11 December 2014

Osteoarthritis and back problems

This release updates the 'Osteoarthritis' and 'Back problems' snapshots as part of the AIHW's Online Musculoskeletal Compendium. Musculoskeletal conditions are conditions of the bones, muscles and their attachments (e.g. joints and ligaments). They are the most common chronic conditions in Australia and include arthritis.
This Snapshop from AIHW looks at the existing health patterns, populations at risk of illness, current health service use, and future demands on the health and welfare systems.
Arthritis, osteoporosis and other musculoskeletal conditions. AIHW Dec. 2014.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder: supporting the children

Sara McLean, Stewart McDougall and Vicki Russell from the Australian Institute of Family Studies have written a Briefing Paper on the consequences of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome for children's development. Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) is a term that is used to cover the full range of possible birth defects and developmental issues that can be caused by prenatal exposure to alcohol.
FASD is a lifetime disorder and often described as a "hidden" disorder, because children do not necessarily show any physical abnormalities, despite being profoundly affected.
Another relevant paper is "Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders: Current issues in awareness, prevention and intervention", by Sara McLean and Stewart McDougall. CFCA Paper No. 29,  December 2014
Supporting children living with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders: Practice principles. Sara McLean, Stewart McDougall and Vicki Russell. Practitioner Resource— December 2014

Huntington's Disease

Movement Disorders, the journal of the International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society has made freely available a special issue on Huntington's Disease. Some of the topics covered include onset, functional disability, current therapeutic options and clinical trials.

Special Issue: Huntington's Disease. 2014, Volume 29, Issue 11

Emergency Department Discharge Process

A new report from the American Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality outlines a conceptual framework of the emergency department (ED) discharge process and identifies elements of a high-quality discharge process. “Improving the Emergency Department Discharge Process: Environmental Scan Report” identifies best practices, tools, strategies and approaches for addressing problem areas and criteria/outcomes for assessing their effectiveness. Developed by researchers at the Johns Hopkins University Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality, the report can be used by hospital EDs to identify:

  • What constitutes an effective discharge process and what constitutes discharge failures.
  • Socioeconomic or medical factors that increase a patient’s risk for a discharge failure.
  • Intervention tools or strategies shown to improve the discharge process.
  • Screening tools that have been used to predict hospital readmission and ED revisits.      

Adverse Event Reporting

A new educational initiative by NPS MedicineWise and the TGA aims to increase both the quality and quantity of adverse medicine, vaccine and device reports to the TGA. The new set of free, interactive online learning modules for health professionals is available at
Some of the modules include:

  • Get it right! Taking a best possible medication
  • Medical tests
  • Quality use of medicines - why, what, how, who
  • Safety through reporting - share the responsibility
  • Unlocking asthma inhaler technique
  • Dealing with uncertainty: a diagnostic approach to fatigue

Working Toward a Good Life as a Cancer Survivor

Research on cancer rehabilitation targeting young adult cancer survivors (YACS) is limited, and little is known about the positive health outcomes of rehabilitation programs tailored specifically for this vulnerable group. This article in the journal Cancer Nursing looks at a study investigating whether a complex rehabilitation program improved the health-related quality of life (HRQOL) and physical capacities of YACS.
The article concluded that a complex cancer rehabilitation program especially tailored for YACS seems to build positive health outcomes such as HRQOL and physical capacity in a long-term perspective. Results underlined the importance of targeting rehabilitation interventions to YACS in need after cancer treatment, acknowledging rehabilitation as a process that requires adequate time and follow-up.

Hauken, M.A. (2015). Working Toward a Good Life as a Cancer Survivor: A Longitudinal Study on Positive Health Outcomes of a Rehabilitation Program for Young Adult Cancer Survivors. Cancer Nursing , 38(1), 3-15.

Spinal Cord Injury Pain

On the 13 October 2014 the new Spinal Cord Injury Pain Resources for consumers and health professionals were launched. The toolkit is a series of practical tools and resources which have been developed to help people with a spinal cord injury to better manage pain. Development of these resources was a collaborative partnership between the ACI Pain Management Network, NSW State Spinal Cord Injury Service and funding from the Lifetime Care and Support Authority (LTCSA).

