Strengths


1.      Measurement
We have developed a range of measurement tools that have become the local and/or international standards in their field. These include a self-management outcomes tool (the heiQ), a tool for measuring the impact of flu (Flu-iiQ), a tool for understanding and prioritising the need for hip and knee joint replacement (MAPT), a medication self-management tool (meiQ), and most recently, a tool for measuring health literacy (HLQ). We believe that our success in measurement development is based on our grounded approach to defining the construct and developing items, and to our rigorous processes for refining and testing items and scales.


2.      Program development and implementation 
We have an established track record in developing innovative programs that work programs that meet the needs of consumers and practitioners and can become established as ongoing components of the health system. These programs include the Orthopaedic Waiting List Reform, which has been implemented in most Australian states, and the national quality and monitoring system for chronic disease self-management program (including the heiQ). Our approach to the conceptualisation of a whole-of-system workplace-based intervention for people with arthritis has been viewed as exemplary (The Australian WorkHealth Arthritis Project). More recently, we developed the SteppingUp with is being implemented in Australia and elsewhere.


3.      Health program evaluation
Our research team includes people who have been leaders in teaching program evaluation and developing evaluation methods for more than a decade. Our approach to evaluation reflects our principles and values. We use structured processes to negotiate and plan with all stakeholders, including consumers, for the development of evaluation questions, methods and tools. Our priority is to move beyond a description of the average effects of a program to an understanding of how the program affects different people, so that practitioners and service planners are informed about how to meet the differing needs of consumers. We routinely integrate quantitative and qualitative methods and we engage stakeholders in the interpretation of results and the development of recommendations for the future.


4.      Use of “knowledge to action” approaches
We are skilled in the use of a variety of “knowledge to action” approaches including knowledge utilisation, diffusion of innovation, program implementation, knowledge transfer, and translation. As well, we provide tailored educational and training interventions to help people understand and use these approaches in their work.


5.      International partners and collaboration
We have many local and international partners and collaborative projects. We have initiated, co-created and contributed substantially to projects in countries including England, France, Germany, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, Japan and Thailand. In 2010, through the AusAID Australian Leadership Awards Fellowships Program, we hosted two senior researchers and two senior policymakers from Thailand for six weeks where we provided and facilitated training for them in chronic disease self-management, implementation and consultation processes.


6.      Education and training approaches
Our preference for quality face-to-face and activity-based approaches to education and training of health consumers and practitioners informs our work in the development of online health-professional-supported programs (SteppingUp). We have expertise in understanding and operationalising sustainable organisational learning.


7.      Interdisciplinary team
Our research team brings together a diverse range of expertise in epidemiology, health program evaluation and health services research in quantitative, qualitative and mixed-method approaches. This expertise is underpinned by practical professional backgrounds in nursing, physiotherapy, health psychology, and multi-sectoral education and training.


8.      A realist perspective
A realist approach to research and evaluation focuses on understanding the mechanisms by which a program achieves its outcomes. In particular, it focuses on why different mechanisms may be important for different people in different circumstances. Realist approaches have become increasingly prominent in the research and evaluation literature and practice over the past 25 years. PHI has developed unique approaches for dealing with some of the methodological issues that have hindered realist evaluation.


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