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Thursday, 29 September 2011

A prospective study of diet quality and mental health in adolescents

An unhealthy diet can be the cause of mental health problems in adolescents, a new study has found. Three quarters of lifetime psychiatric disorders will emerge in adolescence or early adulthood. The National Comorbidity Survey Replication recently reported that more than 22% of adolescents aged 13 to 18 yrs had already experienced a clinically significant mental health problem, with ages of onset ranging from 6 yrs for anxiety disorders, to 13 years for mood disorders. In the last 18 months there have been a number of published studies identifying an inverse associations between diet quality and the common mental disorders, depression and anxiety, in adults and two prospective studies suggesting that diet quality influences the risk for depressive illness in adults over time. While two recent studies have also demonstrated cross-sectional associations between diet quality and emotional and behavioural problems and depression in adolescents, there are no existing studies that examine this association in adolescents prospectively, limiting inferences regarding possible causal relationships.

This study aimed to investigate relationships between measures of diet quality and adolescent mental health, both cross-sectionally and prospectively. It also aimed to examine the temporal relationships between diet quality and mental health and the associations between change in diet quality and change in psychological symptoms.

Australia's New Health Crisis - Too Many Doctors

It is taken as given within Australia's health bureacracy that there is a shortage of General Practitioners (GPs). According to Australia's New Health Crisis - Too Many Doctors by Bob Birrell from the Monash Centre for Population and Urban Research, this view is incorrect.

As a result of measures to encourage the employment of International Medical Graduates (IMGs) and to expand the number of domestic medical graduates, Australia is now awash with doctors. This shows up in statistics indicating a sharp improvement in the ratio of doctors to population throughout Australia and record high levels of bulk billing for GP services.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

PubMed Health - A Growing Resource for Clinical Effectiveness Information

Now containing over 5,000 items, PubMed Health has developed further as a resource for clinical effectiveness research with its recent releases. PubMed Health has also begun a collection focused on helping people understand systematic reviews and their results. PubMed Health goals are helping users find the evidence that could answer their questions about effects of health care and helping them understand what they find.

Systematic reviews which identify and interpret studies on the effects of health care form an essential research basis for informed decision-making. Systematic reviewing has been growing, especially with the advent of The Cochrane Collaboration and the increasing incorporation of this methodology in health technology assessment by public agencies and clinical practice guideline development.

Systematic reviews (including health technology assessments) are often lengthy and highly technical. Their evolution has been accompanied by a growth in knowledge translation activity. Along with traditional abstracts, various forms have been developed to help people use systematic reviews: executive and policymaker summaries, summaries or other forms for patients/consumers and summaries for clinicians.

However, these materials have been scattered widely on content providers' Web sites without being collected centrally. Many of the systematic reviews undertaken by public health technology assessment agencies have also remained outside the National Library of Medicine system. The PubMed Health initiative is gathering them together within a single searchable resource.

PubMed Health contains systematic reviews and summaries of systematic reviews undertaken or updated in roughly the last ten years.

Read more

Rural health champions website

Rural health is rewarding, challenging and life changing. It can take you to places you've never dreamed of and to communities that really need you.

The Rural Health Champions are people with a passion for rural health. They include experienced rural doctors and aspiring students in each state and the Northern Territory. Through this site, they provide first hand accounts of their personal and professional experiences living and working in rural Australia.

The Department of Health and Ageing provides a number of incentives to help doctors relocate to and remain in rural and remote Australia. These incentives include relocation grants, locum support, higher education reimbursement assistance and a discount in the 10 year moratorium for overseas trained doctors, scaled according to remoteness of region. To find out more about the incentives offered by the Department of Health and Ageing, go to www.doctorconnect.gov.au To explore what a career in rural health can offer you, visit the Rural Health Workforce website, www.rhwa.org.au

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework 2010: detailed analyses (AIHW)

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework 2010: detailed analyses contains detailed analyses underlying the summary data presented in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework 2010 (HPF). The HPF is designed to provide the basis to monitor the impact of the National Strategic Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health (NSFATSIH) and inform policy analyses, planning and program implementation. The HPF consists of 71 measures covering : health status and outcomes; determinants of health; and health systems performance.

