2 August 2022.

This Evidence Check Rapid Review aims to identify and summarise practices and interventions which support engaging fathers and partners in community and care settings where their child and/or family is receiving care. Through a systematic review of peer reviewed and grey literature, it aims to identify effective interventions and barriers and enablers to implementing effective father-inclusive practices in these settings. Specific settings include antenatal, birthing and community child health settings where children and families receive care from conception to five years of age. Although the review identified gaps in the evidence it concludes that there is evidence for father-inclusive practices in promoting a range of health outcomes for families.

Citation: Giallo R, Fogarty A, McMahon G, Savopoulos P, Schulz M, Hosking C. Effective interventions to increase father-inclusive practice in community and acute settings: An Evidence Check rapid review brokered by the Sax Institute for the NSW Ministry of Health. October 2021.

Date of publication: October 2021

July 2022.

In this edition: what we’ve learned about mental health and COVID-19 from the 45 and Up Study, updates to SURE, an exciting new grant opportunity and more.

28 July 2022.

The Sax Forum is a valuable initiative that allows the Sax Institute to share knowledge among its Members and help understand what we can do better together. On 22 June, the second in a series of Knowledge Mobilisation Symposia was held, organised by the Sax Institute with the NSW Ministry of Health. The series investigates how to make research evidence useable and accessible to decision makers.

More than 100 people from the Institute’s Member organisations and NSW Health met online to hear insightful and detailed presentations on the importance of evidence support systems. Professor John Lavis, Conjoint Associate Professor Sarah Thackway and Professor Jonathan Craig gave global, state and clinical perspectives, which led to a lively discussion on Australia’s success with knowledge mobilisation and where it can improve. 

There was a strong focus on COVID-19 and its lessons for knowledge mobilisation. Professor John Lavis, who is the Director of the McMaster Health Forum in Canada and Co-lead of the recently published Global Commission on Evidence Report, said that now more than ever, we know that making health policy decisions by GOBSATT – Good Old Boys Sitting Around The Table – is biased and ineffective. “The most important recommendation from the Report is to formalise and strengthen evidence support systems,” he said.

Professor Lavis spoke of the importance of high-quality systematic reviews as well as government advisors, clinical panels and consumer groups to these support systems. He praised Australia’s set up of the National Covid-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce and its continually updated Living Guidelines “Australia is a global leader [in this area], it’s a real game-changer in the world of policy making,” he said. At a global level, he said that WHO and UNICEF need to scale their models up and out, and other UN entities need to keep moving away from the ‘expert knows best’ model and focus more on evidence like Cochrane reviews. “We all need to think about a future where evidence is at the centre of everyday life,” he said.

Conjoint Associate Professor Sarah Thackway

Conjoint Associate Professor Sarah Thackway, who is the Executive Director of Epidemiology and Evidence at NSW Health, spoke about NSW’s pandemic response and how its success was underpinned by the state’s investment in an ‘evidence ecosystem’ over the past 20-plus years. The state’s infrastructure of funding, commissioning and collaborating on research was utilised when COVID-19 hit to great effect, she said. “We were applying existing processes and relationships to generate new local evidence.” One key example of local evidence was the findings on low transmission rates in schools, which led to schools reopening in May 2020, many weeks earlier than originally thought possible.

Professor Thackway also highlighted the work being done by the Covid-19 Critical Intelligence Unit in creating an online resource of rapidly updated evidence, and praised the support offered by NSW’s network of funding schemes and partners, including the Prevention Research Support Program, the Sax Institute and The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre. “It’s been a hugely productive two years from a research side,” she said. “It’s so incredibly rewarding, to see strategic response come to fruition.”

The final speaker, Professor Jonathan Craig who is Vice President and Executive Dean of the College of Medicine and Public Health at Flinders University in South Australia, gave a clinical perspective on the impact that an evidence ecosystem has on best practice for Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). He explained that for many patients with CKD, their lives are defined by “uncertainty, complications and hospitalisations” and they have strong views on what a better life means for them – which is often in contrast to a doctor’s or researcher’s perspective. The evidence ecosystem around CKD has been strengthened by its consumer voice, resulting in the Standardised Outcomes in Nephrology Initiative (SONG), which aims to establish core outcomes for CKD research trials. ”Some things matter more to patients, like getting off dialysis, but doctors care more about mortality rates,” he said. “We need a mechanism that shows research aligns with shared outcomes across both groups.”

