Friday, 17 December 2010

Drinking patterns in Australia, 2001-2007 (AIHW)

Drinking patterns in Australia, 2001-2007 uses data from the three most recent National Drug Household Surveys to look at trends in alcohol consumption, alcohol-related harm, alcohol beverage of choice, and under-age drinking. Using the 2007 data, the report also explores factors that are associated with short-term risky or high-risk drinking behaviour.

Premature mortality from chronic disease (AIHW)

Premature mortality from chronic disease uses potential years of life lost to describe mortality patterns for deaths due to chronic disease. It shows that in 2007, 835 premature deaths were due to chronic disease. The leading cause of premature mortality among females was breast cancer and among males it was coronary heart disease. Further, the bulletin highlights that more than 3 in 5 of premature chronic disease deaths were also potentially avoidable.

Media release

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Cancer in Australia 2010: an overview and Cancer in Australia 2010: in brief (AIHW)

Cancer in Australia: an overview, 2010 provides a comprehensive overview of national statistics on cancer in Australia. The report presents the latest available statistics on cancer overall, as well as on many individual types of cancers, and it includes information on incidence, mortality, survival, prevalence, burden of cancer, hospitalisations, and national cancer screening programs.

Between 1982 and 2007, cancer incidence increased 27%, largely due to an aging population. However, cancer deaths during this time declined 16%. Mortality rates for Australian Indigenous peoples were considerably higher for all cancers.

Media release

Cancer in Australia 2010: in brief

Improving the culture of hospitals : improving outcomes for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander patients

The CRCAH-funded Improving the Culture of Hospitals project examined successful Aboriginal programs undertaken by Australian hospitals, within a quality improvement framework, to see how this work could be replicated and sustained across a range of hospital environments. The overall aim of the project was to support a program of cultural reforms to improve cultural sensitivity in acute health care institutions, thereby leading to better health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.

Final project report

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Patient Quality Improvement Toolkit for Hospital Staff
The health status of Indigenous peoples is a global concern with mortality and hospitalisation data indicating that the health of indigenous groups falls below that of other ethnic groups within their countries. From an Australian perspective, Aboriginal people generally have higher rates of hypertension, heart disease, respiratory ailments, stroke, diabetes, cancer and renal failure.

This toolkit has been designed to give hospitals a systematic approach to improving Aboriginal health service delivery.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Free online training in infection control

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, has produced a portal of online training courses on infection control subjects. The portal is made up of a series of educational modules for the health care worker who is undertaking infection control activities to enhance their knowledge and provide them with resources to assist them in safe practice, quality healthcare delivery and risk management strategies.

Courses available include principles of infection control; basic microbiology; cleaning, disinfection & sterilisation ; basic epidemiology; renovation & redevelopment risk management and several others. Registration is free.

Windows into Safety and Quality in Health Care 2010

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, has released the Windows into Safety and Quality in Health Care 2010 report. This report provides perspectives on aspects of the safety and quality of health care in 2010. Topics covered include how patient experience can improve the safety and quality of health care, clinical deterioration, antibiotic resistance, clinical handover, medication safety and accreditation. Other chapters focus on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander experience of safe and high quality health care, falls prevention in older people and the use of reporting by hospitals to monitor and improve patient safety.

iCanQuit website gives smokers the edge in their attempt to quit

Smokers in NSW will gain the upper hand in their attempt to quit thanks to an innovative new website launched recently. The website is a one-stop-shop for smokers looking to quit.

iCanQuit motivates smokers to stop smoking by providing them with the information and tools they need so they can personalise their quit journey, and interact and connect with like-minded users. It allows smokers to share their stories about previous, current or planned quit attempts, provides helpful hints on how to quit as well as a goal-tracker and savings calculator so smokers can see the tangible results of quitting.

The website is free and the first of its kind in Australia. It is part of a two-pronged approach aimed at reducing the impact of tobacco related cancer in NSW with a state-wide advertising campaign to be launched on television and in cinemas later this year.

Media release

The Indigenous Chronic Disease Package Annual Progress Report 2009-10 and GP Resource Kit

Minister for Indigenous Health, Warren Snowdon, said a new report on the Australian Government*s multi-million dollar commitment to tackling chronic disease in Indigenous communities shows positive progress is being made. The Indigenous Chronic Disease Package Annual Progress Report 2009-10 is the first government report detailing the achievements and progress of the historic commitment to help close the gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. The Australian Government's Indigenous Chronic Disease Package committed $805.5 million over 4 years to target chronic disease such as diabetes and cancer, which are responsible for a large amount of the disease burden affecting Indigenous people. This package is part of the $1.6 billion National Partnership Agreement which was agreed to by the Council of Australian Governments in November 2008.

Also available from the same site is The GP Resource Kit, a tool for doctors, health professionals and staff working in Indigenous health services and general practices to understand how to access and make the most of the new initiatives in the Indigenous Chronic Disease Package.

Media release

Australian Health Survey 2010

Australia's financially hard up and those living outside capital cities have a more negative view of the Australian health care system than the broader population, according to a bi-annual survey by The Menzies Centre for Health Policy and The Nous Group. Key concerns about access and affordability featured in the survey responses.

Examining how Australians view their health care system, the report presents the results of a telephone survey of a representative sample of 1201 Australians. The Menzies-Nous Australian Health Survey 2010 provides valuable insight into the views held by Australians about their own health, the Australian health system and affordability of health and aged care services.

The survey was conducted in July 2010 and asked questions on the following subjects:

* satisfaction with the health system;

* support for health reform;

* access to health care services;

* confidence in services;

* affordability of health care.

Healthcare in focus : how NSW compares internationally ( NSW Bureau of Health Information)

Healthcare in Focus provides a comprehensive look at how the NSW health system compares to the rest of Australia and 10 other countries, using some 90 performance measures. The report provides comprehensive information including care experiences, effectiveness, efficiency, equity, value, safety and responsiveness.

This report is the latest in a number of reports on hospital performance and patient perceptions available from the NSW Bureau of Health Information.

MyHospitals website

The MyHospitals website, which is intended to give the community clear, comparable and user friendly information about the services and the performance of their local hospital, was launched on 10 December. The website has been developed and the data compiled by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. It includes waiting times for elective surgery and emergency department care for the 2009/10 financial year as well as a comparison to the previous year.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Health expenditure Australia 2008-09 (AIHW)

Health expenditure in Australia in 2008-09 reached $112.8 billion, an increase of $9.2 billion since 2007-08. The area of health expenditure with the largest increase was public hospital services, which accounted for over one-quarter of the total increase in 2008-09.

Health expenditure Australia 2008-09 examines expenditure on different types of health goods and services in the decade to 2008-09. The report describes funding by the Australian Government and state governments, private health insurance and individuals, compares health expenditures in the different states and territories and compares Australia's spending with other countries.

Media release

Monday, 13 December 2010

The Shed Online brings Men's Sheds to your computer

The Shed Online is an internet-based social community for men, founded by beyondblue: the national depression initiative, The Movember Foundation and the Australian Men's Shed Association.

Like the original Men's Sheds, The Shed Online is a place for men to socialise, network, make friends and share skills. It aims to recreate the atmosphere of "real life Men's Sheds" : a safe space where men can feel confident to discuss and exchange information. The Shed Online aims to foster a sense of community and build men's social networks. In addition to being a place for men to interact with other men The Shed Online also provides men with information on health and well-being.

Good health is based on many factors including feeling good about yourself, being productive and valuable to your community,connecting with friends and maintaining an active body and mind. Becoming a member of The Shed Online gives men a safe environment where they can find many of these things in the spirit of "old-fashioned mateship".

Growing food for healthy communities

The booklet "Growing food for healthy communities" is one of the latest resources added to the website of the Remote Indigenous Gardens (RIG) Network.

The RIG Network project is a cross-sectoral networking initiative that aims to help connect people who have an interest in the social and economic contributions that local food garden projects and small enterprises can make to remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, food security and wellbeing.The website features many resources, research articles, and a regular email newsletter is available. Of interest to anyone seeking to improve the quality of food supply in their local community.

