Grants-in-aid 2016 round

The following studies were supported by Western Alliance in 2017

Determining best practice for the management of teenage pregnancy in rural and regional health services

Investigators: Dr Natasha Frawley, Dr Anna Wong Shee, Carolyn Robertson, Anne Marie McKenzie and Julie Lodge, Ballarat Health Services; Dr Catherine Nagle and Dr Vincent Versace, Deakin University; Allison Schotton, Maryborough District Health Service; Kerry Sturmfels, East Grampians Health Service
For completion by: July 2018
Western Alliance funding: $65,207

Teenage pregnancy is associated with high rates of maternal and neonatal death, and medical complications. Australia has the sixth-highest rate of teenage pregnancy in the developed countries, with the highest rates occurring in non-urban areas.

There is a lack of evidence for best-practice management of teenage pregnancy. This study will conduct a systematic review of the literature, scope best-practice models of care and seek to understand the experiences of teenagers giving birth in rural and regional areas.

The project’s outcome will be development of evidence-based guidelines for best-practice management of teenage pregnancy in rural and regional areas, and its outputs will include publication of research findings in academic journals and conference presentations.

Interprofessional Graduate Transition Program for nursing / paramedicine double degree graduates – work outcomes and participant experiences in western Victoria

Investigators: Prof Penny Paliadelis, Federation University Australia; Denielle Beardmore and Kristee Winters, Ballarat Health Services
For completion by: November 2017
Western Alliance funding: $6,941

The interprofessional graduate program (IPGP) for graduates with a double degree in paramedicine and nursing was the first program of its kinds to be conducted jointly by a public hospital and ambulance service in Victoria.

The workforce structures in health and, in particular of both of these professions, does not always facilitate a smooth transition for the early entry worker with a double degree to work across both professions at the same time. Ballarat Health Services, in partnership with Ambulance Victoria, created and implemented an innovative transition program to address these issues and provide graduates with a supportive framework. However, it is unclear whether this transition program has assisted the graduates in finding employment in their chosen professions within the region.

This study aims to evaluate the employment outcomes and participant experiences of the first cohorts of the IPGP program, based at Ballarat Health Services. To date, it has not been identified whether double degrees in health disciplines such as nursing and midwifery, or nursing and paramedicine serve the needs of regional and rural communities, and there is little evidence of the experiences of graduates in transitioning into the rural workforce in either profession.

A mixed-methods study using a graduate destination survey, followed by focus group discussions, will explore the successes, challenges and barriers of participants in the program, and will inform future program development. The findings may also assist health education providers and services to create a curriculum that prepares double-degree graduates for rural practice and, ultimately, benefits the health workforce in western Victoria.

The study’s outputs will include publication in an academic journal and conference presentations.

The western Victoria Practice Nurse study

Investigators: Prof Gerard Gill, Prof Daryl Pedler and Dr Bernard Shui, Deakin University; Dr Blake Peck and Andrew Smith, Federation University Australia; Linda Govan, Australian Primary Healthcare Nurses Association; Dr Denise Ruth, General Practitioner, Geelong; Dr Jane Opie, Western Victoria Primary Health Network
For completion by: March 2018
Western Alliance support: $22,803

Studies reveal an older general practitioner (GP) population in western Victoria. The Western Victoria Primary Health Network (PHN) demonstrates a similar proportion of older Practice Nurses (PNs) approaching retirement. Recruiting and retaining PNs is a priority as nurses provide primary health care vital to improving health outcomes for people living in rural communities. There is limited research identifying the education needs of PNs specific to this region.

This study will engage with PNs, GPs and consumers to explore the role of PNs and their education needs, with the aim of improving nurse-led models of care in western Victoria. The study’s outputs will include development of a website, articles in local news outlets, presentations at scientific meetings and conferences, and publication in academic journals.

Developing a comprehensive hepatitis C treatment program for western Victoria

Investigators: Dr Amanda Wade, Prof Eugene Athan, Dr Greg Weeks, Margaret Wardrop and Christine Roder, Barwon Health; Prof Margaret Hellard, Burnet Institute; Dr Mark Davies, Western Victoria Primary Health Network; Angus McCormack, Deakin Medical School
For completion by: February 2018
Western Alliance support: $85,000

More than 230,000 Australians are infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV). The majority remains untreated because therapy is toxic, often unsuccessful and accessible only through specialist doctors. Untreated HCV can lead to liver cancer and death.

New, direct-acting antiviral (DAA) treatment for HCV became available in March 2016. DAA treatment is highly effective and well tolerated. Australia is now in the position to eliminate HCV; the key is to increase access to treatment.

This study aims to increase access to treatment in western Victoria by developing a program that facilitates DAA prescribing in general practice and provides a clear referral network.

The study’s outputs will include publication in an academic journal and conference presentations.

A post-hospital discharge pharmacist medication management service for high-risk patients, using telehealth

Investigators: Dr Diana Bortoletto, Dr Greg Weeks Dr Adrian Low, Michelle Wilson and Rachel Fyfe, Barwon Health; Dr Kevin McNamara and Dr Vincent Versace, Deakin University; Alice King, Barwon South West Telehealth Program
For completion by: December 2017
Western Alliance support: $35,000

Medication reviews conducted by hospital pharmacists after patients’ discharge from hospital have been shown to be beneficial to patients, especially for those at risk of medication-related problems. These reviews are generally conducted in the patients’ home or over the telephone.

This study aims to assess whether using videoconferencing to conduct the medication review is a suitable alternative. Using videoconferencing means that the service can be offered to people who live remotely, which is not the case for reviews in patients’ homes. Participants will be evaluating the pharmacy service as well as the technology. The pharmacist will record the changes made to medications and the potential effect this may have had on the participant if the changes had not been made.

The primary objectives of the study include the evaluation of the service across the region, patients’ acceptance and satisfaction with both the pharmacy service and the telehealth technology; the number of pharmacist interventions made and a risk-classification of harm averted, as well as re-admission rates to hospital. Secondary outcomes will include improvements in medication adherence behaviours and collaboration across health care facilities and the care continuum.

The study’s outputs will include publication in an academic journal and conference presentations.

  • About the author: Western Alliance

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