Media release

IPTAAS receives funding boost

Minister for Health, Jillian Skinner, has announced the detail behind the $28 million boost to the Isolated Patients Travel and Accommodation Assistance Scheme (IPTAAS). Patients who need to travel long distances for treatment will receive a 30% boost in their accommodation subsidies and a 25% boost in petrol subsidies.

This the first time the accommodation subsidy has gone up in 11 years. The NSW Government is delivering a boost of $28 million over 4 years, including $7 million this year. Mrs Skinner said "This increase represents a significant investment by the NSW Government and delivers on our promise to provide greater assistance for people living in rural and remote areas needing to travel for medical treatment. Greater funding for IPTAAS will allow more patients to travel for medical treatment and reimburse their expenses at a fairer rate. This boost supports the NSW Government's commitment to ensuring that the people of NSW have access to timely and quality health care regardless of where they live."

The health of Australia's prisoners 2010 (AIHW)

The health of Australia's prisoners 2010 is the second report on indicators of prisoner health in Australia. The two-week snapshot showed that:

* almost 1 in 3 prison entrants had ever been told they have a mental health disorder and 1 in 5 prisoners in custody was taking medication for a mental health condition;
* more than 4 in 5 prison entrants was a current smoker; over half report drinking alcohol at risk levels and 2 in 3 had used illicit drugs during the previous 12 months;
* more than 1 in 3 prison entrants had not completed Year 10 at school;
* 1 in 4 prison entrants had a chronic condition such as asthma, cardiovascular disease or diabetes.

The report also contains data relating to communicable diseases, deaths in custody, and the use of prison health services.

Media release

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

New website provides support for melanoma sufferers

A new website launched by Melanoma Patients Australia offers support and resources for people with the melanoma and their relatives, carers, and friends. Melanoma - sometimes known as the "invisible cancer" because patients often look healthy and well - can be successfully treated if detected early but kills about 10% of patients, often young people.

Melanoma Patients Australia (MPA) CEO Lisa MacFadyen said Brisbane held the dubious honour of being the Melanoma capital of the world. Developed in partnership with Brisbane agency SIMJEN, the new website delivers a fully interactive online experience for members where they can share personal survivor stories, donate to MPA projects, access educational materials, participate in forums, and hear about upcoming events. To find out more visit www.melanomapatients.org.au or phone 1300 88 44 50.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Walked Into a Lamppost? Hurt While Crocheting? Help Is on the Way

Macaw attack by T-OH and Matt
on Flickr

Today, hospitals and doctors use a system of about 18,000 codes (ICD 10) to describe medical services in bills they send to insurers. Apparently, that doesn't allow for quite enough nuance.

ICD-10, the International Classification of Diseases, 10th (American) Revision will expand the number to around 140,000 adding codes that describe precisely what bone was broken, which artery is receiving a stent or what exactly caused an injury. The revisors say the codes will provide a more exact and up-to date accounting of diagnoses and hospital inpatient procedures, which could improve payment strategies and care guidelines."It's for accuracy of data and quality of care," says Pat Brooks, senior technical adviser at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The greatly increased level of detail has raised a few eyebrows. WHO, for instance, didn't see the need for 72 codes about injuries tied to birds. But American doctors whose patients run afoul of a macaw, duck, parrot, goose, turkey or chicken will be able to select from 9 codes for each animal.

It's not clear how many klutzes want to notify their insurers that a doctor visit was a W22.02XA, "walked into lamppost, initial encounter" (or, for that matter, a W22.02XD, "walked into lamppost, subsequent encounter"). X77.3 "Suicide attempt using hot toaster" is also indicative of an obscure but worrying trend. Y93D1 covers the very prevalent, but underdiagnosed, knitting & crocheting injuries.

