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Contents - 15 March 2007

PHCRIS update

National PHCRED Meeting report now available!

The University Departments of General Practice and Rural Health funded under the Primary Health Care Research Evaluation and Development (PHCRED) Strategy meet annually to share progress, discuss issues and present information. The report from the 2006 National meeting is now available on the PHCRIS website.

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Articles of Interest

Systems and complexity thinking in general practice - Part 1 - clinical application

Sturmberg JP. Australian Family Physician 2007 Mar; 36(3):170-3
Many problems encountered in general practice c ann ot be sufficiently explained within the Newtonian reductionist paradigm. Systems and complexity thinking - already widely adopted in most nonmedical disciplines - describes and explores the contextual nature of questions posed in medicine, and in general practice in particular. This article briefly describes the framework underpinning systems and complexity sciences. A case study illustrates how systems and complexity thinking can help to better understand the contextual nature of patient presentations, and how different approaches will lead to different outcomes.

Team climate for innovation: what difference does it make in general practice?

Judith Proudfoot, Upali W. Jayasinghe, Chris Holton, Jane Grimm, Tanya Bubner, Cheryl Amoroso, Justin Beilby, Mark F. Harris and PracCap Research Team. International Journal for Quality in Health Care Advance Access published online on March 2, 2007
Teamwork in primary healthcare is associated with patient care processes and staff outcomes. The ability of teams to be innovative is a hypothesized mechanism. We examined the characteristics of general practices with good team climate for innovation, and assessed the impact of climate on chronically ill patients' assessment of their care and on the job satisfaction of the staff.

How Can Practice-based Research Contribute to the Elimination of Health Disparities?

Rust G, Cooper LA. J Am Board Fam Med. 2007 Mar-Apr; 20(2):105-14.
Racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities in health care and health outcomes are well documented. Disparities research is evolving from documenting these disparities, to understanding their causes and mechanisms, and finally to conducting interventional research to reduce or eliminate disparities. New models of research will be required to test dynamic, multidimensional interventions that triangulate on patients, providers, and communities. This article reviews 12 promising strategies that could substantially increase the impact of research on eliminating health disparities in America.

The Role of Health Information Technology in the Translation of Research into Practice: An Oklahoma Physicians Resource/Research Network (OKPRN) Study

Nagykaldi Z, Mold JW. J Am Board Fam Med. 2007 Mar-Apr;20(2):188-95.
Implementation of health information technology (HIT) has become a cornerstone of efforts to improve patient care in primary care practices. However, relatively few publications have explored the impact of HIT on the need for fundamental changes in the primary care delivery process. There is also very little published information about how HIT implementations can drive translation of research findings into practice in primary care. This article describes the process of developing and implementing the Preventive Services Reminder System in the Oklahoma Physicians Resource/Research Network, a practice-based research network, and demonstrates how strategic adoption of HIT led to the re-engineering of practices and to subsequent improvements in delivery of evidence-based preventive services.

National study of the relation of primary care shortages to emergency department utilization

Richman IB, Clark S, Sullivan AF, Camargo CA Jr. Acad Emerg Med. 2007 Mar;14(3):279-82. Epub 2007 Jan 22
Emergency department (ED) visit volumes are increasing nationwide. Objective of the US study was to determine whether states with primary care shortages have higher rates of ED use. Analysis using the Health Resources and Services Administration Geospatial Database showed that primary care shortage densities varied greatly across states. A positive association between primary care shortage densities and ED visit densities was found. Although most states adhered to this pattern, some states did not.

Telling stories: News media, health literacy and public policy in Canada

Hayes M, Ross IE, Gasher M, Gutstein D, Dunn JR, Hackett RA. Soc Sci Med. 2007 Mar 1; [Epub ahead of print]
This study examined the extent to which newspaper coverage of health stories reflect issues embedded in health policy documents. This project analysed the relative distribution of health stories using content analysis using a sample of 4732 stories from 13 Canadian daily newspapers. Stories were sorted into categories identified as major influences shaping the health status of populations in the document Toward a Healthy Future (Second Report on the Health of Canadians (1999)) (TAHF). Topics related to service provision, delivery or management accounted for 65% of all stories. The overall prominence of topics in newspapers is not consistent with the relative importance assigned to health influences in TAHF. Socio-economic influences were rarely reported on.