Caring for people with gastrostomy tubes and devices

A Clinician’s guide: Caring for people with gastrostomy tubes and devices covers the patient journey from initiation of gastrostomy feeding to ongoing care, permanent tube removal and transition or transfer of care. The guidelines are applicable across health care settings and are designed to provide a framework for the development of local policies and procedures.
The guideline is the result of a collaboration between the Agency for Clinical Innovation (ACI) and the Gastroenterological Nurses College of Australia (GENCA).
A Clinician’s Guide: Caring for people with gastrostomy tubes and devices From pre- insertion to ongoing care and removal  Dec. 2014

27 November 2014

Healthy life expectancy in Australia: patterns and trends 1998 to 2012

Australians can now expect to enjoy longer lives with more years free of disability, according to a report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
The report, Healthy life expectancy in Australia: patterns and trends 1998 to 2012, shows the gains in the number of expected years living free of disability were related to a combination of increasing longevity and decreases in disability prevalence rates.
Between 1998 and 2012, life expectancy at birth has risen by 4 years for boys and nearly 3 years for girls. And because disability prevalence rates have been falling over this period, the gain in disability-free life expectancy has been even greater for boys (4.4 years, compared with 2.4 years for girls). Older Australians have also seen increases in the expected number of healthy years, but this has been accompanied by more years needing assistance with everyday activities. 

Safe and high-quality care for patients with cognitive impairment

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care has released three resources to guide health service managers, clinicians and consumers in improving care of people with cognitive impairment in hospital.
 These resources were developed in recognition that cognitive impairment (dementia and delirium) is common among older people admitted to hospital and patients with cognitive impairment are at greater risk of preventable complications, and adverse outcomes, including falls, pressure injuries, functional decline and mortality. They are more likely to stay in hospital longer, be re-admitted or enter residential care.

Cognitive impairment and its risks are currently under-recognised in Australian hospitals, leading to significant safety and quality issues. However, harm can be minimised if cognitive impairment is recognised and care is tailored to the needs of the patient. The resources follow a pathway, describing strategies that reflect evidence-based practice and existing models of care. In the resource for health service managers, the strategies are linked to the existing National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards.
The three resources are:

  • Action for health service managers
  • Action  for clinicians
  • Action for consumers

Antimicrobial Stewardship Clinical Care Standard

Bacteria can develop resistance to specific antibiotics, meaning that the antibiotic is no longer effective against those bacteria. The inappropriate use of antibiotics has increased the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, not only in hospitals and healthcare facilities but also in the community. Antibiotic resistance poses a significant threat to public health because antibiotics underpin routine clinical practice in a variety of healthcare settings. 
The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, in collaboration with consumers, clinicians, researchers and health organisations, has developed the Antimicrobial Stewardship Clinical Care Standard and resources to guide and support its implementation.  

Chronic diseases in Australia: the case for changing course

This paper, written by Dr Sharon Willcox with the Mitchell Institute for Health and Education Policy and a national expert advisory group, provides the case for changing course in Australian policies. It addresses the health and non‐health factors contributing to the prevalence of chronic diseases and puts forward four major directions for change.

Chronic diseases in Australia: the case for changing course; Background and Policy Paper No. 02/2014

Headline Indicators for Children's Health

The Children's Headline Indicator dynamic data from AIHW provides the latest available information on how Australia's children aged 0-12 are faring according to 19 priority areas. These areas include health status, risk and protective factors, early learning and care, and family and community environments.
Indicators include:
  •    Child abuse and neglect - updated (data for 2012-13 added)
  •    Early childhood education - updated (data for 2013 Indigenous status, Remoteness and socioeconomic status added)
  •  Immunisation - updated (data for the quarter ending 30 September 2013 added)
  •   Injuries - revised (rates recalculated using Estimates of Australia's resident population based on the 2011 Census)
  •  Teenage births - revised ('Total' birth rate and the disaggregation by Indigenous status rates have been recalculated using Estimates of Australia's resident population based on the 2011 Census).
Children's Headline Indicators, AIHW 2014

Integrating Care for Older People with Complex Health Needs

In 2010, there were 1.02 million people 65 years of age and over living in NSW, and this is expected to double by 2050. However, for a growing number of older people, this will include living with complex health needs such as dementia and other chronic diseases. Currently, care is fragmented between different healthcare providers in community, primary health and acute care settings.  

 The Building Partnerships Framework published by the Agency for Clinical Innovation, provides the most comprehensive look yet at how to integrate services for older people with complex health needs and introduces a vision of multi-sector partnerships that involve older people, their carer and families every step of the way.

The Impact of Depression At Work

An international study reveals Australians hide their depression at work more than employees in other countries, fearing misunderstanding, stigma, and discrimination. ‘Depression is biggest mental health challenge among people of working-age, and the leading cause of disability worldwide,’ explains Jack Heath, CEO of the national mental health charity, SANE Australia.

The Impact of Depression at Work: Australia Audit surveyed 1031 adults aged 16-64 Australia-wide. All workers, including a sub-sample of managers (32%), had worked within the previous 12 months.

SANE Research Bulletin 18 The Impact of depression at work