Crazy by iamrandygirl
on Flickr

Article Walked Into a Lamppost? Hurt While Crocheting?Help Is on the Way

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Indigenous women tell it straight about trouble at home

Jillian Gray has spent decades working in her Queensland community of Cherbourg to curb systemic alcohol abuse and family breakdowns. The 63-year-old support worker was yesterday one of 60 indigenous women who went to Canberra to tell Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin and 26 other female parliamentarians what she believes is killing her community.

The visit is part of Oxfam's Straight Talk Summit, which intends to give female community leaders across Australia's indigenous townships access to female MPs.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Diabetes talk often "harmful and inaccurate"

Diabetes Australia and the Australian Medical Association are calling for greater awareness and more sensitivity in the way health professionals and the media talk about diabetes.

Diabetes Australia today released its position statement A new language for diabetes: Improving communications with and about people with diabetes. The statement has been developed by a multidisciplinary working group and highlights the implications of certain words and phrases often used to describe and discuss diabetes in Australia. It also makes recommendations for modifying this language. Diabetes Australia Chief Executive Lewis Kaplan said referring to diabetes as a "disease" and describing people living with the condition as "diabetics" or "sufferers" is commonplace in this country, particularly in the media. However he said this type of language can be harmful and inaccurate.

MaariMa opens new unit for Aboriginal women and children in the Far West.

Minister for Mental Health, Healthy Lifestyles and Western NSW, Kevin Humphries, has officially opened a new health facility designed to greatly increase access to health care for Aboriginal children and families in the Far West region. Mr Humphries said the Maari Ma Health Aboriginal Corporation Child and Family Unit in Broken Hill has been purpose built to meet the health requirements of both pregnant women and children.

"This facility provides a dedicated space for the increased provision of health services to mothers, pregnant women, babies and young children," Mr Humphries said. "It is a reflection of Maari Ma's on-going commitment to providing the highest quality health services in the earliest stages of life and to closing the life expectancy gap of Aboriginal people within a generation." Mr Humphries said the unit will play a vital role in reducing the burden of chronic disease on the health system and keeping far west communities active and healthy.

Press release

ABC coverage with audio interview with Kevin Humphries and pictures.

Social media: A guide for researchers


Social media is an important technological trend that has big implications for how researchers (and people in general) communicate and collaborate. Researchers have a huge amount to gain from engaging with social media in various aspects of their work.

Social media: A guide for researchers has been produced by the International Centre for Guidance Studies, and aims to provide the information needed to make an informed decision about using social media and select from the vast range of tools that are available.

One of the most important things that researchers do is to find, use and disseminate information, and social media offers a range of tools which can facilitate this. Social media can change the way in which you undertake research, and can also open up new forms of communication and dissemination. It has the power to enable researchers to engage in a wide range of dissemination in a highly efficient way.

A wide range of tools are discussed in the guide, with a number of case studies to illustrate.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Breakthrough for schizophrenia research (University of Newcastle)

University of Newcastle scientists are part of a global research project that has identified five new regions of the human genome associated with schizophrenia. The Schizophrenia Psychiatric Genome-Wide Association Study Consortium used data from the Australian Schizophrenia Research Bank (ASRB). The Bank is managed by the Schizophrenia Research Institute’s University of Newcastle group and collects genetic, clinical and neurological information from up to 4,000 volunteers across Australia.

The study, published today in the prestigious international journal Nature Genetics, also confirmed that two other previously identified gene loci are associated with schizophrenia.

Newcastle gets young dementia support program

The Hunter region has become one of the few areas in Australia to get a specific support program for people suffering from Younger Onset Dementia. A forum in Newcastle last night heard from expert clinicians about the prevalence of the condition, which affects around 800 people under the age of 65 in the Hunter.

Chair of the Hunter's Younger Onset Dementia Working group, Helga Merl, says after two years of lobbying she is ecstatic that support services targeting younger people will finally be available.

Mesothelioma in Australia

Safe Work Australia has released a report titled Mesothelioma in Australia: incidence 1982 to 2007; mortality 1997 to 2007.

