Multi-million dollar win for Deakin University health research

Media release
04 March 2016
Deakin University health researchers have been awarded more than $3million for projects that will address childhood obesity, alcohol-related violence and patient safety.

Deakin University health researchers have been awarded more than $3million for projects that will address childhood obesity, alcohol-related violence and patient safety.

The Federal Minister for Health, Sussan Ley, has announced that Deakin will lead three major partnership projects funded from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Medical Research Endowment Account (MREA).

The announcement marks one of the largest NHMRC Partnership Project rounds ever awarded to Deakin, for projects that aim to reduce childhood obesity and alcohol-related harm, and improve the quality of critical nursing care in hospitals.

According to Deakin University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor Peter Hodgson, this success reflects Deakin’s growing reputation in the public health field.

“I congratulate the successful researchers involved in these projects, who have worked extremely hard in their respective fields to make a difference to public health,” Professor Hodgson said.

“All three projects have involved extensive groundwork in pilot projects and have the potential to improve public health practices around Australia and overseas.

“I also thank the partner organisations who will be working with us on these important initiatives. Their intellectual and financial contributions, together with their expertise and infrastructure, were critical to the success of these applications.”

Details of the projects are included below:

“Whole of Systems Trial of Prevention Strategies for childhood obesity: WHO STOPS childhood obesity.”

In a community-wide approach to tackling childhood obesity, Professor Steven Allender, from the School of Health and Social Development and the WHO Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention (located at Deakin), will lead a five-year trial tackling childhood obesity that has the potential to provide models for communities across Australia - and could make a real difference to the nation’s obesity epidemic.

The project team will work with primary care partnerships, primary school principal networks, district health services, local councils and other partners from the Great South Coast Region of Victoria (GSCVR) – a partnership that has already delivered several world-leading childhood obesity prevention interventions.

The new project will aim to increase the capacity of community leaders to use systems thinking for community-wide obesity prevention. It will focus on developing community-built action plans in a randomised trial in ten GSCVR communities, involving parents and leaders from local government, education, clubs, agencies and business, who can influence environments where children experience the key risk factors for obesity.

Deakin researchers will work on this project along with Dr Peter Hovmand from Washington University Missouri, USA and key funding partners including Western Alliance – A Healthier Regional Victoria and Department of Health and Human Services.

“Driving Change: Using Emergency Department Data To Reduce Alcohol-related Harm.”

Professor Peter Miller, from Deakin’s Centre for Social and Early Emotional Development (SEED), will lead this five-year project that is based on an international model that has been shown to substantially reduce violent crimes, street assaults and hospital admissions related to alcohol.

This project will see a team of Deakin researchers work with colleagues at St Vincent's Hospital Australia (Melbourne and Sydney), the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine, Australian National University, Barwon Health, Calvary Health Care ACT, Monash Health, University of New South Wales, South West Health Care, and Cardiff University.

Building on the international evidence and pilot data from Australia, the team will oversee and evaluate an intervention that aims to reduce alcohol-related injury in the community through a randomised trial in eight emergency departments in Victoria, NSW and the ACT. A key aspect will be the introduction of mandatory “last-drinks” data collection within existing hospital IT systems for triage/clinician follow-up.

This project has the potential to lead to improved practices in emergency departments across Australia – helping to reduce the national incidence of alcohol-related harm.

“Prioritising responses of nurses to deteriorating patient observations (PRONTO).”

This project will be led by Professor Tracey Bucknall, Associate Head (Research), School of Nursing and Midwifery, from Deakin’s Centre for Quality and Patient Safety Research (QPS), and Professor of Nursing at Alfred Health.

According to Professor Bucknall, approximately 10 per cent of patients who enter hospitals suffer an adverse event unrelated to their medical condition, which translates to millions of people every day around the world. This project will focus on improving nurses’ measurement and response to vital signs in a bid to reduce serious adverse events and improve patient health.

Extending collaborative work over the past six years, the researchers will conduct a randomised trial in four Victorian hospitals, with the goal of improving nurses’ adherence to clinical practice guidelines for identifying and managing deteriorating patients in hospital; and determining the effectiveness and cost of an intervention to improve guideline adherence. If successful, the intervention may be introduced in hospitals around Australia.

Deakin researchers will work on this project with colleagues from Bangor University, the University of Adelaide, Australian National University and the University of Ottawa, Canada. Partners in the project are: Alfred Health, Bangor University (Wales), Monash Health, Eastern Health - Victoria, The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care and SA Health.

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