Professor Craig highlighted the success of the Australasian Kidney Trials Network and its link with the The Australia and New Zealand Dialysis and Transplant Registry, as well as the regularly updated CKD guidelines, as signs of a strong evidence ecosystem. But he said that more work is needed with research to addressing inequities such as the higher proportion of First Nations people with CKD and the poorer treatment options for people in rural and regional areas. “We need to bring an equity lens across all research,” he said.

The forum was chaired by Dr Jo Mitchell, Senior Advisor with The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre.

Find out more

  • Watch a recording of this Sax Forum session here.
  • Watch a recording of the first in the series of Knowledge Mobilisation Symposia here.
  • Find out more about upcoming Sax Forums here.

19 July 2022.

This Evidence Check review, commissioned by Dementia Training Australia, aimed to identify existing education and training standards frameworks that may be used to support development of a national standards framework for education and training of the dementia workforce in Australia.  The report identified thirteen frameworks and key elements which would be relevant and useful to development and implementation of a framework in the Australian context. Three frameworks (from Northern Ireland, the UK and Scotland) were identified for use as a starting point and as most adaptable to the Australian context. Based on analysis of the various frameworks the authors make a series of recommendations for an Australian framework and identify gaps to be addressed.

Citation: Pit S, Horstmanshof L, Moehead A, Hayes O, Schache V, Parkinson L. Workforce Education and Training Standards Frameworks for Dementia: an Evidence Check rapid review brokered by the Sax Institute (http://www.saxinstitute.org.au) for Dementia Training Australia, 2022.

Date of publication: May 2022.

18 July 2022.

This Evidence Snapshot is a July 2020 updated rapid review of knowledge about the use of masks by asymptomatic people to reduce transmission of COVID-19, the original review having been completed in April 2020. The updated review found that, while the evidence was limited and of low certainty, wearing masks in community settings is likely to reduce transmission of COVID-19. Some peer-reviewed studies included other protective measures in their scope, and thirteen of the twenty-eight recommended using masks in combination with these other measures. Where supply of masks is limited, higher risk individuals or residential areas with high transmission rates should be prioritised. A total of fifty-one articles were reviewed: 28 peer reviewed studies and 23 commentary articles and agency reports, with 31 of these articles being new in the updated report.

Citation: Moore G, Rudge S, Du Toit A, Jameson B, Jenkin R, Gordon R, Dhirasasna N. The use of masks by asymptomatic people to reduce transmission of COVID-19 Update: an Evidence Snapshot brokered by the Sax Institute (www.saxinstitute.org.au) for the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, 2020.

Date of publication: July 2020.

18 July 2022.

The NSW Health Hyperemesis Gravidarum Research Grants Program is now open, offering up to $1.2 million for research into severe nausea and vomiting in pregnancy.

Hyperemesis gravidarum is the main cause of hospitalisation for women in the first half of pregnancy. Affecting about 1.1% of pregnant women, it usually starts early in pregnancy, with some women continuing to experience hyperemesis gravidarum throughout pregnancy.

The NSW Government has committed $17 million to address hyperemesis gravidarum in the following ways:

  • Clinical care, home-based support and virtual care
  • Research and evaluation
  • Education tools and resources
  • Integration of hospital, community and primary care providers.

The NSW Health Hyperemesis Gravidarum Research Grants Program is part of this commitment. The Grants Program will fund research that improves the understanding of hyperemesis gravidarum and reduces its burden on women and their families in NSW.

The Grants Program research priority areas include:

  • What are the immediate and long-term physical, psychological and social consequences of hyperemesis gravidarum on the pregnant woman and her baby?
  • How can the services provided to families be improved throughout preconception, diagnosis, management, and treatment?
  • What can be done to prevent hyperemesis gravidarum in the first or subsequent pregnancies?
  • What are the relative efficacies of treatment options and their immediate and long-term side effects?

