry in psychotherapy with an adolescent girl, Buhle (a pseudonym), who needed surgery to correct a curvature of her spine due to adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. She experienced anxiety which prevented surgeons from doing the procedure. Psychotherapists used narrative therapy to explore issues associated with and contributing to her anxiety and encouraged her to document her experiences through poetry, after learning that she was a keen poet. During psychotherapy Buhle's poems were used to track and narrate her experiences and as an empowering method allowing her to make personal sense of challenging experiences. Buhle's poems are presented within an account of the psychotherapy leading up to the surgery. Her poetry reveals a juxtaposition of regular adolescent identity issues in the face of coping with a demanding medical condition and the prospect of invasive surgery.


Researcher: Mr Mathew Haswell

Designation: PhD Student/ Communications Manager for the Mr Price Group

Study: Narratives of Value-Based Leadership", explored leadership development and the manner in which values were formed.

Summary:  The research examined the personal stories of 15 South African-based corporate leaders. The thesis explores existing views of value based leadership as well as authentic leadership and authentic leadership development.

This qualitative research opened up further questions for future research on the impact of value-based leadership practices, in particular the role authentic leadership theory can have on a leader’s ability to lead effectively.

15 one-on-one interviews were conducted with leaders and analysed the information gained using thematic analysis. 


PROJECT CARE

Principal investigator: Prof Basil J Pillay, Medical School, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban,

Co-principal investigator: Prof Wendy Kliewer, Virginia Common Wealth University, USA

Project CARE is a research study which will be undertaken by the Department of Behavioural Medicine at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.


Project CARE is a research study with maternal caregivers and youth designed to learn more about what things help young people cope best with problems and stress, including the stress of experiencing, witnessing, and hearing about community violence; the stress of living in disadvantaged communities; family problems such as illness; and everyday problems that young people face.   We are very interested in why some youth become depressed or aggressive, or turn to alcohol and drugs to cope with stress, or engage in other risky behaviors, while other youth do not.  We are trying to understand if there are ways that youth react to stress and cope with stress that make it easier or harder to engage in healthy versus risky behavior.  We are quite interested in how caregivers and families contribute to youth’s coping with and adjustment to stress. We are interested in the reasons youth thrive and succeed in spite of risk.

PROJECT CARE

Principal investigator: Prof Basil J Pillay, Medical School, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban,

Co-principal investigator: Prof Wendy Kliewer, Virginia Common Wealth University, USA

Project CARE is a research study which will be undertaken by the Department of Behavioural Medicine at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.


Project CARE is a research study with maternal caregivers and youth designed to learn more about what things help young people cope best with problems and stress, including the stress of experiencing, witnessing, and hearing about community violence; the stress of living in disadvantaged communities; family problems such as illness; and everyday problems that young people face.   We are very interested in why some youth become depressed or aggressive, or turn to alcohol and drugs to cope with stress, or engage in other risky behaviors, while other youth do not.  We are trying to understand if there are ways that youth react to stress and cope with stress that make it easier or harder to engage in healthy versus risky behavior.  We are quite interested in how caregivers and families contribute to youth’s coping with and adjustment to stress. We are interested in the reasons youth thrive and succeed in spite of risk.


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