The rate of deaths due to mesothelioma has remained relatively stable over the 10 years for which data are available. Data on the number of new cases of mesothelioma are collected nationally by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) in the National Cancer Statistics Clearing House, via the State Cancer Registries. Information on deaths from mesothelioma is also collected by the AIHW as part of the National Mortality Database. Data are available from 1982 to 2007 for the number of new cases, and from 1997 to 2007 for the number of deaths.

Guidelines for the Prevention, Detection and Management of Chronic Heart Failure in Australia

The Heart Foundation and the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand (CSANZ) have released Guidelines for the prevention, detection and management of chronic heart failure in Australia. Updated July 2011. The guidelines feature updated evidence related to:
* use of B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP), including plasma-BNP or N-terminal pro-BNP measurement
* physicial activity and rehabilitation
* pharmaco-therapy
* use of polyunsaturated fatty acids in treatment of systolic heart failure
* use of devices
* treatment of cardiac arrhythmias in patients
* multidisciplinary care and post-discharge management programs

Monday, 19 September 2011

Be above 5 to drive : diabetes and driving

Australians with diabetes who are at-risk of experiencing low blood glucose (or hypoglycaemia) should test their blood glucose levels before driving, according to new medical patient education guidelines released by the Australian Diabetes Society (ADS).

Designed to minimise the risk of road accidents caused by hypoglycaemic episodes, the new Guidelines require people taking glucose lowering medication and insulin to always check blood glucose before driving; carry fast acting carbohydrates; and carry a blood glucose meter with them when driving.

They identify a blood glucose reading of above 5 mmol/L before driving commencement, as being required to help people to be safe to drive and to consider pedestrians and other road users. "These Guidelines encourage people with diabetes to ensure they understand the risk of hypoglycaemia when driving and ways to prevent these episodes," said ADS Past-President Stephen Twigg.

Media release

Diabetes and driving booklet

Driving and recent severe hypoglycaemia fact sheet

Diabetes in Australia: a Snapshot, 2007-08 [ABS]

Over 800,000 Australian have diabetes. Diabetes in Australia: a Snapshot, 2007-08 includes information covering the following categories: Prevalence of diabetes; Variation in prevalence; Lifestyle risk factors for Type 2 diabetes; Managing the risks; Health of people with diabetes; Comorbidity; Use of health services; and, Deaths.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Projections of the incidence of treated end-stage kidney disease in Australia, 2010-2020 (AIHW)

Projections of the incidence of treated end-stage kidney disease in Australia, 2010-2020 presents projections of the incidence of end-stage kidney disease treated with dialysis or kidney transplantation (treated ESKD) for the period 2010 to 2020. This information is important for health service planning and resource allocation in the future. The projections are made by sex at national and state/territory levels, and for end-stage kidney disease (ESKD) patients with diabetes when commencing treatment. The incidence of treated ESKD is projected to continue to rise over the next decade; increasing by nearly 80% between 2009 and 2020. The proportion of those commencing ESKD treatment with diabetes is also expected to increase, from 45% in 2009 to 64% in 2020.

Media release

Chronic kidney disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (AIHW)

Chronic kidney disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people presents the first detailed analysis of chronic kidney disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and how it compares to non-Indigenous Australians. Indigenous Australians have a greater burden of disease for many health conditions, and chronic kidney disease is no exception. Indigenous Australians were found to be more likely to have end-stage kidney disease, and be hospitalised or die with chronic kidney disease than non-Indigenous Australians.

Media release

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Physical Activity in Australia: A Snapshot, 2007-08

The latest in the Australian Bureau of Statistics' popular snapshot series provides an overview of the physical activity levels of adults in Australia, including information on a range of factors which may influence these levels and the long-term health risks associated with physical inactivity.

It is not a pretty picture ! In recent decades, there has been a decline in physical activity due to the increasing sedentary nature of many forms of work and activities such as watching television or using a computer, as well as changes in transportation. Sedentary behaviour is believed to be associated with the rise in overweight and obesity, and has been shown to increase an individual's risk of cardiovascular disease, colon and breast cancers, Type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis. It has been estimated that the direct health care costs due to physical inactivity in Australia were almost $1.5 billion in 2006-07, the largest of which were attributable to falls ($469 million) and coronary heart disease ($372 million).

