Ageing; mental health and wellbeing; dementia; young onset dementia; cognitive health; Alzheimer's disease; frontotemporal dementia; interventions to promote brain health; Indigenous health.
Fields of Research (FoR)Psychology of ageing, Cognition, Clinical neuropsychology, Health equity, Epidemiology, Mental health services, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander epidemiology, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-based research, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of knowing, being and doing, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander public health and wellbeing, Social determinants of health
Associate Professor Withall is a combined track specialist on ageing and neuropsychology in the School of Psychology, where she is the Co-Director of Research. She leads the Ageing at the Margins Lab and equity and digital innovation in cognitive assessment (serious games) and promoting brain health for priority populations are the focus of her research. Dr Withall is a woman of both Aboriginal and Angloceltic (convict and...view more
Associate Professor Withall is a combined track specialist on ageing and neuropsychology in the School of Psychology, where she is the Co-Director of Research. She leads the Ageing at the Margins Lab and equity and digital innovation in cognitive assessment (serious games) and promoting brain health for priority populations are the focus of her research. Dr Withall is a woman of both Aboriginal and Angloceltic (convict and settler) heritage.
Adrienne is a mid career researcher and author of 68 journal publications, an edited book Alcohol and the Adult Brain, and 5 book chapters. Her research is highly cited and she has a h-index of 29, with 2984 citations. Her expertise is on young onset dementia, particularly priority populations at risk of accelerated cognitive decline (including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, people with chronic drug and alcohol use, and older justice-involved people). She uses mixed methods to aid the translation of her research into policy and clinical practice.
Associate Professor Withall is leading NHMRC-funded research on older incarcerated citizens, including an NHMRC Ideas Grant to design serious games to aid dementia assessment in justice settings and an NHMRC Cohort Grant to perform a longitudinal study of older people in and transitioning out of prison. She is a Chief Investigator of two Centres of Research Excellence, including the ON-Track CRE on Aboriginal Brain Health (led by the University of Melbourne) and the CRE for Violence Prediction, Profiling and Prevention (led by the University of New South Wales). This latter CRE involves an important study to establish routine cognitive assessment for older people in the court system.
She partners regularly with a range of stakeholders, including Aboriginal communities (e.g. Marcia Ella Duncan and the La Perouse Local Aboriginal Land Council to design the first on-country experience for UNSW medical students), people with Lived Experience (e.g. via the Black Dog Institute) community organisations (e.g. Dementia Australia), health services (e.g. Northern Sydney Local Health District Drug and Alcohol Services, NSW Justice Health and Forensic Mental Health Network) & industry partners (e.g. Flourish Australia, Corrective Services NSW). She has served as an Advocate for people with young onset dementia on various working parties and policy groups, as well as during the Senate Enquiry on Younger People in Residential Care.
Adrienne is currently Co-Chair of the Australian Young Onset Dementia Special Interest Group and a member of the International Indigenous Dementia Research Network. She is also a Member of the NSW Minister's Advisory Council on Ageing and led work for the Australian Association of Gerontology on older people leaving prison.
Dr Withall regularly reviews grants for national (e.g. NHMRC, ARC, Dementia Australia Research Foundation, Bupa Health Foundation) as well as international grant bodies (such as UK Medical Research Council, Alzheimer's Research UK, Wellcome Trust, Health Research Board Ireland and Netherlands Organisation of Health, Research and Development). She also regularly serves on NHMRC grant panels.
Adrienne currently supervises PhD, Masters, and Honours students.
Dr Withall is currently leading an NHMRC Ideas Grant (2021-2023, $845,000) to investigate "Audio app-delivered Screening for Cognition and Age-related health in Prisoners (ASCAPE)”, which is leveraging gamification to design innovative tools to measure health and cognition. She is also a CI with the "ON Track: Promoting brain health with older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples" Centre of Research Excellence (2021-2026, $3,000,000). She is also a Chief Investigator on an MRFF COVID-19 grant examining a text mining and data linkage approach to investigate the mental health needs of the population during the COVID-19 period (2021-2022) and is Lead Investigator on an investigator-initiated clinical trial funded by the Ageing Futures Institute and an Industry partner examining inflammaging, the microbiome and frailty (2021-2022).
Her other currently funded research includes the relationships between river health and mental health for Aboriginal people living in Menindee (funded by the Plus Alliance), health and wellbeing impacts of the Deadly Runners program (funded by the Ageing Futures Institute), and understanding the health needs of younger people with disabilities discharged from hospital to residential aged care (funded by the Summer Foundation).
BSc (Hons) University of Sydney, 1997 (Majors: Psychology and Physiology)
PhD University of Sydney, 2006 (Neuropsychology)
My Research Supervision
Areas of supervision
Dementia, cognitive decline, ageing, neuropsychology, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, epidemiology, marginalised populations, cognition, serious games, criminal behaviour, justice health, drug and alcohol, service provision, carer health
Current UNSW Postgraduate Students
Mr Mark Orr AM: Enhancing the mental health workforce: Acceptability and efficacy of on-line peer support for adults with a lived experience of a mental health issue (part-time).
Ms Ellen Finlay: Social and political power asymmetries in health outcomes between older Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians (part-time).
Mr Amanuel Kidane: (Scientia Scholarship) Care pathways for older people in prison in NSW.
Dr Sharon Reutens: (Scientia Scholarship) Management of older people in the justice system.
Ms Milena Katz (Aust RTP Scholarship): Inflammageing, frailty and the microbiome.
Mr Rhys Mantell: A serious game approach to understand and detect cognitive impairment issues in marginalised populations.
Dr Mariam Soomro (Pakistan Govt Scholarship): Improving the surveillance, prediction and prevention of head injuries in rugby union.
Dr Patrick Stewart: Drug overdose and subclinical cognitive impairment.
Mr Vincent Poisson: How to facilitate help-seeking in male supporters of people with dementia.
Dr Withall teaches into Phases 1 and 2 of the undergraduate Medical Program, lecturing on diverse areas such as mental health, ageing, dementia, cultural competence and developing reflective practitioner and critical thinking skills. She is also Co-Convenor of the Phase 2 Society and Health course. At a postgraduate level, she convenes the course Public Health Aspects of Mental Health (PHCM9761), which is run with the Black Dog Institute as a Partner. Previously she taught at the University of Sydney through the Faculty of Health Sciences, teaching a diverse mix of allied health professionals about health psychology, research methods and neuropsychology.