Research that addresses other gaps in hyperemesis gravidarum knowledge will be considered as long as it aims to achieve the objective of the Grants Program.

Grant applications opened on 18 July 2022 and will close on Tuesday 23 August 2022.

The Sax Institute is assisting the Ministry of Health with the dissemination of the grant application materials. To obtain copies of these materials, please contact communications@saxinstitute.org.au.

13 July 2022.

This Evidence Snapshot is an updated rapid review of current knowledge about aerosol transmission of COVID-19. The original review was completed in August 2020 and this updated review in October 2020. The updated review found that the weight of evidence was that aerosol transmission of SARS-CoV-2 does occur. Five reviews found that the virus may spread as an aerosol. Experimental studies demonstrated aerosolisation of the virus with persistence from 90 minutes to 16 hours, and evidence for horizontal transmission was found for ranges from two to eight metres. Environmental sampling studies typically found viral RNA both in the air and on air vents. Eight out of ten investigations of outbreaks reviewed found that transmission occurred without close direct contact. Risk of transmission was thought to be associated with shared indoor space, closed air recirculation and singing. Eighteen articles were reviewed in the updated report in addition to the nineteen articles in the original report, for a total of thirty-seven articles.

Citation: Dawson G, Moore G, du Toit A, Gordon R, Thompson S, Taha H, Sharma S. Update: What is known about aerosol transmission of SARS-CoV-2?: an Evidence Snapshot brokered by the Sax Institute (www.saxinstitute.org.au) for the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, 2020.

Date of publication: October 2020

12 July 2022.

This Evidence Snapshot aims to summarise the current and emerging evidence regarding early detection of breast cancer in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and its impact on cancer stage at diagnosis and mortality. Gaps were found in the evidence regarding impact, but evidence was found regarding incidence, participation, and mortality. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women over 60 were found to have higher incidence of breast cancer than non-indigenous women, and overall Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women were found to have lower screening participation rates. Regarding treatment and outcomes, the included studies varied considerably in terms of treatment, but the evidence showed that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are approximately twice as likely to die from breast cancer than non-indigenous women.

Citation: Li T, Mathieu E, Dickson M, Houssami N. Evidence relevant to early detection of breast cancer in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. Evidence Snapshot brokered by the Sax Institute for the Cancer Institute New South Wales, 2021.

Date of publication: August 2021

5 July 2022.

The Secure Unified Research Environment (SURE) is Australia’s leading health research platform and has recently undergone a range of new upgrades. Here’s how SURE can help you:

More powerful virtual machines

With increasing volumes of heath data available, researchers are applying advanced analytic and artificial intelligence techniques. 

SURE now offers even more powerful virtual machines with up to 128GB RAM and 16 CPU cores.

We’ve added GPU nodes to support the application of advanced AI techniques to population health research.

Increased flexibility

Flexible computing packages can be requested for as little as one month and will be provided the next business day, so that researchers pay only for the power they need, and can access it when needed.

Secure Sandbox and Synthetic Data

SURE Secure Sandboxes are available to share synthetic data and analysis applications with researchers on a short-term basis.

This means researchers can explore synthetic datasets  before ethics approvals to develop code that can be applied to the real datasets once all approvals are received.

If you have any custom computing requirements, or would like to see a new feature or functionality in SURE, we’d love to hear from you.

Find out more

6 July 2022

This Evidence Snapshot, commissioned by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, identifies evaluated interventions targeting lifestyle risks and behaviours that reduce the risk of chronic disease for adults with disability. A range of intervention strategies were found, focusing on different risks. Of these, the reviewers found good evidence to support the following strategies: consumer education and resources, individualised goals and activities, practical support, involving family/unpaid carers, and staff training. The Snapshot is one of three rapid reviews funded by the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission examining effective strategies to improve the health of people with disabilities.

Citation: Fehily C, Dray J, Wynne O, Metse A, Bailey J, Lodge S, Bradley T, Bowman J. Interventions to reduce or prevent lifestyle risks for people with disability: an Evidence Snapshot brokered by the Sax Institute (www.saxinstitute.org.au) for the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, 2021.

Date of publication: March 2021