Primary Care Mental Health

Research Overview

Covid-19 Research

The Primary Care Mental Health Research Program aims to optimise person-centred mental health that enhances physical and mental well-being. Mentored and established by internationally recognised academic GP, Professor Jane Gunn, the research spans over 15 years of primary care led depression research focusing on 4 main areas as shown in the figure below. Comprised of a multidisciplinary group of researchers, this leading program has engaged more than 500 general practitioners and 10,000 consumers and carers in clinical and health services research.

The Program is part of a vibrant culture of collaboration and exchange through the Department’s Visiting Academic program that hosts visitors from around Australia and internationally from Europe, the UK and North America. In recent years the Program has hosted and mentored a number of international postdoctoral research fellows including:

  • Dr Susanne Boel Graversen (2020) Aarhus University, Denmark;
  • Dr Amy Blakemore (2018, 2020) University of Manchester, UK;
  • Professor Robin Miller (2018) University of Birmingham, UK;
  • A/Professor Rob Whitley (2015, 2018) McGill University, Canada;
  • Dr Markus Haun (2016) Heidelberg University Hospital, Germany;
  • Dr Christine Ladegaard Geyti (2016) Aarhus University, Denmark;
  • Dr Caroline Wachtler (2014-2015) Karolinska Institute, Sweden;
  • Dr Marjorie Johnston (2014) University of Aberdeen, Scotland;
  • Dr Lauralie Richards (2013-2015) University of Montreal, Canada;
  • Dr Gilles Ambresin, (2011-2013) University of Lausanne, Switzerland;
  • Dr Jennifer Terpstra, (2011) University of British Columbia, Canada.


Professor Victoria Palmer - Head of Research Program

Professor Jane Gunn - Program Mentor

Dr Matthew Lewis - Senior Research Fellow

Dr Cath Kaylor-Hughes - Research Fellow

A/Prof Patty Chondros - Biostatistician

Dr Glenn Papworth - Centre Manager - National Centre for Mental Health Translation

Ms Roxanne Kritharidis - Project Officer

Ms Konstancja Densley - Data Manager

Mr Adrian Laughlin - Biostatistician

Dr Caroline Johnson - Research Fellow

Ms Emily Knights - Research Nurse

Dr Caroline Tjung -  Academic Specialist, Research Translation

Dr Jennifer Bibb - Research Fellow, Implementation and Co-Design

Dr Dana Jazayeri - Senior Research Support Officer

Dr Alison Flehr - Research Assistant

Mr Phillip Orcher - Research Assosciate Codesign Alive

Ms Zoe Allnutt - Research Nurse

Dr Steve Savvas - Research Fellow (Implementation and Evalutation)

Ms Rose Butinar -  Co-Design Research Specialist

Ms Josephine Briand - Co-Design Research Specialist

Mr Gregor McDonald - Co-Design Research Specialist

Ms Aneta Bandislovka -  Research Assistant: Recruitment and Engagement

Ms Amy Coe -  Research Fellow (Participatory Research)

Dr Christa Dang -  Research Fellow: The MiND Study

Ms Alexandra Lee - Research Fellow – Crowdsourcing And Co-Design


Ms Amy Coe - PhD Candidate

Ms Kali Godbee - PhD Candidate

Mr Christo Karuna - PhD Candidate


Australian Collaborations

  • University of Newcastle
  • Deakin University
  • University of Queensland
  • University of New South Wales
  • Orygen
  • Lifeline
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • Black Dog
  • Tandem - representing Victorian mental health carers
  • Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council (VMIAC)
  • Australian Taxi Industry Association

International Collaborations

  • Kent State University
  • University of Warwick
  • University of Glasgow
  • University of Southampton
  • University of Liverpool
  • The Chinese University of Hong Kong
  • University of Lausanne
  • Karolinska Institute
  • McGill University
  • The Hearth Centre


  • National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC)
  • Commonwealth Department of Health
  • Mental Illness Research Fund and the Psychiatric Illness an Intellectual Disability Donations Trust Fund
  • Melbourne Networked Society Institute (MNSI)
  • Melbourne Social Equity Institute
  • Shepherd Foundation
  • Therapeutic Guidelines Ltd (TGL)/RACGP

Research Outcomes

Fletcher S, Spittal MJ, Chondros P, Palmer VJ, Chatterton ML, Densley K, Potiriadis M, Harris M, Bassilios B, Burgess P, Mihalopoulos C, Pirkis J, Gunn J. Clinical efficacy of a Decision Support Tool (Link-me) to guide intensity of mental health care in primary practice: a pragmatic stratified randomised controlled trial. The Lancet Psychiatry. 2021 Feb 8.

Fletcher S, Chondros P, Densley K, Murray E, Dowrick C, Coe A, Hegarty K, Davidson S, Wachtler C, Mihalopoulos C, Lee YY, Chatterton ML, Palmer  V, Gunn J. Matching depression management to severity prognosis in primary care: results of the Target-D randomised controlled trial. BJGP.  2021. 71 (703): e85-e94 DOI:

Fletcher S, Chondros P, Palmer VJ, Chatterton ML, Spittal MJ, Mihalopoulos C, et al. (2019). Link-me: Protocol for a randomised controlled trial of a systematic approach to stepped mental health care in primary care. Contemporary Clinical Trials 78: 63-75.

