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$2 million injected into pioneering health research initiatives

$2 million injected into pioneering health research initiatives

The Bupa Health Foundation has today announced a $2 million boost to Australian health research and implementation programs which will benefit a range of areas including cancer, children’s health and access to health services in rural communities.

Eight of the nation’s leading health researchers are celebrating after being recognised at the Bupa Health Foundation Health Awards dinner last night. The winners will share an injection of funding that will assist in addressing some of the key challenges facing health in Australia.

Research being recognised includes a simple blood test to diagnose colorectal cancer (CRC) at an earlier stage, when the chance of cure is greater than 80%.

The CareTrack Kids study, phase two of the successful CareTrack study in adults conducted in 2012, is also being awarded and will assess the standard of healthcare delivery to children aiming to identify and investigate gaps in appropriate care that children are receiving.

Other key areas being recognised:

  • Australian first research into operative childbirth and understanding the developmental and long term impact of caesarean vs. vaginal birth;
  • A pilot clinical consultation program with the Royal Far West that enables access to specialist speech technicians in rural Australia aiming to close the gap to clinical services, and;
  • Research to better understand prevalence and severity of menopausal symptoms, depression, sexual dysfunction and sleep disturbance which could influence best practice treatment guidelines for women in mid-life.

As one of the country’s leading charitable organisations dedicated to health, the Bupa Health Foundation strongly believes in supporting ground breaking ideas and research.

Bupa Health Foundation Steering Committee member, Dr Paul Bates said: “Australia’s researchers are some of the world’s best, and we’re really proud to support initiatives which can make a real difference in tackling the nation’s key healthcare issues.

“This year we are focussing strongly on turning evidence into action by supporting programs which not only test new ideas but also provide practical and tangible research outcomes.”

The Foundation’s long-standing commitment to improving the health of the Australian community has seen it contribute over $21 million over eight years to health research and health programs across its key focus areas: wellbeing, managing chronic disease, healthy ageing, empowering people about their health; and promoting affordable healthcare.

The grant recipients were recognised at the annual Bupa Health Foundation Health Awards dinner held in Sydney on Wednesday 1 May 2013.

2013 Health Award recipients

Winner: Professor Susan Davis
Title: Improving the health of Australian women at midlife
Location: Monash University

Menopause affects over 3 million Australian women aged 40-65 years who experience a range of psychological, emotional and physical symptoms. Professor Davis’ research will seek to establish how women cope with their symptoms which are often misunderstood.

This study will, for the first time, document the impact of menopause on women’s wellbeing and personal and workplace functioning. The greatest value of collating this knowledge will be the long term impact of improving healthcare outcomes for women at midlife. After completion, it will identify gaps in healthcare for women experiencing menopause and develop best practice guidelines for Australian health practitioners.

Winner: Professor Jeffrey Braithwaite
Title: CareTrack Kids: The appropriateness of healthcare delivered to Australian children
Location: Australian Institute of Health Innovation

An Australian first, this study will identify the appropriateness of healthcare delivered to children in Australia. Jeffrey Braithwaite at the Australian Institute of Health Innovation will examine thousands of patients across 16 of the most common health conditions for children including juvenile diabetes, type 1 diabetes and asthma.

This project is a continuation of the 2012 study CareTrack Australia which successfully demonstrated that there are large gaps in the provision of appropriate care to adult patients in 22 of the most common health conditions.

The project will adopt an innovative and collaborative approach with healthcare professionals to test novel interventions and ensure appropriate evidence-based care can be delivered. Based on these findings, priorities will be set to ensure there is a more efficient use of limited healthcare resources and that Australian children are provided with the best care possible.

Winner: Dr Elizabeth Westrupp
Title: Mode of birth and long-term childhood health outcomes
Location: The Parenting Research Centre, Australian National University and La Trobe University

Despite a doubling in the rate of caesarean delivery and increase in the rate of operative births over the past decade, very little is known about the long-term effects of caesarean section on the health and developmental outcomes of children.

This study will be the first in Australia to examine the influence of different modes of birth on a wide range of child health and developmental outcomes across early and middle childhood (0-11 years). In examination of 5000 infants and 5000 four year olds, The Parenting Research Centre is looking to collate a nationally representative examination of the psychological, emotional and physical effects of caesarean delivery on children.

These outcomes will allow for an improved collaboration across health sectors in Australia and an opportunity to make efficient use of existing resources.

Winner: Dr Leah Cosgrove
Title: Diagnostic blood test for screening of colorectal cancer (CRC)
Location: CSIRO

Colorectal cancer is the second most common cause of cancer related deaths in Australia and leads to the death of around 77 Australians each week. This research will be directed towards developing a simple and effective test to diagnose colorectal cancer (CRC) at an early stage when the chance of cure is greater than 80%.

This project is a significant development in the method of testing CRC, and aims to become part of regular preventive health screening in order to decrease instances of CRC in the Australian community. This improved diagnostic test is non-invasive, cancer-specific, and affordable and would reduce the number of unnecessary colonoscopies that are intrusive and costly with a real risk of complications. Leah’s research has shown that a non-invasive blood test can significantly improve screening participation and compliance within the Australian population.

Winner: Richard Colbran
Title: Come N See Technology Mediated Speech and Language Pilot Program
Location: Royal Far West

Due to the shortages of clinicians available in rural areas, access to speech pathologists for children has become increasingly difficult. Successful long term outcomes for children rely on therapy being provided on a frequent and consistent basis.

Using tele-health and an online program in partnership with local schools and community aides. The outcomes of this research will create avenues for more effective delivery of speech pathology services for children in remote areas, and allow them to achieve milestone targets in line with their city based peers.

Winner: Dr Alishia Williams
Title: Combining imagination and reason in the treatment of depression
Location: Clinical Research Unit for Anxiety and Depression (CRUfAD), The University of New South Wales

Depression is a common and debilitating mental disorder that is predicted to rank as the lead cause of burden of disease by 2030, highlighting the substantial need for novel and more effective interventions in Australia. Using an internet-delivered Cognitive Bias Modification (CBM), Dr Williams’ project seeks to create an effective, remotely-accessible treatment for depression that will increase access to treatment and to enhance therapeutic outcomes in a cost-effective manner.

About Bupa Health Foundation
Bupa Health Foundation helps build a healthier Australian community through its support of important health research, health education and other healthy living programs. Established as a charitable foundation in 2005, the Bupa Health Foundation has partnered in over 80 initiatives nationally, with a combined investment of around $21 million, across its key focus areas: wellbeing, managing chronic disease, healthy ageing, empowering people about their health; and promoting affordable healthcare. www.bupa.com.au/foundation

For media enquiries or further information please contact:

Lauren Neave
Porter Novelli
lneave@porternovelli.com.au
Phone: 02 8987 2128 / 0425 259 885
Stella Tilkeridis
Bupa Australia
stella.tilkeridis@bupa.com.au
Phone: 0400 120 978