Inquiry into Registration Processes and Support for Overseas Trained Doctors. [Submissions by 4 February 2011]

Many rural health services for whom overseas-trained doctors form an integral part of the workforce, will probably have an interest in an Inquiry into Registration Processes and Support for Overseas Trained Doctors (OTDs) announced by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health and Ageing.

In particular, the Committee has been asked to explore the administrative processes currently in place and determine how OTDs and the wider community can better understand the requirements in relation to assessment processes and appeal mechanisms available to OTDs.

The Committee has also been asked to report on the support programs available through Commonwealth, State and Territory governments and other professional organisations to assist OTDs in meeting their registration requirements. Ways to improve these services will also be investigated.

Finally, the Committee has been asked to suggest how impediments could be removed, and pathways promoted, to assist OTDs in achieving full Australian qualifications, particularly in regional areas, without lowering the current standards as set by professional and regulatory bodies.

Submissions relating to the terms of reference are due by 4 February 2011.

Diabetes in pregnancy: its impact on Australian women and their babies (AIHW)

Diabetes is known to adversely affect women and their babies during pregnancy, labour and delivery. These adverse effects differ by type of diabetes and between population groups. Diabetes in pregnancy: its impact on Australian women and their babies is the first to explore these differences among Australian mothers and their babies at a national level, showing that:

* diabetes affects about 1 in 20 pregnancies

* mothers with pre-existing Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, and their babies, are at highest risk of adverse effects

* mothers with gestational diabetes mellitus, and their babies, are also at increased risk

* Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and their babies are more likely to experience adverse effects than non-Indigenous mothers and their babies.

This report is a useful resource for policymakers, researchers, clinicians and others interested in the effect of diabetes on the health of Australian mothers and their babies.

Media release

Residential aged care in Australia 2008-09 and Aged care packages in the community 2008-09: a statistical overview (AIHW aged care reports)

Residential aged care in Australia 2008-09 provides comprehensive statistical information on residential aged care facilities and services, their residents, admissions and separations, and residents' dependency levels. At 30 June 2009, there were over 178,000 residential aged care places, an increase of 1.6% compared with 30 June 2008. Almost 82,000 permanent residents (59%) had a recorded diagnosis of dementia at 30 June 2009. Other recorded health conditions affecting residents included circulatory diseases (42,000 residents) and diseases of the musculoskeletal and connective tissue (26,800 residents).

Media release


Aged care packages in the community 2008-09: a statistical overview

At 30 June 2009, over 44,000 people were receiving help from a community aged care package, including just over 23,300 new admissions during 2008-09. The findings suggest that proportionate to their populations, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and those from non-English-speaking countries used community aged care packages at a higher rate compared with other Australians.

Media release

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Antidepressants may help violent offenders

A new study has found that violent offenders are less likely to commit another assault if they are given antidepressive drugs. Some of the side effects of antidepressant drugs is that they can also reduce irritability, aggression and impulsive behaviour.

A group of Australian forensic psychiatrists studied the effects of the drugs when given to violent offenders who were not suffering depression.

Families, experts meet on mental health

Experts including mental health reform advocate Patrick McGorry will meet with families affected by mental illness at a summit in Brisbane on Wednesday. About 150 people are expected to attend Queensland's first community mental health summit and Premier Anna Bligh says it's the first event of its type in Australia.

General practice activity in Australia 2009-10 and General practice activity in Australia 2000-01 to 2009-10: 10 year data tables (AIHW)

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has released two new reports :

General practice activity in Australia 2009-10

This report presents results from the twelfth year of BEACH program, a national study of general practice activity. From April 2009 to March 2010, 988 general practitioners recorded data about 98,800 GP-patient encounters involving the management of 155,373 problems. For an 'average' 100 encounters, GPs recorded 107 medications, 35 clinical treatments, 18 procedures, 9 referrals to specialists and 4 to allied health services, and ordered 45 pathology and 10 imaging tests.

Media release


General practice activity in Australia 2000-01 to 2009-10: 10 year data tables

This report presents results from the most recent 10 years (April 2000 to March 2010) of the BEACH program, a national cross-sectional study of general practice activity. During this time 9,842 GPs provided details of almost 1 million GP-patient encounters. Readers can review changes that have occurred over the decade in the characteristics of general practitioners and the patients they see; the problems managed; and the treatments provided. Changes in patients' body mass index, smoking status and alcohol use are described for a subsample of adult patients.

Media release

National Mental Health Report 2010 (Department of Health and Ageing)

The National Mental Health Report 2010, which is the eleventh in the series, presents the latest data on progress made under the National Mental Health Strategy. The report provides a fifteen year view of trends and performance at the national and state and territory levels, over the period scanning the First, Second and Third National Mental Health Plans from 1993 to 2008. Extensive information is presented that describes changes in the resources and structure of mental health services in Australia since the commencement of the strategy.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Floods a 'major setback' for rural mental health

The drastic change of events caused by the recent floods will be a "major setback" to the improvement of mental wellbeing in rural areas, National Rural Health Alliance executive director Gordon Gregory said .

Suicide rates in rural Australia this year are 33 percent higher than in major cities and may be higher in extremely remote areas. The floods, which are currently affecting 50 percent of NSW and stretch from Victoria to Queensland, are predicted to have a detrimental effect on the rural psyche, Mr Gregory said.

Patient-centred care: improving quality and safety by focusing care

Patient-centred care: improving quality and safety by focusing care is a discussion paper from the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care.

Based on national and international movements towards patient-centred policies in health care, (and taking into account Australia's health care system, with its mix of public and private sectors), various recommendations are outlined:

* Patient-centred care should be considered a dimension of quality in its own right.

* Nationally standardised patient survey tools should be implemented.

* Patient surveys should include questions specifically addressing patient centred domains

* Performance-based payments should include "improving patient care experience" as an indicator

* Data regarding patient care experience in health services should be made publicly available on the Internet.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Social media and the medical profession

The Australian Medical Association (AMA)has released Social media and the medical profession to assist doctors and medical students to maintain professional standards when using online social media. The guide was developed by the AMA Council of Doctors-in-Training(AMACDT), the New Zealand Medical Association Doctors-in-Training Council, the New Zealand Medical Students’ Association, and the Australian Medical Students’ Association. AMACDT Chair, Dr Michael Bonning, said that evidence is emerging that the use of online social media can pose risks for medical professionals and doctors have recently faced disciplinary action for their online behaviour.

Media release

Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia 2008-09 (AIHW)

Around 143,000 alcohol and other drug treatment episodes were provided in Australia in 2008-09. More episodes of this treatment were for alcohol than any other drug type, and this proportion has now risen four years in a row. As with previous years, counselling was more prevalent than any other type of treatment. Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia 2008-09: report on the National Minimum Data Set presents data such as these on publicly funded alcohol and other drug treatment services and their clients.

Media release

Thursday, 2 December 2010

"Your room" drug and alcohol information website

The "Your room" website is a joint project of NSW Health and the Alcohol and Drug Information Service that aims to deliver online drug and alcohol information to the people of NSW including: A to Z of drugs; helplines and treatment options; campaigns and online resource ordering; community action contacts and an interactive game.

Casebook of Primary Healthcare Innovations: Picking up the pace: How to accelerate change in primary healthcare

This recently published casebook by the Canadian Health Services Research Foundation documents many of the innovations being implemented across Canada as part of the renewal of primary healthcare. It includes cases on interdisciplinary teams, payment reform, rural and indigenous settings, primary healthcare governance models, and discusses models that have not been taken up.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Smart technology for healthy longevity

With the demographic ageing of Australia's population, a suite of emerging innovative technologies offers the prospect of enhanced security, safety, diagnosis, treatment and physical assistance to improve the quality of life for elderly people, to help them remain at home, and to provide financial savings in aged care and medical treatment.

