Center of excellence in research to ensure better quality care for all Australians
A team of researchers from the University of Wollongong (UOW) received a share of $ 2.5 million in funding over five years under the program National Council for Health and Medical Research (NHMRC) Centers of Research Excellence (CRE) to conduct cutting-edge research to reduce medical overdiagnosis and overtreatment in Australia and globally.
Wiser health care is a multidisciplinary research collaboration involving the University of Sydney, Bond University, Monash University and the University of Wollongong.
Professor Stacy Carter, director of the Australian Center for Health Engagement, Evidence and Values (ACHEEV), a research center in the School of Health and Society, will lead the UOW team, including Dr Chris Degeling and Dr Patti Shih.
“We hear a lot about the significant problem of underutilization – when people are not getting the health care they need. But overuse is just as important and a overlooked issue. Overuse can happen when we are tested unnecessarily, receive diagnoses that don’t help us, or receive treatments that make things worse rather than better, ”said Professor Carter.
Researchers at Wiser Healthcare have estimated that up to 30% of healthcare resources in Australia are spent on interventions that don’t make a difference or actively harm people.
Dr Patti Shih, who joined UOW as a postdoctoral researcher in 2019 to work on Wiser Healthcare projects, will co-lead a project with colleagues at the University of Sydney aimed at co-designing approaches to reduce overuse with clinicians and consumers.
“Dr Shih will also continue his cutting edge work on the relatively new practice of promoting medical tests directly to consumers, finding out what people think about it, if they are using the tests and how they think self-tests should be. regulated, ”said Professor Carter.
“Our projects, such as our current research on the ethical, social and legal implications of using artificial intelligence for screening, will also benefit from connections to the Wiser Healthcare network. “
CRE will support 12 projects across the four universities, in areas as diverse as changing the way pathologists write their reports, testing different ways to communicate breast cancer screening results to women, encouraging clinicians to avoid testing and unnecessary treatments for low back pain and optimize cardiovascular disease. disease risk assessment.
“Each of these 12 projects will bring Australia and the world one step closer to delivering healthcare to those who really need it, rather than those who don’t,” said Professor Carter. .
UOW Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) Professor Jennifer Martin AC welcomed the funding announcement and congratulated the successful UOW researchers.
“My congratulations go to the UOW research team led by Professor Stacy Carter. With this new center of research excellence, the team can now achieve important goals in health and medical research, ”said Professor Martin.
“As we continue to feel the continuing impact of the current pandemic, it is important to reflect on the critical positive effect of timely, high-quality multidisciplinary research like this. I look forward to monitoring the progress of the Wiser Healthcare NHMRC Center of Research Excellence, ”said Professor Martin.
The competitive CRE program, administered by the NHMRC on behalf of the Australian Department of Health, supports collaborative research projects to generate new knowledge that leads to better health outcomes. The program provides support to teams of researchers to pursue collaborations in clinical research, population health and health services. The research aims to improve the translation of research findings into policy and practice.
Main Image: Collage by UOW Wiser Healthcare team, Professor Stacy Carter, Dr Chris Degeling and Dr Patti Shih