Sydney Health Partners Boosts Clinician-led Respiratory Research

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Respiratory clinicians have been meeting under SHP’s ‘Themes and Streams’ model in a cross-institutional collaboration that works together to advance research and improve health for people with respiratory conditions.

Now entering its third year, the theme combines clinicians from all facets of respiratory care, from specialist respiratory physicians to physiotherapists and pharmacists.

Co-led by Professor Carol Armour and Professor Jennifer Alison, the theme is organised into four sub-themes: Asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Pulmonary Fibrosis and Pulmonary Vascular Disease, and Cystic Fibrosis and Bronchiectasis. Each has two theme leaders.

Groups meet to discuss current issues concerning them and their patients, and how they can work together as clinicians to design research that addresses these issues.

“It’s been great to see respiratory clinicians who didn’t know each other before, or didn’t really know what their colleagues did, now working together to help each other with their research,” said Professor Alison“This kind of collaboration just wouldn’t be happening without Sydney Health Partners.”

Facilitating clinician-led research

The Respiratory and Bronchiectasis sub-theme have used recent Sydney Health Partners funding to support the work of a project facilitator who is now working with clinicians to develop their research ideas and convert them into a proposal.

“These are high-level clinicians who know what the patient problems are but are too busy caring for patients,” said Professor Armour. “They just don’t have the time to sit down and write research proposals to get their ideas funded.”

The group is now meeting monthly to discuss and refine their research ideas and hope to have a written proposal by the end of the year.

“These clinicians all want to work together, but they don’t have the time to facilitate it,” said Professor Armour. “Having someone to lead that, and actually write it all up – it’s enormously helpful.”

Investigating the value of pulmonary rehabilitation

The COPD sub-theme group has been working on a project to deliver an Australian-first: data on the value of pulmonary rehabilitation in preventing hospitalisations in Australia. It draws from hospital data about patients throughout Australia who have received pulmonary rehabilitation.

Pulmonary rehabilitation involves exercise training and behavioural therapies designed to improve how people with chronic lung disease function in daily life.  While there is international evidence on the value of pulmonary rehabilitation in preventing hospitalisations, no studies have been conducted in Australia at this scale.

“By looking at changes in hospitalisations for patients pre- and post-pulmonary rehabilitation, we will be able to see how effective pulmonary rehabilitation is in reducing healthcare costs in the Australian context and enable pulmonary rehabilitation to be more available to improve health for patients with these conditions,” said Professor Alison.