The key finding of this report by the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering is that a national thrust on the development and application of smart technology for healthy longevity is vital to ensure a healthy, safe, secure and fulfilling future for the increasing aged population in Australia and the maintenance of a healthy, harmonious and prosperous society.

Because the elderly are more frequent users of health services and because medical researchers are developing new drugs and procedures linked to age, the Australian Government's 2010 Intergenerational Report suggests that health spending on those aged over 65 is likely to increase sevenfold. There will be a need for new models of health care and training to deal with this situation. Technology can offer possible solutions to issues of safety and security, diagnosis and treatment, while assistive technologies offer the potential to reduce costs.

New reports on Australian oral health

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has released five new reports on oral health :

Age and the costs of dental care

Trends in access to dental care among Australian adults: in brief

Socioeconomic variation in periodontitis among Australian adults 2004-06

Self-rated oral health of adults

Trends in access to dental care among Australian teenagers

Media release

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Telehealth services for patients : Submissions sought.

The Gillard Governmen has released a discussion paper seeking views on the most effective delivery of telehealth services for patients. The discussion paper asks for views on the clinical situations and medical specialties in which telehealth would be most helpful and how it will work in practice. The paper also seeks comment on the remuneration models that could be employed, the financial incentives to ensure uptake and ongoing participation in the model, the training and support required, as well as technical issues. The Department of Health will also be consulting stakeholders on telehealth issues through a new Advisory Group which will include professional medical colleges, peak medical and nursing bodies and consumer and aboriginal health representatives.

Submissions close on 27 January 2011

Commentary from " The Australia" on telehealth plan. Rural patients having remote video consultations with city-based medical specialists will not necessarily be in their GP's surgery. The first Medicare rebates for telehealth will become available from July next year

AMA's Public Hospital Report Card 2010

Australian Medical Association (AMA) President, Dr Andrew Pesce, said that there had been little improvement in public hospital capacity and performance despite significant extra Commonwealth funding as part of the National Healthcare Agreement and specific funding for an elective surgery "blitz".

The AMA Public Hospital Report Card 2010 is an analysis of the most recent publicly available national data on public hospital performance plus more recent feedback from doctors working in public hospitals in all States and Territories. Dr Pesce said the most telling finding of the report card is that there were only 11 new hospital beds opened across Australia during the 2008-09 reporting period which falls well short of the AMA's estimate that 3,870 additional beds are needed for the public hospital system to operate at a safe 85 per cent average bed occupancy rate

Media release

Thousand of kids living with problem drinkers

New research from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre shows more than 700,000 children live with parents who drink heavily. The study, presented at a drug and alcohol conference in Canberra today, reveals 24 per cent of parents reported heavy drinking behaviour. The report's co-author, Dr Lucy Burns, says children often pick up negative drinking patterns from their parents.

Study probes links between cannabis and schizophrenia (Uni of Wollongong)

The University of Wollongong is heading up new research into the links between cannabis use and drug induced schizophrenia. Researcher Doctor Nadia Solowji says the study will use volunteers to assess the impacts of long-term and recreational use.

Cognitive behaviour therapy used to combat psychosis (UTS study)

For most people with illnesses like psychosis the standard treatment is medication, rather than counselling. But researchers at the Health Psychology Unit at the University of Technology, Sydney say cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) can help, and are running a study to gauge the effectiveness of CBT in patients with early psychosis.

Yael Perry is leading the study and says there is evidence that CBT can help patients with early psychosis. "There is good evidence across a number of studies to suggest that CBT is effective in reducing core symptoms of psychosis, especially symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions," she said. This article examines the positive benefits of using CBT.

Indigenous health checks : a failed policy in need of scrutiny (Lesley Russell)

As the evidence mounts that efforts to "close the gap" on Indigenous disadvantage are faltering, and with the recognition that much more is needed to address the health care needs across all Indigenous communities, we are confronted with a situation where a key mechanism for uncovering and addressing health problems is ineffectual.

Health assessment or health check items under which Medicare will reimburse for preventive health services to Indigenous patients, were introduced in 1999. In comparison to other MBS preventive services, these items were well reimbursed, generally offering a GP between $175 and $200. Nevertheless, the uptake of these items, has been very low.

Every year over 400,000 Indigenous Australians are entitled to receive a Medicare heath check. In 2009-10 less than 12% of the eligible population got such a check. Despite the emphasis placed on children's health and the ongoing Northern Territory Emergency Response(NTER), in the Northern Territory in 2009-10 only 12.7% of children aged under 15 received a health check.

An additional issue is that there is nothing in place to ensure that health problems uncovered in the course of health checks are addressed in a timely fashion. Published data suggests that about 80% of health checks show health problems that need follow-up treatment or referrals. Even in the NTER communities, with allocated funding for the purpose, the delivery of follow-up care has lagged.

To address these issues and ensure that Indigenous people get access to the health care services they need,Dr. Russell proposes that immediate action should be taken to:

1. Understand and address the barriers for GPs and their Indigenous patients to the effective and widespread utilisation of Medicare Benefits Schedule item 715.

2. Consult with Indigenous health providers and communities about the way they would prefer to see these services delivered, where and by whom.

3. Implement and fund an improved program for health assessments across all age groups.

4. Put in a place a system to ensure that all health problems found as a consequence of a health check are appropriately addressed and resolved.

5. Provide for independent and transparent monitoring and evaluation of this new program.

Euthanasia in Australia: Raising a disability voice

Euthanasia in Australia: Raising a disability voice by Erik Leipoldt of the Curtin University of Technology Western Australia reviews the current state of the euthanasia debate.

Euthanasia legislation is currently being pursued in many State jurisdictions and a Federal Parliamentary debate on restoring Territorial rights to legislate in this area is imminent. Its consequences will reflect on what kind of society we want to have. Whatever we decide won't be easy to unwind once we have made that choice. The Australian euthanasia debate is inviting us to conclude that lives lived with disability are often not worth living, while actual disability experience points to a contrary reality. Disability voices and perspective are seldom heard but are essential ingredients of a fully informed debate. Their experience shows that there is a social context within which requests for euthanasia arise, which calls for the best possible care and support. Set in that context, it is not possible to build any effective safeguards against euthanasia. Some information on the Dutch euthanasia experience is included in arguing against adopting euthanasia laws and for using disability experience of interdependence as an ethically responsible framework for dealing with suffering.

Australian hospital statistics 2009-10: emergency department care and elective surgery waiting times (AIHW)

Australian hospital statistics 2009-10: emergency department care and elective surgery waiting times presents information relating to emergency department care in major public hospitals and public hospital elective surgery waiting times for the period 1 July 2009 to 30 June 2010. In 2009-10: almost 6 million emergency department presentations were provided by major public hospitals, with 70% of patients receiving treatment within an appropriate time for their urgency (triage category); about 610,000 patients were admitted to Australian public hospitals from waiting lists for elective surgery, with 50% of patients admitted within 36 days.

Media release

Weight loss surgery in Australia (AIHW)

This report shows that there was a substantial increase in weight loss surgery in Australia, from approximately 500 separations in 1998-99 to 17,000 in 2007-08. In 2007-08, 90% of separations for weight loss surgery were in private hospitals, with private health insurance funding 82% of separations. In 2007-08, the estimated cost of hospital care for weight loss surgery was $108 million-approximately $15.2 million in benefits was paid through the Medicare Benefits Schedule for weight loss surgery-related procedures.

Media release )

Health of Australians with disability: health status and risk factors (AIHW)

Almost half of Australians with severe or profound disability are not in good health, according to a report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Health of Australians with disability: health status and risk factors, found that 46% of Australians aged 15-64 years with a severe or profound disability reported poor or fair health, compared to only 5% of those without disability. People in this group had higher rates of all types of long-term health conditions than those without a disability. People with severe or profound disability were more likely to have acquired a long-term health condition earlier in life than those without disability. Some of these conditions were diabetes/high blood sugar level before the age of 25, arthritis before the age of 25 years and osteoporosis before the age of 45 years.