National institutes of health eliminates funding for national architecture linking primary care research

Peterson KA. J Am Board Fam Med. 2007 Mar-Apr;20(2):229-31.
With the ending of the National Electronic Clinical Trial and Research Network (NECTAR) pilot programs and the abridgement of Clinical Research Associate initiative, the National Institutes of Health Roadmap presents a strategic shift for practice-based research networks from direct funding of a harmonized national infrastructure of cooperating research networks to a model of local engagement of primary care clinics performing practice-based research under the aegis of regional academic health centers through Clinical and Translational Science Awards. Although this may present important opportunities for partnering between community practices and large health centers, for primary care researchers, the promise of a transformational change that brings a unified national primary care community into the clinical research enterprise seems likely to remain unfulfilled.

How do patients evaluate and make use of online health information?

Sillence E, Briggs P, Harris PR, Fishwick L. Soc Sci Med. 2007 Feb 26; [Epub ahead of print]
Increasing numbers of people are turning to the Internet for health advice despite reports that sites vary in terms of their quality. How do they decide whether or not to trust the advice they find online?
A staged model of trust development is proposed and tested here in a longitudinal study in which fifteen women faced with decisions concerning the menopause and hormone replacement therapy (HRT) were observed while searching the Internet for information and advice over four consecutive weeks and then kept diaries over a six-month follow-up period.

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New Reports

Alcohol and other drug treatment services NMDS specifications 2007-08: data dictionary collection guidelines and validation processes

AIHW catalogue number (HSE 46)
These guidelines have been prepared as a reference for those involved in collecting and supplying the data for the Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services National Minimum Data Set (AODTS-NMDS). It should be particularly useful to staff in Australian Government, state and territory departments, and alcohol and other drug treatment agency staff directly involved in the collection and reporting of the data set.

Quality of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander identification in community services data collections: update on eight community services data collections 2007

AIHW catalogue number (HWI 95)
This report examines the quality of identification of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients in eight community services data collections, by analysing the extent to which Indigenous status is missing/not stated in each of the data collections. The rates of missing/not stated records are compared, where applicable, to those reported earlier. The report highlights the improvement or otherwise in these rates, and documents data quality improvement activities undertaken in each of the eight community services data collections, both at the national and the jurisdictional level. This report is a useful resource for administrators of programs and researchers with an interest in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients in the community services sector and identification issues.

Reining in Health Care Spending: Let Us Count the Ways

Commonwealth Fund Report
Although the most recent news on national health care spending was somewhat encouraging, expenditures nevertheless continue to outpace general inflation and growth in wages for the average U.S. worker. According to a recent analysis, Slowing the Growth of U.S. Health Care Expenditures: What Are the Options, the U.S. should be able to achieve substantial savings and better value for its world-leading investment in health care.

Evidence Informed Policy and Practice: A Review of Approaches used in Health Improvement in Scotland

This paper briefly outlines a proposal to review the approaches developed over the last three years to Evidence Informed Policy and Practice (EIPP), including the Learning Networks associated with the three national Health Demonstration Projects in Scotland. The purpose of this review is to inform the future development of these approaches and associated professional roles within Health Scotland's new structure and corporate strategy. The review also forms part of the evaluation work being planned for Phase 2 of the National Health Demonstration Projects.

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News Items

Free access to the journal Human Relations till the end of April

The journal Human Relations is now publishing its 60th volume, and celebrating by opening up access to all of its digital archive until the end of April 2007! Human Relations is a key forum for innovative ideas in the social sciences and is one of the world¹s leading journals for the analysis of work, organizations and management. Register here for full Human Relations online access

Govt rural doctor scheme backfires

The World Today - Tuesday 6 March 2007
Attracting doctors to the bush has long been a problem for rural Australia.
Three years ago the Federal Government introduced a scheme aimed at attracting medical students. The idea was to fund their degree and in return, once they graduate, students would agree to work in areas where there was a shortfall.
It now appears that the scheme has backfired following revelations that students can get out of their contract, just by repaying the debt.

Patient responsibility and self care

ABC Radio National, 11 March 2007
In the health industry and government circles patient responsibility and self care are the new buzzwords. It's all about getting people out of the expensive end of medical care, and into self care groups much earlier. It may come to mean if you're a smoker, you won't get surgery.

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Media Releases

Country Australians deserve an equal share in Australia 's wealth

9th National Rural Health Conference Media Release, 8 March 2007
In his opening address at the 9 th National Rural Health Conference, Tony Abbott, Minister for Health and Ageing, told the 1,000 delegates, We are no longer focusing on just doctors. The government believes it is important to have a whole range of health professionals in rural areas. For too long governments have not done enough for country people.
Further information: John Wakerman, 0417 884 182

Department of Health promotes community data awareness

WA Department of Health Media Release, 15 December 2006
The Department of Health WA will today launch new resources to boost awareness about its data collections and improve understanding about how health information is collected, used and protected. More:
For more information about the WA Health Department's state wide health data collections or how personal health information is used, visit or call Information Planning on (08) 9222 4222.

