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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.