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Western Alliance supports Barwon Health researchers to build Allied Health Cancer Care Clinical Trial Unit

A team of Barwon Health clinician researchers has been awarded over $500,000 from Cancer Council Victoria, The Victorian Cancer Agency and Western Alliance to build the first regional Allied Health Clinical Trials Unit specialising in Cancer Supportive Care and Survivorship.

This project was supported by Western Alliance through our external funding support program, which is pitched at assisting research teams applying for major external research grants. To find out more or complete an EOI for this program, please click here.

This three-year project will bring together cancer care consumers and leaders from three of Barwon Health’s most highly regarded clinical and research areas; Allied Health, Cancer Services and Clinical Trials, to design and develop a unique Allied Health Clinical Trials Unit based at the Adrian Costa Clinical Trials Centre.

Catherine Williams, Chief Investigator of the project, is a physiotherapist and Barwon Health’s Oncology Rehabilitation Care Coordinator. Catherine recognised that as allied health professionals are important providers of clinical care to people diagnosed with cancer, they are well-placed to identify and investigate potential areas for improvement.

The project team will work with local partnering organisations such as Western Alliance Academic Health Science Centre, Deakin University and Barwon South West Regional Integrated Cancer Service, as well as connecting with the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre Alliance and the Victorian Clinical Trials Education Centre.  Milestones will include the design of a customised clinical trials education and training package for the allied health cancer workforce, and identification of the best strategies for delivery of interventions using virtual care tools and teletrials, to support relationships between metro, regional and rural cancer care providers.

Once allied health clinical trial activity starts , the Allied Health Clinical Trials Unit will support and conduct trials that are initiated by allied health clinician researchers within Barwon Health and across the region, and will build partnerships with other providers of cancer supportive care and survivorship throughout Australia and internationally.

Catherine said, clinical trials had typically been associated with new medications and medical interventions.

“We’re excited to bring the rigour and support of a Clinical Trials Unit to examine interventions delivered by allied health professionals,” she said.

“Our field works closely with people diagnosed with cancer, especially in the areas of supportive care and survivorship, which address the physical, functional, practical, psychological, emotional and spiritual needs of people across all phases of their cancer experience.

“Consumers will be able to access clinical trials in areas such as exercise and cancer, prehabilitation, psycho-oncology, fear of cancer recurrence, chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy, malnutrition and sarcopenia and many more, independent of where they live or where they access their cancer care.

“The project will also support a cultural shift, where skilled allied health professionals such as physiotherapists, exercise physiologists, psychologists, speech pathologists, occupational therapists, dieticians and social workers can see themselves as part of the clinical trials workforce.”


Western Alliance awarded $9 million research project grant to deliver enhanced healthcare at home for older people in western Victoria 

Healthcare for older people living in rural and regional western Victoria could look very different within five years, thanks to a new $9 million research project funded through the Federal Government Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF).

Led by Western Alliance, and in partnership with healthcare consumers, regional and rural health services, universities and primary healthcare providers across western Victoria, the project will identify and build a suite of programs to improve and extend in-home healthcare.

Federal Minister for Regional Health Dr David Gillespie said the project would help to improve health outcomes for elderly Australians in regional, rural and remote areas. “Offering more support and health care to aging Australians in their own home means they’re able to comfortably and safely stay at home longer without the need to re-locate into a care facility,” Dr Gillespie said. “Working initially in Western Victoria, the researchers are identifying the key challenges to providing health care at home and testing new ways to deliver part of that care virtually. They’ll find local solutions and develop a blueprint to scale it nationally.”

Project Director Professor Anna Peeters is Principal Research Translation Investigator at Western Alliance and Director of the Institute for Health Transformation at Deakin University. Prof Peeters said the awarding of the funding was timely, given the way the COVID-19 pandemic has shone a light on the need for healthcare in rural and regional Victoria to be able to rapidly respond to local needs. “This research has the ability to be translated at a local level. It is being co-designed and tested across the key settings, so there is a real chance it can be implemented during the five year period,” she said. “That means we can make a real difference in people’s lives during the five years by implementing research interventions they have contributed to and that meet their needs.”

Western Alliance Executive Director Professor Warren Payne explained that the funding will also significantly build the capacity for health and medical research across western Victoria. “This project will assist our partners to develop their capacity to undertake health and medical research that meets the needs of their communities. In this way, we are confident that the lessons learned from the research will be fully implemented to the ultimate benefit of the communities of western Victoria”.

Western Alliance thanks its project partners:

  • Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association
  • Ballarat Health Services
  • Barwon Health
  • Beaufort and Skipton Health Service
  • Central Highlands Rural Health
  • Colac Area Health
  • Consumers Health Forum of Australia
  • Deakin Rural Health
  • Deakin University
  • East Grampians Health Service
  • Edenhope and District Memorial Hospital
  • Federation University Australia
  • Maryborough District Health Service
  • Melbourne Academic Centre for Health

To find out more, contact Western Alliance at info@westernalliance.org.au

 

Previous News

Western Alliance is delighted to announce its inaugural Flagship Research Program, ‘The Pregnancy Research and Translation Ecosystem (PRT-E)’, a collaboration between Deakin University and health services in our region involved in pregnancy care.

The Western Alliance Flagship Research Program is a new initiative that supports a major program of research and capacity-building that will assist in solving a health problem identified as a top priority by Western Alliance member organisations.

A collaboration between Barwon Health, Ballarat Health Services, East Grampians Health Service, Colac Area Health, Western District Health Service, Deakin University, Gen V (Murdoch Children’s Research Institute) and Federation University, the Pregnancy Research and Translation Ecosystem (PRT-E) will receive a $200,000 grant from Western Alliance to generate and implement best evidence to improve maternal and infant health.

To achieve this, PRT-E will collect data on pregnancy care and collaborate with the GenV initiative, which aims to recruit and follow 80% of all infants born in Victoria over the coming 2 years. This data will create a world-leading and unique resource for future research.

In parallel, PRT-E will establish a Pregnancy Stakeholder Working Group of consumers and health professionals that will be trained and supported by the established systems of Deakin University’s Institute of Health Transformation.  The Working Group will then co-design and co-produce the research program.

A starting priority is to design a clinical trial and translation plan with the aim of safely reducing the caesarean section rate in the region, which has risen to around 40%. It is a complex problem requiring design of a multifaceted intervention.

Chief Investigator Professor Vuillermin said “PRT-E will create a research, co-design and translation ecosystem that will drive continual improvements in mother and baby care. The program will be an exercise in people power meets cutting edge research methodology. We can’t wait to get the PRT-E started!”

Our congratulations to the PRT-E team.

Our Western Alliance Research Fellow and recently awarded Heart Foundation Fellow, Dr Laura Alston (Colac Area Health, Deakin University), has been awarded funding from the SPINIFEX network to undertake a Rural Health Rapid Review.

Spinifex is a national collaborative network aimed at achieving equitable funding for rural and regional health research. Laura’s review, entitled ‘A review of evidence on interventions to improve the availability and promotion of healthy food in rural communities’, will form part of a series which aims to improve the health of rural, regional and remote living Australians by undertaking focused research and implementing evidence-based policies and practices.

Further detail, including information on the other review topics can be found here.