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Tuesday, 8 April 2014

The Excellence and Innovation in Healthcare Portal  The Excellence and Innovation in Healthcare Portal is a joint initiative of the Agency for Clinical Innovation (ACI) and the Clinical Excellence Commission (CEC).


The Portal has been established as a centralised, standardised, first-step resource on ACI and CEC initiatives, programs and projects.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Activity Based Funding

The Centre for Health Service Development at the University of Wollongong has produced a series of short papers on Activity Based Funding. Subjects covered to date include :
What is ABF? ; Rural & regional hospitals ; ABF in USA ; the cost of public hospitals (the states compared) ; Counting inpatient care ; Research and Training; Subacute care ; and Mental health.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Causes of Death Australia report 2012 reveals 10 year high in suicide statistics.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics recently released the Causes of death Australia 2012 report, which included data on deaths by self-harm.

A total of 2535 people committed suicide in Australia in 2012, a 10-year peak.

"Heart disease is still the leading cause of death, with 20,046 deaths in 2012, however this has fallen steadily since 2003. Heart disease accounted for 14 per cent of all deaths in 2012 compared to 19 per cent of all deaths in 2003," said James Eynstone-Hinkins, ABS Director of the Health and Vitals Statistics Unit.

"There were 10,779 deaths from Cerebrovascular diseases (including haemorrhages, strokes, infarctions and blocked arteries of the brain) in 2012, making these the second most common cause of death.

"Dementia and Alzheimer's disease was the third leading cause of death, accounting for 10,369 or seven per cent of all deaths in 2012. Most (95 per cent) of these deaths occurred in people aged 75 or over.

"For women, dementia and Alzheimer's disease has overtaken Cerebrovascular diseases as the second leading cause of death in 2012, while breast cancer remained the sixth most common cause of death.

"Suicide was the 14th most common cause of death in 2012 overall, but remains the 10th leading cause for men. Suicide is the leading cause of death for males and females aged between 15 and 44.

"Overall, the death rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders was double that of non-Indigenous Australians. The leading cause of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was heart disease, with diabetes ranked as the second leading cause." said Mr Eynstone-Hinkins.

Media release

Report paints sad picture of suicides, especially in regional areas (Central Western Daily)

Calls for renewed funding as figures reveal suicide rate highest in 10 years  (ABC)

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Grey Matters: a practical search tool for evidence-based medicine

The Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH) provides Canada's federal, provincial, and territorial health care decision makers with credible, impartial advice and evidence-based information about the effectiveness and efficiency of drugs and other health technologies. In order to search for and retrieve the evidence base required to produce CADTH reports, the Information Services team has developed a grey literature checklist, Grey Matters.

Grey literature includes reports and government information that are not published commercially and that are inaccessible via bibliographic databases. The checklist is used to:

  • ensure the retrieval of all relevant health technology assessment (HTA), government, and evidence-based agency reports that may not be indexed in bibliographic databases such as MEDLINE
  • help document the grey literature search process, thereby increasing transparency and the potential for reproducibility
  • ensure that grey literature searching is done in a standardized and comprehensive way.

This checklist includes national and international HTA web sites, drug and device regulatory agencies, clinical trial registries, health economics resources, Canadian health prevalence or incidence databases, and drug formulary web sites.

Well worth a look for anyone involved in health policy, or who is attempting a comprehensive search encompassing grey literature.

Crossroads: rethinking the Australian mental health system

Australia's mental health system will face an additional cost to the taxpayer of $9 billion if the structure and emphasis of the current system is maintained, argues  Crossroads: rethinking the Australian mental health system.

One in two Australians will experience a mental health disorder during their lifetime. Less than half of those who do will receive appropriate support and treatment. Left untreated, mental health problems often get worse, affecting every aspect of a person's life and creating a significant economic burden on the Australian community.  For this reason the National Mental Health Commission has called for a doubling in the proportion of the Australian population who receive "timely and appropriate mental health services and support." However, projections show that if we continue with business as usual, the current mental health system will require at least 8,800 additional mental health professionals, at a cumulative cost of $9 billion to Australia (in today's dollars) over the 15 years in order to be able to deliver on this objective. This presents a very significant cost-burden, which in the context of already fast-growing health costs is simply unsustainable.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Blueprint for mental health in the mining industry released

The NSW Minerals Council has released   a Blueprint for Mental Health and Wellbeing, providing a high level guide to addressing the mental health and wellbeing of employees in the state's mining sector.