Media release

Health of the people of NSW 2010

The health of the people of NSW - Report of the Chief Health Officer. Summary Report, 2010 is the latest report in a series produced every two years since 1996 to provide key information on the status of the health of N.S.W. It also plays the role of providing information on the effectiveness of public health programs and on factors critical to maintaining a healthy life.

A child born in NSW in 2007 would now expect to live 79.8 years if male and 84.4 years if female, an increase of 3.3 years for males and 2 years for females since 1998. Death rates from major causes of disease and injury have significantly fallen in the last 10 years and there have been improving trends for some risky behaviours such as smoking, sedentary behaviour and inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption, which lead to disease.

However, overweight and obesity rates have increased by more than 3% in women and by 2% in men in the last five years. The consumption of vegetables, while improving, has remained too low in both men and women, with fewer than 15% of men and women eating the recommended amount of vegetables in 2009.

The report also highlights the poor health outcomesof the Aboriginal population of NSW. Rates of avoidable deaths and hospitalisations, infant mortality and premature or low birth weight babies are unacceptably higher in Aboriginal compared with non-Aboriginal people in NSW. Reducing inequities in health outcomes remains a major challenge in NSW.

The Superguide: a handbook for supervising doctors in training

A new practical guide for supervisors of junior medical officers is now available. The guide has been developed in consultation with clinicians across the State by CETI's Medical Division (The Institute of Medical
Education and Training.

"There is good evidence about what makes good clinical supervision, but the literature is diffuse and not readily accessible to busy supervisors. We wanted to publish a short guide based on the evidence that was practical and motivating." author Roslyn Crampton said. "Successful supervision uses the necessities of clinical oversight as the opportunity for training and education, so that safe supervision today becomes the foundation for safe independent practice by the trainee in the future."

The Superguide covers a wide range of topics in the areas of clinical oversight, clinical teaching (with many practical teaching tips), keeping trainees safe and well, and term supervision. A resources section includes references, forms and checklists.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Australia's mothers and babies 2008 (AIHW)

Australia's mothers and babies 2008 is the 18th report providing information on births in Australia from perinatal data collections for each state and territory.

In 2008, 292,156 women gave birth to 296,925 babies in Australia. The increase in births continued, with 2,720 more births (0.9%) than reported in 2007. This is the second year that the rate of caesarean section has not significantly increased with a 0.2% rise from 30.9% in 2007 to 31.1% in 2008.

Media release

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Self-injury in Australia

The prevalence of self-injury in Australia is substantial and self-injury may begin at older ages than previously reported, according to an article in the Medical Journal of Australia.

Graham Martin, Professor and Director of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Queensland, and co-authors conducted a cross-sectional study to gain an accurate understanding of self-injury and its correlates in the Australian population. A sample of 12,006 Australians, from randomly selected households, participated in the study.

In the four weeks before the survey, 1.1 per cent of the sample self-injured. Six-month prevalence was 1.8 per cent. Lifetime prevalence was 8.1 per cent. For females, self-injury peaked between 15 and 24 years of age. For males, it peaked between 10 and 19 years of age. The average age of onset was 17 years, but the oldest was 44 for males and 60 for females.

Urgent action required on mental health hot-spots

The Federal Government should urgently provide more effective support for people in remote areas where there are clusters of self-harming behaviours. Evidence has recently come to light of high local rates of self-harm and suicide in parts of the Northern Territory and central Queensland.

"There are some good suicide prevention programs in Central Australia, including some run with flexible funding by Aboriginal community controlled health services," said Dr Jenny May, Chair of the Alliance. "However recent evidence from other parts of remote Australia shows there are still very serious unmet needs. Someone has to be accountable for the duty of care in such matters, including in remote Indigenous communities.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Collective apathy: alcohol and child abuse in the NT

The NT Government’s recent report on child protection, ‘Growing them Strong,Together ‘blames the three 'G's' - grog, ganga and gambling for the tsunami of child neglect and abuse in Indigenous communities in the Territory.But according to this ABC report, equally to blame is collective apathy. What has been tolerated in Aboriginal communities would never have been tolerated in the major cities and towns of Australia.

Outreach choir (Aboriginal Mental Health Program)

Queensland's Aboriginal and Islander Health Council has set up five community choirs to attack the symptoms of mental illness and bring sufferers into contact with health professionals.

Indigenous Australians are five times more likely to experience mental illness than the rest of the population - a problem often exacerbated by their reluctance to seek help. Now a new program's been developed to tackle mental health issues through song. Queensland's Aboriginal and Islander Health Council has set up five community choirs to attack the symptoms of mental illness and bring sufferers into contact with health professionals. The scheme has been given a helping hand by Indigenous country and western star Roger Knox, who himself overcame crippling depression and an addiction to painkillers.

http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2010/s3061813.htm

Thursday, 11 November 2010

WHO releases recommendations on rural workforce retention

Increasing access to health workers in remote and rural areas through improved retention : Global policy recommendations

Globally, approximately one half of the population lives in rural areas, but less than 38% of the nurses and less than 25% of the physicians work there. While getting and keeping health workers in rural and remote areas is a challenge for all countries, the situation is worse in the 57 countries that have an absolute shortage of health workers.

After a year-long consultative effort, this document proposes sixteen evidence-based recommendations on how to improve the recruitment and retention of health workers in underserved areas. It also offers a guide for policy makers to choose the most appropriate interventions, and to implement, monitor and evaluate their impact over time.

The report has important recommendations for all those involved in education & training of rural health staff, and all those struggling with the problem of persuading staff to remain and work in a rural community.

Australian commentary

Injury of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people due to transport, 2003-04 to 2007-08 (AIHW)

Land transport accidents accounted for 20% of fatal injury cases and 8% of all injury hospitalisations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Based on age-standardised rates, there were 2.7 times more fatalities and 20% more serious injury among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people compared to other Australians.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Australians missing out on new medicines: report

A new report looking at patient access and public coverage of new medicines in industrialised countries shows that Australia ranks in the bottom third by many measures.

The Rx&D International Report on Access to Medicines 2009-10 ranks Australia 23rd out of 31 OECD countries in terms of expenditure on medicines as a proportion of GDP.

Medicines Australia chief executive Dr Brendan Shaw said: "In essence this report measures the willingness of governments to pay for new innovative pharmaceuticals and Australia doesn't stack up too well."

Key findings in the report include:

* Australia ranks 24th out of 30 countries for government's share of national healthcare expenditure.
* Australia ranks 19th out of 29 in terms of willingness to reimburse new medicines. Of the 150 medicines reviewed in he study, Australia reimburses 60 per cent, compared with the OECD average of 64 per cent.
* The proportion of first-in class medicines included in the study that were subsidised in Australia is 52 per cent compared with an OECD average of 65 per cent, ranking Australia 20th out of 29.
* In terms of oncology medicines, Australia ranks 20th out of 29 countries when looking at the number of medicines that are subsidised.

The Rx&D International Report on Access to Medicines 2009-10 was commissioned by Rx&D, the Canadian research-based medicines industry association.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Births Australia 2009 (ABS)

Births, Australia 2009 contains statistics for births and fertility in Australia, states and territories, and sub-state regions, based on calendar year of registration data. It also has information on characteristics of the child including place of usual residence, sex, Indigenous status, and age, martial status and country of birth of parents.

A total of 295,700 births were registered in Australia in 2009. Of these, 15,800 births were registered where at least one parent was an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australian.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

New Search engine for PDFs

PubGet is a search engine which specialises in retrieving PDFs. It indexes full-text journals in the life sciences including medicine. Search results go directly to the PDFs. Although not totally comprehensive, it can save considerable time when searching for journal articles on clinical topics. Pubget can be easily configured to a particular university or other major library to enable direct access to a library e-journal collection.

Medicare Locals - Discussion Paper - Submissions by 15th November

The Australian Government has committed to establishing a national network of primary health care organisations, known as Medicare Locals. Medicare Locals - Discussion Paper on Governance and Functions specifically addresses the following areas:

* What will Medicare Locals do?

