We are thrilled to announce that this month, three UTAS staff researchers have been awarded a total of $75k to further their research to improve health outcomes for Tasmanians.

Associate Professor Dawn Aitken, Associate Professor Jade Cartwright and Dr Sharon Andrews were successful in their applications for funding, with each project set to make a significant contribution towards the health and wellbeing of the Tasmanian community.

The University of Tasmania provided the one-off, philanthropic funding to the Tasmanian Collaboration for Health Improvement to support the translational research projects, with the Collaboration advertising Expressions of Interest in December 2022.

Researchers had to engage with the Collaboration as part of the application process to discuss how their projects align with the Collaboration’s goals, and how the Collaboration could support the projects if successful.

The funding will enable researchers to further explore their ideas and develop tailored solutions to address health challenges in the state.

We look forward to sharing updates on the research projects as they progress and thank the University of Tasmania for its continued support of the Collaboration’s vision of a Tasmania where everyone can be healthy and well.

Strategies to scale-up and sustain a first-line treatment approach to managing knee and hip osteoarthritis in Tasmania

Associate Professor Dawn Aitken & Dr Saliu Balogun

This proposal aims to improve access to GLA:D®, a physiotherapy program for people with osteoarthritis living in rural and remote areas of Tasmania.

Dawn and her team will develop a publicly-funded telehealth version of GLA:D® and evaluate its effectiveness.

The proposal will also provide in-person training for Tasmanian healthcare professionals to become certified in GLA:D® and create a network of Tasmanian GLA:D® consumers for information sharing and support.

The Team have been working closely with consumers and clinicians including GPs, surgeons, rheumatologists and physiotherapists. They work closely with health organisations including the Tasmanian Health Service, Primary Health Tasmania, Health Consumers Tasmania, Arthritis & Osteoporosis Tasmania, RACGP Tasmania, the Australian Physiotherapy Association, and Royal Flying Doctors Service Tasmania.

The goal is to improve the health outcomes and quality of life for those with osteoarthritis in Tasmania and avoid the need for knee and hip replacement surgery.

Working together with people with primary progressive aphasia and their care partners to develop and implement a needed Support Group Network in Tasmania

Associate Professor Jade Cartwright

This collaborative project between consumers, their care partners, speech pathologists, the Wicking Dementia Research and the Tasmanian Health Service (or Tasmanian Department of Health), aims to establish an effective, accessible, and sustainable support network for people with Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA) and their care partners in Tasmania.

PPA is a dementia syndrome that affects the language networks of the brain, resulting in the gradual and pervasive decline of language. People with PPA and their care partners experience increased depression and stress and have unique support needs compared to other types of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

They have difficulty accessing information and support from healthcare professionals and peers, especially in rural and remote regions like Tasmania. The project’s objectives are to understand priorities for PPA service planning, identify barriers that affect the implementation of PPA support groups, and co-develop strategies to overcome these barriers.

Building Communities of Care in Tasmania (CommCare-Tas)

Dr Sharon Andrews

The demand for palliative care in Tasmania is expected to increase by almost a third by 2032, especially in the North and North-West regions.

However, palliative care services are facing challenges meeting this demand due to staff shortages and increased referrals. This impacts where people die, with few dying at home despite most Australians preferring to do so. The Tasmanian Palliative and End of Life Care Policy Framework 2022-27 recommends a Communities of Care (CoC) approach to support people with life limiting illness to remain at home with the support of their informal and formal care networks.

The current research evidence suggests that community-centred caring networks, supported by appropriately skilled ‘connectors’, can increase emotional support and a sense of connectedness for the person dying with a life limiting illness and their family members.

This collaborative project between the University of Tasmania School of Nursing, the Department of Health (DoH), Hospice Care Association and Palliative Care Tasmania will pilot a CoC connector model in Tasmania’s North West to support people in the community at the end-of-life, and build community capacity around palliative and end-of-life care.

Interested to find out how the Collaboration can support your research project, or involvement in research?