Fletcher S, Clarke J, Sanatkar S, Baldwin P, Gunn J, Zwar N, et al. (2019). Recruiting to a randomised controlled trial of an online program for people with type 2 diabetes and depression: Lessons learned at the intersection of e-mental health and primary care. Journal of Medical and Internet Research 21: e12793.

Clarke J, Sanatkar S, Baldwin P, Fletcher S, Gunn J, Wilhelm K, et al. (2019). A web-based public health intervention to reduce functional impairment and depressive symptoms in adults with type 2 diabetes (the SpringboarD Trial): Results of a randomised controlled trial. Journal of Medical and Internet Research 21: E12246.

Palmer, Lewis M, Stylianopolous V, Furler J (2018). Primary care prevention of the cardiovascular health crisis for people with severe mental illness: the elephant in the room. The Australian Journal of General Practice.

Palmer V, Weavell W, Callander R, Piper D, Richard L, Maher L, Boyd H, Herrman H, Furler J, Gunn J, Iedema R, Robert, G (2018). The Participatory Zeitgeist: An explanatory theoretical model of change in an era of coproduction and codesign in healthcare improvement. BMJ Medical Humanities.

Pung A, Fletcher SL, Gunn JM. (2018). Mobile app use by primary care patients to manage their depressive symptoms: Qualitative study. J Med Internet Res; 20: e10035.

Chondros P, Davidson S, Wolfe R, Gilchrist G, Dowrick C, Griffiths F, Hegarty K, Herrman H, Gunn J (2018). Development of a prognostic model for predicting depression severity in adult primary care patients with depressive symptoms using the diamond longitudinal study. Journal of Affective Disorders 227: 854-860.

Wachtler C, Coe A, Davidson S, Fletcher S, Mendoza A, Sterling L, Gunn J (2018). Development of a mobile clinical prediction tool to estimate future depression severity and guide treatment in primary care: User-centered design. Journal of Medical Internet Research mHealth & uHealth 20(4): e95

Gunn J, Cameron J, Densley K, Davidson S, Fletcher S, Palmer V, Chondros P, Dowrick C, Pirkis J (2018). Uptake of mental health websites in primary care: Insights from an Australian longitudinal cohort study of depression. Patient Education and Counselling 101(1): 105-112

Davidson S, Wadley G, Reavley N, Gunn J, Fletcher S (2017). Psychological distress and unmet mental health needs among urban taxi drivers: A cross-sectional survey. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 52(5): 473-482.

Richard L, Piper D, Weavell W, Callander R, Iedema R, Furler J, Pierce D, Godbee K, Gunn J, Palmer V (2017). Advancing engagement methods for trials: The CORE study relational model of engagement for a stepped wedge cluster randomised controlled trial of experience-based co-design for people living with severe mental illnesses. Trials 18(1): 169. http://10.1186/s13063-017-1878-7

Gunn J, Wachtler C, Fletcher S, Davidson S, Mihalopoulos C, Palmer V, Hegarty K, Coe A, Murray E, Dowrick C (2017).Target-D: A stratified individually randomized controlled trial of the diamond clinical prediction tool to triage and target treatment for depressive symptoms in general practice: Study protocol for a randomized controlled trial. Trials 18(1): 342. DOI: 10.1186/s13063-017-2089-y

Ambresin G, Palmer V, Densley K, Dowrick  C, Gilchrist G, Gunn J (2015). What factors influence long-term antidepressant use in primary care? Findings from the Australian diamond cohort study. Journal of Affective Disorders 176(0): 125-132.

Gunn J, Elliott P, Densley K, Middleton A, Ambresin G, Dowrick C, Hegarty K, Herrman H, Gilchrist G, Griffiths F (2013). A trajectory-based approach to understand the factors associated with persistent depressive symptoms in primary care. Journal of Affective Disorders 148(2–3): 338-346.

Gunn J, Ayton D, Densley K, Pallant J, Chondros P, Herrman H, Dowrick C (2012). The association between chronic illness, multimorbidity and depressive symptoms in an Australian primary care cohort. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology. 47: 175-184. DOI: 10.1007/s00127-010-0330-z

Gunn J, Palmer V, Dowrick C, Herrman H, Griffiths F, Kokanovic R, Blashki G, Hegarty K, Johnson C, Potiriadis M, May C. (2010). Embedding effective depression care: Using theory for primary care organisational and systems change. Implement Science 5: 62-76.

Gunn J, Gilchrist G, Chondros P, Ramp M, Hegarty K, Blashki G, Pond D, Kyrios M, Herrman H. (2008). Who is identified when screening for depression is undertaken in general practice? Baseline findings from the Diagnosis, Management and Outcomes of Depression in Primary Care (diamond) longitudinal study. Medical  Journal of Australia 188(12 Suppl): S119-125.