* What will Medicare Locals look like?

* How will Medicare Locals interact with patients and providers?

The paper outlines five key objectives for Medicare Locals:

1. Identification of the health needs of local areas and development of locally focused and responsive services including a stronger focus on prevention and early intervention

2. Improving the patient journey through developing integrated and coordinated services

3. Providing support to clinicians and service providers to improve patient care, particularly the better prevention and management of chronic disease

4. Facilitating the implementation and successful performance of primary healthcare initiatives and programs

5. Being efficient and accountable with strong governance and effective management

The Government's discussion paper and information on how to respond to the discussion paper is available at the link above.Submissions must be received by 15 November 2010.

Monday, 1 November 2010

The Mental Health of Doctors

The mental and physical health of medical students and doctors in Australia is an ongoing concern within the medical profession and community. Recent research and media reports have highlighted the high rates of suicide, depression, anxiety disorders, substance use and self-medication throughout the profession.

To address these issues, beyondblue has developed a national Doctors' Mental Health Program, in consultation with key stakeholders from the mental health and medical sectors.

The Advisory Committee's first activity was to oversee "The Mental Health of Doctors - A systematic literature review:" (Download from bottom of page) which investigated issues associated with the mental health of medical students and doctors. The review investigated the following 10 topic areas:

1) prevalence of anxiety and depression

2) prevalence of substance misuse and self-medication

3) suicide rates

4) risk factors for anxiety and depression

5) help-seeking rates for anxiety and depression

6) barriers to help-seeking for mental health care

7) interventions for anxiety and depression

8) attitudes of medical colleagues

9) impact on patient care

10) impact on work and family life.

Friday, 29 October 2010

National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC)

The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse is a service of the U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. It provides a large number of plain language resources on diabetes and digestive diseases (with a special section on celiac disease). An excellent source for digestible patient information, general inquiries on digestive diseases or lecture resources.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Australian Guidelines for the Prevention and Control of Infection

There are around 200,000 healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) in Australian acute healthcare facilities each year. This makes HAIs the most common complication affecting patients in hospital. As well as causing unnecessary pain and suffering for patients and their families, these adverse events prolong hospital stays and are costly to the health system.

NHMRC’s Australian Guidelines for the Prevention and Control of Infection in Healthcare (2010) are now available on the NHMRC website. The Guidelines support the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare’s work in preventing healthcare associated infections.

$1.1 million for University-based mental health program (CRRMH-DMHAP)

The University of Newcastle’s Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health (CRRMH) has been awarded a further $1.1 million to continue to provide mental health assistance to people living in rural regions.

CRRMH was awarded $1.5 million over two years(2008-2009) for its Drought Mental Health Assistance Package (DMHAP). Due to the program’s success, NSW Department of Health has granted the Centre further funding to extend the program, now renamed the Rural Adversity Mental Health Program (RAMHP).

RAMHP will continue to address the short and long term mental health needs of the communities affected by drought, and will also provide assistance for other forms of rural crisis and climate-related adversity, including bushfires and floods.

Warning on mental health woes that flow from water cuts

The Murray-Darling Basin Authority acknowledged in its second volume that people within the river communities are at risk of mental and physical health breakdowns. A prominent psychiatrist is now calling on the Federal Government to start planning so that pressure on mental health services can be reduced.

Family violence: Towards a holistic approach to screening and risk

Since the 1960s, violence between intimate partners, between family members and towards children has been increasingly recognised as a significant problem.

While knowledge about family violence and its effects has grown considerably, services still grapple with the most effective ways of identifying family violence issues with which clients present and, just as importantly, of taking appropriate actions once family violence has been accurately identified. Family violence is not always recognised by practitioners working in this area and even when it is recognised, appropriate actions aimed at creating or preserving safety are not always taken.

This paper reviews the current research and literature specific to family violence screening and risk assessment. It is hoped that the paper will assist service providers and practitioners to develop and evaluate tools for use within family support services.

Heart Health Index: Australians continue to be in denial about meeting heart health guidelines

Overweight and obese Australians have admitted they are too lazy, don't have the time, or are hampered by an existing condition or illness when it comes to making significant changes in their lifestyle to become healthy. This is despite being aware of their personal heart health risks, according to the 2010 Zurich Heart Foundation Heart Health Index, a joint initiative of Zurich Financial Services Australia and the National Heart Foundation of Australia.

Many are in denial. One in eight (13%) overweight Australians believe they are healthy and do not need to change.

Lack of time is the most common barrier to changing behaviour, named by 27% of people, mostly women and people under 40. But there were a range of other reasons given as well.

Eight% admitted to being too lazy or not motivated to make the necessary changes.
One in eleven (9%) reported an existing condition or illness that prevents them from changing their behaviour.
Three% reported the weather as a barrier.
People with children, who were most likely to report lack of time as a barrier, were significantly less likely to adhere to recommended health guidelines. They are less active (61% do not meet recommended activity levels versus 51%), are more likely to smoke (19% versus 13%), and less likely to have their blood pressure (81% versus 91%) or cholesterol (52% versus 75%) checked as frequently as people without children.

Australians self-reported heart health risk behaviour continues to reflect denial about meeting health guidelines. Close to half (46%) of overweight Australians and 13% of obese people thought their health met guidelines. Close to three in four rate their health as either good or very good. Only 4% rated their health as poor. Three-quarters of obese people rated their health as good, very good or excellent.

Press Release

RACGP Standards for General Practice - New Edition

The RACGP Standards for General Practice 4th edition are now available. The 4th edition of the Standards represent a template for quality and risk management in contemporary general practice. The review process included a separate e-health standards working group to review all the standards and their alignment with national e-health initiatives (patient, provider and organisation healthcare identifiers, and electronic health records) and best practice.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Guide to the proposed Basin Plan: Technical background [Murray-Darling Basin Authority]

This volume reflects the content of the overview and the regional guides, but at a more detailed level, with more of the technical background identified and explained.

The Guide to the proposed Basin Plan consists of an overview of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, separate guides to the 19 Basin regions, and this volume - the technical background.

Links are provided below to the regional summaries which comprise the GWAHS area.


Guide Vol. 1

Technical background

Lower Darling

Paroo

Lachlan

Macquarie-Castlereagh

Barwon-Darling

No quick fix: three essays on the future of the Australian public hospital system

Reestablishing local hospital boards is wrongly described as a quick fix for the problems in the Australian public hospital system. The trilogy of essays in this collection by John R. Graham, Wolfgang Kasper and Jeremy Sammut from the Centre for Independent Studies, describes the negative impact the bureaucratisation of the system has had on staff and patients in the last 30 years. The authors argue that unless accountable pro bono boards are put back in charge, the ability of public hospitals to meet the health needs of the community will continue to be compromised by waste and inefficiency.

Childhood obesity: An economic perspective (Productivity Commission)

The weight of Australian children has increased markedly in recent decades, to the point where around 8 per cent are defined as obese (based on Body Mass Index), and 17 per cent as overweight.

Childhood obesity has been linked to a raft of physical and psychosocial health problems, including type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, as well as social stigmatisation and low self-esteem.

This economic perspective considers how individuals respond to changes in incentives, and how they make decisions involving tradeoffs between different consumption and exercise choices, including how they spend their time.

Breast cancer register aids breast cancer research

Register4, managed and funded by the National Breast Cancer Foundation, is Australia's first online community for volunteer breast cancer research participants.

Breast cancer is still the most common cancer affecting Australian women, and over the last few decades its incidence has been on the rise. More research is needed and Register4 aims to facilitate the recruitment of research subjects.

Register4 is looking for all kinds of individuals from all different walks of life (breast cancer sufferers, carers, health professionals, women aged 18 or over .... it is not necessary to have had breast cancer). Men can also join.
Members enrol online. They are contacted if there is a research project for which they might be suitable. Participation in individual research projects is voluntary.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Guide for Using Statistics for Evidence Based Policy (Australian Bureau of Statistics)

There is an increasing emphasis within Australia, and internationally, on the importance of using good statistical information when making policy decisions. The Guide for Using Statistics for Evidence Based Policy provides an overview of how data can be used to make well informed policy decisions and includes the following sections :

* What is evidence based decision making?