Worldwide, physical inactivity is the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality, contributing to 6% of deaths, and is second only to tobacco smoking as a leading modifiable health risk factor contributing to the burden of disease and injury in Australia. It is the fifth leading risk factor for men and the third leading risk factor for women.

Guidelines for the ethical management of people with advanced chronic or terminal conditions in the final months of life [NHMRC]

Many people of all ages are diagnosed with chronic or terminal conditions every year. The NHMRC has released two documents to assist with the difficult ethical deliberations about the care of terminal conditions.

An ethical framework for integrating palliative care principles into the management of advanced chronic or terminal conditions is intended for health professionals and has been designed to guide deliberations over ethical aspects of providing care at the transition phase of a patient's journey through an advanced chronic or terminal condition, including cancer.

Living Well With an Advanced Chronic or Terminal Condition: How Ethics Helps is intended for patients (of all ages), families and carers and has been designed to facilitate what can be difficult conversations about ethically related issues which arise at this time of transition e.g. preferred type and place of care - hospice, hospital, or home.

Both the framework and the guide identify key ethical principles and values relevant to the last twelve months or so of life for those with an advanced chronic or terminal condition making the transition to palliative care. The documents pose some questions which can be explored at any stage of this transition whether as patients, health professionals, family or carers. They also provide additional resources via web-links to assist health professionals, patients, carers or family members to access further information and advice for deliberations about the ethical aspects of the palliative care being provided.

The ethical principles and values described in these documents were developed from a consultation process between 2008 & 2010. It became clear that there was a gap in the literature around what has been termed a "transition phase". This is the period when individuals with advanced chronic or terminal conditions became aware that the final phase of life is approaching but death is not yet imminent - typically twelve months or so prior to death. The framework and the guide were developed in light of the submissions received to address that gap.

Media Release - Living well in the last months of life

Live Longer! : the Community Health Action Pack

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities can now access a comprehensive health promotion pack to combat the risk factors for chronic disease and help close the gap in life expectancy.

"A part of the Live Longer! campaign, the Community Health Action Pack will assist people working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health to better design, develop and deliver health promotion projects addressing the needs of their local communities," the Minister, Warren Snowden said. "We're providing comprehensive campaign resources, and a detailed how-to guide for running successful social marketing campaigns at a local level.

The Live Longer! Campaign promotes four key healthy lifestyle choices for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to help stop disease and extend their lives - give up smoking, eat healthy food, get regular exercise and have regular medical check-ups."

"Our research tells us it's important Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people themselves spread the word within their communities that chronic disease such as cancer and diabetes are not inevitable, and to change the social acceptance many communities have surrounding high risk behaviours like smoking," he said.

As part of the campaign, the Australian Government is funding 38 community projects around the nation delivering healthy lifestyle messages to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Press release

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

"We're a nation of fat, sad drinkers" : international survey reveals worrying health behaviours

We may live in the lucky country but Australians are in denial about their ever-expanding waistlines and claim to be the unhappiest in the world. The findings came from an international health survey, which also revealed that Australians were among the world's biggest drinkers, coming in just behind their British cousins.

The Bupa Health Pulse 2011 report focuses on research in 12 developed and developing countries in Europe (Spain and the UK), the Americas(Brazil, Mexico and the US ), the Middle East (Saudi Arabia), Asia (China,India, Hong Kong and Thailand) and Australasia (Australia and New Zealand) and examines the key factors that influence people's behaviour with regard to their health. It is based on interviews in 2011 with 13,373 adult members of the general public aged 18+. The report aims to deepen understanding not only of the trends but also the influences, attitudes, perceptions and behaviours which, on every continent, account for those trends and which potently determine the quality of health of individuals and of nations.