The Blueprint was produced by a team of experts at the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, in conjunction with the University of Newcastle and supported by leading resources research institute NIER (Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources).

Director of the Hunter Institute Jaelea Skehan says this document will provide mining companies with guidance on how to promote mental health and wellbeing and respond early and effectively to reduce the impact of mental ill-health.

"People are the most important resource that any workplace has and so investing in their health, mental health and wellbeing makes sense.

"We know that workplaces have an important role to play in prevention and implementing pro-active measures at industry level can make a real impact," she said.

This Blueprint follows the 2012 Mental Health and the NSW Minerals Industry Report and a workshop for senior mine safety representatives, health professionals and researchers hosted by the NSW Minerals Council, the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, NIER and the University of Newcastle to develop a mental health strategic action plan for the mining sector.

Press release


Workshop Report

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

The Shape of Things to Come: Visions for the future of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research

The Shape of Things to Come: Visions for the future of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research ;
J. Brands 2014.

In late 2012, the Lowitja Institute embarked on a project using 'futures thinking' to consider how research might best contribute to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing in the year 2030. The project was motivated by a desire to 'get ahead of the game': to anticipate and prepare for the potential research demands of the future. In particular, there was a desire to 'close the gap' between the point at which important research needs are identified by policy makers or service providers, and when research findings can be delivered.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

State of the climate report 2014 (CSIRO)

The rise in the number of extremely hot days is underlined in a new report that finds there were more in 2013 than in the entire 1910-40 period combined.

The State of the Climate report by the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO finds Australia is being hit by more extreme heat and high-fire danger, and southern regions are drying out - trends that may accelerate as the planet heats up. The biennial survey found mean temperatures nationwide had risen 0.9 degrees since 1910 and will be another 0.6-1.5 degrees warmer by 2030, compared with the 1980-99 average.

By 2050, if greenhouse gas emissions continue to grow at the pace of the past decade, temperatures will rise between 2.2 and 5 degrees above the 1980-99 average, the agencies said.


Australian climate report reveals more hot days (Central Western Daily)

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Fly-in fly-out workforce practices in Australia: The effects on children and family relationships

Fly-in fly-out workforce practices in Australia: The effects on children and family relationships.

A limited but growing amount of Australian research into fly-in fly-out (FIFO) work practices tentatively suggests that a FIFO lifestyle can have positive, negative or few effects on children and on family relationships, depending on the circumstances. Effects vary according to a range of contextual factors, such as workplace cultures, rosters and recruitment practices, as well as community and home environments, and individual characteristics. As a result, there is a high level of complexity involved in understanding the FIFO lifestyle and how it may impact on outcomes for children and family relationships. Substantial limitations in regards to the available evidence highlight the need for further research.

Key findings:

  • Limited studies exist that explore the effects on children and family relationships of having a FIFO parent. Most FIFO couples report healthy, satisfying and cohesive relationships.
  • Potential impacts on children include: negative emotions experienced as a result of the FIFO parent's absence; increased levels of behaviour problems (particularly amongst boys) when the parent is away for longer periods; greater experiences of bullying at school; and increased pressure to succeed academically. However, some children view the extended time that a FIFO parent has at home as a positive outcome.
  • Parenting is a challenge for FIFO families, particularly for partners at home to manage the continual transitioning from solo parenting to co-parenting. The ability to communicate regularly, privately, effectively and spontaneously is an important factor that mediates the impact a FIFO lifestyle can have on children and families.
  • Family support services, policy-makers and practitioners need to be aware of the unique set of challenges faced by FIFO workers and their families.
  • Further research is needed that is longitudinal, engages with all types of FIFO workers and their families, and includes data collection prior to entry into FIFO work.
  • A FIFO lifestyle does not suit everyone. Families considering FIFO should thoroughly review the likely advantages and disadvantages to all members of the family.

Media release

Wind farms and human health (Public consultation for comment)

No reliable evidence exists that wind farms directly cause health problems, a review by the National Health and Medical Research Council has found.

However, the study by the NHMRC - Australia's peak medical and scientific research body - did link wind farms to a level of annoyance that can cause sleeplessness.