* How good statistics can enhance the decision making process

* Using statistics for making evidence based decisions

* Data awareness

* Understanding statistical concepts

* Analysing and evaluating statistical information

* Communicating statistical findings

* Evaluating policy outcomes

Monday, 18 October 2010

Down on the farm - NZ style

In Australia's drought, the mental health of farming families is an important issue. An interesting contrast in a New Zealand setting is provided by Depression and mental health in the rural South. Financial pressures, long hours and depression provide a similar situation to rural Australia. An interesting overview of the pressures and the NZ services available to deal with them.

Psychosocial Support in Disasters Web Portal

The Minister for Mental Health and Ageing Mark Butler has launched a new web portal designed to assist health professionals to provide psychosocial support in disasters. The web portal will assist in the areas of preparation, support, and recovery for individuals and communities affected by disaster, like the Black Saturday bushfires.

The Psychosocial Support in Disasters web portal will act as a central access point to vital information, helping those in disaster-prone areas to prepare psychologically, providing practical support during the emergency, and providing social, emotional and psychological support during the recovery period. There is also a section with information for the general public.

The web portal is a joint initiative of the Australian Psychological Society, the Australian Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health, Occupational Therapy Australia, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, the Australian Association of Social Workers, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and General Practice Victoria.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Free supplement on the health of indigenous people

This issue of the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health is devoted to the health of Indigenous people.
Click here to read the entire supplement on Wiley Online Library!

Sample Table of Contents [More in complete issue]
-------------------------------------------------

Pragmatic indicators for remote Aboriginal maternal and infant health care: why it matters and where to start

C-reactive protein: an independent predictor of cardiovascular disease in Aboriginal Australians

Retinal photography for diabetic retinopathy screening in Indigenous primary health care: the Inala experience

Reducing alcohol related harm experienced by Indigenous Australians: identifying opportunities for Indigenous primary health care services

Knowledge, attitudes and behaviours in relation to safe sex, sexually transmitted infections (STI)and HIV/AIDS among remote living north Queensland youth

Estimating tobacco consumption in remote Aboriginal communities using retail sales data: some challenges and opportunities

Impact of a short, culturally relevant training course on cancer knowledge and confidence in Western Australia's Aboriginal Health Professionals

Reducing racism in Aboriginal health care in Australia: where does cultural education fit?

A snapshot of arthritis in Australia 2010 (AIHW)

A snapshot of arthritis in Australia 2010 brings together the latest data on arthritis in Australia. More than 3.1 million Australians were estimated to be affected by arthritis in 2007-08. The prevalence of arthritis increased from 13.6% in 2001 to 15.2% in 2007-08. The rate of arthritis increases with age, especially after the age of 45, and is highest among those aged over 75 years. An older population means a higher prevalence of the disease.

Arthritis occurs less frequently among those living in high socioeconomic areas, compared to Australians living in relatively low socioeconomic areas. A regional difference was also found, with the lowest rates of arthritis in major cities, and inner regional areas recording the highest prevalence. Indigenous Australians were also found to have a higher prevalence of arthritis than other Australians. There are over 100 types of arthritis, with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis the most common, affecting 1.6 million and 428,000 Australians respectively.

Arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions accounted for around $4 billion in health expenditure in 2004-05. Arthritis is also the eighth most frequently managed problem by general practitioners in Australia.

Media release.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Equity-Oriented Toolkit for Health Technology Assessment

A needs-based health technology assessment model is used to provide methods to match the identified health needs of a population, to the most appropriate interventions. The existing tool kit focused on averages, but this ignored distributional issues and equity gradients. This 'expanded' Equity -Oriented Toolkit is based on clinical and population health status and takes into account issues of gender equity, social justice and community participation. The Toolkit is based on a needs-based model of HTA.

It provides tools that explicitly consider health equity at each of the four steps of health technology assessment: 1) Burden of Illness, 2) Community Effectiveness, 3) Economic Evaluation, 4) Knowledge Translation and Implementation. It also incorporates concepts of health impact assessment within the HTA process.

Developers seek to further define this Toolkit, they request suggestions on validated and widely disseminated HTA tools that explicitly consider health equity and that are relevant to the toolkit. These tools may be specific analytical methods such as the Disability-Adjusted Life Years, checklists such as the Health Impact Screening Checklist, software programs such as the Harvard Policy Maker, databases such as The Cochrane Library, etc. Check out the Toolkit!

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Changing attitudes to mental illness (Craig Hart: CRRMH)

Once known for being strong silent types,rural Australians are accessing mental health services in increasing numbers, says Craig Hart, the co-ordinator of the rural adversity mental health program at Orange's Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health.

The program, an initiative of NSW Health and the University of Newcastle, was originally set up in 2006/2007 in response to the drought and the distress many rural communities were experiencing due to lack of water, loss of crops and stock and the flow-on effects this had on regional economies.

Nursing and midwifery labour force 2008 and Medical labour force 2008 (AIHW)

Nursing and midwifery labour force 2008

In 2008 the total number of registered and enrolled nurses estimated by the Nursing and Midwifery Labour Force Survey was 312,736, an increase of 10.6% since 2004. The nursing workforce continued to age between 1997 and 2008; the proportion of nurses aged 50 years or over increased from 18.9% to 34.4%. The number of full time equivalent nurses per 100,000 population increased by 15.2% between 2004 and 2008, and the profession continued to be predominantly female, with females comprising 91% of employed nurses in 2008.

Media release

Report

Medical labour force 2008

The supply of employed medical practitioners increased between 2004 and 2008, from 283 to 304 full-time equivalent practitioners per 100,000 population. The increase reflected a 20.5% rise in practitioner numbers. The gender balance continued to shift, with women making up 35% of practitioners in 2008 compared to 33% in 2004. The average hours worked by male practitioners declined from 47.1 to 45.4 hours, while hours worked by female practitioners changed marginally from 37.6 to 37.7 hours.

Media release

Report

Monday, 11 October 2010

NSW suicide prevention strategy 2010-2015: a whole of government strategy promoting a whole of community approach

The NSW Suicide Prevention Strategy 2010-2015 sets out the NSW Government's direction and intended outcomes for suicide prevention over the next five years.

6 priority areas are identified in the strategy :

1. Improving the evidence base and understanding of suicide prevention

2. Building individual resilience and the capacity for self help

3. Improving community strength, resilience and capacity in suicide prevention

4. Taking a coordinated approach to suicide prevention

5. Providing targeted suicide prevention activities

6. Implementing standards and quality in suicide prevention

However, recent consultation with the community has indicated that more needs to be done in terms of:

* further availability of and access to services, especially for people living in rural/remote communities;

* greater focus on at risk population groups;

* better coordination of non health sectors;

* meaningful reporting;

* greater emphasis on evaluation; and

* embracing new approaches, learnings and service models.

Report confirms that rural graduates are retained in the rural workforce

Charles Sturt University has released The Graduate Destinations Report, which surveyed students of on-campus health and human services degrees on where they had chosen to work after graduating. The students had graduated in the years between 2007 and 2009.

The report found 74 per cent of students from inner regional areas and 75 per cent from outer regional areas worked in a regional area after graduating. Eighty-nine per cent of students from remote areas and 71 per cent from very remote areas accepted employment in a rural area. The portion of metropolitan students who stayed on and practised in a regional area was 43 per cent.

The fields that retained the highest proportion of regional students were psychology, nutrition and dietetics, podiatry, nuclear medicine technology, pharmacy and social work.

The report gives added backing to recent moves by CSU to open its own Medical School.

Press report (Central Western Daily.)

Guide to the proposed Basin Plan (Murray-Darling Basin Authority)

The Murray-Darling Basin Authority has released the Guide to the proposed Basin Plan (the Guide). It is the first part of a three-stage process which also includes the proposed Basin Plan and the Basin Plan.