Key findings of the BUPA Survey

Full survey report

"We're a nation of fat, sad drinkers" - Sydney Morning Herald

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Evidence-based guideline for the assessment and management of polycystic ovary syndrome

Australian experts have developed the world's first accessible evidence-based guideline for polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a hormonal condition with reproductive, metabolic and mental health impacts. PCOS affects 12-21% of reproductive aged women in Australia, yet up to 70% of women with PCOS remain undiagnosed.

The Evidence-based guideline for the assessment and management of polycystic ovary syndrome provides 38 recommendations addressing four key areas:

* challenges of assessment and diagnosis
* assessment of emotional wellbeing
* lifestyle management
* fertility

Importantly, the guideline also addresses the long-term complications of PCOS including increased risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, depression and anxiety.

Press release

Friday, 9 September 2011

Mental illness not supported in workplace (Sane Australia study)

A new study by SANE Australia finds that most Australians with a mental illness receive little support at work, and more than half those surveyed did not believe their manager had an understanding of mental illness and its impact in the workplace.

The survey by national mental health charity SANE Australia found that a staggering 95 per cent of respondents said employers and managers needed education on mental illness, and training on how to manage its effects in the workplace.

Australia’s First E-Mental Health Strategy

Australians living with mental illness are a step closer to being able to access online care and support following the establishment of a new e-mental health expert committee which will advise on the rollout of the nation’s first mental health online portal and virtual clinic.

The rollout of these new online initiatives will be considered by the expert committee in its development of Australia’s first national e-mental health strategy.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Residential Aged Care Communique

The Residential Aged Care Communique is an electronic publication containing narrative case reports about lessons learned from the Coronial investigations into preventable deaths in Residential Aged Care facilities. In October 2006, the State Minister for Ageing (Victoria) launched the inaugural edition.

Each edition of the RACCommunique focuses on a single theme relevant to the clinicians and care staff, in aged care (e.g., physical restraints, hot weather, pneumonia, falls), (b) provides up to three investigated and closed case summaries to engage the reader, (c)commentaries from a recognised expert to provide the relevant information about optimal clinical practice, and (d) electronic references to key national and international resources. Subscription is free.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Off farm employment sees mental health benefits

A retrospective study by the Department of Agriculture and Food has found that stints of off farm employment can help growers' mental health in trying seasons.

Last year, the Resilient Farm Businesses and Off Farm Employment project reviewed the experiences had by growers' who worked off farm during 2006 and 2007, the region's worst drought on record.

Online therapy program now offered for PTSD

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), is the most common anxiety disorder in Australia yet many people never receive treatment.

Macquarie University's new eCentreClinic, which offers a growing range of therapy programs online, has now added PTSD to its offerings. The online treatment program for PTSD offered by the eCentre Clinic is based on the most recent psychological research findings.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children: Annual statistical report 2010

Children born in the early years of this millennium are growing up in an Australian society different to that experienced by any previous generation. Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) is Australia's first nationally representative longitudinal study of child development. The study provides valuable data on children, their families and their wider environments, and enables researchers and policy-makers to understand how these change and interact as children grow up.

This is the first volume in the LSAC Annual Statistical Report series. The purpose of these reports is to provide an overview of the data from the study and thereby describe aspects of Australian children's lives and development. The reports will also be able to provide longitudinal statistics to describe the dynamics of change as children develop, and how their families and lives change as they grow older.

Chapters in this release include parenting practices and behaviours, children's experiences of child care, child language development & children's pre- and perinatal health experiences.

Other resources on the website include Families in regional, rural and remote Australia.

Pathways in aged care: do people follow recommendations? (AIHW)

Eligibility for key aged care programs is assessed by Aged Care Assessment Teams (ACATs). These teams also make recommendations on the preferred long-term setting for receiving care; that is, in the person's home or in a residential care facility. Analysis shows that there was considerable variation in care pathways within recommendation group. Rates of transition into permanent residential care varied with the use of community care and residential respite care. One-quarter of ACAT clients-including some recommended to live in residential care-did not use aged care services in the 2 years after their first assessment.

Media release

Report