Grants-in-aid 2017 round

The following studies have been approved for support by Western Alliance in 2018

Let’s have a yarn about chronic disease: A collaborative, multidisciplinary, participatory action research approach to addressing Aboriginal health in south-western Victoria

Investigators: Hannah Beks, Candice McKenzie and Dr Joshua Hayward (Deakin University); Kerry Hudson, John Bell and Tamika Amos (Dhauwurd Wurrung Elderly and Community Health Service); Dr Constance Kourbelis (Flinders University)

Mentors: A/Prof Vincent Versace, A/Prof Barry Morphett, Prof Peter Harvey and Prof Steven Allender (Deakin University); Dr Michael Johnstone and Dr Doug Creighton (Institute for Intelligent Systems Research and Innovation)

Affiliation/collaboration: Deakin Rural Health, Dhauwurd Wurrung Elderly and Community Health Service, Acute Care and Cardiovascular Research, Flinders University, Institute for Intelligent Systems Research and Innovation

For completion by: July 2019

Western Alliance funding: $74,804

This project builds upon a partnership between Dhauwurd Wurrung Elderly and Community Health Service (DWECHS) and Deakin Rural Health (DRH) for the purpose of establishing community driven methods to increase the uptake of structured care planning and chronic condition management for Aboriginal people in south-western Victoria (Gunditjmara country). Building local research and clinical capacity are central objectives of this project.

The primary aim of the project is to apply a PAR framework to establish community driven methods to increase care planning and improve chronic condition management for Aboriginal people in south-western Victoria.

Secondary aims include increasing the uptake and improving adherence to structured care planning for chronic disease in Aboriginal populations in south-western Victoria, to improve the health status of Aboriginal people within Gunditjmara country.

The following questions are embedded in the study’s aims and objectives:

(1) Where is research focusing on chronic disease in Australian Aboriginal people being conducted and is this proportionate to the distribution of Aboriginal people across Australia?
(2) What is the state of chronic disease in Aboriginal people residing in Gunditjmara country and how does this compare to statewide and national data?
(3) What proportion of Aboriginal people residing in Gunditjmara country are on structured care plans?
(4) What are the barriers and enablers to effective chronic disease management in Aboriginal people residing in Gunditjmara country?

The study’s outputs will include clinical skills training for Aboriginal Health Workers in the region, publication in peer-reviewed journals and conference presentations.

Developing a best-practice, pre-operative exercise therapy ‘prehabilitation’ model for patients with prostate, colon and breast cancer, in the Grampians region of Victoria

Investigators: Prof Fergal Grace, Dr Matthew Wallen (Federation University Australia); A/Prof Anna Wong Shee, Dr Luke Evans and Dr Stephen Brown (Ballarat Health Services); Dr Jonathan Rawstorn (Deakin University)

Mentor: Prof Jack Harvey (Federation University)

Affiliations/collaboration: Faculty of Health, Federation University Australia; Ballarat Health Services; Institute of Physical Activity and Nutrition, Deakin University. Ballarat Integrated Cancer Centre, Grampians Integrated Cancer Centre, East Grampians Health Service, West Wimmera Health Service, Wimmera Health Care Group, Stawell Regional Health Services

For completion by: June 2019

Western Alliance funding: $98,244

The post-operative period brings significant loss of physical function in cancer patients undergoing surgery. Exercise rehabilitation programs aim to recover cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) post-operatively. However, pre-operative exercise training (‘prehabilitation’) is a largely untested method to optimise pre-operative CRF gains.

This study will review local practice and analyse current research before undertaking an experimental cancer prehabilitation study with patients in the Grampians region of Victoria.
The study aims to evaluate the current exercise physiology program for new cancer diagnoses in the Grampians region of Victoria (2012–16); execute a systematic review and meta-analysis of controlled studies to evaluate pre-operative exercise training on physical capacity and post-operative outcomes in cancer patients; and conduct a 6-month experimental pilot study of supervised prehabilitation in newly diagnosed prostate, colorectal and breast cancer patients in the Grampians region.

The study will aid clinical decision-making by identifying candidates who may benefit from prehabilitation. Outputs will include medical research articles published in peer-reviewed journals and international conference presentations. A regional stakeholder workshop in cancer care will be hosted in western Victoria and will include input from study participants.

Patient measure of safety in primary care: Pilot study of an intervention to improve safety in rural Victoria

Investigators: Andrea Hernan, Kate Kloot, Hannah Beks, Dr Marley Binder and Dr Vivienne Ramsbottom (Deakin University)

Mentor/s: A/Prof Vincent Versace and Dr Kevin McNamara (Deakin University)

Affiliations/collaboration: Deakin Rural Clinical School, Centre for Rural Emergency Medicine, primary care practices in western Victoria

For completion by: June 2019

Western Alliance funding: $87,348

This study aims to investigate whether patient safety in primary care can be improved through patient feedback. The research will explore possible problems, or factors, that support carrying out patient feedback and safety improvement in primary care.

The overall aim of this pilot study is to test the feasibility of the Primary Care Patient Measure of Safety (PC PMOS) as a tool to improve patient safety in the western region’s primary care. PC PMOS is an anonymous, 28-item survey covering nine domains of safety, including access to care, communication, the external policy environment, information flow, organisation and care planning, patient related factors, the physical environment, referral systems and task performance. The PC PMOS also captures safety incident reports.

The study’s findings will be used to develop a manual for patient involvement in patient safety for primary care. The manual will assist in scaling up the PC PMOS for national implementation.
Outputs from the study include dissemination of findings to general practices in the region, publication in peer-reviewed journals and presentations at conferences

Validity of a body-worn alarm system for the effective management of enuresis in children: A study in western Victoria

Investigators: Dr Blake Peck (Federation University Australia); Bronwyn Peck, Dr Rosemarie Shea and Dr Mark Nethercote (Ballarat Health Services); Shirley Whitaker, Andrea Green, Kerrie Svedas and Stacey Dubberley (Grampians Regional Continence Service); Erica Pearce (Barwon Health); Sarah Schuhmann (Colac Area Health)

Mentor/s: Prof Peter Vuillermin (Deakin University); Prof Jack Harvey (Federation University)

Affiliation/collaboration: Federation University Australia, Ballarat Health Services, Grampians Regional Continence Service, Barwon Health, Colac Area Health, Deakin University

For completion by: March 2019

Western Alliance funding: $58,701

Bedwetting is a major concern for children in Australia. Currently, the most widely used system for managing this issue is the bell-pad alarm system. This alarm is expensive and children often have to wait for long periods before they can get access. However, there is an alternative device that is cheaper and therefore more readily accessible for children and families. This project will consider how well this alternative device compares to the bell-pad for treating bedwetting in children.

This study aims to evaluate the effectiveness of the body-worn alarm system, as an alternative to the current therapy (bell-pad device) for the treatment of enuresis across the region of western Victoria, and will include an economic evaluation to assess its cost-effectiveness for both families and the health services.

The study’s outputs will include publication in peak industry based academic journals, both national and international, and presentation at scientific conferences. If the new insights generated from this clinical trial pilot project are suitably robust in support of the new therapy, these findings will inform a national study seeking to demonstrate statistical non-inferiority between the two devices and translated into clinical guidelines for practice.

  • About the author: Renée Otmar
  • Dr Renée Otmar was the founding Executive Officer of Western Alliance.

If you would like to write an article for our Talking Points newsletter or In Brief blog, email Cassandra Hamilton (cassandrahamilton@westernalliance.org.au) or call 03 4215 2900.