While the Basin Plan itself will be a legislative instrument, the Guide to the proposed Basin Plan provides information on the background and process of developing all the different parts of the plan. This information includes:

* a summary of the history and current state of Basin water resources

* the factors driving change in use and management of water resources

* the new arrangements under the Basin Plan and their impacts

* implementation of the Basin Plan.

This "Overview" volume is the first of 21 volumes of the Guide. Volume 2 will be a volume on technical specifications of the plan, and will be followed by 19 volumes of regional guides to specific areas.

Visit the MDBA website at http://www.thebasinplan.mdba.gov.au for a copy of the Guide and to find out where the community information sessions on the Guide will be held.

You can also subscribe to the MDBA's monthly e-Letter, which contains reports of happenings across the Basin, by filling out the form at www.mdba.gov.au/media_centre/subscribe

Workers with mental illness: a practical guide for managers

The Australian Human Rights Commission has produced a guide Workers with mental illness: a practical guide for managers.

"Workers with mental illness: a practical guide for managers aims to help managers better understand mental illness, develop strategies that assist workers with a mental illness and ensure that their workplaces are healthy and productive," President Branson said. "We developed this guide because research conducted by the Australian Human Rights Commission showed that managers want to provide support to staff members who live with a mental illness, but often lack the confidence or skills to do so," said President Branson.

The guide has been released after extensive consultation with the business community, trades unions, disability organisations, workplace safety bodies and employers.

"During any year, approximately one in five Australian adults will experience a mental illness. It is our hope that this guide will assist managers to understanding their legal obligations while developing strategies that support their staff and reduce the incidence of illness in the workplace," said President Branson.

The guide has been endorsed by the Fair Work Ombudsman, beyondblue: the national depression initiative, SANE Australia, the Mental Health Council of Australia, and supported by Safe Work Australia.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Preventable job stress costs $730m a year

Excessive pressure at work is costing Australia's economy $730 million a year due to job-stress related depression, a University of Melbourne and VicHealth report - Estimating the Economic Benefits of Eliminating Job Strain as a Risk Factor for Depression has revealed. Team leader Associate Professor Tony LaMontagne has previously found that "job strain", where workers have little control over their job, but who are under high pressure to perform, accounts for 17 per cent of depression in working women and 13 per cent in working men. The $730 million job strain price tag includes lost productive time, employee replacement costs, government-subsidised mental health services and medications for depression. It equates to $11.8 billion over the average working lifetime, with the biggest loss accruing to employers.

Expenditure on health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 2006-07: an analysis by remoteness and disease (AIHW)

Health expenditure patterns, and the ratios between Indigenous and non-indigenous expenditure, vary by remoteness and by the type of health expenditure. For example, Medicare Benefits Schedule expenditure was lower for Indigenous Australians and decreased with remoteness, but the level of disparity actually decreased with remoteness, from a ratio of 0.58 in major cities to 0.77 in remote areas. Disease grouping that includes diseases where kidney dialysis is a treatment, contributed substantially to health expenditure for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in 2006-07, accounting for 10% of total admitted patient expenditure ($112.4 million).

Media release

Report.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Collaborative Arrangements - What you need to know

The Commonwealth Government is implementing reforms to allow nurse
practitioners and midwives to provide Medicare-funded services to patients and to prescribe medications listed on the PBS. These changes are scheduled to commence on 1 November 2010.

The AMA has worked very hard to ensure that these reforms do not fragment patient care or deny patients access to a medical practitioner.

Importantly, the Government has enshrined in law the requirement for nurse practitioners and midwives to work in collaborative arrangements with medical practitioners in order to get MBS and PBS access.

The AMA has prepared a guide "Collaborative Arrangements - What you need to know" to help answer many of the questions doctors will have about collaborative arrangements and how they should be structured, as well as identify key issues that doctors should take into account when considering being part of a collaborative arrangement.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Evaluating Programs- Resource Sheet

The Australian Institute of Family Studies has published a new fact sheet which can help ensure that programs and services are effective and of high quality. The Resource Sheet is aimed at providing program practitioners and providers with a range of resources relating to conducting program or practice evaluation. The resources have primarily been selected for their suitability for use by practitioners with little or no experience of conducting evaluations. While some of these resources have been prepared for use in disciplines outside of the communities and families sector, they have been included here because they are applicable to providers and practitioners across a range of sectors.

e-stroke Australia (Stroke education for health professionals)

The e-stroke Australia site, developed by the Victorian Stroke Clinical Network, the Stroke Society of Australasia and the Victorian Government, provides continuing education on stroke for health professionals. A wide range of modules are available including stroke prevention, pathophysiology, transient ischaemic attack, CT interpretation, Medication and surgery and several others. Registration is free.

Further development will include specialist modules for allied health.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Revised National Mental Health Standards 2010

The Australian Health Ministers' Council (AHMC) endorsed the revised National Mental Health Standards on 16th September 2010. The standards are available to guide quality care provision across Australia's mental health services. The focus of the original standards released in 1996 was primarily to raise the quality of Australia's acute mental health services.

The focus of the revised standards has changed significantly with a large proportion of services now provided in the community, an expansion of non-government and private services and an increased focus on primary mental health care. To support the broader focus directed towards the non-government sector, public and private services and private office based services, guidelines are being developed to support implementation of the National Standards into practice.

There are 10 standards available :

Standard 1. Rights and responsibilities
Standard 2. Safety
Standard 3. Consumer and carer participation
Standard 4. Diversity responsiveness
Standard 5. Promotion and prevention
Standard 6. Consumers
Standard 7. Carers
Standard 8. Governance, leadership and management
Standard 9. Integration
Standard 10. Delivery of care

Dementia risk reduction: What do Australians know?

Dementia has a significant impact on our health care system and this is set to increase. In Australia and worldwide, the prevalence of dementia is expected to rise rapidly as the population ages. By 2050, there is predicted to be well over 100 million people living with a diagnosis of dementia. However, a number of modifiable risk factors have consistently been shown to be associated with dementia. There is converging evidence that mental stimulation, social engagement, healthy eating, exercise and prevention or treatment of cardiovascular risk factors may reduce the risk of developing dementia.

This paper examines surveys of the general public that included questions related to dementia risk reduction. The findings suggest there is poor knowledge of the current evidence for dementia risk reduction. This paper not only highlights the need to raise awareness that it is possible to reduce the risk of dementia and also the need to educate Australians about the link between cardiovascular risk factors and an increased risk of dementia.

IPhones fight breast cancer

The iPhone craze has given us an app for absolutely everything, from interactive cooking to a doctor's stethoscope. The Breast Cancer Foundation and McGrath Foundation, in the spirit of supporting breast cancer awareness month, have launched an iPhone app of their own called Dr K's Breast Checker in a bid to get women conducting their own breast checks regularly.

The app provides women with an easy and comfortable method to check their breasts and additionally serves as an automatic reminder for regular monthly check-ups.

The Dr K's Breast Checker app is available for download from iTunes priced $2.49 and 55c of each sale is given to the Breast Cancer Foundation of Western Australia and the McGrath Foundation.

How can telehealth help in the provision of integrated care? Policy Brief 13 - Health Systems and Policy Analysis, World Health Organization.

Telehealth, the provision of care at a distance, is certain to be a key component in future ICT infrastructure for integrated care. It has already raised high hopes among policy makers with regard to its potential for delivering solutions for growing capacity problems. This WHO policy brief considers the requirements for today's segregated telehealth applications for integrated care to occur effectively and efficiently. It suggests our telehealth applications still require linking into more comprehensive eHealth strategies, in which clinical pathways and service delivery processes are fully coordinated and patient data safely shared.

HealthLandscape Australia

APHCRI and the Robert Graham Center, a US primary care policy research body, have developed HealthLandscape Australia, an Australian health mapping tool as part of a collaborative fellowship. The tool is a web-based GIS software program specifically designed to address primary health care issues. It outlines health professional to population ratios, and a number of measures relating to health needs at the small area level of statistical local area (SLA).

