July report for Epidemiology for Policy and Practice

1 July 2020

New grants/funding

  • This month, the Australian Government Department of Health signed a $1.6M contract with ANU to fund a new program of work: Developing and implementing contemporary, integrated cardiovascular and chronic disease risk assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It will cover multiple aspects of chronic disease prevention for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples including improving calculation of absolute cardiovascular disease risk, identifying mechanisms that support chronic disease screening and developing resources to support shared decision making. The three-year program of work led by Dr Jason Agostino will involve researchers from RSPH (Professor Emily Banks, Associate Professor Ray Lovett, Dr Andrea Timothy, Dr Deb Wong, Dr Ellie Paige, Ms Vicki Wade- Visiting Fellow from Menzies School of Health Research) and the ANU Medical School (Professor Kirsty Douglas and Associate Professor Katrina Anderson). The work will also involve collaboration with a team at The University of Sydney led by Dr Carissa Bonner.

The ATHENA COVID-19 Data Linkage project aims to quantify outcomes in all people diagnosed with COVID-19 in Queensland, over time and in relation to patient sociodemographic and health characteristics. The study will provide valuable information to better understand predictors of outcomes in people diagnosed with COVID-19 and to measure the impact of COVID-19 on the population. ANU has contributed to the planning of the project, including development of research protocols. The Principal Investigator A/Professor Rosemary Korda will be joined by Ms Jennifer Welsh, Dr Ellie Paige, Professor Emily Banks and Ms Hsei Di Law. They will be conducting the analyses and will oversee the reporting of results. The ANU is to receive $59,720 from Queensland Health to conduct this work

Outreach and engagement

  • Professor Emily Banks and Dr Miranda Harris reported on the Public Health Assessment Framework and other aspects of the e-cigarettes project to the National Drug Strategy Committee E-cigarette Working Group at their 13 Feb and 20 May 2020 meetings.
  • Outputs from the E-cigarettes project have been shared with NHMRC to help inform their approach to updating the NHMRC CEO Statement: Electronic Cigarettes. 

New staff

  • Ms Julia Legge has been welcomed to the EPP team as Professor Emily Banks executive assistant. Julia also works at the medical school.

Student news

  • Jenny Welsh’s PhD thesis “Psychological distress and risk of cardiovascular disease: An investigation of the epidemiological evidence” has been approved and she will graduate in absentia in July.  Congratulations to Jenny and her supervisory team, Rosemary Korda, Grace Joshy, Emily Banks, Peter Butterworth and Lyndall Strazdins!
  • Daniel Wang submitted his Honours thesis titled ‘The relationship between remoteness and cardiovascular disease incidence and the role of education’.

Papers accepted/published:

Doyle M, Guthrie J, Butler T, Shakeshaft A, Conigrave K, Williams M. Onset and trajectory of alcohol and other drug use among Aboriginal men entering a prison treatment program: A qualitative study. Drug and Alcohol Review 2020 (at proof stage, published soon.)

Forbes O, Viney K, Dyda A, Williams S, Rosewell A, Moffat C, Davis S, Expert Perspectives on Outbreak Investigation Training: A Quality Improvement Exercise, Global Biosecurity. (Accepted)

Desborough J, Hall SL, de Toca L, Davis S, Roberts L, Kelaher C, Kidd M, Australia’s national COVID-19 primary care response. Med J Aust 2020:1. 

Wright A, Thurber K, et al. Who responds? An examination of response rates to a national postal survey of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults, 2018-2019. BMC Medical Research Methodology 2020

Colonna, E., et al. Review of tobacco use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin 2020; 20(2).

Priest N, Thurber K, Jones R, Maddox R, Truong M. COVID-19 racism is making kids sick. MJA Insight. 11 May 2020. https://insightplus.mja.com.au/2020/18/covid-19-racism-is-making-kids-sick/

Progress on research projects

  • The following report was submitted to the Dept. of Health: Review of evidence on the relationship of e-cigarette use to smoking behaviour, including uptake and cessation.
  • The outstanding 3 modules of the COVID-19 training for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Health Practitioners were finalised and are being uploaded on the Australian Government COVID-19 training website. These additional modules are interviews, PPE, and line listing and data and includes voice-overs from Bobby Maher, Tamara Riley. The training is nationally accredited for CPD hours from the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers Association. To date the first two modules have been completed: COVID 19 – Indigenous Health Module 1 – introduction to COVID-19 Epidemiology and COVID 19 – Indigenous Health Module 2 – Contact Tracing.
  • At request of Tangentyere Council, Alyson Wright convened a training workshop on 24-25 June ‘COVID-19 Supporting Public Health Responses’ that used our training resources. The workshop was attended by Aboriginal community-based workers from Tangentyere and health practitioners from the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress and the Central Australian PHU. The training also involved presentations from Dr Belinda Greenwood at the PHU and Karen Johnson, AMSANT Infection Control Trainer. Tamara Riley and Meru Sheel (calling in from her fieldwork PNG) gave presentations in the workshop.