Still, NHMRC chief executive Warwick Anderson stressed that the evidence for this was of poor quality."It's important that it's recognised as an association and does not prove cause and effect," he said.   "Our conclusion is that there's no reliable or consistent evidence that wind farms directly cause adverse health effects in humans, but there's some less consistent and less-high-quality evidence that it might, they may be associated with annoyance or sleep disturbance and poorer quality of life."

The NHMRC has launched an NHMRC DraftInformation Paper: Evidence on Wind Farms and Human Health which is open for public comment and consultation until 11 April, 2014.

The Information paper has been backed by a comprehensive, independent literature review, Systematic review of the human health effects on wind farms which details other current studies on the subject.

No reliable link between wind farms and health problems (ABC)

Wind farm report reassures residents (Central Western Daily

Consultation page

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Health care expenditure on cardiovascular diseases 2008-09 (AIHW)

Health care expenditure on cardiovascular diseases 2008-09

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) makes a considerable impact on the health of Australians and has the highest level of health-care expenditure of any disease group. Between 2000-01 and 2008-09, health-care expenditure allocated to CVD increased by 48% from $5,207 million to $7,717 million. The health-care sector with the largest increase (55%) was hospital admitted patients.

Media release

Monday, 24 February 2014

Osteoporosis costing all Australians: a new burden of disease analysis – 2012 to 2022

Osteoporosis costing all Australians: a new burden of disease analysis – 2012 to 2022 updates previous burden of disease analyses undertaken in 2001 and 2007, and shows little progress is being made in preventing and managing osteoporosis in Australia.

Key Findings include :

Poor bone health: 2012-2022

  • 4.74 million Australians over 50 years of age (66% of people over 50) have osteoporosis or osteopenia or poor bone health.
  • Based on the 4.74 million Australians with poor bone health, 22% have osteoporosis and 78% have osteopenia.
  • By 2022, it is estimated there will be 6.2 million Australians over the age of 50 with osteoporosis or osteopenia. That is a 31% increase from 2012.

High fracture rates: 2012-2022

  • By 2022 there will be 1 fracture every 2.9 minutes. That is 501 fractures per day and 3,521 fracture per week.
  • This compares to a fracture every 8.1 minutes in 2001 and a fracture every 5-6 minutes in 2007.

Alarming costs to Government, the community and to individuals

  • In 2012, the total costs of osteoporosis and osteopenia in Australians over 50 years of age were $2.75 billion.
  • It is predicted that in 2022, the total costs will be $3.84 billion (2012$).

Call to action

Previous reports have included recommendations for action. What is telling is that the recommendations here are the same as previous reports.

  • That a re-fracture prevention initiative be funded to follow-up and co-ordinate the care of every Australian who has sustained their first fragility fracture.
  • That bone density testing for menopausal women aged 50 with risk factors for osteoporosis be reimbursed.
  • That more funding be provided for education and awareness programs about healthy bones as prevention is best, and the high rates of osteopenia are alarming.
  • New Report on Osteoporosis in the Asia Pacific Region

    The International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) has released a new Asia-Pacific Regional Audit : epidemiology, costs & burden of osteoporosis in 2013. The report covers 16 countries, including Australia and New Zealand and reveals osteoporosis is a serious problem throughout the Asia Pacific region.

    Fracture numbers are set to rise dramatically in the coming decades, it is projected that more than 50% of fractures in the world will occur in Asia by 2050. Other trends impacting bone health in the region include urbanisation and widespread vitamin D insufficiency. The report identifies gaps in current care, the expected future burden of the disease, but also presents cost-effective (and evidence-based) solutions.

    Working beyond 65—what’s realistic? The influence of health on longer working lives

    This report from the National Seniors Productive Ageing Centre explores the relationship between health and remaining in the workforce past the age of 65 in Australia. It shows that people in good health are almost twice as likely to be employed as those with a chronic health condition. The report also finds that 80% of people working with a chronic health condition earn $500 or less per week, compared to 54% of those without a health condition. The most common conditions affecting people in this age group are arthritis and related disorders, hypertension, back problems, diabetes and heart disease. A concerning finding from the study is that many employed people with a chronic health condition believe that the income they earn is not enough to allow them to retire.

    Working beyond 65—what's realistic? The influence of health on longer working lives was written by D Schofield, E. Callander, S. Kelly and R. Shrestha for the NSPAC.