Kidney disease is chronic

AGPN Media Release, 8 March 2007
A report released today estimating the costs of treating Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) in Australia is rising by $50 million a year highlights the importance of CKD awareness and improved measures for the screening of CKD.
The Economic Impact of Kidney Disease in Australia commissioned by Kidney Health Australia and conducted by the George Institute of International Health estimates that in the last 25 years the number of Australians with the condition has increased by 400%.
Australian General Practice Network (AGPN) Chair Dr Tony Hobbs said, CKD is just as important as the diabetes epidemic and is obviously taking its toll, both financially and socially on the Australian community.

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Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing Media releases

Quick Serve Restaurant Roundtable agrees to work on reducing transfats

A Roundtable of Australian Quick Serve Restaurant industry representatives have agreed to a September timetable to draft plans to remove artificial transfats from their products.
View full media release:

Collaborative cancer research

Two peak cancer groups are joining with the Commonwealth Government to coordinate research resources and expertise.
View full media release:

Funding to the states for HPV vaccination program

The Commonwealth Government will provide an additional $100 million to implement the National HPV Vaccination Program.
View full media release:

Grants for medication training to aged care nurses

Registered Training Organisations are being encouraged to apply for Government funding to train Enrolled Nurses in the residential aged care sector.
View full media release:

Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee appointments

Seven new members have been appointed to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee.
View full media release:

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Consumer Participation in Chronic Disease ManagementAn Idea Whose Time Has Come

Free Session for Primary Care Partnerships
When: 8 March 2007, 9.30 am–4.00 pm (lunch provided)
Where: Victoria University Conference Centre, Flinders Street, Melbourne
Cost: Free to health professionals
To register contact Vanessa Lynne,

Leadership for Health: Lessons and Challenges

When: 13 April 2007, 7.30-10.30 am
Where: Price Waterhouse Coopers, Sydney
This policy seminar is being held by the Australian Institute of Health Policy studies and aims to examine what are the major challenges faced by our health sector leaders and what leadership skills and attributes are required to address these.
Book online at or email

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Vacant Positions/Scholarships

RACGP Research Foundation Grants Open 1 March 2007

RACGP Media Release, 2 February 2007
General practice researchers are asked to start preparing their research questions for the next round of RACGP Research Foundation grants which opened on 1 March 2007 and close at 5 pm Eastern Standard Time on 8 May 2007.
The RACGP Research Foundation is building on past successes and is again providing opportunities for general practice researchers to apply for funding for new projects to help improve the quality of general practice care in Australia, said Chair of the National Standing Committee: Research, Professor Dimity Pond .
In 2007, the RACGP will support general practice researchers by awarding up to $240 000 towards general practice research amongst 16 grants.
Awards are valued between $2,500 - $25,000 and will be available in fields of family health care, motor vehicle related trauma, integrative medicine, Indigenous health, cardiovascular health and more, said Dr Vasantha Preetham, RACGP President.
We invite all RACGP members to apply for one of the RACGP Research Foundation's prestigious grants, especially new and emerging researchers.
For further information on these grants, guidelines for applications and application forms please visit Past research projects funded by the RACGP can be viewed at
Further information can be obtained by emailing or by contacting Samantha Fernandes, Research and Grants Program Administrator, on 03 8699 0496.

Linkage International For Funding Commencing In 2008 - Awards And ARC International Fellowships

The ARC is now seeking Proposals under the Linkage International scheme for Awards funding commencing in 2008 and ARC International Fellowships (ARCIFs) funding commencing in 2008. Funding Rules, Instructions to Applicants, Certification pro forma, Eligibility Exemption/Ruling
Request form and Request not to Assess form are available on the ARC Website:
Closing time for Proposals: 5pm (AEST) Friday 20 April 07

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Websites to Watch

Research Australia: An alliance for discoveries in health

This is an important website for health researchers to be aware of. Research Australia is a national not-for-profit alliance of organisations and companies that are committed to making health and medical research a higher national priority. Research Australia is funded by membership subscriptions and donations and is independent of Government. Most Australian universities and research agencies are part of the alliance.


  • The Australian Research Showcase with stories about research being conducted in Australia
  • The Research Register - a national register of currently funded Australian health and medical research. Stage 1 is a download pdf containing a list of current research.
  • Members' research news and media releases.

And much more

A compendium of health care blogs

These blogs are listed in a spirit of open debate. Inclusion does not imply endorsement by PHCRIS of the ideas expressed therein.

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