SHOWWorld : A map with a difference

It is often difficult to assess Australia's relative place in the world when subjects such as child health, renewable energy, population aging and a myriad of other topics are discussed.

SHOWWorld is a fascinating global map adjustable by various indices (population, health, energy etc). Select a subject from the top menu and watch the countries on the map change their size. Instead of land mass, the size of each country will represent the data for that subject. Mapping Worlds, the company behind this application is a data visualisation and interface design company who work with organisations such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Deakin University professor to unveil study into managing the stress of farming in difficult times

A Deakin University professor is to unveil study into managing the stress of farming in difficult times. Some of the strategies used by farmers to help them cope with the stresses of tough times on the land are being documented in a new research project led by a Deakin University Warrnambool Campus academic.

Deakin’s Pro Vice-Chancellor (Rural and Regional) Professor Sue Kilpatrick is the lead researcher in the project that covers fishing, mixed farming, cotton, grains and sugar and involves case studies from around Australia. Preliminary findings from her study, ‘I feel like I’m dancing on the Titanic’ – managing the stress of farming in difficult times, which takes its title from a quote from a farmer interviewed as part of the research, will be presented at the National Centre for Farmer Health’s conference in Hamilton on 12 October.

We’re still in denial, says report (Rural Mental Health)

IT’S the elephant in the room that many still tiptoe around, even deny outright – the stigma of mental illness, most obviously of chronic depression, still lives on in the bush, if now in more straightened circumstances.

The federal Senate report into mental health last month, in its reference to rural and remote communities, says the related matters of stigma and lack of information about mental illness is one of two outstanding issues affecting rural areas (the other being poor access to GPs and carer and community support services).

The inquiry says while the closeness of rural communities and their support networks can help some who aren’t coping, stigma against mental illness, underpinned by strong cultural pressures to be independent and resilient in the face of adversity, still means many of those affected will continue to “suffer silently”.

Oxy: The Hidden Epidemic (Four Corners report)

This week on Four Corners, Oxy - the Hidden Epidemic - a story that reveals how the misuse of powerful prescription drugs is creating a new generation of addicts.

For much of the past three decades, authorities have waged war against the importation and sale of illegal drugs. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on law enforcement and drug rehabilitation programs. Now, reporter Matthew Carney reveals that while illegal drugs remain a major problem, many experts believe the widespread use and abuse of legally prescribed opioid-based drugs could create a new and devastating drug epidemic across the suburbs of Australia.

But now there's another problem, with profound consequences for ordinary Australians. People who take these drugs for legitimate reasons are becoming addicted. Some have died, others have seen their lives destroyed.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Health lies in wealth : Call for greater social reform as health gap widens

The Rudd government's health reforms failed to focus on what a new report shows is the biggest factor in death and disease in Australia - social and economic disadvantage.

An analysis commissioned by Catholic Health Australia has found that the 20 per cent of Australians on the lowest incomes died on average three years earlier than others because of illness caused by unhealthy lifestyles. The most disadvantaged people were in some cases four or five times more likely to suffer chronic illness than the comfortably-off, the report found.

Martin Laverty, the group's chief executive, called on the new Parliament to press for renewed focus on improved early childhood support, education and welfare for disadvantaged people.

''Health reform in the last term of government focused on hospitals, not the drivers that cause people to end up in hospitals,'' Mr Laverty said. ''The then prime minister, Kevin Rudd, missed a major opportunity and left many health professionals disappointed with the health reforms. 'If this Parliament does not act on preventive and social determinants of health, health reforms will not be achieved.''

The analysis by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling at Canberra University found the health gaps between the poor and well-off were often very large. Up to 65 per cent of people in public housing had long-term health problems compared with only 15 per cent of home owners. More than 60 per cent of men in jobless households reported having a long-term health condition or disability, and more than 40 per cent of women.

Obesity rates were about three times higher among those in public housing than home owners. High-risk drinking among early school leavers was double the rate of those with a tertiary qualification. ''This is not about access to health services,'' Mr Laverty said. ''There is strong evidence that social determinants of health - such as income level, housing status and education level - are the factors more responsible for health inequities.'' The close links between low socio-economic status, illness and harmful lifestyles like smoking and unhealthy diet showed that more preventive health television campaigns would not solve the problem. ''This report shows that policies targeting behavioural change do not work,'' Mr Laverty said.

The health reforms now being implemented by the Gillard government needed to use the proposed new structures such as the local hospital networks and ''Medicare local'' organisations to assess health needs and advocate improvements in early childhood services, schooling and welfare support where necessary, he said. Any suggestion that the health reform was complete was wrong. ''It is far from it,'' Mr Laverty said.

The report, supported by the St Vincent de Paul Society and Catholic Social Services Australia, showed that thinking on health equity had to change, said Father Frank Brennan of the Australian Catholic University and Tony Wheeler, chairman of Catholic Health Australia's stewardship board.

The report may be downloaded from :
http://www.cha.org.au/policy

Commentary from "The Australian",

Commentary from "Sydney Morning Herald".

Friday, 24 September 2010

Indigenous child and family resources (SNAICC Resource Centre)

The SNAICC Resource Service (SRS) works across the family and children's services sector with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-based services and those other services working directly with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

The SRS seeks to fill resource gaps identified across the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander family and children's services sector and provide a central information sharing clearinghouse. The site contains a large number of resources, both for order and, in many cases for free download.

An excellent site for resources in indigenous child development, family violence, and family issues.

Is Life in Australia Getting Better?

The ABS publication 'Measures of Australia's Progress, 2010' is designed to help Australians address the question, 'Is life in Australia getting better?' Measures of Australia's Progress (MAP) provides a selection of statistical evidence in answer to this question. Broad areas covered include health, population, society, economics, and the environment.

Reposted from NCAHS Library Clippings

Monday, 20 September 2010

When musculoskeletal conditions and mental disorders occur together (AIHW)

Musculoskeletal conditions and mental disorders cause few deaths but much pain, disability and distress. Both are common and are recognised as major health concerns.

Their occurrence together in the same person (comorbidity) complicates their treatment and management. When
musculoskeletal conditions and mental disorders occur together
maps the extent of their relationship in the Australian population.

In 2007, over 1.5 million people (10% of Australians aged 16-85) had at least one musculoskeletal condition and one mental disorder in the preceding 12 months.The number of females experiencing this comorbidity (862,000) was greater than the number of males (671,000).The extent of comorbidity increased sharply in each successive age group until 45-54 years, after which it decreased sharply.

Overall, 25% of people with a musculoskeletal condition also had a mental disorder, the most common of which were anxiety disorders. The clear association between musculoskeletal conditions and mental disorders found in this study emphasises the need for health-care providers to be aware of and provide for a multidisciplinary approach to the management of this comorbidity.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Atlas of Productive Ageing

The Productive Ageing Centre provides the online Atlas of Productive Ageing to help recognise and promote productive ageing in Australia. The Atlas provides statistics on the population, health, finance, housing and activity of older Australians. The data are available by state and regional areas.

The Future of Aged Care in Australia

Providing for quality care in later life is a key concern of Australians as they age. To ensure the provision of accessible and sustainable high quality care in the future however, requires both informed debate about the aged care system and considered policy planning. To stimulate this debate National Seniors has commissioned a report from Access Economics on the future of aged care in Australia. The report covers current issues in aged care such as quality of care, infrastructure requirements and alternative models of funding.

The major findings of the report revealed 3 major areas of concern

1. The current system is not working well, with quality of care perceived as declining over the last five years. As demand is growing rapidly, tinkering with the system is not a long-term answer.

2. Significant investment in aged care is needed, particularly for new facilities and in developing a skilled workforce to deliver age care. The current system is not sustainable without higher tax.

3. We need to find new ways of financing aged care. A survey of more than 3,200 seniors found that many people would be prepared to pay for high quality aged care, while wanting a safety net for those who cannot afford to pay.

Commentary from the ABC 7.30 report

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