Meet The Researcher


Dr Vivienne Guan

University of Wollongong

Let’s get started! Tell us an interesting fact about yourself...
I love food, science and helping people.
What inspired you to get involved in MS research?
I worked on an MS research project during the first year of my postdoc. I found that there is a strong patient need to have support and advice on evidence-based dietary recommendations for self-managing their diets. However, limited research has been done in this area. It makes me want to develop a tool to support them to self-manage their food choices based on evidence.
What do you think has been the most exciting development in MS research?
Exciting developments in MS research are the increasing recognition of modifiable lifestyle factors, such as diet and exercise in relation to MS symptom management and disease progression.
Tell us about your current research project...
This project will develop and evaluate an app. The app will be used to support people with MS to self-manage their food choices ensuring increased compliance with the Australian Dietary Guidelines. All of the cognitive load related to thinking and planning of food choices will be done by the app. The project will engage Accredited Practising Dietitians and people with MS, to co-develop the app with the research team. This approach will ensure that the app reflects what really matters to persons with MS. Using the app will empower users by allowing them to more readily make healthy food choices, thus, managing their diets with reduced stress, lower costs and greater availability of support.
Why is your research important and how will it influence the understanding and treatment of MS?
The project will make advances for evidence generation on self-managing MS. Engaging Accredited Practising Dietitians and people with MS to co-develop the app will bring health professionals and MS communities together to develop an app that is evidence-based, easy to use, have higher user acceptance and satisfaction, and lower user errors. The evidence-based dietary guidelines translated to practice via an app will enhance their self-efficacy, reducing stress, improving coping skills and improving general quality of life, with lower costs and greater availability for people with MS.
What do you enjoy most about working in the lab and what are some of the challenges you face?
My favourite thing about being a dietitian and a researcher is to translate the evidence into food choices, which can help people improve their diet to become healthier and stay healthy. I am constantly trying to find new ways to empower people with tools to manage their diet and health. I enjoy the challenges I face during conducting my research.
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Dr Vivienne Guan