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Research translation and chronic illness

Davina Ghersi
Med J Aust 2014; 201 (6): 312. || doi: 10.5694/mja14.01133
Published online: 15 September 2014

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare estimates that over 7 million Australians are living with at least one chronic condition, and many of these are living with more than one (http://www.aihw.gov.au/chronic-diseases). This places a heavy human and financial burden on the shoulders of the individuals with these conditions, their families and carers, and the health care system. Research that can relieve these burdens and improve health outcomes is vital but only useful if it is translated appropriately.

Now in its third year, almost 3000 NHMRC investigators have signed up for the Research Translation Faculty. As it slowly matures, and the Steering Groups get closer to completing their first Cases for Action (http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/research-translation/research-translation-faculty/research-translation-faculty-steering-groups), we now look forward to the key event on the Faculty's agenda — the annual symposium. The focus this year will be on how, through more effective research translation, we might achieve better health outcomes for the millions of Australians living with chronic conditions. Some of Australia's foremost health and medical researchers will talk about their work in translating research on a range of chronic conditions and health care settings, and discuss some of the successes and challenges along the way.

Special attention will be paid to the health system issues that make translating research in chronic disease into decision making in rural and remote settings particularly challenging. Also to be addressed is how research translation can positively influence ageing and health, which is particularly relevant as the rates of chronic illness increase with age.

For research to be relevant, conversations cannot be unidirectional, where the researcher pushes their results at the decisionmaker, or vice versa. The second day of the symposium will therefore start by investigating optimal strategies for designing research that will have an impact, and will end with a panel discussion on the challenges of making health care decisions when bombarded with health care information and conflicting pieces of research.

Anyone with an interest in research translation is welcome to attend. More information can be found at http://www.nhmrc2014.com.

  • Davina Ghersi

  • Research Translation Group, National Health and Medical Research Council

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